ALWAYS DO A SCRATCH TEST FIRST.  Our product will adhere to most surfaces without any preparation other than a simple cleaning with soapy water.  Don’t use TSP or any other commercial cleaners.  Make a solution using regular dish soap and water with the same ratio of soap to water as you would use to wash dishes.  Wipe down the piece removing all  the dirt and grime.  If there is any mold or mildew present, make a solution of household bleach and water, about two capfuls of bleach to a gallon of water and wipe down the affected areas.  Allow to dry thoroughly prior to painting.   Also, some old furniture has dye in the wood and it can bleed through and cause discolouration in your finish.  So, very rarely, there are some surfaces that need prep.  Here’s how to find out if your piece is one of those cases: (Bleed through is not discussed below, so make sure you test for that – sometimes, you have to let those surfaces dry for a few days before you see any bleed through)

Find a fairly discreet place to conduct your scratch test – the side of the chair or the apron of a table.  But, don’t select the underside of a table or chair because that area may not have been subjected to various cleaners or chemicals that the top and sides may have been that will inhibit adhesion.  Paint about a square inch of van Gogh Fossil Paint and allow it to dry overnight.  The next day, scratch the paint with your fingernail.  Don’t scratch at the edge of your test patch, scratch in the middle.  If it doesn’t come off, you know our Fossil Paint will adhere to your surface.  If it comes off but you have to work at it a bit, then it’s still Ok because it takes 30 days to cure and the adhesion increases over time.  However, if the paint comes off in FLAKES when you scratch it, or rubs off easily, you know you need to do some kind of preparation to the piece prior to painting.

If you do need to prep, start with a very quick sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. Scuff, scuff, that’s enough! You don’t want to sand it smooth because that would make the surface very slick, and inhibit adhesion, you just want to create some tooth for the Fossil Paint to hang on to.

Repeat the scratch test. If you still get poor adhesion, bump up your prep to the next level: PRIMER. Do another scratch test but with the primer. Purchase a good quality primer and paint an inch somewhere on the piece and try to scratch it off the next day. If it sticks, then you can prime the whole piece and allow to dry according to the instructions on the primer. Then paint with Fossil Paint as usual.

If the primer does not adhere, you have two choices, strip the piece or walk away from it.  Personally, I do not want to strip furniture, that’s why we have van Gogh Fossil Paint!  So we don’t have to do all that hard and nasty work.  I would walk away from the piece at that point.

Other than that, I would avoid raw pine that is freshly hewn. A lot of new pine resin can seep out and cause tiny raised bumps in your finish. Also, red mahogany often leeches dye into your paint and causes unsightly stains as mentioned above but other pieces might have this problem as well.

Make sample boards too! You’ll be glad you did before you attack the piece of furniture.  It’s a lot easier to change you mind on a small sample than on an entire piece of furniture.

Good luck! Send us pictures!

Step 1 : Find Your Great Piece of Furniture to Transform

Look around for something with good bones. Try to look past the grunge or boring colour. Use your creative side to envision what it could be. It might be a piece you already own or you could go garage sale shopping or to second hand furniture stores. I’ve seen some amazing pieces that people found discarded by dumpsters!

Step 2 : Get Your Tools in Place

You need a good brush. We have designed brushes specifically to be used with our products. These will give you the very best finish possible, but you don’t have to use our brushes. Just remember, most of the work is your labour, make it as easy as possible by using the right tools.

You might need a roller and paint tray.

You will need a scrubby, a lint free cloth like an old T-Shirt and 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

Step 3 : Apply One Coat of Paint

Don’t be stingy with the paint. Lay on a good coat, not so thick that it sags or drips, but thicker than you would normally paint with regular latex paint. You’ll notice that van Gogh Fossil Paint is thicker than ordinary paint, that’s because the chalk gives it a rich creamy consistency…yummy! Allow to dry.

Step 4 : Apply a Second Coat of Paint if Necessary

One coat may be all you need. But if you think it needs more, go ahead and apply a second coat. Consider using a different colour then the first coat.

Step 5 : Distress Your Piece

Well, you could be finished at this point, but if you want to distress it to create that shabby chic or French Provence look, then read on. If you want to put a protective coat of Beeswax Finish or Table Top Finish, without distressing, then skip to Step 6.

Some people like to distress the paint by sanding it when it’s dry. I don’t like that look for two reasons: One, I don’t think that creates a very natural or organic look, and two, it creates an awful lot of dust that you might inhale or at the very least have to clean up. I prefer to distress the paint with water. It kind of turns the paint back into a slurry, and that fills in brush strokes and any little “oops” that might have happened when you were painting.

So get your cloth soaking wet with water and run it over your piece to make it wet. Now, with the wet/dry sandpaper (also wet) start rubbing very lightly across the area you want to distress. You must wipe the area with a damp cloth to see what you have created. It’s easy to sand too much and go right back down to the wood. That looks nice too, and you should definitely do that in some places, but if you want to reveal the first colour of paint, then you must go slowly. The beautiful part about van Gogh Fossil Paint is that it distresses very easily, so wipe back the slurry after every few strokes to see what’s happening. You can also remove some of the paint with just a damp cloth, or with a pot scrubby thing – you know those green ones you find at the grocery store?

When you are happy with your distressing, wipe the whole piece down with a barely damp cloth and allow to dry.

Step 6 : Apply the Finishing Coat

Beeswax Finish

The Beeswax Finish is totally NON TOXIC and smells like honey.

You could leave your piece as is and it will continue to get dinged and distressed every time you wipe it or clean it or the kids bash something into it. This is not a bad idea because after all, what we are trying to fake here is years of abuse and cleaning and frankly, dirt. So you could just allow that to happen. But, if you love your piece the way it is, there is a quicker and more artistic way to create and preserve that look.

Beeswax Natural Finish – This is a gorgeous handmade beeswax finish that is pure and simple and non-toxic – you could even use it on baby toys. We have this especially made for us by a lovely, older British couple who are true artisans and still make our product by hand, just like they’ve been doing for decades. They’ve got a gorgeous little vineyard over on one of the Gulf Islands and the first time I met them, we sat down to Gin & Tonic’s overlooking the vineyard on a hot sunny day and talked about life, business and art. It was magic.

To apply the Beeswax Natural Finish, dip our Wax Brush into the product and wipe it onto the furniture in a small area. Be sure to use some pressure on the brush to really get that beeswax into the absorbent paint, don’t be wimpy about it. Get it into the paint, not just onto the paint. Immediately after applying the beeswax, wipe off the excess wax with a soft lint free and wrinkle free cloth. Move onto the next area of furniture and repeat.

To create an aged look, repeat the above process with our Beeswax French Caffeine Finish.

Table Top Finish

Our Table Top Finish is a tough as nails top coat.

If your piece is going to be subjected to abuse or a lot of wear and tear, consider using our Table Top Finish instead of our Beeswax Finish. This roll on or brush on acrylic top coat will stand up to hot and cold water, household chemicals and food stains. Apply two coats of Clear Table Top Finish and then if you wish to create an antique look, apply a coat of our Table Top Finish in French Caffeine.