How to Paint Brass Beds
An old brass bed can be a thing of beauty if you restore the brass and polish it, but painting the brass is a stylish alternative that can set the look apart from the commonplace. Leaving some of the brass exposed while coloring the rest with a smooth, matte finish can impart an appealing contrast in both color and texture. You can also choose to give your bed a bold new look by painting all the metal with a high-gloss paint. Whatever your preference, you need to prepare the brass carefully so the paint adheres properly.
Remove the mattress and all the bedding; disassemble the frame so you can take it outside or into a work room. Make sure the space you choose is well ventilated, because you'll be using some volatile and noxious chemicals.
Wipe the brass parts of the bed with a rag soaked with acetone or lacquer thinner to remove any old lacquer finish. This treatment also removes grease and dirt, which can prevent paint adhesion.
Mask off any surfaces you don't want to paint, using masking tape. If possible, assemble the bed frame loosely so the head and base are upright. If you don't have enough room, support them upright with cinder blocks.
Scuff the exposed brass with 150- or 220-grit sandpaper to etch the metal surface. Do not use coarse sandpaper, which can leave scratches that will remain visible under the paint.
Spray on a thin coat of metal primer, using an aerosol can. Spray in spurts, being careful to avoid laying a heavy coat that can drip. It's better to spray two light coats to get full coverage rather than a single heavy one.
Spray the color coat directly over the primer after waiting for the primer to dry, which takes only about 10 to 15 minutes. Spray a very light first coat of acrylic enamel or lacquer. Wait for it to dry, and then spray a full wet coat, which is one that's uniformly shiny. After the second coat dries, sand it very lightly with 400-grit sandpaper and spray one more wet coat.
Spray one or two coats of clear lacquer to protect the paint and give it sheen. Omit this step if you want the paint to have a flat finish.
Wait for the paint to cure completely before you move the bed. This may take from 24 to 48 hours -- check the curing time on the paint container.
- If the paint drips, wait for the drips to dry before sanding them down. Trying to modify them while they are wet will just create a mess.
- Wear a respirator to protect your lungs when wiping the frame with acetone or lacquer thinner and when spraying paint.
Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.
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