One of the most popular finishes these days is the so-called “shabby chic,” a modern term for what we used to call antique finish. Why would you want to take new furniture and intentionally make it look old? Strange though it may seem, there’s actually a very good reason.
Let’s say you have a spot where an antique would be just the ticket, but not just any antique. You want a certain style of furniture, in just the right color, with the perfect amount and type of wear; not too much, and only worn in the right places. You’d want a piece still in great structural condition that looks as though it was painted years ago, then was gently but regularly used. In other words, something that looks timeworn, but not bereft.
Whenever I have to spray fast-drying lacquer in the summer, I gird myself for blush. I’m sure you’ve encountered blush. It’s that whitish haze that looks like thin clouds trapped in the finish, and usually shows up when spraying during humid weather.
When things are going well, shellac and lacquer both dry very quickly because they cure strictly by having their solvent evaporate, and because very fast evaporating solvents are used in them. Normally, of course, that’s wonderful; I can spray quickly and have the piece dry quickly, a boon for those of us with less time than ambition.
The arrival of hot, dry weather reminds me that, though it may be tedious to work in, it’s perfect for the annual drudgery of the deck. Dry heat is aces both at quickly evaporating water used to clean and prepare the deck, and at curing the finish.
In my case, annual is an exaggeration because I don’t get to the deck every year. In fact, I’ve let it go so long that the finish has now given way to a piebald mess of dirt, mildew and bleached gray planks. No matter; it’s easy enough to rejuvenate.