Pressed Wood Fireplace - From Cheap to Chic

Pat Rios
by Pat Rios
10 Hours
Last month, one of my customers came to my house to drop off a couple of dressers she wanted me to refinish and, when she saw another cabinet I had painted with layering technique she fell in love with its color and finish asked me to do the exact same thing on her fireplace/TV console.
This was her piece before. It is made of pressed wood, which I love to paint because almost any transformation is for the better!
First I removed doors and hardware then filled all dents and scratches with Minwax high performance wood filler. Next I light sanded the whole piece (120 then 220 grit sandpaper).
I cleaned it with TSP diluted in water then primed the entire piece with Rustoleum primer spray.
I painted the piece in light blue (Ben Moore Harbor Haze) using a sponge roller on the large areas and a Purdy brush on details and corners.

After the blue was dry, I applied a coat of light gray ( Valspar sculpture clay) over the entire piece.

P.S. I made my own chalk paint by mixing latex paint with Calcium Carbonate (2 parts of paint and 1 part of CC)
Before the gray was completely dry, using a 120 grit sandpaper, I sanded the piece in linear movements, following the wood grain, so the blue in the first layer could show through the gray. I sanded harder on all edges to show the wood and give it a more rustic, distressed look.
With a metal-bristle brush, I brushed the entire piece also with linear movements. It leaves some darker lines all over the piece adding the most gorgeous effect.
Then it was time to dry brush some white. I used a cheap brush, dabbing it just a little bit on some white paint and lightly brushing over the entire piece.
Whenever I went too heavy, I just wiped off the white with a baby wipe then brushed again.
Finally, I waxed the whole piece with American Paint Company clear wax, and, with their dark wax, I "antiqued" only the edges of the piece.
I applied the wax using a painters brush and a rag to remove the excess.
Here is the before and after. What do you think?
Thanks for reading. More details and pictures on my blog post. See link below.
Pat Rios
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Char. Char. on May 07, 2016
    When you used the metal brush, was your paint completely dry?

  • DORLIS DORLIS on May 07, 2016
    I love all the painted pieces I have seen but wory about scratches. I have cats who love to sit on high places. How do I prevent scratches from their claws? Is there a finish I cold put on the top of the piece?

  • Jeri Webb Jeri Webb on Dec 12, 2017
    Can polyurethane be applied on top of the wax finish? I do prefer polyurethane to wax for cleaning purposes, but is wax easy to clean now? Thank you! Great work btw!

Join the conversation
4 of 67 comments
  • Valerie Valerie on Jun 25, 2016
    " It is made of pressed wood, which I love to paint because almost any transformation is for the better!" -- AMEN! LOL Looks fabulous! 10 hours of labor, however.... I am surprised a customer was willing to pay for that labor on a cheaper piece of furniture.

    • Pat Rios Pat Rios on Jun 25, 2016
      Thanks Valerie! Oh, my hour is still very cheap hahaha.

  • G. Marie Robertson G. Marie Robertson on Jun 29, 2016
    It has been said that you "can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" but you have proved that to be incorrect. Great looking transformation!