Do you have a tired piece of furniture that’s seen better days? Learn how to paint furniture easily with my tips for beginners. You’ll avoid frustrating mistakes and be pleasantly surprised by the results!
They all seemed like a good idea at the time: that cute kids’ rocking chair in the Goodwill shop window, a rickety little end table at Brimfield Flea Market, the Martha Washington sewing table from Craigslist that smelled like mothballs for months…
Those pieces of furniture – and others over the past few years – drew me in with their dirt-cheap prices and imaginary tales of neglect. Like homeless animals, they needed me to rescue them.
Plus, I can’t resist a good DIY project because let’s face it – I’m sort of cheap.
The trouble is, I hate painting furniture. Although there’s nothing I love more than a good before and after, I lack the patience required to paint anything well.
All that stripping, sanding, taping and waiting for paint to dry drives me nuts.
Until I found a better way to paint furniture.
But before I finally got it (mostly) right, I made several mistakes along the way.
Lessons I Learned from Painting the Wrong Way
Through all my trial and error, I learned a few things about painting furniture that will spare you some pain:
- Latex paint + primer combo paints meant for walls are awful on furniture. Case in point: That cute Martha Washington sewing table that’s now a nightstand in my daughter’s bedroom. The paint didn’t provide the right coverage and the dark stained wood bled through despite my sanding efforts.
- Oil-based wall paint is also not great for furniture, although I do love the glossy black shine on the small dresser above. The fumes were so bad that I almost passed out.
- Use a dark primer under dark paint unless you want to paint three coats.
- Tack cloth is your friend. Now that I’ve tried it I will never again use a Swiffer dusting cloth to remove sawdust and dirt during prep.
The Best Way to Paint Furniture
On a St. Patrick’s Day visit to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, my son and I were as lucky as leprechauns when we found a solid wood desk for $40, perfectly sized for his bedroom.
But after several furniture painting failures filled with lots of cursing and wasted time, I didn’t want to repeat past mistakes.
Instead, I tried chalk paint.
Guess what? I don’t hate painting furniture anymore! From the limited preparation to the faster drying time and quick clean-up, chalk paint is the best way to paint furniture that I’ve used so far.
Now, let’s see how a beat-up desk turned into an emerald beauty and I’ll show you how to paint furniture the easy way.
Want the quick version? Watch this video then check out the supply list.
Furniture Painting Supply List
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- Painter’s tape
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Tack cloth
- Drop cloth
- Valspar Chalky Finish Paint
- This is the paint I used, and you can have it tinted in any Valspar color at Lowe’s. This color is called Four Leaf Clover.
- Valspar Chalky Clear Sealing Wax
- This is the sealing wax I used.
- High-quality flat paint brush
- High-quality round brush (for sealing the paint)