How To Paint Furniture

How To Paint Furniture

How To Paint Furniture: A Beginner’s Guide

While refinishing furniture can be time-consuming and hard work, it is well worth it when you see the outcome and know that you have created a custom piece of furniture for your home. Today I am sharing an easy tutorial for how to paint furniture.

This is a very basic “beginner’s guide”–or Furniture Painting:101.

How To Paint Furniture
How To Paint Furniture

This blog is for those who love to scroll through the furniture flips in TikTok or Instagram but feel that they could never do it. Flipping a piece on your own is not difficult! In this blog, I will give you 5 simple steps to paint furniture.

Along the way, I will also share some of my favourite products. I hope that by the end of this post, you will be inspired to transform a piece of furniture in your home.

Back then, painting furniture was a popular concept. I spent hours researching online to learn how to do it. I found a few bits of information, but couldn’t find an article that explained the entire process or listed the steps in a simple way.

Although there are many furniture refinishing techniques, today I am going to cover just the absolute basics of painting. I realize that some of my readers are furniture painting veterans, but many of you are not. This guide applies to real wood furniture – I will talk about painting laminate another time.

Ok, so let’s get down to business.


  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Medium Grit Sandpaper
  • Fine Grit Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Tack Cloth
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Foam Roller
  • Paint Sprayer (Optional)
  • Topcoat (I like MinwaxPolycrylic and Finishing Wax. I also love Minwax Satin Wipe-On Poly for stained pieces.)



Prepare the Wood
Prepare the Wood

First, prep your piece of furniture. You can’t just slap on a coat of paint and call it a day. It will peel and chip and it will not last.

The first thing I like to do before I paint a piece is to give it a good cleaning (after removing the hardware, of course), especially if it’s been sitting around in a dusty garage or storage space. Murphy’s Oil Soap works great and it’s safe for furniture.

Remove all drawers before painting and work on those separately.


Next, sand your furniture and get all of the glossy finish off so that the paint will have a good surface to “grab” onto. Medium-grit sandpaper should be fine. (I use fine grit between paint coats.)

If you are painting as opposed to staining, there is no need to strip the finish or sand it down to the bare wood. Simply removing the glossy finish will suffice. If the surface is already dull, you can skip this step.


After your furniture is dry and dust-free, paint on some primer. This helps your paint adhere to the piece better and it also covers any stains or discolourations in the wood. I prefer KILZ Primer, and they also offer it in a spray (which I haven’t tried yet, but plan to!). I’ve heard great things about it. Oil-based primer is also great for furniture.


Then, sand again! Using a fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand your piece between EVERY SINGLE coat of paint. This helps you attain a much more professional and even finish.

Be sure to remove the sanding dust each time–tack cloth works great


Man Painting the Table
Man Painting the Table

Now that you have your piece primed and ready, it’s time to paint. For furniture, I use interior latex paint, usually in a semi-gloss finish. I recommend anything that’s not a flat finish. (It will show every fingerprint and flaw and will be harder to clean.) The glossier the finish, the easier to clean.

Paint thin coats, and I will repeat: sand between each coat! This step is very important if you want to achieve an even finish. I normally paint 2-3 coats total.

Now, there are a few different ways to go about painting. You can use a paint sprayer, or even regular spray paint (just get a decent brand! ), a brush, or a roller. I usually use a small foam roller on the main parts of the furniture and a brush on the hard-to-reach crevices, painting the crevices first. The roller helps prevent visible brush strokes.


After your last coat of paint has dried for at least 24 hours, you are ready to seal it. (Or you can just leave it alone and let it cure for about 30 days. But if you plan on doing this, then seriously, leave it alone and don’t touch it!)

Sealing your furniture provides extra protection for your finish and also creates a wipeable, easy-to-clean surface. If you are using a white or extremely light colour of paint, I highly recommend that you do NOT use polyurethane to seal your finish. It can yellow over time. On any other paint colour, it should be fine, and I recommend Minwax Wipe-On Poly because it is extremely easy to use. (I like the Satin finish.)

I really prefer to use a water-based topcoat though like Minwax Polycrylic. It’s easier to clean up and there aren’t as many fumes.

Another option, which I love, that can be used on any colour including whites, is furniture wax. Minwax Finishing Wax is awesome, and I’ve heard good things about other brands as well. You wipe it on (I use cheesecloth to apply it), let it dry for 10-15 minutes, and then buff it with a clean cloth until you get it as shiny as you want it. This is what I used on my dresser.

After you’ve sealed your furniture, I recommend leaving it alone for a day or two before using it or touching it. It would be a shame to cause damage to all of that hard work by handling it too soon!

Add your hardware, and you’re done! You can also distress the piece if you’d like, or just leave it as is. The dresser in the photo was just slightly distressed using fine-grit sandpaper. I distressed it after my last coat of paint and before applying my wax.

Paint has an amazing power to transform any piece. Here are a few pieces that I’ve painted

With a lick of paint and a bit of imagination (or access to a PINTEREST account), it’s easy to fill your home with bespoke pieces tailored to your personal taste.

You’re not the only one who is excited about the idea of creating personalised furniture, but something holds you back. Most DIY beginners are apprehensive when they hear the words strip, sand, and paint.

Fear not! You don’t have to worry! We’ve put together a comprehensive article that answers all of your questions about how to paint furniture.

What if you have all the gear, but still no idea? You can read on to learn more.

Why paint furniture when you can buy it ready-made?

Older furniture often has a higher quality of construction than some of the modern and more affordable furniture that is available today. It just needs a little TLC.

A restoration makeover will save you money, whether it’s an old piece that you don’t like or a treasure you found at car boot sales or charity shops. You will also be left with a unique piece that feels personal.

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button