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I took this tired looking black cabinet, with beautiful curves in all the right places, and gave it an updated look. This cabinet was so heavy looking, sitting on the floor with solid black paint. This seems to have suffered a bit of water damage at some point, but not so much that it can’t be saved. Now it’s getting a new finish, to go in a much more refined space.

The material it’s made from is not wood, it’s a pressed board wood, similar to masonite, or a hollow-core door. I can tell, because of how swollen it is in a couple places- because of water damage.

If you would prefer to learn by watching check out this short video I made.

Supplies for this DIY

Paintable caulk

Sandpaper

Latex paint for base coat-any finish

2nd color paint for the inside – I like satin finish for this

Genuine Silver Leaf Booklet (25 Sheets/Loose Type)

Leaf adhesive

soft paintbrush for applying leaf

Disposable Paintbrush for adhesive

rags

Water-based Sealer

If the damage isn’t severe, the surface can be repaired like this:

The very first thing to do, is gently sand the surfaces that are swollen. Make them more level with the rest of the surface. Try not to over-work the Then seal them with a paintable caulk to prevent the material from falling apart more. Make sure to use a product you can paint over, silicone won’t work, but acrylic caulk will. A primer like KILZ was applied over the fixed areas. We’re just smoothing it out, sealing, and preventing damage from painting it later.

Once that’s dry, it’s on to the refinishing. I am not using wood stripper. The pressed wood it’s made from, would be ruined from pulling off the paint, and then soaking it in liquid. Ruined. The steps below, will show you everything you need to know, without stripping anything off of it.

Fill any cracks, or dings with caulk and smooth it out with you finger. Places where wood meets wood and there’s a gap, fill those too. This will give it a polished, professional look when it’s done.

Step 1:

Lightly sand the surface with a fine to medium grit sand paper to scuff up the surface. Do this to everything you’ll be painting. If it’s a glossy surface to begin with, just make sure you scuff it up really well so the paint can stick.

Wipe down the surface with a barely-damp cloth, to remove all the dust from sanding and let it dry.

NOTE: This step is what will make everything stick to the surface. If it has a thick glossy coat of sealer, make sure it’s dull when you’re finished.

Step 2:

Paint the first coat of your base coat, on the surface. I used a brush and painted each section in long strokes to keep it smooth. This technique looks best when the surface is very smooth. You’ll end up with a completely different effect if the surface is bumpy, which we’ve used on other DIY’s. Click here to see the Mirror redo Video DIY I did here.

Note: I tried to use a foam roller first, and it left little bubbles on the surface that I had to smooth out with a brush. It wasn’t worth the expense.

Apply a second coat of paint, keeping it smooth. Let that dry for at least 24 hrs. If you’re painting the inside of your cabinet, like I did, you can do that now too.

I chose the paint color Ocean Storm by Valspar for my base coat. This color will show and I want it to have a very deep, aged look when I’m finished. As it wears and is used, this base coat will show through a bit.

You can see the shiny parts that are covered in leaf adhesive

Step 3

Apply leaf adhesive with a soft brush in small sections. Let it dry for the time it says on the label. It will become clear and tacky to the touch.

NOTE: Only apply adhesive to an area you can cover with leaf in one sitting. Adhesive can dry too much and become non-tacky.

Step 4

Carefully remove a sheet of silver leaf from the pack and cover an area with it. Overlap sheets slightly so it covers your creases. Smooth it out with a soft brush. Continue until the entire area with adhesive is covered with silver leaf.

When an entire area is finished, use the brush to remove any extra from the surface.

NOTE: Hands must be clean and dry or leaf will stick to them.

Step 5

Use glossy polyurethane over the finished silver leaf, so that it’ s easier to do the next steps, without rubbing off the silver leaf. Coat it entirely with the Gloss polyurethane. Let it dry completely.

NOTE: Water based varieties make clean up a breeze. Quick dry products are a lifesaver.

Step 6

Mix your glaze by adding 1:1 latex paint and glaze. Stir it thoroughly. I used a similar grey to my base coat. You can use any color you want for this, I nearly used purple as a pop of color over the silver, but decided on gray for an antique look.

Glaze painted into crevices

Work in small sections like one side at a time. Using a brush, paint any detail and edges with you glaze mixture. You do not want to cover everything because your silver will dull down. Apply it into any detail or trim. Wipe it off with a damp rag, turning/rinsing your rag frequently. Use a light hand, and remove the glaze from areas you don’t want it. If you wipe too much of it from the crevices, just paint more on & wipe more gently.

When you’ve covered it, let it dry. Apply polyurethane if you want. I’m not because I want it to naturally get worn from use, showing some of the base coat.

Step 7

Add decorative door handles to finish it off. I snagged these crystal glass ones at a Home Goods for under $10 for 4 of them.

You’re all done! You’ve created a new life, for you or your client’s piece of furniture. It has a stunningly glamorous high-end look for much less than you would buy it for.

I hope you are inspired to use this technique on something amazing!

Just a pop of color you’ll only see when you open it.

-Betsy

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