Video Tutorial: How to achieve the Potterybarn Black Finish

Have you ever longed to achieve the perfect black paint finish?  Like the worn black finish on Potterybarn/Ballard Design Furniture?   



Well, I have.  After years of trying different techniques,  I finally got it down.  Just in case anyone else has the same longing, I put together a quick video tutorial.  

This video demostrates my technique for turning thrifted furniture pieces into Potterybarn quality furnishings with the perfect worn black finish.



The furniture piece used in this tutorial was not a thrifted item.  It was actually a client project that was in pristine condition (it definitely did not stink :)  )  
It still however, represents the basic painting technique.

Do you have any secrets for getting the perfect black? 
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78 comments:

  1. Thank you for this video. It is exactly the technique I use and I am always getting asked about how I do it, now I can send them over to your blog!

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  2. beautiful work sara...=) i did a few antique pieces a few years ago. although i have used a similar technique as you have, i did these pieces a little different. there was little light sanding...it was the technique of the painting. they are teal and i had beveled glass made for the tops of each and added clear glass knobs for the top drawers and left the bottom drawer knobs the original wood knobs (painted as well), to add some interest to each piece. they are probably my favorite pieces in the house. =))

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing...her makeover looks awesome!!! Come by later today and share her at my NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAY PARTY.

    Blessings,
    Linda

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  4. It looks even better in person! Thanks Sarah for a great job. We love it.

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  5. Just found your blog, and I love it! Already on my blog roll.
    Brenda

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  6. Great video!!! Thanks for the tips.

    hugs
    Sissie

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  7. Great tutorial,thanks! I liked the song too... I'm going to have to keep this post on my sidebar - it's a keeper!!!

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  8. OK, I am totally bookmarking this for future reference and I must say the video was fabulous. I loved it! M.

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  9. Fantastic Tutorial!
    Thanks!
    xoxo

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  10. I also just found your blog, I'm loving it! This is amazing. I'm your newest follower. Please come and link up at my Mommy Monday link party here http://momommamoney.blogspot.com/2011/08/mommy-monday.html

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  11. Hi there!! I'm new to Pintrist and I'm loving your blog!! I do have a question for you...

    How do I accomplish a perfect finish for pieces covered in laminate (fake looking wood)?

    I have this amazing 30 year old sofa table my mom gave me. I was told at a large home improvement store that I could use lacquer spray paint (with no primer) to cover it; so that's what I did (in white). Needless to say, during a big move the paint started to chip off :(

    Have any advice for this beginner?? I would like to save this peice.

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  12. Jennifer,
    thanks for visiting and for your sweet comments. I don't have a lot of experience with painting laminate pieces. I have painted a few and have always used a primer first. Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs:
    http://nattybydesign.blogspot.com/2011/08/laminate-tops-embrace-them.html
    This post is specifically about laminate pieces. Enjoy. Sarah

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  13. Good idea about the stain pen, haven't thought of that. Very smart!

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  14. Beautiful results! Have you used this technique on a table? I would like to paint my oak dining table either white or black, but wonder about the wear and tear of the paint on a table top.

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  15. Great tutorial. Love the pictured piece and your instructions are perfect. I have to give this a try. I am your newest follower. So thrilled to have found your blog. Hugs, Marty

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  16. Nice tutorial. I've usually painting thrifted/garage sale pieces black, so this will be very handy. Thanks

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  17. I want to pin this to Pinterest, but I am running in to a problem (as I have with a few other blogs) saying that your image sizes are too small! Have you had this problem before?

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  18. This one was right up my alley! I had everything on hand & I even had an old baby doll bed that I wanted to paint "someday." I wasn't originally going to paint it black, but then I thought, "Why not?! I can always repaint it if it doesn't turn out."

    While I was in the process of painting the doll bed, my kids came in, one by one, and said "You're painting it black?!"

    Then my husband came in. He said "You're painting it black?!"

    I even had my own doubts about it. But, after it was finished, everyone liked it. It turned out beautifully & looks like an antique. I even found some lovely fabrics in pinks, grays & black to make bedding for it.

    And, you're not kidding when you say this is 'addictive!' I now want to paint EVERYTHING black!!!

    Well, I just thought I'd share this with you. I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago & I'm having so much fun looking thru it. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

    Heather B.

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  19. Excellent Video. Thank you so much for sharing.
    www.projectqueen.org

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  20. would it be okay to use a flat paint instead of semi-gloss? i am planning to do this to my headboard and two side tables.

    great video!

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  21. OMGosh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! Thank you!!! (and I also love "Back in Black" as the background music)

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  22. Great work! Visiting from A-Z. Yours is way better than the Pottery Barn version. -K

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  23. Love your tutorial; it is awesome! I was looking for something and this tutorial happened to pop up on Pinterest! Thanks for being there! :)
    Okay, I am in the middle of this technique on bedroom furniture right now and I can't quite figure out if I am reading it right. Am I correct in thinking I am to prime/sand once and paint black/sand 3 times? Or is it prime/sand once and paint/sand twice? Also, do I end with sanding prior to moving on to distressing/staining/waxing?
    Sorry for all the questions, I just want to be sure I get it right! It's a lot of work and I want awesome results to be my reward!
    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Jennifer

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  24. Jennifer, I didn't see an email address on your profile so, I hope you are reading this :) Here are the steps:

    -Sand entire piece
    -Prime once
    -Sand entire piece lightly
    -dust
    -paint black
    -sand entire piece lightly
    -dust
    -paint black again
    -sand entire piece lightly
    -dust
    -paint black again
    -sand only the edges
    -stain
    -wax

    I hope that helps. You can email me at theyellowcapecod@yahoo.com if you have any other questions. I would love to see your project when it's done, I'm sure it's going to be beautiful! ~Sarah

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    Replies
    1. I think I would have stained the piece before I painted black that removes the need to use the pen stain.

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  25. Fun tute to watch. Your piece looks wonderful - I am a lover of Kilz Original - the best! I use it on everything. I have re-done many pieces, but never stained the edges with a staining pen. Great tip - Thanks so much - it really does make your piece have a PB finish.

    My best- Diane

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  26. Got it, thanks! I'll be happy to send you a pic when it's all done!

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  27. I'm having trouble sanding through the primer. :( I tried the stain pen and its rubbing off where the primer is. But I just can't get all of the primer sanded all the way off.

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  28. Anonymous, Try using a sanding block. It will help you to sand harder. You could also try sand paper that is a little more coarse. The stain will not stick to the primer, only bare wood. Please send me your email if you have any more questions or issues. :)

    Thanks! Sarah

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  29. Hi, have you ever used paste finishing wax over something spray painted? I sanded, primed and spray painted a laminate dresser and wanted to try the wax but I would hate to ruin all the work I have put into this already. Julie @ cc_blake@yahoo.com

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  30. Anonymous, I do not believe that I have ever used the wax over something spray painted. My guess is that it will work just fine. If you are worried, maybe you should use a spray poly instead. Best of luck with your piece. ~Sarah

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  31. Excellent tutorial. thanks for the video!

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  32. Your Tutorial Rocked! literally :)

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  33. I just love all your beautiful items...I'm thinking about doing this to my bathroom cabinets.. would I use a eggshell or gloss paint? thank you

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  34. You rock and inspire me to get out the sander and make it beautiful! Thanks B

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  35. Thank you so much for sharing! I love painting furniture black too!!!

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  36. Thank you very much for featuring your free to view painting tutorials on your blog.

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  37. Could I do all the same steps but use a different color? I want to paint my daughters dresser pink with the same distressed look.

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  38. Is it wrong that I like your piece more than the Pottery Barn piece! :) Thank you for sharing!

    Tami

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  39. I love PB so this tutorial on Pinterest caught my eye. I just bought an end table at GW for $6.99 and couldn't decide if I wanted to paint it white or black, now after seeing this I know it will be black.
    Thanks so much for sharing:)

    ♥Rondell

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  40. Would it be possible to do this on a stationary piece? Our bathroom cabinet is in need of a makeover but it's attached to the wall.

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  41. What color stain pen do you use?

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  42. I can only find the wax in Natural for lighter woods is that ok? I am painting the furniture black, so wasn't sure if this is ok. Thanks so much!!

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  43. I did your technique on black krylon spray painted chairs and they turned out perfectly except I was not fully able to get past the white either. Have you considered tinting your primer black?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, I have never tried to tint the primer black but that sounds like a great option. Latex primer is another alternative. It comes off easier with sanding than oil based primer. However, I choose oil based primer for longevity. My furniture takes a beating so I want a tough finish. If you use latex primer it is easier to distress to edges and get through the white.

      Also, the waxing step helps to protect the finish but again, it is not necessary for a beautiful result.

      I hope that helps. Thanks for the great questions/comments.

      Best,
      Sarah

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  44. So glad to come across your blog. You are such an inspiration. We are following you on fb and twitter. You have so many great ideas. We had to pass this on to all of our Pbchitchat.blogspot.com members .

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  45. What sheen of paint are you using to get this look?

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  46. Thank you for posting this technique. I am in the process of making over our den. My husband and I are making a desk using an unfinished base cabinet and making a table top for both sides of the cabinet. We wanted a desk for two on the one wall of our den. I just applied the stain and can't wait to finish the whole project. So far so good.

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  47. How do you not get white primer showing through around where you got down to the wood? Do you know what I mean? Like a halo. I don't see that in your piece in the tutorial, which is awesome by the way. I did one in ivory but the white primer showers around the exposed wood wherei used the sanding block. Looks terrible. Any suggestions?

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  48. Sarah I absolutely love your work! I've painted and salvaged many a piece of furniture but have learn some really valuable tips from you and my latest sideboard has been a great success. Unfortunately I haven't been able to put my hands on a stain/varnish pen so I used an artists brush to apply same from a can. This was my first attempt at a wax finish and omg how wonderful!!

    http://dearmolly.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/organised/

    Thanks for the inspiration
    Lynda

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  49. Miranda - I am wondering this too, I am getting the same effect when I sand down where I want teh distressed look. Are there any tricks or tips?

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  50. Miranda and Anonymous, Yes, there are a few tricks...try using a higher grit sand paper to get through the primer, all the way to the wood. Another tip is to reduce the amount of surface you are sanding (concentrate on the very edge). If you still see some white primer, you can use a detail brush and your black paint for touch ups:). Best, Sarah

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  51. Will do. Thanks Sarah!

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  52. Hi Sarah! Amazing! I am doing this to a bunch of fun, mismatched furniture for my dining room in the hopes that it will be casual and unique. If I finish with wax, do you think cold/hot glasses or serving platters will leave rings on the table? I was originally going to finish with urethane to avoid the rings but I'd love to wax because I think it will look and feel nicer. What do you think?

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    Replies
    1. Jeff, your dining room will be fabulous! That is a tough question, the wax provides a beauitful finish but poly would hold up to heavy use better. It wouldn't hurt to ask your local paint professional when you pick up your supplies:) Have fun with your makeover(s)!! Best, Sarah

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  53. Thanks for the tutorial. I bought an expensive brush and primed it but left brush strokes on table. I'm now painting it black. I'm worried about how it will turn out. Is this bad to see sstrokes on 1st layer of black?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Mindy, make sure you follow the steps (most importantly sanding inbetween coats). The first coat will always appear streaky, it will improve with the second and third coat. Best, Sarah

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  54. Mindy,
    Over my many years of refurbishing furniture, I find that Wooster or Purdy brand brushes and Ben Moore paint work the best and hold up/last longer than any others as far as a finish and durability. Make sure to use oil base paint and a china bristle brush. You can use a cheaper version of one of these brands for the kilz, as it causes more damage/wear and tear to the brush. When you sand it, any uneven spots will come out. Hope this helps!

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  55. Thank you. I have painted many pieces black but didn't like the end result. Paste finishing wax should do the trick. Happy Holidays

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  56. Do I sand entire piece again lightly after 3rd and final coat before I distress, stain and wax?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! After the third and final coat, sand only the edges. Not the entire piece. Hope that clarifies. Enjoy your new piece! Best, Sarah

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  57. Hello! I have a question... Do I lightly prime the furniture or do I prime to wear the piece is completely white( no wood color coming through)? My husband and I are debating this! Thank you

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  58. Hi.. I have a question... Do u lightly cover the piece with primer or do you completely make it white( no wood color coming through)?.. My husband and I are debating this..
    Thank you

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  59. Hi! Do I primer the piece lightly or prime until its completely white?

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  60. Hello! Found your very awesome blog via Pinterest after Googling how-to's on painting furniture black to achieve a smooth finish. Husband and I are in the process of refinishing our living room tables (mission style - tops will be stained English Chestnut, legs will be black, and we're adding in a bottom shelf to each table). Anyway - can you please tell me if the wax is like furniture wax in so far as if someone puts a glass on the table, will it leave a white ring? Thanks!

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  61. I love the tutorial! I am trying this with a small bookshelf but having difficulty with brush strokes where I had to use the brush in corners etc...I am using the foam roller on the rest. How do you handle the brush strokes? I didn't know if sanding and remanding and the paste wax would diminish the brush strokes or if there are any other ways to manage this? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Karin, You shouldn't have an issue with brush strokes if you are sanding in between coats and you are using a high quality soft bristle brush. My advice is to try a different brush and that should solve the problem. Best, Sarah

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  62. Love! Love! Love your site!!! Thank you for inspiring me! I've convinced my husband to help me paint an old kitchen hutch black, however we have two questions. Do you have a suggestion for a second "favorite" black paint? Unless I travel an hour away, I can't get Martha Stewart paint where I live. Secondly, we are concerned about the white primer showing thru on the distressing step...would you suggest using a black latex primer (seems you can't tint oil primer black. :( ) Can't wait to see the end result! Thanks for sharing your talent!!!

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    1. Thank you. Since the Martha paint isn't avaiable where you live, you could use any paint brand that you like and have it mixed to match Martha's Silhouette. Unfortunately due to the light base of most latex primers, they cannot tint primer black. My tips for avoiding the white primer showing through on the distressing step is to avoid the edges when you prime. That way, there won't be any primer where your edges are rubbed. Also, if you use a latex primer, it is easier to sand through than oil-based primer, which leaves less of it visable in the end. Have fun and enjoy your new hutch!

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  63. This tutorial is fantastic! I also love that you actually respond to the questions of your readers! Definitely a blog to follow! ♥

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  64. Hello there, I absolutely love what you have done with your table. I just purchased a kitchen table and want to do the same beautiful finish. I am wondering your thoughts regarding using the wax to finish off the paint technique on a kitchen table that will see a lot of use? My father suggested a polyurethane, will using that instead of the wax change the final look of the piece? What do you suggest? Thank you in advance. E

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  65. I am going to practice on a bare naked wood that I want to use for a shelf...I have stained it once...now what.?

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  66. Thank you so much for your video...used all your info. tips, and products to create my dining buffet and I love it! Your blog is such a huge inspiration for me- http://www.2ndstorysewing.com/2014/01/dining-room-buffet-makeover.html

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  67. Quick question! What sheen do you buy your paint in (flat, satin, semi-gloss..etc..)? :) Thanks!

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  68. I dusted before I primed... you tut doesn't say to... should I sand again?

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  69. I dusted before I primed..yo u tut doesnt say to do this... . do I need to resand and leave dust or not?

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  70. It has been carefully formulated to re-apply the colour to that worn piece of antique leather (such as a Chesterfield). It helps you recreate that much-loved traditional effect so striking in many older pieces.
    For more information kindly visit:- Antique Finish Kit

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