5 essential tips for painting a piece of furniture

5 essential tips for painting a piece of furniture

Refreshing furniture can be a quick, DIY-friendly process that gives new life to an old piece. The process typically involves adding a fresh coat of paint or stain for new color, texture or shine. Although painting furniture might seem straightforward, there are a few critical things to know beforehand to ensure the color goes on smoothly and adheres properly.

Select a furniture piece to paint

When choosing a piece of furniture to update, first consider whether the piece is an antique. Painting could potentially devalue the piece, so consider that before painting if you’re planning to sell it later. That said, if you’ve had your great-grandmother’s china hutch in the garage for the past 20 years and you know you’ll never use it without an update, go for it.

If you’re not planning to resell the item, it’s only as valuable as how much you treasure it. If you’ll appreciate it more in bright blue paint, then renovate the furniture item instead of letting it age in storage.

Choose the best paint for furniture

It’s important to choose a paint specifically designed for furniture, such as spray paint made to adhere to wood surfaces. You should also consider the finish you hope to achieve, whether that’s smooth and modern or textured and distressed. Chalk-style paints, milk- or mineral-based paints and acrylics are all great choices for painting furniture and versatile enough to give you a variety of looks. As with color choices, paint options vary widely and are typically limited only by personal preference. Grab a couple of samples and play around with them.

When in doubt, prime before painting

Some paints, including chalk-finish varieties, boast the ability to adhere to furniture without sanding first. However, there are always exceptions. For the best finish and adhesion, consider using a primer. Some old paint and set-in stains can bleed through your new paint job. In general, pieces that appear to have a red-tinted stain will generally show stains.

Some furniture paint lines offer their own primers or stain-blockers that are designed to work with their paints.

Prepare wood surfaces before painting

Adding paint to formerly stained furniture will highlight its features, including pretty architectural details and any blemishes or imperfections. Be sure to fill holes and sand out scratches prior to painting for the best results. Even a distressed finish will benefit from a little repair and prep work.

Have the right tools

If you’re considering renovating furniture pieces often, some invaluable tools to have on hand include:

  • Electric sander: Whether you choose an orbital, belt or sheet sander, it will save you a ton of time on projects and is fairly inexpensive.
  • Drill: This handy tool is perfect for making repairs or adding to the existing piece, and many are available at affordable prices.
  • Brad nailer: Similar to a drill, a battery-operated nailer will help with repairs like reattaching the backing on a dresser. And while they’re slightly more costly than a drill, it can be a good investment, especially if you have plans to continue renovating.
  • Staple gun: Battery-powered or manual, these tools are great for repairs and attaching backing, and the fancier versions can also help with reupholstering.