An easy and effective way to give your tired cane furniture a sleek, modern finish is by spray-painting it in a high-gloss black. You can use an electric spray gun for most paints, which means you’re not limited to the colours available in prepacked spray cans. Spray guns cost from $40 to about $200, so go for an average-priced unit.
Gather your supplies
Electric sprayer (we used the Bosch PFS 55 model
180- or 220-grit abrasive sandpaper
Dulux Water Based 1 Step Primer
Sealer & Undercoat
Dulux Oil Based Super Enamel High Gloss in black
While spraying is great for painting fiddly bits and pieces, there are a couple of drawbacks. These are overspray, and the fact that the paint sprays on in thin coats. This means you need to apply several coats for decent coverage.
If you’re using oil- or water-based paints, drying times between coats can be quite long, making painting a slow process. However, pressure-pack paints will dry faster, and automotive lacquers, based on thinners, dry almost instantaneously for quicker re-coats.
- Step 1: Sand cane furniture to remove old varnish or flaky paint, so you’re left with a smooth surface. Cover workshop with drop sheets in case of overspray.
- Step 2: Sanding can expose raw cane, so coat entire chair with water-based primer, sealer and undercoat, to help the paint stick. Pour undercoat into tank. To help make the paint spray more easily, add 5% of solvent which, in this case, is water (use turpentine for an oil-based paint). Stir thoroughly.
- Step 3: If possible, set nozzle to round pattern – this allows you to cover round cane effectively. Test gun with a short burst of spray paint on a scrap piece of board. Start spray gun and apply a light coat that just covers cane. Spray hard-to-get-at inside areas first, so spray gun and cord don’t drag over wet paint. Next, do easily accessible external areas. Follow chair framing, spraying at an acute angle to reduce overspray. Let dry.
- Step 4: If you think chair needs a second coat, you’ll need to wash out tank and nozzle of spray gun first as it needs to be cleaned between coats. To do this, empty tank, fill with water and spray through nozzle and jet. Empty and repeat with fresh water. To dry, run air through gun. It’s easy to do as most spray guns have a 2-stage trigger – the first position is air only, the second is paint. Once gun is dry, put turpentine in tank and run through nozzle to clean so it’s ready for next coat.
- Step 5: Pour black paint into tank and mix with 5% turpentine to thin it slightly. Spray chair, remembering to apply only a light coat, even though it’s tempting to make the first coat look fantastic. As before, clean out gun between coats, as the time to wait between coats is more than 16 hours
- Step 6: Apply many more coats as needed, leaving required drying times in between until you have desired coverage and shine. Let chair dry thoroughly. Given drying and re-coating times, the whole process can actually span over 3-4 days, if you coat chair 4 times with an oil-based paint.