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Painting and Polishing Furniture

Polishing or painting furniture is a tricky business. This is because of the multiple options available and the lack of awareness about the same. In the articles below, we have tried to capture the basic understanding of the painting and polishing process. 


Painting furniture is similar in process to painting wall. To read about, painting wall, please click here. The basic steps involved in painting are:

- Sanding the surface of the furniture with sand paper

- Applying wood primer

- Applying knifing paste filler to plug in gaps or holes in the wooden surface

- Applying wood primer again

- Applying paint of appropriate shade

All these materials are available here. 


There are different options to polish furniture. Any polish is basically a combination of 2 ingredients: a resin and a solvent. Example of resins include Rosin, Copal, Lac, Shellac etc. and examples of solvent include turpentine, mineral turpentine etc. The most popular kinds of polishes are given below:

a] Spirit polish or French polish:  It is the most commonly used polishing technique in India. Here the solvent is methyl alcohol and the resin is shellac or lac. These are quick in drying and the film is adequately hard.  It has a bright and glossy finish.  This polish can be stained with suitable pigments to attain desired colour.  French polish cannot withstand erosion due to direct contact of water. 

b] Melamine polish: Melamine polish is a synthetic resin and hardens when exposed to air. However this hardening is very slow and additional hardeners are added before spraying the coat of this polish. Invariably, all the melamine based wood coatings come along with the hardener i.e. they are always a 2-component system. Melamine polish is water resistant. It has a better scratch resistance when compared to traditional polish like French Polish. Another advantage is that there are choices available in terms of mat, semi-gloss and gloss finishes. It is transparent but a faint brown tint is developed. 

c] Polyurethane coat [PU coat]: A polyurethane, commonly abbreviated PU, is essentially a plastic-polymer. The polish-coat of this forms a very strong, protective and glossy film on the wooden surface. Unlike melamine, the drying time for this coat is very short and is around 15 to 30 minutes. This coat is water resistant to a large degree. This polish is more expensive than even melamine polish. The process of applying this polish is similar to that of melamine, except for the drying time.

Generally, the PU and Melamine based polishes are applied by a spray gun while conventional polishes like French Polish are applied by brush or by using a ragging cloth. In terms of costs, French Polish tends to be the cheapest and PU-based coatings tend to be the most expensive. Again, PU based polishes are available in both interior and exterior grades. As the name suggests, exterior grade polishes are ideal for furniture that would be exposed to weather, direct sunlight etc.

In the next section, we would explain in detail the process of application of polishes.



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