How to Paint Furniture: A Step-by-Step guide

by My Modern Cave

Are you thinking of giving your furniture a makeover but are not sure where to start? Painting furniture is a great way to update old pieces and give them a new look. In this article, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to paint furniture. 

Step 1: Begin with Sanding

No matter what project you are working on, the first step should always be sanding. This is because sanding creates a smooth surface that is ready for priming or painting. It also removes any rough patches or splinters that may cause problems down the road. In addition, sanding helps to create a better bond between the paint and the surface it is being applied to.

Use a medium-grit sandpaper to get rid of any rough patches and then give the entire piece a good coat of primer. This will help the paint adhere better and will make it less likely to chip or peel.

What Will Happen When You Don’t Sand Before Painting Furniture?

If you paint furniture without sanding it first, you’re in for a world of hurt. Furniture that isn’t sanded will have a rough, unfinished surface that will never look smooth. In addition, the paint will likely chip and peel off very quickly.

Step 2: Choosing the Brush and Paint for Painting Furniture

There are many different types of paint available, including acrylic, latex, and enamel.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint that comes in a variety of colors and finishes. It is easy to use and can be applied to most types of furniture.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is the most popular type of paint because it is easy to use and cleans up easily. It is also less expensive than other types of paint.

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Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a latex-based paint that can be used on furniture, walls, or any other surface. It is known for its matte finish and for being easy to use. Chalk paint does not require any primer or special preparation, and it can be applied with a brush, roller, or sprayer. It dries quickly and does not require a topcoat.

How to Choose a Brush for Painting Furniture:

The next decision is what type of brush to use. There are many different types of brushes available, including

  • Foam brushes
  • Bristle brushes, and
  • Roller brushes

Foam Brush:

Foam brushes are the easiest type of brush to use and they are less expensive than other types of brushes. The bristles are soft and flexible, which makes it easy to paint curved surfaces. The foam brush can be used with both oil-based and water-based paints. The brush can reach all the nooks and crannies of the furniture, ensuring that the paint is applied evenly.

Bristle Brush:

Bristle brushes are an important tool for painting furniture because they provide a high level of control and precision. The bristles are able to move easily in all directions, which allows the painter to create clean lines and cover large areas quickly. Also, bristle brushes retain their shape well and are less likely to leave streaks or brush marks. For these reasons, they are ideal for painting furniture and other small objects.

Roller Brush:

Roller brushes can be used on large surfaces but they can be difficult to control when painting small areas. Be sure to use a roller brush that has been specifically designed for furniture painting, as it will have a longer nap that will help the paint to adhere to the surface.

Step 3: Use a Primer Before Painting Furniture

If you’re new to painting furniture, the thought of priming it before you start might seem daunting. But trust us, it’s worth it! Priming your furniture helps the paint stick better, preventing chipping and peeling down the road. Plus, a primer will give your paint a smoother finish.

There are a few different primers on the market, but we recommend using an oil-based primer for furniture. It’ll provide good coverage and will help seal in any knots or wood grain that might show through your paint job. If you’re working with a dark color, you might also want to use a primer with some tint to it, like this white primer from Rust-Oleum.

Once you’ve chosen your primer, follow the instructions on the can to apply it evenly to your furniture. Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step — PAINTING.

Step 4: Start Painting

Now that you have all of your supplies ready, it’s time to start painting. The first thing you need to do is mix the paint together. You can either do this in a cup or a palette. Next, load your brush/roller with paint and start painting!

There is no right or wrong way to paint; just experiment and see what works best for you. Try different techniques and colors, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself.

Tip: Be sure to test your color on a small piece of scrap wood first to be sure it is the right color.

Step 5: Give a Protective Coat After Painting Your Furniture

It’s no secret that painting your furniture is a great way to give it a new look, but what many people don’t know is that you need to give it a protective topcoat after you’re done.

What is a Topcoat?

A topcoat is a type of finish that protects the paint from UV rays and everyday wear and tear. It is a type of sealant that protects furniture from moisture and other environmental hazards.


  • Prevents furniture from absorbing water and other liquids
  • Can help protect the furniture from fading due to sunlight exposure.


  • It can make the surface of the wood slick, making it difficult to grip or handle.
  • Can make the furniture too glossy or artificial
  • Can be difficult to apply evenly

What are the Different Types of Topcoats:


A polyurethane topcoat for furniture is a durable layer that can be applied to protect the surface from scratches, stains, and other damage. It is usually clear or slightly tinted, and it gives furniture a glossy finish.

It is usually a polyurethane-based product, which means that it is made from two different chemicals that react with each other to form the final product. This type of topcoat is durable and can last for many years with proper care.


  • Resistant to moisture and heat
  • Creates a smooth, hard surface
  • Easy to clean


  • Can yellow with age
  • May give off an unpleasant odor


Wax provides a sheen or luster to the surface of the furniture. Furniture wax is available in both liquid and solid forms, and can be applied with a cloth, brush, or spray. Some people choose to wax their furniture on a regular basis, while others only do it when the piece starts to look dull.


The varnish for furniture is a type of coating that is applied to the surface of the furniture in order to protect it from damage and to give it a more attractive appearance. Varnish is typically made from a variety of different substances, including polyurethane, acrylics, nitrocellulose, and polyesters. It can be applied in either a brush or a spray form, and it usually dries within a few hours.


  • High level of durability and a long lifespan
  • Ideal for furniture used in high-traffic areas


  • Can be difficult to apply evenly, which can lead to streaks or blotches.
  • Can also be a source of off-gassing. This means that the chemicals used in the varnish can release harmful vapors into the air, which can be irritating to people’s respiratory systems.

Wood Stains:

Wood stains are a popular way to change the color of wood furniture. There are many different types of wood stains, each with a unique look and feel. Some stains are transparent, while others are more opaque. 

Before applying a wood stain, it is important to test it on a small area of the furniture to make sure you like the color. Stains can be applied with a brush, cloth, or rag.


  • Dye stains penetrate the wood completely
  • Pigmented stains form a film on the surface of the wood and are more durable than dye stains.


  • Some wood stains are more opaque, meaning they can cover up the natural grain of the wood more completely.
  • Can fade over time, which can alter the color of the furniture


Lacquers are thin, hard film that protect the furniture from scratches and moisture, and can also add a beautiful shine. There are many different types of lacquer available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Some lacquers are better at protecting against moisture and fading, while others may be more durable against scratches.

They are usually made from nitrocellulose lacquer, which is a synthetic resin. Lacquers can be clear or colored, and they can be glossy or matte. They are typically applied with a brush, and they can be polished to a high sheen.


  • Fairly durable
  • Easy finish to apply
  • Available in matte and glossy finishes


  • Has a strong odor which can be difficult to get rid of
  • Can be difficult to achieve the desired finish

Final Thoughts:

Painting your furniture is a great way to update its look without spending a lot of money. It’s also a fun project that can be completed in a weekend. With a little preparation and some basic knowledge, anyone can revive old pieces and give them new life.

All you need is some paint, a brush, and a little bit of creativity.

So what are you waiting for? So grab a brush and get started!

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