Mexican-styled furniture has grown immensely in popularity in the last decade. Known for its rustic-looking materials and textures combined with bright washes of warm color, the Spanish-influenced pieces suggest exotic and tropical locales. While authentic imports are most easily acquired in the southwestern United States and Florida, reproduction Mexican furniture is becoming more widespread and bargain hunters can often find antique varieties that only need some TLC to become spectacular additions to your home and garden. Take a beat-up antique to the next level with a little fresh paint.
Remove any old, peeling paint and dirt with a dry scrub brush.
Appraise the furniture's surface at this point to determine if sanding will be necessary. If any unwanted paint chips remain, or if the surface has a glossy sheen to it (evidence of a lacquer or sealant), sand the entire piece, starting with a medium-grit sandpaper such as 80-grit, and finishing with a fine 150- to 180-grit paper.
Wipe down the furniture surface with a lightly damp cloth to remove any wood dust.
Mix one part of regular matte-finish latex paint (in the color of your choice) with about eight parts water. Test for the consistency you like on a piece of unfinished scrap wood, adding more water or paint accordingly. Stir the color wash thoroughly and frequently during application.
Apply the paint mixture using a high-quality brush or roller. The watery mix will soak further into the wood than a flat coat of paint, tinting the actual wood surface like a stain and allowing some of the grain to show through. Color-washing in this manner also mimics the traditional coloring techniques common to Mexican furniture designs.
Let the paint dry for at least 24 hours.
Apply one to three coats of a clear polyurethane sealant using a quality paintbrush. Polyurethane is very sticky and can pull brush hairs our, so a quality brush is exceptionally important for this step. Allow the sealant to dry for 24 hours between coats.