Painted Old Chairs!

8 Materials
7 Days

Check this out! We scored a truckload of old chairs and a table!

An old closed restaurant was cleaning house and put an ad up on an auction site that my lovely wife Mariko follows. She saw "free furniture" and we were there the next day with a truck.

painted old chairs

This is the score! There are 16 chairs and a table in that vehicle. My wife's family are famers, so we're lucky enough to be able to store the chairs we aren't working on in a barn.

painted old chairs

The chairs!

painted old chairs

These were in pretty decent condition. I needed to add extra screws to the legs, but no major repairs.

I wanted to remove the backs and seats to paint, but ran into trouble. The backs came off easily, but the seats wouldn't budge.

Painters tape it is!

painted old chairs

The condition! Nothing a sander and a little elbow grease can't handle!

painted old chairs

Sanding time! This is probably the most most difficult part.

We started with 120 grit and finished with 240.

painted old chairs

After sanding down the parts for stain, we cleaned the chairs down with a rag and bucket of warm water.

Instead of a primer, we used Annie Sloan white chalk paint. There's no reason to use it, but we really wanted to try it!

Annie Sloan products are new to Japan and my wife went on an Annie Sloan buying binge. My bank account is crying!

painted old chairs

The bottom of a chair!

painted old chairs

This magical stuff is kakishibu! I am obsessed with it!


"Made from the fermented juice of unripe astringent persimmons, the color comes from the tannin molecules linking together and forming a coating. More than a coloring agent, kakishibu also has strengthening, antibacterial and waterproofing properties. Kakishibu was used in China and Korea, but reached its ultimate utilization in Japan. It was used as a wood preservative, waterproofer, insect repellent, folk medicine, and on washi (Japanese paper), fans, parasols, clothing and in sake production."

My wife is actually making her own now! There are a ton of persimmon trees around her family farm and she couldn't wait for the right time in the season to start. No joke, the process is stinky!

painted old chairs

This is three coats of kakishibu. This stain darkens with age, so it takes and couple projects and some time to figure it out. I have some stuff that is dark brown now that started out the color of the chairs in this picture.

painted old chairs

I used milk paint on all of the chairs. The colors are:

-Navy Blue

-Pistachio Green

-Emerald Green

-Wine Red


-Sand Brown

I had all of the milk paint in my workshop and it's a local Japanese brand. I had the Annie Sloan products too, so this project cost me nothing.

All of the chairs were waxed with Annie Sloan Clear Wax. The wax goes on easily and buffs to a smooth finish!

I'm very happy with the results!

painted old chairs
painted old chairs
painted old chairs
painted old chairs

Painted chairs y'all! These chairs sit around a table in my school and have held up perfectly to the wear and tear of students.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Deb
    on Nov 20, 2018

    Beautiful job. My daughter in law would die to have these chairs. Gave me some inspiration for her. Is the Kakishibu available in the US?

    • Bryan's Workshop
      on Nov 27, 2018

      Hey Julia! Sure! Do you have Facebook? I'll add some pics and info to the Bryan's Workshop Facebook page soon. I'll make a Hometalk post when it's finished too, but Kakishibu takes two years to make.

  • Eliza Spear
    on Nov 20, 2018

    Please let us know if after waxing the chairs still darken with age as you have said happened with previous projects. Would love to know.

    • Bryan's Workshop
      on Dec 9, 2018

      That's a good idea! We are eagerly anticipating the tan though. It's one of the best things about kakishibu.

  • Andy
    on Dec 29, 2018

    Why milk paint? I have seen many projects using this paint. I don't know much about it. Why is it special? Thank you...

    • Bryan's Workshop
      on Jan 1, 2019

      Hey Andy! Check this out:

      Milk paint:

      • Adheres to almost all clean, porous surfaces
      • Environmentally safe, non-toxic and anti-bacterial
      • Non-flammable
      • Dead flat finish
      • Solvent free
      • Fast drying
      • Odorless when dry
      • Comes in deep rich colors
      • Longest lasting paint known
      • Colors can be blended, by the user, to produce many tints and shades.
      • Permanent colors; will not fade
      • Easily cleaned up with water
      • No VOC's
      • Indefinite shelf life as powder in sealed bag

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