Here are some quick tips for repainting your second hand dollhouse.
I picked up this cute little house from Gumtree for an absolute bargain! But this house has so much more potential and will look a lot better once the pink and blue are gone and it is given a fresh modern coat of paint on the exterior.
Take time before you start to map out what parts you want to paint. Consider the interior walls and floor as well. Repainting the whole house is a time consuming task, each wall will need about 4-5 coats of paint, so think about whether you can keep the fake woodgrain flooring or whether you want the whole house start white. Remember to take 'before' photos, this helps when decided what parts of the house will be painted what colour and putting it all back together.
WHAT IS YOUR HOUSE MADE OF?
Most of these houses are made from wood. They have an MDF base (which is a very plain ugly manufactured brown wood with no natural grain in it). The wood is then painted or sometimes, the MDF planks are covered in very thin paper stickers (which have photos printed on of fake windows, wood grain flooring etc).
PULL IT ALL APART ...
It is definitely easier to sand and paint when it is taken apart. Make sure you take before photos of the interior and exterior so you know how to put it back together. Put all the screws and hinges in a small container with a lid to keep them safe.
If you can take out the windows and doors this will also make your job easier. This house had plastic windows so I managed to pop them off with the help of a box cutter. I gently ran it around the windows to cut through the glue. Be careful using a sharp knife however, and the MDF board is very soft and you can easily damage it.
To get the best outcome when repainting your house you really need to sand off the original paint. This is where I suggest you beg, borrow or buy an electric sander. I use an orbital sander as shown in the first picture above. I use a medium course sanding disk (80 grit) and this takes the paint off fairly quickly. Make sure you map out what parts of the house you want to repaint, sometimes the interior floors are already painted a woodgrain and can be kept.
Again if you have taken the house apart you can sand right to the corners with no trouble, take note whether you need to sand both sides or just one side.
To get the best finish, you need to use a gloss based paint. If you use just a plain old wall paint or even a semi gloss, it dries chalky and marks easily. You can definitely get away with a semi gloss paint but it will have a slightly rougher feel to it once dry. If you don't have any paint laying around you can buy small test pots from the local hardware department off the shelf in white. It wouldn't hurt to talk to someone in the paint department to ensure you you get the best product for your project.
I used a small roller and off the shelf black and white gloss paint from a tin. Im not going to lie, this is a time consuming and tedious task. You will literally need 4-5 coats to over the brown MDF wood and create an even finish. In warmer climates you might get away with painting 2 coats at a time. I usually paint one side of the MDF and rest it up against a wall to dry, working through all the pieces painting only one side first. Then go back to the first plank of wood which should now be partially dry on the back and paint the reverse side, remember to paint the edges of the wood as well.
For the whole front panel which contained the front door and the windows, I removed the windows and doors first and rolled on a few base coats of tinned paint. I glued all the plastic windows and doors back into the frame (using a good quality craft glue pictured above) and then finished off with Rustoleum spray paint in white gloss. (As shown in the picture above, this spray paint works well on plastic). Spray paint is not necessarily the easiest option. It can be tricky to get it right, including not shaking the can properly before use, spraying too close and causing the paint to run, spraying when its too humid and the paint will crack, and of course you cannot lay a single finger on it until it is dry as it marks very easily.