Painting for Crafts
If you are new to crafts, this will be helpful. I am not endorsing any particular brand and there may be cheaper substitutes, so ask the stores.
Sooner or later you have a piece of wood that you want to paint. Sadly, a professional house painter will be correct when he tells you that preparation is 70% of the job. I say sadly because you want to paint that thing and get to the decorating and using and preparation is going to take a day or two. Yes, you read that right.
First off, some evil creature has glued the price tag to the piece. I am getting to the point that no matter how much I want something, if the price tag doesn't lift in the store, it isn't coming off when you get it home, but if you had to have it one person swears by mixing cooking oil and coarse salt and using a scrubbing sponge on it. Here is my warning, to paint something it must be oil free and you just put oil on it. Now you have to get the oil off and oil will penetrate fresh wood and then come back out at a later date. I think you see the problem. Thus, using acetone which is going to mess up your fingernails even without polish, it is very drying, will remove the label faster than alcohol but you are going to have to sand the piece to really get the label and glue off and that piece of sand paper will never be used again. Nothing gums up sandpaper like paper with glue.
Now that you have the label and glue removed, you are ready to paint. NOT. Now you check for uneven places that need sanding. You have to use your fingers because wood is sneaky. It puts the grain right where the bumps are so you can't see them. It is an expert at camouflage. It does not want to be painted. Do not think the paint is going to fill in imperfection. Paint is paint, not filler and you may wind up using wood filler if you bought a damaged piece and that really is something you don't want to do because I don't care what they say, it never works or blends in. Glue a jewel over it.
Now, you are ready to prime. Why prime? Your paint will glide over primer like it is supposed to but it will just unevenly sink into raw wood. You will have a smooth surface but....and no one ever tells you this....paint will sink into wood and if you make a mistake when painting and try to remove that mistake, it may be a quarter of an inch into the wood and that creates a hole. I had a friend strip a white piece down to black paint and was stuck there because the wood had not been primed. There were a dozen coats of white on it to cover the original black and he wanted to know what to do. I suggested he paint it black, blue or dark green or possibly red. White was not going to happen. Light colors are more likely to just streak than cover. What is a primer? I have no freakin' idea except I like to buy spray cans for crafts because a spray gets into every crevice and they work. What I buy is call Kilz but there is another brand because Lowes was out of spray Kilz and sold it to me. It worked just as well and was cheaper but it wasn't as white. I don't care. The trick on primer that I have learned the hard way is to follow the directions which you can't see without a magnifying glass for all the warnings which you can't see without a magnifying glass.
However, your piece must be clean and dry. That means it must have dried overnight after you loving washed every square inch of it. One cat hair and you have ruined your surface. One piece of dust and you get the same effect except that it is now speckled. Inspect before spraying. There is nothing like lovingly and artistically painting a piece only to watch pieces of your design lift up and fall off. This is why we prep the piece.
Shake the can well and this is work. This is not turning it a couple of times and spraying. This is doing the shake. I like some music with my shake. If the primer is not shaken enough, it will spritz and you get an nasty pattern. The objective is to get an even not running coat. Hold the can the proper distance or you get drips. Lightly spray at least twice. A heavy coat is not a good coat. Work on getting every tiny bit covered lightly. Then let dry and over night is a good idea. This is why your whole job may take 3 or four days to complete. The drier everything is before more paint is added, the better the end product. Now, before you pop that lid on the can of primer or paint, turn away to something you want to get paint on but not for use, turn the can upside down and spray until nothing but air comes out. That way your primer or paint won't dry and seal the tube and spray nozzle and you can use the can again. Don't try to put more primer on doing this. You will just make a mess. I am an expert at trying that and I get 100% messes.
Now you need a base paint. That is the color you are using for the background. You will need at least two coats of the color for the best painting surface as the paint is now evening out your surface. I always start with the back of the object because this shows me what the front is going to look like. My secret to getting an even coat is to brush a straight line of paint a half to whole inch from the bottom. Why? Because Murphy's Law of paint is no matter how much you put on the brush or how short the object you will always run out of paint before you reach the end of the stroke. So I just put extra paint there to pick up and get to the end with. It works for me.
Then, I always go around the edges with the left over paint on the brush that has slopped over not trying to cover them. By the end of the project, enough paint will have slopped over to nicely finish the edge without trying. Then between coats I do not stick my brush in a cup of water. I place it in a wet paper towel and that will save you a lot of paint and prevent for the most part a gummed up brush. This doesn't work for oil based paint, only for water based.
After the base coat is on and completely dry, again: over night, you are ready for your masterpiece. The really good news is if down the line you really hate your creation, you can strip it back to bare wood and start over because you primed the wood. Otherwise, like my friend, you will wind up with a piece of wood you love covered with paint you can't remove and truly hate.