Tips for Painting Wooden Furniture

In interior decoration, paint is perhaps the cheapest thing that can make a whole lot of difference. Whether you have built your own wooden shelf or you want to salvage an old wooden piece, all you need to do is to paint it to make it beautiful. Painting walls is one thing, but painting wooden furniture takes a bit different approach. Here’s what you need to do to make a furniture painting project a success:

Where to Buy
Elmers Stainable Wood Filler
Murphy Oil Soap
3M Garnet Sandpaper
3M 10132 Tack Cloth
KILZ General Purpose Interior Latex Primer
fine-grit sandpaper
Minwax Paste Finishing Wax


1. Prepare your furniture

Whether you like it or not, you can’t just slap on a coat of paint to your furniture and call it a job done. Before you get to the fun part, you have to prepare your furniture first. Not doing so may cause the paint to peel and chip soon.

If you’re working on old furniture, remove any hardware first. Most of the time, any knobs, pulls, handles or other hardware can simply be unscrewed. Doing this step will allow you to paint the wooden furniture evenly, and to protect the hardware from getting painted. But even if you chose to replace the hardware with new ones, go ahead and remove them while the furniture is still unpainted.

If you’re dealing with older furniture, it may have chips, holes and pitted surfaces. To make painting even (and to make your furniture smooth), apply wood filler like Elmer’s Stainable Wood Filler to the damaged part of the wood. This wood filler is highly durable as it resists shrinking and shrinking and contains real wood fibers so it won’t look awkward.

Don’t worry if the application of your filler is not smooth since you’ll sand it off later. If you’re replacing hardware pieces, fill in the old holes as well. Use a putty knife to remove the excess wood filler.

If you’re working on a furniture piece that has been sitting around in a dusty garage or has been unused for long, it may have housed a lot of dirt. Cleaning it will surely help to make your painting job better. Murphy Oil Soap is a safe cleaner for wood.

Before doing any sanding or painting, pick a spot to do your project. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation in the area. Place drop cloths then position the furniture in the cloth. Protect your skin and lungs by using a face mask and gloves.

2. Sand the surface of your furniture


After cleaning and filling up holes (Note: If you’re dealing with newly crafted furniture, you don’t have to do those), the next step is to sand your wood to ensure a smooth and even finish. Sanding will help the paint adhere better to the wood so it won’t be prone to chipping. Using an orbital sander would be a great help especially for large pieces of furniture, but if you’re really a wood crafter, buying one will not be practical. Using medium-duty sandpaper, like the 3M Garnet Sandpaper – Medium-Grit will work just fine. If you’re working on a previously painted furniture with a thick finish, then use heavy duty sandpaper.

3. Remove dust

Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s very important to remove any residual dust. Wipe your wood surfaces with a clean tack cloth, like the one from 3M. Tack cloths are effective for removing any other particles to help achieve smoother surfaces. If necessary, you can use a slightly damp cloth to wipe out your surfaces and follow it up with wiping with a dry cloth or by vacuuming it dry.

4. Prime


Now, here’s the start of the fun part! Priming is very important to help you achieve the best results so that the color of the paint you have chosen would pop out beautifully. The primer you use must match the type of paint you chose. A latex primer is an excellent choice for most paints, and KILZ General Purpose Interior Latex Primer is one of the most highly-rated ones. This product is one of the fast-drying latex primer perfect for wood and can work with either latex or oil-based paints.

Use a paint roller to apply a smooth coat of primer, then use paintbrush along the edges, corners, and other hard-to-reach areas. You can use a spray primer if you like, to make the job more even. When you prime, it’s best to do two to three very thin coats. Make sure you wait for 10 minutes (or depending on the instructions in your primer label) before putting another coat. Your goal is to completely cover the furniture in an even coating of primer. White primer is the best color to use under light paint colors, while gray is best for darker paint colors.

Depending on your wood type, sometimes the primer can raise the grain of the wood, leaving it a bit rougher than before you primed it. Use fine-grit sandpaper for this job. Then, wipe it down again with a tack cloth before getting ready to paint.

5. Paint

Finally, we’re here on the main event. After your primer has dried, coat your furniture in a thin layer of paint. Make it even using a foam roller, and apply using a paintbrush on edges, crevices, corners and in areas where a foam roller can’t reach. Don’t be tempted to put a single heavy coat – your final product will look much better with several light coats. Also, use the highest quality of paint brush you can afford for best results. Cheaper and low-quality paint brushes can lose bristles that can get stuck in the paint.

Let your first coat of paint dry overnight or at least six hours before applying your second one. If you need to do a third one, do the same. Remember, good things come to those who wait! Don’t forget to also sand using fine-grit sandpaper in between coats of paint, but it should be minimal.

Once you’re done, your freshly painted furniture needs to sit untouched for a while, like three days to a week, before use. Using the furniture right after it has dried can leave scratches or dings in the surface, ruining your work of art.

6. Protect

If you want to seal your furniture, do it after your last coat of paint have dried for at least 24 hours. Sealing will help protect for furniture and make your paint job last for longer. It also makes the surface easy to clean and wipe-able by a damp cloth. Water-based polyurethane works well with most paints, and you can choose from a matte, satin or glossy finish. However, polyurethane is not advisable for white or very light colored paints because it can yellow over time.

Furniture wax is another great option that can be used for a lot of paint color. Minwax Paste Finishing Wax is great; you just need to apply it using a cheesecloth, let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes, then buff it with a clean cloth to make your furniture shine.