How to safely refinish a crib

Written by h.c. hisel
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How to safely refinish a crib
(Credit: sideshowmom / morguefile - sideshowmom)

VOC's found in paints and stains can cause serious health problems, including cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cribs painted with VOC paints can emit harmful vapours for several years. Avoid harmful VOC's by refinishing your baby's crib with a safe stain or paint. Using non-toxic, soy-based products will ensure a safe environment for the new addition to your family.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Zero VOC non-toxic paint stripper/varnish remover
  • 800-grit sand paper
  • Rags
  • Medium paint brush
  • Zero VOC non-toxic, soy based stain or paint
  • Zero VOC non-toxic clear coat
  • Tarp
  • Paint scraper

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  1. 1

    Prepare your work area. Place a tarp or newspaper under the crib to protect the floor. If possible, leave windows open to allow fresh air to circulate through the room. A small fan placed near the crib would also be helpful. Not only will it help to even out air circulation, it will also speed up the drying time.

  2. 2

    Remove all previous coats of paint or varnish. To do this you will either need to use a paint stripper or varnish remover, depending on what the crib was previously finished with. For the safety of the baby, use a VOC (volatile organic compounds), non-toxic stripper. With a rag, apply a consistent thick coat of stripper over the entire surface of the crib. Let sit for 15 minutes and check a small area to see progress. Continue checking every 15 minutes until the paint easily scrapes off with a paint scraper.

  3. 3

    Scrape the old paint or varnish off using a paint scraper. Hold the paint scraper against the wood. Apply pressure on the wood with the scraper and rub the scraper back and forth against the wood, going with the grain, until the paint or varnish is removed.

  4. 4

    Clean the new unfinished surface of the crib. With a rag, dampen the entire surface with clean water. Scrub the surface with the rag in a circular motion to ensure all remaining stripper is removed. Wait 2 to 5 hours until the wood is completely dry.

  5. 5

    Sand the surface of the crib. With a 800-grit piece of sand paper, softly rub the surface in small circular motions. This is to ensure a smooth surface. Do not press too hard; you don't want to sand the wood surface down unevenly. Once you have finished sanding the entire surface, blow away all dust.

  6. 6

    Paint or stain the fresh surface. Again, for the safety of the baby, choose a soy-based, biodegradable non-toxic paint. Evenly coat the entire surface with a thin layer of paint or stain, using a medium-sized (2-inch wide) paint brush. It is likely you'll want the colour darker and more solid. Let the first coat dry anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. Once the surface is completely dry, continue with a second coat to darken the existing colour.

  7. 7

    Apply a clear coat of paint to protect the paint or varnish from damage. Make sure all of the previous coats of paint are fully dry before adding this last touch. With the 2-inch paint brush, apply an even layer of clear paint to the entire surface in side to side motions. Allow the clear coat to dry for 24 to 48 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • Always make sure your crib is up to safety standards before refinishing.

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