Adventures in Spray Paint – Viv’s Refinished High Chair

8 Mar

I had been planning on spray painting Viv’s high chair on Tuesday or Wednesday, but nasty weather combined with a busy school schedule meant that I didn’t have an opportunity to haul out the tarp and freshly-sanded chair until Friday morning. I was chomping at the bit to get started, figuring I’d have a finished chair to show off with plenty of time to spare before going out for dinner in the evening.

Almost finished with sanding

Painting was more difficult than I had anticipated. Despite trying to keep a good distance and spray lightly, I still ended up with paint drips. I managed to remove some of them with my fingers but others remained pretty obvious. With a relatively even but amateurish coat of paint applied, I walked away, allowing the magical spray paint leveling agents to (please please please) do their work and make the paint dry drip-free. The remainder of the afternoon was spent checking on paint drying progress (slow to non-existent) and waiting for my order to serendipitously show up so I could stick to my (totally unrealistic) timetable…

…by Saturday morning, the most glaringly obvious drips seemed to have disappeared, my fabric had arrived, and the chair was ready for its final, touch-up coat of paint. Home stretch! And then the cracking started – and I was not going for a faux country look. According to Google, spray paint is prone to cracking when 1) multiple layers are applied too quickly or 2) the temperature is too cold. And, with Friday’s paint drip debacle and a temperature hovering right around 50, I was an unsuspecting prime candidate for yet another spray paint disaster. I prayed to the DIY gods and went inside to knit and bake corn muffins.

The paint was dry when I went outside to check on Sunday. The cracking was apparent but minimal, and generally on the underside of the chair. I was getting impatient by this point and decided I could live with the cracking – time for upholstery! Searching for information on making the corners look especially awesome yielded few results, so I just folded and re-folded it until I thought it looked acceptable, and stapled away. I’m pleased with the result:



  • High Chair – $40, Craigslist
  • Sandpaper and Mask – $11.00, Lowe’s
  • Spray Paint (three cans) – $14.00, Lowe’s
  • Tarp – $10.oo, Hardware Store
  • Upholstery Tacks – $4.00, Upholstery Supply Company
  • Fabric – $22.00,

Total Cost: $101.00

Obviously, I didn’t save a whole lot of money by choosing to refinish a high chair instead of buying one new. But, I do feel like I ended up with a product of far superior quality to the plastic-and-particleboard high chairs that are so common today, not to mention the fact that I’m pretty sure Viv’s chair is fairly unique in its style. It’s a nice addition to our dining room and I hope that Viv will get a kick out of it someday.


2 Responses to “Adventures in Spray Paint – Viv’s Refinished High Chair”

  1. mike s March 8, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    VERY NICE!! Excellent result! You shouldn’t have added the tarp to the total cost as, unless you trashed it, you can reuse it. Someday Viv’s siblings and kids will use it.
    The paint problem is a common one with cans of spray paint. The number one cause is inadequate shaking of the can. Sitting and shaking firmly for at least 10 minutes is best. Also, for future projects, when painting, start moving, then spraying holding the can at a constant distance from the surface by using your wrist to aim and arm to sweep evenly. Stop spraying at the end of the stroke, THEN STOP moving, reset your arm and wrist to be aligned for next sweep in opposite direction. This will avoid runs & drips, which are where you applied too heavily by moving too slowly, respraying same area, and stopping while changing direction. If your arm stops, the spray should already be stopped. Changing direction is a stop. Also, if you apply one or two ‘dust coats’ by rapidly spraying to make a very light & uneven coat & letting dry for 15-30 minutes prior to final coat. When doing cover coats, let dry 30 minutes between coats to avoid over painting.
    Again, looks terrific! Mouthy, bossy Old Injun;-)

  2. mspremiseconclusion March 12, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    WOW! That is absolutely gorgeous!! You did an amazing job. Even if you didn’t save a whole lot of money, you got an amazingly unique chair! Plus, your funky chair will look so much nicer in your kitchen compared to a generic plastic-y one.
    That is super inspiring.

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