I’ve been painting and staining furniture for about 30 years or so. Yes, I started young. My Grand Daddy got me started while I watched him paint my little rocking chair a pretty pink. I still have that chair, and it has all the chippiness of a well used, much loved chair.
Since childhood, I’ve learned to live with what I had and make it work. That way of living didn’t stop when I joined the military, in fact, the resourcefulness was fully exercised from base to base, new house to new house. We, like many military families, learned how to make what we had work in our houses to make them our homes, even if it was only for a few years at a time. Upcycling or painting furniture is always one of my favorite DIY projects and painted furniture has been around for centuries – noted as a prominent feature for the wealthy.
Now it seems that the trend is back in full force and there are a bazillion ladies and gentlemen finding the joy in bringing old pieces back to life with a few strokes of a paint brush!
If you’re new to the paint-your-furniture-world, your probably asking “What’s the hub-bub about all these paints?” The fact that we do not have to prime, prep or sand down the finish is what the excitement is all about. In some cases, a piece that is very old and has a red-dye stain or oil soaked into the wood may require priming with Zinsser or Kilz. Overall, we’ve used the paints on fabrics, furniture, glass, plastics, canvas, and laminates. There are many, many great products out there and some who like to debate on which product is better. I think it boils down to what you want to accomplish with what is available. I can only tell you what my experience has been and what my opinion is on two similar products.
I have been retailing CeCe Caldwell’s, and for the last three months, product testing American Paint Company (APC) paints. After product testing American Paint Company products and having our staff and clients try it, we decided APC lived up to it’s promises and was a better fit for us and our customers.
First, it is free of any volatile organic compounds (VOC), which means it doesn’t have toxic chemicals or a chemical smell. So what? There are other products out there that claim to have the same VOC-free base. The difference between the two I’ve used is that APC doesn’t put additives into their paints and I’ve found consistency throughout all the colors and batches. It is all-natural, which means clay, chalk, and minerals are used to create the color and texture. The texture is wonderful and none of the paints are watery. Each color is very rich in pigments and we have found that adding water to thin it down for washes, spray painting, or for smoother finishes does not change the color when the paint dries. Keep in mind, all chalk-based paints are going to dry lighter, but we’re talking about the white pigments coming to the surface while drying if you add water.
We also realize that the darker colors of APC do not smell bad after opening or use. Wild Horses and Lincoln’s Hat were two of the very first colors I used and after three months, still no change in odor or consistency. Now, because APC does not have pesticides nor preservatives, it is still an organic product and as such, can have bacterial growth. We recommend not dipping paint brushes directly into the can and I teach everyone to always draw out the paint from the cans as they use it. We use a large syringe to pull the paint out, plus it keeps the cans cleaner and allows us to ratio mixes if we make different colors, add water, or add color to the APC Top Coat and use it as a glaze.
The finishes. APC Top Coat. We found the APC Top Coat went on very easy and resulted in a much smoother finish – much like polyurethane products do… without the smell. The durability is just as great too!
The waxes. OH those waxes. I’ve used Fiddes, Briwax and Annie Sloan waxes, so beginning to use an all-natural wax was a learning curve. At first use of another company’s all-natural aging wax, I wasn’t happy. I followed the directions and it took the paint off. I also found that is was so inconsistent and oily, and in some cases, drying did not occur. I asked the fellow retailers about what I was doing wrong and after several suggestions, I tried again. It wasn’t until learning that I must put the aging (dark) wax on cardboard or brown paper to soak up the extra oil. I still wasn’t happy with it and after finding that each shipment brought in a different consistency, we stopped carrying it several months ago. Then comes APC waxes – in three colors! Our staff tried them all and though it took a hour or so more to dry than Fiddes or Briwax, the results were awesome and for the first time, I actually taught the use of it to our own students.
We’ve found the durability to be wonderful. After letting pieces cure for a week, we do the water test – water should bead on top of a piece of furniture and not soak in. Passed! Now, I will tell you that I cannot testify to the all-natural waxes for long-term durability, as this is new to me and only time will tell. But even Fiddes and Briwax’d items have to be re-waxed after a period of time (unless you use ProTex). In between re-waxing, we simply use Pledge to maintain our furnishings.
On the retail side of things, I can tell you that we’ve never had a shipment come in from APC with paint cans busted open; just two of them were dented, and we received replacements within days.
For APC, we’ve had the same friendly distributors since day one and who answer questions and provide support quickly. They go above and beyond in support and the cost of shipping is so low, we’re able to price our products consistently and competitively. We also enjoy the fact we aren’t seeing new fees tacked on top of product costs, shipping and handling.
Retailer support. APC retailers have wonderful support groups where we all share ideas and suggestions to make the product better for us and for our customers. Not only that, but anyone can go to the American Paint Company website or to their APC page and get FREE tutorials or tips with Tip Tuesdays, and inspiration for different colors, as well as ask questions. What do these things have to do with our clients? Everything. We opened our shop as a “customer-centric” small business, which means we want to offer the best products at the most affordable prices AND keep our training and knowledge at it’s best for our customers. When it comes to the paints, it’s a simple matter of affordability and offering up-to-date training and knowledge, as well as consistent, easy-to-use products for the first-time users.
Having a product we can promise is consistent and easy to use is why we are changing to American Paint Company. It wasn’t a rash decision, we did take our time to do our research and comparisons, and over the past month began clearing out the other paint products. We are so very happy that the guys and gals who created APC did so with the customer in mind!
In October, I will be heading down to North Carolina for even more training and excited to learn about the new products such as mica and American Grit and bringing back even more for our customers!
Hope to see you soon and here’s to having a wonderful day!
NOTE: This is an opinion of the author and is based on our experiences. No company or individual has approached us to endorse or speak about these products.