Train table transformation

Friday, thank God you are here. Not that this weekend will provide much rest! We’ve got two baseball games (one Honey Badgers, one Rockies), and a company picnic, plus the normal exercise/fishing/fishing/fishing. All systems GO.

I’ve also got some writing to do. Now that the kids are home all day, every day, I’ve got to fit more work in when I can.

But today, I’m rejoicing in a project completed. Remember awhile back I mentioned I had a couple of projects I was working on? Well, this one is done.

It’s a good thing too, because I was about to lose one of my children in the mess that was their room.

When I first bought the used train table ($40 on Craigslist), I just put it in the boys’ room, as-is. I didn’t know how long it would take to get to the re-do, and I figured they might as well use it until I found time to work some magic. They happily transferred toys, Legos and Lincoln Logs, and Graham laid down his own little patch of turf.

Great. They were using it, they loved it, it was exactly as I’d hoped. Of course that meant that when I wanted to start work on it, all of the toys that had so easily found a home on/in the table needed a new home. That home happened to be all over the floor. For weeks. I felt a little bit guilty about the disaster zone , but usually I just sort of closed my eyes–and their door–and tried to ignore it. I’m good like that.

Anyway, now it is done, and repopulated with toys, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Here’s a little recap.

I started by wiping down the whole table with a wet rag.

The top, in particular, was pretty gunky, so in addition to wiping it clean, I also lightly sanded the surface.

Because the rest of the table is laminate, rather than sanding or deglossing the whole thing, I just gave it two thorough coats of primer. I use Zinsser cover stain primer. Here’s where I point out that I’m no expert at these types of projects. I’m just learning as I go, experimenting, and using tips from a couple of diy blogs I trust, including YHL and Centsational Girl.

While I let the primer get good and dry, I got to work painting the top with chalkboard paint.

I’ve been itching to try chalkboard paint for a while, and though this isn’t my dream chalkboard project, I figured it was a low-risk place to start. I used Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint, which is tint-able to a variety of colors. I also hear Hudson Paint is good stuff. They make some awesome colors, and their website has really cool inspiration photos.

The paint was easy to work with, and I rolled on about four or five coats, strictly adhering to the recommended drying time.

Once the chalkboard paint was done, I started on painting the rest of the table. I went back and forth trying to decide which color to use. I wanted it to tie in with the dresser I re-did last summer, and hoped to use paint I already had. I considered using the dark blue dresser frame color, but was afraid I didn’t have enough paint left. I finally decided on the green once I saw a swatch of it next to the chalkboard paint. The colors look sharp together. Plus, Garrett voted for green, and it is his room.

Finally, after several coats of green paint, and two thin coats of polyurethane, all the painting was done, and it was time to condition the chalkboard.

Apparently, chalkboard paint needs to be conditioned by rubbing a layer of chalk over the entire surface. Sort of like you season a pan, I guess? There’s my little helper, conditioning away.

Another few days in the garage to let the chalkboard and the polyurethane really harden up, and back into the room the table went. Here’s Garrett, making sure the Legos are situated just right.

Everyone is settled in nicely.

You might have noticed one small thing still missing from the drawers–handles. Originally there were white nylon rope pulls. I cut those off before I started painting, knowing I wanted something different. Dumb. While I didn’t love the ropes, I can’t find anything else that fits right. Handles, pulls, none of them quite work. I’m on a mission now, though, so I’ll figure something out soon. Until then, those little dark holes stare at me like beady eyes. “Finish me!”

Like I said, I’m pretty happy with this project. I like the idea, I’m just not sure how well it will hold up. The drawers are on casters, and they just slide across the floor to roll underneath the table. They tend to bang into each other and the sides of the table. I’m worried about the paint job lasting under that kind of rough usage. I’m sure I’ll find out soon. Still, for a little more than $40, I don’t have too much invested. This table will serve its purpose for a bit, and I have another project under my belt. Lessons learned and all that.

So, with that I say, TGIF. Hope you all have a great weekend, getting outside and enjoying the world!


4 thoughts on “Train table transformation

  1. Papa says:

    Elder Abuse Alert! Nice project! I did not know that the chalkboard project was so dangerous that it required head protection. Love to all.

    • wishfit says:

      Not too bad, actually. The chalkboard paint on top is perfect. The green paint has worn slightly in a couple of spots where the drawers bang against each other (they are not on a framework, just roll in and out on the floor)but nothing major. I wasn’t expecting miracles, and it was a low-investment piece so I thought it would be fun to test it out. Will it last perfectly for years? Nope, but it’s been working great for now. It’s also possible there are types of paint that might “cling” to the laminate better (I did use primer as well), but I just wanted to use what I had on hand which was a semi-gloss latex. Good luck!

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