Before you do anything, you'll need to remove any dirt and grime from the surface with a damp cloth – if you're restoring old, antique chairs or benches this may take some time. After this is done – and dry, you're ready to sand. We used a hand sander, but medium-grit sandpaper or a sanding block works just as well (though it may take longer). Make sure you have eye and ear protection for this, and a dust mask to protect your lungs from all the stuff you're sanding off. Also, if you're using an electric sander, make sure you sand WITH the grain of the wood, otherwise you run the risk of ruining your beautiful bench. Once this is all sanded and you've revealed the beautiful, natural timber beneath you're ready for the next step.
You're ready for a stain-blocker undercoat. This is sprayed onto the surface of the bench, so make sure you have your dust mask on. The stain-block undercoat stops the stain from coming through to your top coat and will make everything look great once it's finished.
When you have your tin of varnish – we used Monocel Waterbased Clear Wood Varnish (Satin) – you need to make sure there are no air bubbles trapped inside. Tap the tin against the bench and those air bubbles should rise to the top and escape before you use it.
Handy hint: When you are painting and varnishing something, you need to make sure you varnish first and paint second. Apply one coat of varnish, wait two hours for it to dry, and then apply the second coat, lightly sanding between each coat (a light sandpaper should do the job).
Once you've got your first coat of varnish on the seat you can start to paint your first coat of paint on the sides. Like the varnish, you will have to apply two coats – wait for it to dry between each coat.
Once your bench is all dry, you're ready to move it into your home and start styling - add some cushions or a throw for comfort. And voila! Your very own statement piece of furniture is complete!