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Miriam’s New Bed

December 18th, 2007 · by Cyndi · 2 Comments

Written Dec 12:

I got a wooden bed frame with drawers from Freecycle December 9 to use for Miriam. It is quite old and solid wood with some plywood. It was pretty filthy, since it was sitting in a walled-in porch for years. I spent a couple hours yesterday scrubbing it all down. When it was wet, it had a slight smell that was like stale cigarette smoke. I didn’t get sick really but it was unpleasant and seemed toxic. The person I got it from doesn’t use pesticides or air freshener but he had used mothballs in the drawers many years ago (not since) and I’m guessing it was exposed to smoke, though I didn’t ask. I remembered that, back 5 years ago when I bought my floor varnish from AFM, I also got a gallon of Acrylacq which is similar but made for furniture and for sealing. There it was in my garage, unopened with a rusty top.

So I opened it. It was not only still good but it hadn’t even separated. Since I had all the pieces of the bed sitting on cardboard/newspaper in my driveway, dry and clean, I decided to go ahead and “paint” them.

There was very little smell and, despite using it for 1.5 hours, I didn’t really react (very slight background headache). The stuff is like a thick watered down milky (whitish color) but goes on easy, even though much of the wood was on the rough side.

You have to wait 4 hours inbetween coats, and they recommend 2-3 coats. I did the inside and outside of all 3 drawers, except for the fronts, and the front and sides of the bed, the part of the bed where the mattress goes, and one side of the footboard and headboard.

When Michael came home a few hours later, I asked him to put a second coat on the inside of the drawers, the part of the bed where the mattress goes, and the front side of the bed (drawer surround). And to do the other side of the head/foot boards and the front of the drawers.

I think some of it will be okay with one coat and the rest with two. We’ll take a better look at it tomorrow and decide if anything needs an extra coat. Michael had some leftover sealer so he also did our junky wood coffee table.

And, as a special bonus, I lightly sanded the top of my dryer where the cat pee had rusted it out, and applied a coat of sealer to that.

The sealer dries clear but with a yellow tint. I only noticed this on my white dryer. On the wood it is invisible. The wood is darker where sealed, though that may disappear as it cures. I consider that a plus as I like the look and it helped to hide color imperfections.

This is an experiment. So far I really love the stuff but I need to see how it wears. If it peels off or cracks badly, that will be a problem. I was thrilled with how low-toxic it was.

I’ll give it a month or more. If it still looks good, I’ll start covering more wood items in my house. It works on metal too so I might tackle some of those as well.


(The bedframe looks pretty good. Nice even color with a good sheen. The headboard, footboard, and one drawer are not yet installed. And you can see peeling varnish on the drawer to the left.)

Later that evening:

I am quite pleased with it. I can smell it some though. We just moved the bed in from outside because we’re afraid it will rain and we’ve been getting a lot of dew in the morning and some frost too. Miriam’s room is also the computer room, though that will change at some point (she LOVES having her own bed and swears up and down that she’s going to sleep in it, but we’ll see 🙂

So far, it’s stayed dark and even. Looks really really good.


When I varnished, it was 48 degrees outside (sensor in the shade but I was in the sun, so I am pretty sure it was warmer) and sunny and early afternoon. When Michael did it, it was an hour or so before sundown and a bit cooler and the driveway was in the shade.

Everything I varnished that we left one coat on looks fabulous.
Everything I varnished that Michael added a coat to looks fabulous.
BUT…most everything he did the first coat on is peeling (white when separated from the wood).

That is a disappointment. I am guessing that it was just too cold and damp for a good cure. And I hope that a light sanding and revarnishing on a sunny day will fix it. Fortunately, the bed frame itself came out perfect, because that one is a PITA to move outside. The peeling parts are the bottoms of the fronts of 2 (of 3) drawers (very easy to move and carry) and the backsides of the headboard and footboard, so we can’t bolt them in quite yet.

When we first went to pick up this free bed, my heart sank as I looked at a worn out piece of sh*t. But the cleaning and varnishing has made a huge difference. It doesn’t look new, but new wasn’t what I was after. It looks nice, at least if you don’t look at the peeling parts.

Now we just need a mattress for it!


(The drawers came out well. Only the fronts (varnished late in the day) are peeling. I wanted the insides sealed because of the lingering odor…which seems to be gone.)

Update Dec 18:

After bringing it inside, I realized that the smell was soon overpowering. We ozoned that room overnight and it made a big difference, though there has been some lingering smell for the week. It’s mostly gone now.

It’s been raining nearly every day since I wrote the Dec 12 entries. I was hoping to post this when everything was finished, but that might be a while. My hope is that if I lightly sand away the peeling bits and reappy the varnish, that it will look as nice as the parts we did in the sun do. I not only need dry days and nights but a nice sunny day so the first few hours of the cure occur in perfect conditions.

I’ll post again when I’ve tried this out.


(These are the pieces that could be better. The sides and inside of the drawer, and the flip sides of the head and foot boards are all perfect. The white peeling bits are the sides that got their first (only) coats of varnish late in the day. Everything that was varnished in the early afternoon looks great, even those with a second coat added later. These pieces are sitting on the junky coffee table I mentioned above. Doesn’t look so bad now. It came out well even though it had a first coat late.)

Update February 10, 2008:

Go to Miriam’s New Bed – Part II


Categories: Building · Family Life · House & Home · Miriam Updates
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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michele // Jan 25, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Interesting. Is she ok with your couch too? I can not tolerate a couch like that at this time.

  • 2 Miriam’s New Bed - Part II | Norwitz Notions // Feb 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    […] is a follow up to Part I from Dec, 2008. We got this bed frame for free from Freecycle and it was a mess.  Massive scrubbing ensued.  […]

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