I’m always on the lookout for free and cheap stuff, particularly large pieces. My toddler “J” has a ton of toys but not so many furniture items.
I was out walking the dog a few weeks ago and stumbled upon a kids’ plastic desk on the side of the street for free. It would never have occurred to me to have purchased a young toddler a desk, but as soon as I saw it, I was sure it would be a useful piece. We have a small table and chairs, but the chairs are a little high for “J” (who is not particularly tall for his age), and it’s hard for him to pull himself close to the table once he sits on a chair. The desk is a perfect solution! I also thought that the tilted desktop would be helpful for reading and drawing. Sure enough, he LOVES it!
The desk was pretty ugly when I picked it up: it was dirty, not the prettiest in “style,” and had some stickers still have stuck on it. I instantly went to work fixing it up.
I didn’t take the greatest pictures of it, but you can see it beforehand here:
It’s in the bathtub because I was starting to wash off the dirt. Not the most appealing piece ,but it was structurally sound and had a decent overall design.
- Wash off the desk.
- Sand the desk so that paint will adhere better. This also removed the stickers that were on it, which I was very happy about.
- Take the desk apart — I found that it was really easy to take off the side panels, so I decided to paint them a different color.
- Spray paint with paint that’s meant for plastic — I did two coats.
- Put the desk back together when it’s dry. All done! The paint says that it adheres to plastic best when it has a chance to dry for about a week, so I didn’t give it to “J” right away.
Here’s the final version!
This was my first experiment painting plastic and using spray paint, and I think it turned out well. The paint does scratch off a little, so it’s probably not going to hold up for years, but so far, we’ve had no problems.
A few tips I’ve learned from the process:
- Make sure you keep the spray can at a distance from what you are painting, and don’t hover over any spots too long. I had a few problems with runny paint that would have been prevented by this.
- Spraying over runny paint drips actually works to fix them. I was shocked at how well it fixed the problems and made the drips disappear.
- Be careful using a finishing coat. I wanted to spray a clear coat on at the end to help seal it, but it just created a strange murky tint to it. It was easy to spray more paint over the top when I realized I didn’t like this, but I would be wary of using a clear coat again as a result of this. It’s possible that it didn’t work well because I sprayed it too soon after painting and/or because I did it in the garage when it was fairly cold out, and the paints usually suggest a somewhat warm ambient temperature.
- Consider using a primer first. All the things I read online seemed to suggest that you don’t really need a primer, but since doing this, I’ve started working on another project painting plastic, and I’ve found that using primer has made a big difference in how well it’s adhering and how it looks.
Happy DIYing and upcycling!