How to Paint Wood Furniture

Painted Wood Nightstand

If you own a piece of wood furniture that has seen better days or you just want to add a splash of color to your furniture piece, don’t be afraid of paint. Oh sure, there are paint haters everywhere you look, but paint is a fantastic way to transform that old, ugly drab piece of brown wood into something cheerful, colorful and wonderful!

If you’ve never painted wood furniture before, I’ve got good news…it’s incredibly easy!

Step 1 – Prep Your Furniture

It’s always a good idea, especially with older pieces, to give your wood furniture a quick wipe down to clean it and clear it from cobwebs if it’s been sitting in store for awhile. You can use something as simple as a damp cloth, or if you have any sort of stubborn residue you can try something a bit strong such as Lift Off (that’s what I use). Lift Off will take just about anything off of any surface, and I use it a lot in my furniture makeovers.

Another aspect of your prep work will involve removing the hardware from your furniture piece. This is pretty simply and requires usually just a basic screwdriver.

Now, if you’re using something such as Annie Sloan chalk paint or maybe another distressing technique, then you don’t need to do any further prep work but if you’re going to for a sleek, smooth finish, then you will want to be sure to patch any holes with wood filler and give your wood furniture a light sanding. This should take off any existing varnish or lacquers that might still be on the surface of the wood.

Lastly, be sure to wipe down the wood again, just to be sure you’ve removed any leftover dust debris from your sanding.

Step 2 – Prime Your Furniture

Now that your little baby is clean and smooth, it’s time to give her a base coat to give the paint something to grip onto. This is called priming and you’ll want to get yourself some primer in either a spray can form or in a can you can apply with a brush or roller from a can of primer. I personally love to use it in a spray can form, because it’s easier to apply and goes on thinner and without lines.

When applying your primer to the wood furniture, keep your paint application light and in several thin coats. Don’t try to just stack it on thick immediately…this doesn’t look nice. You’re going for a nice, even coverage on the entire piece so that your paint sticks.

When you’re done priming, run your fingers across the wood. Does it feel smooth? No? Give it a light sanding with a fine grit paper to smooth it out and then wipe it down with a tack cloth to pick up all the dust.

Step 3 – Paint Your Wood Furniture

It’s time! This is the fun part. You can apply paint in either a spray paint form or grab a can of your favorite paint and apply with a brush or roller.

Which ever method you use, remember that several thin coats is better than fewer thick coats. I can’t say this enough, so please trust me on this and you will end up with a beautiful piece. You do not have to wait until the paint is fully cured before applying your next coat, in fact, most of the time, I am usually starting on my next coat within a few minutes after ending the previous coat.

Step 4 – Protect Your Finish (totally optional)


Not everyone will do this last step and it’s not required but giving your painted wood furniture a protective coating will keep your furniture looking great and durable for a longer period of time.

You can do a quick spray paint of lacquer or apply it using a brush from a can. If your wood furniture is a table of any kind and will see a lot of use, I highly recommend giving the table top portion of the piece a few extra coats of lacquer to give it a highly durable surface that can take the constant use.

That’s all there is to learning how to paint wood furniture. It’s quite easy and can quite possibly keep you from tossing that old junky wood furniture piece out into the trash pile. Just start with a clean and prepped piece, prime, paint and protect. Easy as that! Be warned…painting wood furniture can be quite addictive, so your family better watch out once you see what you can do.

Now, get to painting!

Attention! I am no longer writing new articles here at PaintYourFurniture.com. All of my articles and content have been moved to my new blog DIYHomeInterior.com which includes furniture painting plus TONS of other home decor DIY projects and ideas. You can find this article there as well so click here to go to DIYHomeInterior.com

Comments (8)
  1. Edie Dykeman March 20, 2014
    • Misty March 21, 2014
  2. Cynthia Dixon March 20, 2014
    • Misty March 21, 2014
  3. Bonnie Gean March 21, 2014
    • Misty March 21, 2014
  4. Nate March 21, 2014
    • Misty March 21, 2014

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