I've got this trunk. My eventual goal is to paint it red and use it as a combination storage space and coffee table in my (tiny Manhattan) apartment.

SVN trunk

It's about fifteen years old. It's covered in a substance that's sort of textured to look faux-leather, but it's very clearly some very plasticky synthetic. It's peeling off on the bottom of the trunk and I can see that the trunk is made of particle board underneath.

The edges (underneath the dots) are another layer of that same faux-leather-y material. The hardware is brass (or more likely some other brass-colored metal). I don't have the patience to cover or paint around all those tiny dots, so I am planning to leave the black-and-brassish trim intact and just paint the flat surfaces red.

The initials on the top of the trunk were done in masking tape fifteen years ago; that torn white thing in the middle is a paper label (like you'd print an address label on), also affixed fifteen years ago.

If I were left to my own devices, here's how I'd go about painting the trunk:

  1. Attempt to scrape off masking tape.
  2. Get bored and give up on scraping off the masking tape. (You can see that's already happened a few times.)
  3. Paint the trunk, masking tape and all.
  4. Forget to flip it over, leaving the bottom black-and-raw-particle-board.

This is not the right way to do this.

So what is the right way? What's the best way to get rid of the fifteen-year-old masking tape and sticker? Do I need to prepare the weird pretend leather surface for paint in some way? Or remove it entirely? Bonus points for suggestions of what kind of paint to use; I'm a total DIY noob.


2 Answers 2

  • First you need to remove the masking tape and the label prior to painting, or they will show through on the finished surface. Use Goo Gone or Goof Off as BMitch and Tester suggest. (I've never used Goof Off, so I can't vouch for how well it works, but I have firsthand experience on how well Goo Gone works.)

  • Next you need to clean the surface, at least with a damp cloth. Let it dry.

  • If you really want a clean edge for the parts you're not going to paint, you can use blue painter's tape to mask it off.

  • Next, prime the surfaces that you are going to paint. This will help the paint adhere to the trunk and reduce the chance of the paint peeling on down the road.

  • Finally, paint. I use latex for most of my projects, since it's easy to clean up. Pay attention to what type of finish you want. A roller will give you a slight orange peel effect, while a brush may leave brush strokes. If you want a smoother finish, you can add some Floetrol to latex paint to minimize any brush strokes. Buying a high quality brush can also help. You may have to do several coats of paint, but I'd do a minimum of two.

  • If you used painter's tape, carefully pull it up. If you have problems with the paint sticking to the tape, gently score along the edge of the tape with a razor blade.

I wouldn't bother painting the bottom.

  • "Priming"? What is this "priming"? Seriously... what do I need to do for that step? I meant it when I said I was a total noob :)
    – hairboat
    Dec 2, 2011 at 16:45
  • @AbbyT.Miller Primer is used to help paint adhere to the surface. Without it, the paint will be uneven, peal off, and do other bad things.
    – BMitch
    Dec 2, 2011 at 16:53
  • @BMitch so I just pick up a bucket of primer and slap it on there. Cool. Thanks!
    – hairboat
    Dec 2, 2011 at 17:03

For the tape and stickers, try a cleaner like Goof Off. Just be sure to test on the bottom to be sure it won't damage the faux-leather.

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  • 1
    also goo gone works rather well, and has a lemony fresh scent.
    – Tester101
    Dec 2, 2011 at 12:59

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