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Learning From Mistakes: Lamp Makeover

15 October 2011

Learning From Mistakes: Lamp Makeover

It might not be the most beautiful manicure that you’ve ever seen, but one thing is certain…there is heart in the paint that polishes my fingertips!
Some may take their pampering sessions into a nail salon (which probably should be the preferred method) but I find craft projects to be much more effective for relieving my stress.  To each their own, I guess!
This weekend I posted about my thrifty shopping spree to a little store called Savers, but what I failed to mention was the fact that I dove right into my first project for these items within the first 10 minutes of getting home.

Though all of my Savers finds were great deals, I was super-excited about these two lamps that were only $4.99 each.  I liked the color of the lamps, but the gold trim, and the bird design were not really my cup of tea (go figure).
So, “why purchase these lamps if they weren't perfect?” you might ask.  Well, the short answer would be that the shape of the lamps was absolutely perfect...and the price of the lamps was entirely perfect!  Plus, I knew that refinishing them would give me a fun project to work on over the weekend.
To start the transformation I first taped off any electrical component on the lamp, as well as the cord.
Once everything was protected, I set up a little station in the center of my garage so that I could spray paint.  There was a pretty strong breeze outside, and I live in a really dusty area, so using the garage allowed me to work on the project without getting dust-bunnies in the paint.
Here are the products that I started out with (I'll explain the "started out with" comment in a moment).
Before painting, I cleaned each lamp with a damp cloth to remove any dust particles from the surface.  Once the lamps were clean, I coated each of them with primer and let them dry.
I was able to get two coats on each lamp base with about one-and-a-half cans of the primer paint, which was surprising to me.  I thought that it would take a lot more paint to cover up those birdies, but they were gone within minutes!
After the primer had dried, I started to coat the first lamp base with the Krylon, Avocado green spray-paint...and this is where my thoughts of "Wow, this project is going extremely well!" quickly turned into thoughts of, "What the ?!?!?!??????" 
...To illustrate my point...I give you Exibit A...and B...and even C.
Because the primer had gone on with such ease, leaving a smooth, full-coverage, and clean finish, I had expected the same quality from my avocado paint.  Unfortunately, I had to learn a valuable lesson the hard way, and that lesson was, "in the world of spray paint...you get what you pay for."
You see, Krylon happens to be around a dollar cheaper than Rust-Oleum spray paint, and having just come from Savers I thought I would bedazzle each of you with my mad-thrifty skills by saving that extra cash!
Live and learn, I guess.  My efforts for saving some greens actually left me with a paint product that did not spray evenly at the appropriate distance.  With the primer, I found that a distance of about 18 inches provided the perfect coverage, but the Krylon paint sprayed big blotches from that distance.  To smooth out these blotches I would move in closer, but that left too much paint, causing the drips and bubbles you see in the photos.  Not to mention, most of the Krylon paint dripped down from the spray nozzle, and all over my hands!  I think more paint wound up on me than on the lamps!
Disheartened, I ran back to the store to see if Rust-Oleum made a green paint that would work...and luckily I found this:
I actually felt much better about the whole experience after finding this paint because I felt this color was a better fit for the project anyway.  It made me feel like the galactic forces were coming together, and something great was about to happen.
With my new paint in hand, and a package of face masks to save my lungs from the paint fumes (highly recommended!) I headed back to the garage for round two. 
Have you ever noticed that homework from the school of hard knocks can be insanely ridiculous?  Patience was always a value that my mother tried to teach me, but apparently I didn't listen.
Right when I got home from the store, new paint in hand, I went back to my avacado mess (which was semi-dry at this point) and started to recoat the thing with primer.  If you aren't really sure what happens to semi-dry paint when you add wet paint to it, take a look:
Yes, folks.  That is what semi-dry paint looks like when it cracks and peels under the weight of newly applied wet paint....and yes, that repeated thumping noise that you are hearing is the sound of my head banging against the table as I chant, "stupid, stupid, me!"
I like to refer to this story as the spray paint Cinderella story, because it starts out sad, but I promise it ends well.
Because I was really curious to see what my new green paint would look like, I moved lamp numero-one to the side, and moved lamp numero-two up onto the table.  The second lamp treated me much better than the first:
In fact, the only challenges that came from this lamp were the tiny pollen-poufs from the outside trees that started floating around my garage in the late afternoon.  I had to pick a few of them out of the paint, but nothing too serious.
After the first lamp had completely dried....I repeat....completely dried...I spent a few hours sanding the dried paint down by hand until it was as smooth as I could possibly make it.
It wasn't perfect in the end, but definitely much better.
Up close you can still see some of the "scars" but personally, I think it adds some character.  (Maybe that's just because of all that time I spent sanding. haha.)
When you take a step back, and add a $15.00 lamp shade from Wal-Mart, the lamps look pretty dang good (even the crazy-drama-queen-lamp)!
There is still one minor detail that I need to address.  Right now, the shades are held up by some lamp harps that I took off of the lamps in my master bedroom.  The harps are a bit too tall, so I would like to order some smaller ones so that the shade is lowered down about an inch.
Other than that, I'm in love with my new lamps!!!   ...now if only I had the dressing table to put them on.  Oh, well.  Someday!
Here is a cost breakdown for this project:
  • 2 lamp bases:  $4.99 each
  • 2 lamp shades:  $14.99 each
  • 3 cans Rust-Oleum Primer:  $4.68 each
  • 4 cans Krylon Avacado paint:  $3.24 each
  • 4 cans Rust-Oleum "fix the Krylon" paint:  $4.28 each
  • Set of 3 painters masks:  $4.98
  • Other materials:  tarp/drop-cloth, gloves, lamp harps, sand paper...already had.
Now considering I made a blooper in this project, you could actually complete this project for much less than I did.  You've learned from my mistake, right?  If you don't make a blooper, all you will need for the paint would be 2-3 cans primer, and 3-4 cans of the finish color you choose (I like to get that extra can just in case, plus you can always use it on other projects if needed).                                                           

This project was contributed by one of our fabulous readers! We love to share your projects with this great blogging community. So, if you have projects from kitchen renovation ideas to small bathroom remodels, overhauled and repurposed furniture, spray paint updates you name it please send it in! Thanks for reading Remodelaholic!

Take a look at these bright lamp ideas!


Susan October 15, 2011 at 5:26 PM  

I am glad for all your hard work, the lamps turned out well in the end.
Your lamps are gorgeous!! I love the green!

Kathryn Ferguson Griffin October 15, 2011 at 6:46 PM  

Way to press on through! They turned out lovely! Hope you are having a grand weekend. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

Becca October 16, 2011 at 3:14 AM  

I had the same thing happen awhile back using the exact primer and same paint brand.

I think it was mixing brands, though. Not the quality of the paint.

Krylon works well for me on tons of projects- but I can only use it with Kilz primer or Krylon's- which had poor coverage.

I'm no expert- just thought I'd throw my two cents in.

I do love the end results! Awesome final outcome!

banclothing October 16, 2011 at 10:10 PM  

That sucks about your Krylon experience. I recently posted about spray painting two thrift store lamps. I used Krylon primer and loved it; absolutely no globs or drips. I didnt' end up using any paint on top of the primer since I ended up loving the colour.

Jil Casey October 16, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

Maybe it did have something to do with the mixing of brands. How annoying. I have used krylon before without problem, but I will think twice about it now. But the green is great!

Rhonda October 17, 2011 at 7:15 AM  

Your lamps look great! Love them!
I had the same problem with Krylon paint just this past week! I will never use it again!

Rhonda October 17, 2011 at 7:17 AM  

Your lamps look great! Love them!
I had the same problem with Krylon paint just this past week! I will never use it again!

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