When I wrote about our old pew we’ve had for almost 20 years back in July, I honestly didn’t think it would take this long to rehabilitate her.
Gee, that makes it sound like the thing was so bad it took a month of labor to get her back in shape, doesn’t it? When all I really meant was that I didn’t work on the pew very much, so here we are a month later…
I did get some great comments and ideas from my excellent readers (thank you!), but in the end with all the stains, old nails showing, and seams coming apart, attempting to refinish (actually restore, since it was beginning to come apart) was beyond our ability and time frame.
Now remember, this picture doesn’t adequately show the damage done from 15 years hard labor as our breakfast table seating and four years of neglect out on our porch. So please think about that before seeing me in a bad light for painting over an old oak pew…
Since the goal was to make it safe to sit on again and to protect it from what weather and cold it will still get under cover of the porch and out in the garage in the off-season, paint came to our rescue.
OK, to be precise, screws, wood filler, outdoor primer, outdoor paint, and outdoor polyurethane came to our pew’s rescue. But you get the idea.
So, after weeks of some work and a lot of sitting in the garage waiting to be worked on, here’s the finished product:
I’ve suffered a bit of guilt over having to keep the pew on the porch, as you can see.
So here’s what I did, along with some before pictures to remind you of some of the worst parts.
Brian helped in the beginning by gluing, screwing, and nailing (where screws wouldn’t work) all the parts back together that we could. Some just weren’t going to cooperate no matter what we did, so we just caulked those areas).
Then I filled the holes and lines with wood filler (and caulk in the big places). My reasoning behind filling everything was for protection against the weather- I wanted as few openings as possible for dampness to seep into.
Then I painted the whole pew with a coat of outdoor primer.
And didn’t get a picture. But it was just primer- white if that helps.
After letting the primer dry, I painted 2 coats of outdoor latex enamel. And I painted every inch of the wood- including the base of the feet (are they feet, legs, or sides, here?) and under the seat to give it the most protection I could.
I did not sand between coats. It’s a pew that’s going to reside on our porch, for pete’s sake. Though to be perfectly honest, I very rarely sand between coats of anything I paint. Remember the part about “embracing imperfection” in a cottage mentality? I take it to heart.
By the way, this picture makes the paint color look like a weird mint- I swear it’s a lovely light sage color. Really.
When I finished, I didn’t like the “newness” of the pristine paint on my lovely old pew, so I roughed it up a bit with sandpaper (I know, fill the gaps, then make some…) and lightly washed over the top with a sponge brush dipped in Golden Oak stain. I put the stain on in small sections and wiped it off right away with a dry cloth before moving to the next section.
I really like how it looked on the sides, bringing out the carving and the wood grain. I didn’t like the look on the large seat and back expanse so much. But what was I to do- leave the sides and seat different colors? Ugh.
Then I coated the whole thing with two coats of outdoor water-based polyurethane. This will not only protect the surface, but will allow easier clean up if any bird decides to take up residence on the back of the pew again.￼
Here’s what the backrest of the bench looked like before with the stained and discolored wood, and the top separating from the main section (which was much worse in a different section- there was almost a 1/4-inch gap).
And that’s what I’m most happy with- it’s really solid again and much nicer to sit on. I can change the color if I get tired of this, but I know it will be in good shape when I do because I took the time to “shore her up” now.
And so we’re ready for the next 20 years with our pew full of memories…