How To Paint Wood Furniture Like A Pro: A Step-By-Step Guide

November 11, 2022

How To Paint Wood Furniture Like A Pro: A Step-By-Step Guide

When you're looking to provide your old furniture a new lease on life, giving it a fresh coat of paint is a great way to restore it to its former glory.

One of the great things about wood furniture is that it can be repainted to match the look of a room. Whether you want to upcycle an heirloom or simply change the color of your furniture, painting is a relatively easy and a low-cost option compared to purchasing something new. You don't even need to be a professional painter. With a little elbow grease and the right supplies, you can transform even the most mundane pieces into something special. If your style changes or you want to refresh a piece, new paint can make all the difference.

However, the prospect of painting your precious pieces can be daunting if you've never done it before. Follow these steps and you'll be sure to create a high-quality, long-lasting paint job that looks amazing.


1. Gather your supplies.

When painting wood furniture, it's important to choose the right supplies in order to get a professional looking finish. Here is a list of things you will need to get started:
  • Drop Cloth or Tarp. You should have a tarp or drop cloth to cover your work area. This would protect your floors or any other surfaces you don't want to accidentally drip paint on.
  • Sandpaper or Electric Sander. You'll need to sand your furniture before painting it to smoothen any rough spots. If you’re using sandpaper, be sure to use medium or fine grit sandpaper so you don't damage the wood.
  • Primer. A primer will help the paint adhere better and it will also provide a nice base color for your paint.
  • Paint. Obviously, you'll need paint! Make sure to get paint that is specifically designed for painting wood furniture. Regular wall paint isn’t ideal for wood and will likely chip and peel over time. If you're painting an indoor piece of furniture, like a dresser or table, latex paint is the way to go. For outdoor furniture, however, oil-based paint is best. It's more durable and can withstand the elements better than latex paint. If possible, get some sample pots first so you can test out the colors and find one that you love.
  • Paintbrush or Roller. A good quality brush or roller will make all the difference in putting on a smooth, even coat of paint on your furniture without any visible strokes on the final product. You don't need anything fancy, but make sure it's not going to fall apart on you while you're painting. A natural bristle brush is best for oil-based paints and a synthetic brush is best for latex paints. You'll also need a roller and tray for painting larger surfaces.
  • Sealer. A paint sealer is key for protecting your paint job and ensuring that it lasts. It also helps to prevent chips and scratches, keeping your furniture looking like new for longer.
  • Clean Rags. You should have rags to rub off wood dust from sanding and to wipe the furniture when the paint has completely dried off.

2. Sand the entire furniture.

Once you have your supplies, it's time to get started. Begin by sanding down the furniture to create a smooth surface for painting. You can use either a sandpaper or an electric sander for this step. If the furniture is already painted, you'll need to remove any loose paint before sanding. Similarly, when you're planning on painting over varnish or polyurethane, you'll need to use a chemical stripper first. For those who don’t have an electric sander and will use regular sandpaper, select a medium-grit sandpaper for the initial sanding, and then switch to a finer grit for the second pass. Once the furniture is sanded, you'll need to wipe it down with a damp cloth in order to remove any dust particles before moving on.

3. Coat the piece with primer.

Apply the primer on the furniture with a brush or roller, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. A primer is necessary so the paint will adhere better and stay on for a long time. This will also help you achieve an even coverage and will prevent the paint from chipping, flaking, or peeling off later on. After application, let the primer dry completely before you proceed to painting.

4. Paint the furniture in your chosen color.

Once the primer has set, it's time to start painting! Use a brush or roller designed for use with latex or oil-based paint, and apply the paint in light, even strokes while going along the grain of the wood. Start with one coat and then build up to two or three coats if necessary. Paint in thin layers, allowing each layer to dry completely before adding another. As for the sequence, paint the inside parts, smaller details, and any hard-to-reach areas first. You can paint the wider and more exposed surfaces afterwards. When the entire piece is coated in paint, leave it to dry for over 24 hours.

5. Brush the piece with a paint sealer.

You can optionally add a layer of sealer on your painted furniture to secure it from scratches and wear. The clear topcoat also gives extra protection against spills and moisture that may damage the wood. Apply the sealer all over the furniture with a brush and allow it to dry before using it or placing it back in your home.


Painting wood furniture is not as difficult as it may seem. It does require a lot of effort and patience, but once you go through it, you’ll end up having a piece that you love.

If you’d rather get new furniture, though, you can always visit our shop. We have various wood types and finishes to choose from so you can get a classy piece without the hassle. We can even do custom furniture and paint it exactly with the color or style of your choosing. Drop by Hunt Country Furniture to browse.


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