What was the right colour? For a long time, I had just assumed white. If necessary, I could have figured out a way to get a white Jenny Lind crib. Throughout the process of breaking, and then fixing the crib, I realized I didn't actually have to stick with white. In fact, why would it? I had a whole world of colour to pick from. Now, one month after the project began, the crib has gone from simple pine to something far more interesting.
There are a myriad of tutorials in the blogosphere on how to paint a crib. It's time consuming, but it's straightforward. Of course, the first question I asked myself when I thought about doing this was "Is it safe?"
Short answer, yes.
Longer answer: In my research, I learned there's pretty much no paint on the market today that isn't safe. They don't make paint out of lead anymore after all. Nonetheless, it's wise to use a good quality low VOC paint. This isn't a place to skimp. After all, I hear babies are likely to chew on their cribs and may very well end up ingesting little chips of paint.
We did choose to be a little careful with the sealer we chose for the crib. When we polyurethaned our kitchen table, we went with an oil-based sealer. This time around, I went with a gentler, non-toxic water-based polyurethane. It tends to be lower VOC and cures faster.
There are three steps to painting any piece of furniture, and a crib is no different:
Sanding: It doesn't have to be perfect. Just enough to rough up the surface to give the paint something to bond to. We used 80-120 grit sand paper, and didn't worry too much about getting into each crack and crevice of the Jenny Lind spindles, but we did our best.
Painting: We did three coats, but this stage can be played a little by ear. If you're getting enough coverage with two coats, it's all you need. I used a brush in the difficult to reach spots at the end of each spindle and a sponge roller everywhere else. Contrary to what you might read on other blogs, a paint sprayer is not necessary. You'll get a perfectly smooth finish with a little sponge roller. Of course, if you have a paint sprayer, it's certainly a legit way to get the paint on those spindles.
Sealing: If you don't seal the painted surface, it won't have any durability at all. This maybe doesn't matter for a piece that is never or rarely touched - a side table, tucked into a difficult-to-access corner. We used a combination of a normal synthetic hair brush and a sponge brush to apply the polyurethane. This step was the most painful since we were already exhausted by the project by the time we got to it. Thankfully, water-based poly dries really fast.
And, done. Seems so simple, right? So easy, so doable.
I didn't want to touch another paint roller by the time the project was done. I was sick of sandpaper and paper and polyurethane and I was almost - almost - sick of the crib itself. But, now that the crib has been very carefully set up, the offending drop side immobilized and placed against the wall, the mattress covered in a freshly laundered crib sheet and tucked into place, I'm so glad we went through all that work. In the end, the place our baby sleeps won't matter in the least, but I think this slaving over a project for him or her has been good for me anyway. Each time I faced those little spindles, I knew exactly who I was doing this for. Maybe it's a stretch, but each turn of the paint roller, each spindle turned greeny-blue felt like a commitment made in love and determination.
I know. Sappy.