1) I always have oil based primer on hand, especially for laminate surfaces like floating wall shelves or for covering wood like this oak mantel. No sanding required! Spray paint formulas are faster, but thinner in coverage. I like brush on formulas for surfaces that will get a lot of wear and tear. If you’re bored or curious, awhile back, I wrote up a few tips on refinishing with oil based primer and paint.
2) I keep two kinds of water based primer around, basic white for wall projects like priming our wainscoting, and deep tint gray for painting darker pieces like this blue chalkboard table.
3) .I love white paint in all finishes, so I keep several shades of basic white in my garage cabinets, including flat finish for ceilings, eggshell finish for walls or furniture, and semi gloss for trim and cabinets. I also have clearly labeled all the different paint colors in my house.
I keep an unhealthy amount of spray paint in my DIY cabinet. It’s an addiction and I’m not embarrassed to talk about it. You never know when the mood will strike to change the color of a picture frame to make a jewelry holder, or transform a free brassy chandelier. I follow the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared to spray paint”.
4) I’m still working with high quality brushes since I haven’t decided which kind of professional sprayer to purchase. As a result, paint conditioners are key for me for refinishing cabinets and furniture. Penetrol is for oil based (alkyd) primers and paints. I used it to refinish my kitchen island and the finish is so smooth, you simply cannot tell it was painted with a brush. Trust CG on this one. Floetrol is for latex paints and I used it on thegray blue dresser in my foyer.
These two favorites are not paint thinners, they are conditioning additives available at larger home improvement stores in the paint department. They practically eliminate brush strokes and drag in your paint, plus they lengthen your drying time just long enough to get a smooth finish. I love these conditioners, and won’t paint furniture with a brush without them anymore.
5) Polycrylic is a great protective finish for painted pieces like this dresser, this credenza, or even this lamp covered in silver leaf.
Finally, I do keep an extremely large stash of acrylic artist and craft paints lying around as well, just in case the ‘so you think you can paint’ mood strikes, like last weekend when I fancied myself an artist and mixed a bunch of paints to begin a large abstract.