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Q&A: How do you Protect High Traffic Furniture?

Dear Julia,
What’s the best way to finish off an item which is going to get lots of wear such as a dining chair but still keep it looking beautiful?
Shona E

Dear Shona,

Good question. I’m assuming you are referring to an all-wood dining chair.

Before we get to the sealing part, there are a few things you need to do to ensure longevity of your paint finish.

Despite what paint manufacturers may state in their marketing materials, furniture needs to be prepped first. So you need to sand and sand again. If your chairs are already painted and have wax applied then remove the wax with mineral spirits and wire wool and sand thoroughly before cleaning.

When I clean a piece of furniture I’m always amazed at the amount of dirt and god knows what comes off on my cloth. Now imagine painting over that. Eugh!

Lots of people state that you don’t need primer. In my experience, it provides a more professional finish so please don’t skip this step. If you want to distress back to the natural wood you can use a clear primer or grip product such as Fusion Mineral Paint’s Ultragrip. You can also get spray primers; although more expensive, they are better suited to priming fiddly chair spindles.

If you want a textured, farmhouse look to your chair then you can’t go wrong with chalk paint. I love the look of wax over this type of paint as it gives a velvety look and feel. However, for high traffic areas I would use a top coat instead of wax; there are lots of products on the market but a great cost-effective option is Polyvine’s Wax Finish Varnish (it comes in Flat or Satin). It combines the durability of a varnish but with the silky feel of wax. You will need to apply two coats (and sand lightly between coats when dry).

The other option is to use a paint with a built-in topcoat. These paints are also self-levelling so give a smoother finish than chalk paints. There are several on the market but I use either Fusion Mineral Paint or Frenchic’s New Lazy Range. I would, however, still apply a topcoat. Fusion has a product called Tough Coat and Frenchic has its Finishing Coat. You don’t need to use the same brand for the top coat, you could use Polyvine’s varnish above or another one of your choice. Again, you will need to apply two coats and sand lightly between coats.

Finally, whatever paint and sealing method you use …. your paint will take 30 days to properly cure and harden!

Julia x

Do you have a question you would like answered? Just pop them in the comments below and I’ll choose one every week to answer.

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