Old desk gets a Rust-Oleum makeover

This desk was a secondhand find that was given a Rust-Oleum makeover for a boy's bedroom. The desk cost R600 from a secondhand shop and I used two cans of Rust-Oleum 2X satin canyon black to spray paint


This old desk is definitely a bargain buy. It is in good condition as far as the structure is concerned. There are a few bangs and chips here and there, but nothing that can't be sorted. 

The most obviously damage to the desk is on the top, where the thin paper-laminate veneer that was original applied was worn away. I'm not going to worry too much about this and wait to see what it looks like after painting to see what needs to be done.

What is nice is that the drawers are in great condition and not missing any bits. They slide in and out easily and are not falling apart - even the base is still firmly secured. 

The first step involved sanding the desk with 120-grit sanding pads to remove as much varnish as possible. Care needs to be taken when sanding the thin veneer on top, so I used 180-grit sanding pads for this area. If you come across a piece where the veneer is badly damaged and needs to be removed or replaced you will find instructions on how to replace veneer edges here and advice on removing veneer here.



After sanding the entire desk (top to bottom) with 120- and 180-grit sanding pads a final sanding was done with 240-grit sanding pads for a smooth finish.

Before you get started with the painting, give the piece a wipe down with a cloth lightly dampened with mineral turpentine.

Move outdoors or work in a well-ventilated space when spray painting, and be sure to cover surrounding areas with a drop cloth or newspaper to protect from overspray.

We used Rust-Oleum 2X satin canyon black for the desk. Why would we use spray paint instead of wood stain, you might ask. The spray paint gives a more even and pronounced finish that using wood stain, and since this desk needs to be black to match the existing bedroom furniture, Rust-Oleum 2X spray paint is the best option. The spray paint still allows the wood grain to show through as well. You will find the full range of Rust-Oleum products at your local Builders store.

Shake the can well for at least a minute and hold about 30cm away from the surface of your project. Apply light even strokes from top to bottom or left to right, allowing strokes to overlap slightly. Whatever area you start painting, don't stop until that section is complete, so that you have an even finish.

When it came to painting the drawers only the front was spray painted. Because the drawers don't have modern sliders fitted they need to be able to freely slide in and out and spray paint will make them stick. The drawers were wrapped with newspaper to protect from overspray. 

So that the pine drawers match the desk we used Woodoc Gel Stain on the inside and outside of the drawers. When using wood stain pop on a pair of disposable gloves to keep your hands stain free!

The painted desk came out amazing. Even the top of the desk looks good. It helped that the 240-grit sandpaper smoothed the rough veneer edges, which are no longer visible. The desk will eventually have a glass top which will protect the desk and allow for easy cleaning. 

All-in-all this was a project well done. At a cost of R600 for this large, solid wood desk, a couple of cans of Rust-Oleum 2X and a few other supplies this desk has been given a makeover that will allow it to serve a practical purpose for many years to come.


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