Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What to look for when buying painted furniture

How to buy vintage furniture and tell bad painting from good painting



We recently wrote a small article for one of our local magazines, Stamford Living, aimed at trying help customers know what to expect when buying painted furniture.

So often we've seen shoddily painted pieces for sale at events and in shops - that we wanted customers to know that there is a difference in quality and that not all hand-painted furniture will have drips and scruffy edges. We've even seen furniture painters claiming that all upcycled painted furniture will have drips, blemishes and discolouration due to the nature of the business. We firmly believe this is not true - and that a poor finish is only unavoidable if you rush the job.

Here's the article as it appeared in Stamford Living.

Painted furniture for the home has never been more popular. Laura Harvey, founder of Rutland-based painted furniture specialists Reloved Vintage tells us what to look for.



From TV adverts to high street shop windows, painted furniture is everywhere.

More and more people are growing tired of the flat-pack, throwaway culture and opting for more solid, traditional pieces with a contemporary twist.


Some high street chains sell new, mass-produced furniture, designed to look old (despite being made in a factory in the far east), but if you want a genuinely vintage piece of furniture that has been reloved, there are a growing number of independent sellers to choose from.

So how do you know that the item you’re buying is of good quality? What telltale signs of shoddiness should you know about and how can you tell if your ebay ‘bargain’ is going to be more trouble that it’s worth?


Here are three key things to remember when you’re buying painted furniture, to ensure you buy a top-quality piece that will last you for years to come.


  • Has the paint been protected? This is vital. If the paint has a chalky or rough feel, it has not been protected with a varnish or wax – this means your new chest of drawers will soon be chipped, stained and basically ruined. The finish should feel smooth and spilt water should simply bead off. If buying online, always ask what wax or varnish was used.
  • What’s it like inside? Are there scruffy paint marks where the interior has not been masked off during painting? Have the drawers been lined? Is there dust on the shelves? Do the drawers stick? All these point to a careless attitude.
  • Are there drips or brush marks? The paint should have been applied carefully, so as not to drip and leave ugly blobs. If the paint has been slapped on in one thick coat, you’ll see nasty streaks and bare wood showing through. 

Below are a few photos showing a badly painted chest we rescued for a lady who had bought it from someone selling painted furniture on ebay.

Someone actually sold it like this
They thought: "Yep, that'll do"
We stripped it back and repainted
Drips are "unavoidable" eh?
Horrible greasy staining coming through the paint

Strip, sugar soap, repaint, wax. Sorted.