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This is tentative solution for painting old furniture on site. I don't seek that kind of work unless they bring it to me and I have room or time but just yesterday agreed to repaint some furniture. My idea is to clean and scuff it then get the Zinnsner White Shellac primer tinted to a color and get it approved, then after that is on, add some tint or a little latex to some General Finishes HP which is harder than any other waterbased stuff I have seen (I hear Chem Aqua will work but I keep seeing technical difficulties posted on forums, so I will stick to the tried and true and trouble free for the most part GF) then clear it with more General Finishes HP, it dries very fast. I know with enough coats that this system will hold up very well, and will be fine. But maybe there is something else? I thought about a lacquer, but then the question becomes what primer to use on old stained wood. Can I maybe use an automotive primer, or can I just prime with any decent primer and use the ChemAqua, I really dont want to have to haul the furniture down the stairs and outside and the room is empty. I have to stain a few things though. I am mostly worried about the bed, I would hate for that grandaughter whose is being gifted to have her durn white bed chip because of me. I know how to spray cabacrylic and nitrocellulouse lacquers on new wood, but not sure what primer would work on old wood, that is the question, what primers.
 

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I don't think I would care for repainting furniture onsite. Because of the drying time you would be rushed to get it done and there is always the problem with overspray. I take everything to my shop to finish and spread the work out over a couple of days. If you really need to do the job onsite then I would go with lacquer if possible. The question is do you have a portable explosion proof exhaust fan to vacate the fumes from the house. With lacquer the smallest spark even from a light switch can set it off.

Before any recoating of a old finish is done a lot of preperation should be done first. Years of furniture polish, dirt and hand oils is all over the furniture and needs to be cleaned off first. I prefer to use a product made by Dupont called Prepsol Solvent. It or an equivilent can be found at places that sell automotive paint stores. At the very least clean the furniture with Krud Kutter Gloss Off available at Sherwin Williams.

If you wish to go with a waterborne finish I would put a coat of sealcoat on before the pigmented white shellac primer. Either the General Finishes HP or the Chem Aqua would work with it. I think a solvent coating would wear better though.

Lacquer could be a problem. If the old finish is lacquer or shellac then it could be done with lacquer. If it is an oil based varnish then the acetone in the lacquer thinner could lift the finish. It's best to test the old finish with a drop of lacquer thinner in an inconspicious place to see if the old finish melts or lifts before topcoating. If the finish melts it should be compatable. If it is compatable for a recoat I would put a coat of lacquer sanding sealer on first and then prime the furniture with Bushwacker White Lacquer Primer. Then the topcoat could be a common production lacquer.

I would not use automotive primers or paint on furniture. They are formulated for metal which doesn't expand and contract with the weather like wood does. Wood finishes are more elastic.
 

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Ive repainted over stained furniture so many times I couldn't count. As long as you sand properly with 180-240 grit and then wipe with Naptha, you can repaint with any latex paint or vinyl lacquer straight over the already finished furniture.....at least that's what Ive always used. 2 coats of your choice of latex or vinyl systems then a sealer and your choice of sheen topcoat. Ive never had or seen any adhesion problems with any of these systems.
 

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With your reputation on the line I would thoroughly clean the furniture before recoating it. It doesn't take very much to cause a finish to fail and with decades of grime on the furniture you can bet there is something there that will give you some grief. Also at some time or another there was probably spray furniture polish used on the furniture. These polishes contain silicone which can cause the new finish to fisheye if there is enough there. Often cleaning the furniture will remove enough of the silicone it doesn't interfere with the new finish.

If you are going to spray this furniture in that room I would use lacquer for a finish. It dries fast enough the overspray won't stick to the walls. Sometimes lacquer will wrinkle up an old finish especially if it is oil based. Try it in an out of the way place before committing to it. You can use a lacquer primer, the first coat a little thin to make better adhesion to the old finish. Then proceed as if it was new furniture.
 
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