How to Paint Furniture: A Beginners Guide

July 02, 2013

How to paint furniture cover

Refinishing furniture can be a lot of hard work, but if you have some extra time and a bit of creativity you can transform an old, worn piece of furniture in a wonderful new custom piece for your home.

We have all painted and refurnished a piece of furniture before. Seems like it should be a simple thing; just grab a brush or roller and paint away! Little did we know that we have probably been doing it all wrong and without following a few easy steps, that beautiful finish you have just created will start chipping and peeling away. There are many ways to refinish furniture but we are just going to cover the very basics in our beginners guide.

STEP ONE – Prepare!

The first step to creating a wonderful new piece of furniture is to prepare! Giving the furniture a good clean is essential so dig out the elbow grease and start scrubbing. Remove the hardware and give the piece a good wipe or all of that beautiful paint will chip and peel off. Remove the drawers as they will be painted separately.

Sanding pic copySTEP TWO – Sand

The next step is remove all of the paint or existing finish off of the piece. Using a medium grit sandpaper give the furniture a good light sand. This will give the paint something to adhere to. If you aren’t applying stain there is no need to remove all of the paint or strip it down completely.


Now that your piece has been sanded, wipe it off and be sure that it is dry and dust free before you apply a coat of primer. Primer is used to help the paint adhere to the furniture and provide a base for a more even paint coverage.

STEP FOUR – Sand again

Here is a very important step. Between every coat of paint, use must lightly sand. This will give you a much more professional finish if you perform this step. Be sure to remove the sanding dust by wiping it down before applying each coat.

painting pic copySTEP FIVE – Paint

Now that you have spent all of this time preparing, it’s time for the fun part! Typically it’s best to use a interior latex paint in a semi-gloss finish. A glossier the finish, the easier it will be to clean. A matte finish will show all of the flaws and fingerprints. Paint a number of thin coats, again with a light sand in between which will help you achieve a smooth, professional finish. 2-3 coats is normal.

Whether you use a roller, a brush or spray paint be sure to take your time and apply the paint evenly. You can use a combination of both a roller on the main parts and a brush for the small crevices. A small roller will also help to even out visible brush strokes.

STEP SIX – Protect

When you last coat of paint has dried for at least 24 hrs, you are ready to seal it. This will provide a extra layer of protection for your finish and also create a wipe able, easy to clean surface. If you have used white or a light colored paint, do not use a polyurethane to seal your finish as it will yellow or become discolored over time. For all other colors, polyurethane or furniture wax will do. Follow the instructions but typically you wipe it on and let it dry for 10-15 minutes before applying each coat. Buff it for a nice gloss finish after each coat as often times a single coat will sufficient. Once complete, leave the piece alone for a couple of days before touching it. You don’t want to mess up all of your hard work with a few fingerprints in the finish! Finally attach all of your hardware and you are done! You have created a brand new piece of furniture to include in you mix.