Monday, June 23, 2014

before + after: concrete and copper coffee table

I am so excited to finally share this post! (Probably almost as excited as my boyfriend is to finally have a coffee table.) This project has been in the works for quite some time now, and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Back in January, Tamsen and I passed the going-out-of-business Eddie Bauer store in the mall. They were selling all the store fixtures, and when I saw that this low, wide table with a simple metal base was only $20, I knew it would make a perfect coffee table. It sat stored away until I decided how to make it over. After Tamsen made these copper and concrete candleholders, I thought the coffee table needed a similar treatment.

Tamsen coated the table's original laminate-MDF top in concrete, using the same technique as she did for the candleholders. I originally wanted to paint the base using Krylon Premium Metallic Copper Foil spray paint (after priming it with a metal spray primer), but the color wasn't quite bright enough; it was more of a subtle rose gold. Plus, the finish rubbed off easily, and any handling left dull splotches. Metallic spray paints are completely dulled (so, ruined) by clear coats, so I couldn't even protect the paint. (That didn't stop me from trying--clear acrylic spray turned the paint a mustardy brown, and a wipe-on poly just wiped off the paint.) I eventually settled on painting over the Krylon with Martha Stewart Liquid Gilding in Copper. The gilding looked like it had a true, bright copper color and wonderful sparkle, and it could be clear coated without ruining the look. (And a paint-on liquid product would be much simpler than using copper leafing sheets.) I spent a whole evening trying to find the gilding here in town (tip: just order it from Amazon), but I eventually found some. As I tested it though, I found that the gilding, like the wipe-on poly, dissolved the Krylon paint and it ended up looking streaky. It went on fine over the clear coat attempt patch, so I ended up adding another day to the project to spray the entire frame with clear acrylic spray before painting on the gilding.

Applying the gilding was easy. I used a 1" foam brush to apply one coat, which I let dry before applying a second coat. The gilding is pretty noxious, so I recommend working with it outside. Also, I suggest using a foam brush rather than a bristle brush for two reasons: First, the foam gives a smoother finish, so it looked more like real metal than paint. Second, the gilding has to be cleaned up with a solvent, and it dries fast (and completely hard), so skip the messy cleanup and don't ruin a good brush, and just use a few disposable foam brushes.

After the gilding was dry, I applied a coat of Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2X in Clear Gloss. This is compatible with the gilding, and it actually brightened the color and enhanced the metallic sparkle (though the photos don't really do it justice).

It's done! It may have taken a few months and a great deal of trouble (and I may have been using a plastic storage bin topped with plywood as an interim coffee table), but I love the result. 

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