Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tried and True... DIY Products I Love!

Although I normally share furniture before/afters, room reveals, tablescapes, etc, I've been wanting to share some of the little things that have made maintaining a home and working on projects easier for me.  I've mentioned before that I'm sort of a "product junkie" because I love to try all types of paints, cleaners, tools, topcoats, etc. to find out what works best for me.  When I find myself reaching for a certain product frequently or am completely amazed at it's effectiveness, I mentally take note so I can pass it along to all of you!

1) Some of these products may or may not be new to you, but hopefully there is something you can take away from this post, and keep in mind, these are all just my honest opinions and I haven't been compensated for any of them :)  First up, I'll start with the cleaners...  Chomp! Multi-Finish Painted Wall Cleaner: I cannot describe how much this product saved me last Spring when I was tirelessly cleaning and working my fingers to the bone to get ready to list our house for sale.
It was a new construction house when we purchased it and the builder used a very light, thin coat of flat paint on all the walls.  I painted many of the rooms with more durable paint, but the two-story foyer, great room, and open upstairs hallway hadn't been re-painted yet..
If you're familiar with living with flat wall paint and kids/pets, then you'll know my frustration with cleaning the grime and scrapes off the walls without taking the paint off with it!  My youngest daughter had just turned two when we moved into the house and could never reach the stair railings, so you can imagine what kind of kid-grime showed on these walls because they were her support to go up the stairs (two sets)...
I found the Chomp! cleaner at my local Home Depot and decided to give it whirl... The results were amazing.  Just a few squirts and a damp rag or soft sponge and I watched the colored fingerprints from markers, grime, and even scratches/marks from toys hitting the wall, disappear!  It's a gentle enough and non-toxic cleaner that doesn't take the paint (or your skin) off either.  Highly recommend!

 2) Another cleaner that I'm amazed by is Goo Gone's Painter's Pal, but I can't take credit for finding this one. We were having some warranty work done on our home and the workers that came to paint after drywall work, dripped paint on the carpet in a few areas.  The construction manager shared this product with me because of some small spots in the carpeted craft room/office where I did most of my painting at the time...
  
Had we stayed in the house longer, I fully intended on replacing the carpet with hardwoods and despite always using a drop cloth, there were a few paint drips (latex and milk paint) that got away from me.  I thought I was doomed because no carpet cleaner would even begin to get the milk paint out!
The Painter's Pal (also at Home Depot or Lowe's) really did the trick and there wasn't a single spot of paint that didn't come out.  If you ever splash any paint on carpet, skip the normal carpet cleaners and go straight for this stuff!

3) If you've painted cabinetry or re-habbed a lot of old furniture, you're probably familiar with TSP or trisodium phospate because it preps the surface area for painting.  TSP is a great cleaner, degreaser, and stain remover, but contains phosphates that are harmful to lakes and rivers, so now TSP substitutes are more readily available...
Over the years of picking through barns, flea markets, etc, I've found that in order to get some items cleaned up, it takes a powerful product to get the job done.  As a rule, I usually start with the gentlest of cleaners, but sometimes a piece of furniture, antique fan, etc. just needs the big guns!  TSP Substitute has worked well for me...just make sure you follow the directions on the label.

4) Moving on to the paint/furniture re-finishing products...  With the proliferation of decorative and chalk-based paints on the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed with options.  I have yet to try all the chalk-based paints out there (but I want to) and I've tried most of the milk paints readily available, but in my opinion, there is one brand of paint that just does not get the attention it should... General Finishes Water Based Milk Paint (and Glaze Effects).
Table in General Finishes "Lamp Black"
If you've followed along the blog for a while, you'll know that I use a ton of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!  It's a tried and true product that I love, but didn't officially include it in this list because I wanted to share the lesser-known and more affordable option of GF's Milk Paint...
Don't let the name "Milk Paint" fool you because it's not a true milk paint, meaning it does not come in a powdered form that you mix with water.  It's actually a superior latex-acrylic paint that goes on smoothly, lays flat after each coat, and is extremely durable.  It's not as matte as Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint, but is easy to distress, layer, and get the same desired look.  Also, If you're frustrated with not finding (or having to make) a true black, GF's "Lamp Black" is the best!  It's my go-to black paint and I've painted many pieces with it.  GF also has just added several new colors to the line that I can't wait to try! But, you want to know what one of the best things about GF's Milk Paint?  The price!  A quart of the Milk Paint runs around $25 at Woodcraft vs. almost $40/quart for any kind of chalk-based paint.  They also sell pints for those smaller projects for around $16, which is much more cost-effective than the sample pots of chalk-based paints.  
Also, if you're not a huge fan of using dark wax or haven't mastered the technique yet, try using General Finishes Glaze Effects, which is a perfect companion to the Milk Paint (but can be used over other paints). You can read more about the glaze and techniques HERE...

5) If you re-finish furniture, you're probably used to picking up the companion waxes wherever you purchase your paint and there is nothing wrong with that.  I just purchased a can of Annie Sloan's Clear Wax and used them on my last furniture projects, but like the paint above, I wanted to share a more affordable option...
Howard's Citrus Shield Paste Wax is around $14/can vs. the $27/can for other brands.  I pick mine up at Woodcraft (which is now farther from me since I've moved)!  This is normally my go-to wax because not only is it less expensive, I find it easier to apply, blend, and buff.  It also does not have the intense chemical smell that Annie Sloan's and Johnson's Paste Wax has.  Over the years, I've developed sensitivity to a lot of the re-finishing products I've used and simply have to be choosy with products (and wear a mask).  This wax is a healthier option for me.  

6) Yes, paper towels are on the list of products I love! Blue shop towels to be precise... I have to admit that I sort of panic when I run out of these!  These can be found at any home improvement store or even Walmart.  I buy them in bulk at Costco and use them for everything from scrubbing down furniture projects to the waxing/buffing process. As I mentioned above, many pieces of furniture that I get a hold of are in need of a ton of cleaning!  I hate to use rags and washcloths that need to be run through the laundry after they turn black with cleaning, so the disposable option works best for the very dirty jobs and these are tough enough to act like rags.
  
Blue shop towels are also strong enough to use for applying glazes, washes, and other faux finishing treatments and are great to use for applying and buffing furniture wax!  They don't rip or leave behind any lint along the way and are less expensive option than purchasing rags.


7)  Although the last product isn't technically a DIY product, I just had to share because it has helped tremendously!  If you are into DIY, you'll notice many products can have harsh effects on your skin and hands, especially if you are painting and doing DIY projects frequently.  I'm pretty good about using gloves when I'm stripping, staining, and using harsher products, but I don't like to paint or wax with gloves on.  I need to be able to feel the finish and gloves restrict that, so my hands feel a bit beat up after projects (especially using wax).  
Now I'm the sort of girl that will drop $40 on a can a paint or not hesitate to buy a great vintage piece for my home, but for some reason, spending money on expensive personal care products, designer bags, clothes, etc. just really isn't my thing... until I found Basin's Shea Scrubs.  Basin has a large store in Downtown Disney, Orlando with tons of samples of this stuff...  It only took three trips there to finally break down and spend the $30 on a tub (it's available online too) and I have no regrets!  
I've had this since September and have used it regularly to help my hands and it's clearly going to last a while. You only need to wash with a very small amount to feel it working immediately!  It works wonders on feet too :)  If your hands feel awful after painting or DIY project, this is a good investment!  

I hope some of these products can help you out in your home or with your DIY projects!  Do you have any experience using any of these?  What did you think and what are your favorite go-to products?

Kristen

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15 comments:

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Thanks for all the info. I need to get those first two things for sure. I have dried paint in a couple of places on the carpet. My hands are also terribly dry especially after painting and sanding. I'll tell my hubs we need to go to Disney World....just kidding.

Robin from highpointcircle.blogspot said...


Great post. I learned about a lot of new products (to me) and hope I remember all the great advice you included too! Thank you.

Lori Lucas said...

Thank you! I have been looking for a good black. I will order this. Isn't it great when we are from different parts of the country and can expose each other to some of our regional favorites! I'll try the glaze too. This was a great post! Lori LUcas

Suzy Handgraaf said...

Great tips, Kristen! Thanks for sharing. I needed to know about a couple of these. Wonder if Kendall would pick up some of the scrub for me while she's at Disney World this week. lol

Urban Farmhouse Chic said...

Loved seeing all of your go to items. I am going to see if the paint is available in the Atlanta area and give it a try.

Jo Ann said...

Great post...definitely going to try most of these products! Thanks!!

Jo Ann said...

Great post...definitely going to try most of these products! Thanks!!

Vicki Daugherty said...

What a great post! I am not a diy'er but I loved reading about these products. What I need to say, however, has nothing to do with products.... it is about that amazing white desk in your room in front of the bay window. Is that yours or did you use it from a source? It is magnificient and so perfect in front of that window. It appears antique, painted, and I'd love to hear the story behind it...an old family piece, a flea market find, or whatever. Thanks for sharing. Oh and btw, the email address listed for my google account is incorrect.... if you'd like to email me please use
vcdaug01@yahoo.com Vicki in Louisville KY

Kathleen said...

Thank you for this very useful information! I'm taking notes. Also, your home is lovely. Some lucky person will snatch this right up.

Designed Decor said...

Kirsten, Do you have to prep with the GF milk paint and does it react like typical milk paint(where it flakes off) or is it like a chalk paint? Thanks for your favorite products list. I need to try a few of these!

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Kristen, you have the best tips!..This is such a fantastic post!…Pinning for sure!!!!…thanks as I am going to purchase quite a few of your DIY products!

Mary said...

Thanks for these great tips Kristen! I'm pinning and picking up a few of these products for sure at my next trip to Lowe's, particularly the Chomp & Goo Gone Painter's Pal!

Lesa said...

AMAZING TIPS/INFRO....THANK YOU. FIY,I PURCHASE THE LAMP BLACK PAINT AT http://www.rockler.com/general-finishes-ef-milk-paints-pint. THEY HAVE GREAT SALES AND WILL NOTIFY YOU VIA EMAIL......SOMETIMES 25% off and free shipping. BTW; totally enjoy your blog and appreciate all you share. warm regards. lesa

Dear Emmeline said...

Definitely need to try the Chomp and Goo Gone!! Thanks for the heads up!

Mandy Fradsham said...

I have just recently found your blog and I love it! I wish we could get the same products here in Australia but we seem to be quite behind the ball in this field. To ship internationally is very expensive and alot of the products are not available here in Oz. Looks like I will have to move overseas if I want to get my projects looking as beautiful as yours do. Regards Mandy

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