How to Paint with Barn Red

I picked up this 9 drawer dresser with great detailing and hardware off of Facebook marketplace. I’d had a few bites on it for different colors from my stockpile of unfinished pieces but finally got an order for it in a rustic barn shade of red. It was just the perfect dimensions for my customers space.

My customer wanted a wood stained top. No big deal, I love them too and do tons of them. Upon stripping the existing finish off the top, I found that at some point in its life, someone else had refinished the top, and not very well. It’s not very common to find solid wood tops on pieces Im working with. After the 1950s the days of 13 thick solid wood tops are long gone, that’s when veneers came into fashion. Most modern tops are a combination of a cheaper variety of wood, pine maybe, and a more exotic veneer over that. Still all wood, just a combination of materials, very common, and still very refinish-able.

During its last makeover, someone had sanded through the veneer on this top into the wood underneath. Veneers are generally very thin, fractions of an inch, and need to be sanded very cautiously, over sanding destroys the veneer. My gut sunk, this needs to be stained wood, but has a huge flaw in two spots! My first instinct was to sand them smooth, add a bit of wood filler, and gel stain over the top. Gel stain is a thicker, more opaque option. It’s sits on top of the wood, can be used over existing finishes, and can be very camouflaging. The problem I ran into was that the filler took the stain very differently and the repaired portions were still just as visable. I used mineral spirits to wipe the gel stain back off and sanded the wood filler back too the damaged wood. I decided to use the gel stain over the damage as is, layer it for deeper coverage, and could always faux paint spots to match if needed. I did 3 coats of dark gel stain and got great, even coverage. Note to self, staining damaged veneer is better than wood filler.

Dixie Belle offers two shades of red that could have worked for this, barn red is a bit more true red and rustic red is a shade darker. I chose the rustic red. My local retailer only had the rustic in an 8 oz container, I was a bit nervous about coverage. I got two coats of beautiful coverage from an 8 oz container, with paint to spare! If you’ve ever painted a wall in your house red, you know that it can take several coats to get even coverage. I’ve found with Dixie belle, even the scariest colors for coverage (white, yellow, red) have no issues whatsoever!After two coats of rustic red, I added distressing around the edges just using my power sander, can’t go rustic without distressing! The top got several thin coats of gator hide top coat applied with a sponge and the body got clear wax. I accented the details with brown and black waxes but chose black glaze to get into the fine carvings on the center drawers.

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