When we found this vintage pretty sitting curbside, I knew she had to come home with us.  I didn't hesitate because my goodness, her hardware alone is stunning!  The only catch?  Her body is made from vintage compressed wood (e.g. particle board, fiber board, MDF).  While yes, in a perfect world, solid wood would be preferred for it's durability (and refinishing possibilities), but compressed wood isn't the end of the world!  


I had a vision for this old girl that included replacing her drawer fronts with solid wood (we opted for Oak) to incorporate delicious, chocolatey, rich, wood grain, but first I had to clean up her body.  The trick to painting compressed wood is to prime the piece first, and use a paint with strong adhesion for increased durability.  I recommend chalk paint for a particle board piece (which is what I used on this piece), because of it's adhesion strength, but ultimately if you use a good primer (I recommend Kilz or Zinsser Oil-Based Primer), any paint should do the trick!  

Some of the most common wear found on compressed wood pieces are frayed edges, and this piece was no difference.  We had some fraying!

Frayed edges can be found on the legs of this pretty piece giving it less of a "shabby chic, naturally distressed" look, and more of a "is this piece even finished" look.  Structurally, the piece is solid, it's really just a cosmetic flaw...

 ...But cosmetic appearance is important - so how can we clean it up?  Start by sanding your rough edge with a fine grit sand paper - I used 400 grit on this piece to smooth it out.

Next, spackle!  Not much, just a thin skim coat over the rough edges you just sanded.  It doesn't have to look perfect once applied because you're going to sand it again after it's dry.

I prefer to use a metal putty knife when applying spackle because I feel like it gives me a cleaner skim coat.  

Once your spackle is dry (dry times vary by product so be sure to check your tub of spackle), you're going to sand again with a fine grit sand paper.  And here's where it's going to seem counter-intuitive, because you're going to sand it almost entirely off!  I gauge the smoothness of a piece more by feel than by appearance as I'm sanding to ensure I'm getting seamless finish.  The spackle can be a little deceptive in appearance in that once it's re-painted it may not be as smooth as it appears. 

Once you've sanded your spackle, give the piece another coat or two of paint, finish the piece off with your preferred clear coat and you're done!  Want more details on our sweet little french provincial end table?  Click here to check her out under our Available Items!