sealing the crusty counter

Marian ParsonsCleaning & care, Favorite Finds, Mustard Seed Studio

I shared this crusty counter I bought off Craig’s List last week…

antique counter | miss mustard seed

It is a fabulous piece, but it was shedding paint chips all over the place and it was dirty and had quite a number of cobwebs hanging out in the drawers and corners.  So, if I’m going to make it functional, it needed a good cleaning and needed to be sealed. Many of you ask how I deal with pieces like this, so I thought I would share.

Before I get into the how, I want direct you to the EPA website for information about working on pieces with lead-based paint.  I am not an expert, but I’ve worked on a lot of old, chippy pieces and I’m always mindful of the dangers of lead.  Please educate yourself before tackling a project like this.

This process is for pieces that do not contain lead-based paint.

My mom and I worked on the piece outside, so we didn’t have to worry about getting dust and paint chips in the house.  We started out by cleaning the piece everywhere.  This involved vacuuming up the cobwebs and loose dirt…

Miss Mustard Seed-0697

…and then scrubbing the piece with a rag and some all-purpose cleaner.  We used 409, but that’s just what we had on hand.

cleaning a chippy piece | miss mustard seed Miss Mustard Seed-0702

After the cleaning, it was looking so much better!

crusty counter after a cleaning | miss mustard seed

Now that it’s clean (relatively, anyway), I sealed the entire piece with a new product we’ll be carrying with our milk paint line.  It’s a water-based, non-yellowing, matte finish top coat called Tough Coat.  It does a lot of things well and one of them is sealing chipping paint.

sealing chippy pieces with tough coat | miss mustard seed

I brushed it liberally over the entire piece.  This is a case when applying something in a thick coat is a good thing.  That way, it can surround and seal the chunky paint chips.

sealing chippy paint | miss mustard seed

I made sure to coat anywhere there was paint, so it would be sealed and further chipping would be prevented.

antique counter | miss mustard seed

There is still a lot of texture to the paint, but it feels much smoother and the paint isn’t flaking off.  I will probably add one more coat for even more insurance against future chipping.  I am also having a glass top cut for it that will be ready next week.  This will make the work surface practical to use and clean.

Miss Mustard Seed-0708

Jeff is going to add some casters to the piece soon, so it will be easy to move around once we get it in the studio.

A good rule of thumb when dealing with antique chippy pieces is to do your homework and only buy pieces that you’re comfortable with.  If you’re concerned at all, it is just not worth it.  If you currently own a piece you’re concerned about, there are in-home test kits that can be used to determine if a piece has lead paint or not.  I’m not saying this to scare you, but just to make sure you’re aware when buying old painted pieces.


Well, we will be laboring on labor day as we move everything into the new studio.  We’ve rented a truck and hired some strapping young guys to make it go a bit easier.  We bought a fridge today and stocked it with waters to get ready.  I also put hand soap and toilet paper in the restroom, so we’re set and something so small like that makes everything feel more official.

I think it’ll be amazing to see how much space we gain in our home once the business is moved out.  I can think of two closets that will be emptied of fabric, boxwood stems and pillow forms.  Exciting stuff…

sealing the crusty counter

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