Sustainability tips and tricks for upcycling your furniture, written by Joanne Condon, who specialises in upcycling furniture workshops all over Ireland for almost 11 years, while teaching her expertise online through a range of online classes.
Sustainability Tips and Tricks for Upcycling your Furniture
Upcycling furniture has a huge benefit for our planet. Upcycling furniture that we already have or buying old pieces will greatly minimise the waste created in our homes and reduce what ends up in landfills each year. We are all familiar with the term fast fashion and what it’s doing to our planet, but fast furniture is also a huge problem and is the fastest-growing landfill category.
The effects that Fast Furniture has on the Environment
According to a yearly report from The EEB (European Environment Bureau) 10 million tonnes of furniture end up in landfills every year in Europe. With trends changing in the last number of years and the move away from good quality materials and craftsmanship in how furniture is assembled, more cheap plastic and poor-quality metal furniture are ending up in landfills. Fast furniture has many design flaws and is mass-produced, therefore making it very difficult to mend, reducing the chances of it having a second life.
If we replace fast furniture by upcycling old furniture, it can slow down the demand for manufacturing, reduce the use of raw materials and save the world from so much pollution.
Older furniture is made with great craftsmanship, holds so much character and can be easily mended. Not only that, once a bit of TLC is given it can last for years and years. Painting it the way you want to, changing colours with the years and not being chained to trends will not only help the environment but also keep more money in your pocket.
Painting can change the look of a piece completely and open our minds to being creative with the function of old furniture. Old wardrobes make great pantry presses. Old china cabinets can make beautiful shoe displays and old chairs can make for interesting planters. Hanging on to old legs or handles can make for interesting projects when upcycling in the future. Painting old handles can change them completely with minimal waste.
When we are upcycling furniture, there are a few things we need to consider so that future problems aren’t created. A quick paint job may lead to the piece not being easy to live with, chipping and hard to clean. This will lead to frustration and the piece ending back up in landfills again. I’m going to share with you a few simple things we can do so your paint job lasts longer. If you are looking for old furniture to upcycle, you can find out more on my website here.
Cleaning your furniture
Furniture should always be cleaned before working on it. Many pieces will have some grime left from their previous life, this can leave a waxy residue, can block, and clog the sandpaper and can prevent primer and paint from sticking to the furniture correctly.
Sanding sounds worse than it is, sanding a piece should only take a few minutes and a scuff or quick sand is all that is required for furniture prep, but it really increases the durability.
I know that there are many paint brands that promote the ‘quick fix’ painting solutions like not sanding and no need to prime, but priming increases hugely the durability of a piece. With proper priming, a paint job on furniture can last years without chipping or the need for repainting.
A good paint brand will help hugely with durability, and with the ease and finish of a paint job. Water-based paints are easy to use and better for the environment. I prefer a satin style-based paint, there is no need to seal this type of paint and it’s easy to wipe clean and live with like all the other furniture you would have in your house.
Top 5 products for best sustainability practices when Upcycling
Eco-Ezee Paint Tray
These paint trays are made from 100% recycled materials with no wastage during the manufacturing process, but the benefits don’t end there. After you use the tray for your painting projects you simply allow the paint to dry on the tray and reuse it. The paint dries and hardens the tray more, saving you from using water to clean it out and the convenience saves you a job at the end of a project. Click here to find out more.
Brush Comb and Roller Cleaner
This is a great tool to help you keep your brushes for longer and clean your rollers in the most effective way. Keeping your brushes in order will allow you to keep them for years. The tool itself is also made to stand the test of time. With its rust-resistant stainless-steel blade and robust quality. These are available at lenehans.ie
Pretty Boy Paint Cleaner and Conditioner
Since I started using this paint cleaner and conditioner, I can’t live without it. It’s excellent for washing your paint from your paintbrushes but also brings back the lovely softness of a new brush. All you need to do is shampoo the brush and leave it to settle for a few minutes to do its work and rinse with water this teamed up with the brush comb leaves our brushes like new. Check them out here.
Low VOC paint
VOCs mean Volatile Organic Compounds; these are chemicals found in paints. Excessive exposure to VOCs can have harmful effects on your health. VOC also affect the environment. Each paint tin should hold a symbol of what level of VOCs are in the products. Looking for water-based paints with Low VOC are the best paints to use for painting furniture. Some of my favourite low VOC paint brands are Crown satin, Acres Hall and Colourtrend.
Joanne Condon has been Upcycling furniture for almost 11 years in her business and hosts full day upcycling furniture workshops all over Ireland. She also teaches her expertise online through a range of online classes for more information about Joanne and her business, visit www.joannecondon.com
She also has a YouTube channel where she shares lots of Upcycling Furniture projects, which you can check out here