How to upcycle almost anything with paint

Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. However, because not everything is made from the same materials, it’s important to learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish you want.

Choosing your paint

Water-based paints are easier to work with and apply, while oil-based paints are more durable, but take longer to dry. For some projects, you might want to use spray paint to get the job done faster. When using a primer, make sure it’s compatible with the paint you’ve chosen. Also, remember to work in a ventilated area and wear safety gear to protect yourself from paint fumes.

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How to paint over varnished timber

Paint is a great way to revive worn timber furniture or cabinetry. To paint a varnished surface, you need to rough it up first. You don’t have to remove all the varnish, just enough so that a primer can stick. Start by cleaning the surface with a scouring pad and household cleaner. Fill in any cracks or imperfections with putty filler. Then, sand it back. Next, apply the primer and once that’s dry you can start painting.

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How to paint plastic

When painting plastic, it’s best to use spray paint. Like varnished timber, you need to prime the surface, so that your paint won’t peel off when it’s dry. Clean it first, then use an aerosol primer for a nice even finish. When it’s dry, spray the surface with a few coats of paint. You can even use a glossy sealant for a shiny top coat.

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How to paint metal

If you have any rusted metal gates or outdoor furniture with flaky paint, give them a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. First, use a wire brush to clean off any paint or rust. Then give it a few light coats of spray primer. Let it dry and give the now primed surface two coats of enamel paint. Make sure you don’t put too much on your brush to avoid drips.

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How to paint plywood

Structural plywood is a tough, versatile material that’s used for all kinds of projects. If you want to revive old plywood, a coat of paint can make a huge difference. Give the wood a clean first with a dustpan brush. Fill up any holes with wood filler and sand smooth when dry. Then, all you need to do is give it a coat or two of all-in-one paint and prime and it’ll look good as new.

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How to paint MDF

Made of engineered wood, MDF is a common material used as panels in cabinetry and storage units. Over time, it can start to look old and dated but a lick of paint can give it a fresh new look. Sand it back first until smooth. Then, give it a couple of undercoats before painting. Because it’s usually in larger panels, you can use a roller to get the job done quicker.

Start painting

Check out more D.I.Y. ideas with paint or take a look at our full paint range.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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