How To Paint Furniture and Make It Look New Again!

Creating a custom piece of furniture for your home might seem like a lot of work, but it is well worth the efforts. For many people, the thought of beginning the process is the worst part.

As a beginner, you might wonder if this is a task you should take on. Thankfully, painting furniture piece is a simple task that anyone can master.

Here’s a complete how to paint furniture guide for the new painter.

Tools & Materials You'll Need

Alongside your sprayer, buckets of paint, latex primer or oil based primer, and varnishes, you need a few essential tools and accessories to make the project fun, simple, and professional.

Personal protection

Respirators are crucial when start painting furniture. Everything from sanding block to staining can cause problems with your breathing, taste, and smell. Cover your face, and don’t forget the goggles.

Sanding paper, sponges, and tack cloth or lint free cloth

You will want to sand it down with tack cloth or clean cloth before you paint wood surface. You also need to sand between paint coats (base coat and second coat). After all that sanding dust, the bits of dust particles needs to be removed too.

The very fine grit sandpaper will help get you started, and angled sanding sponges will get into nooks and crannies with ease. Between sanding it and painting, use a tack cloth to remove dust and debris from the freshly painted surface.

Wood filler

A good wood putty filler and a putty knife will make short work of gouges, holes, and dings in your wooden surface.

Painter’s tape and plastic sheeting

You will want to use a good painter’s tape to mask off any areas you don’t want to be painted surface, and plastic sheeting will protect nearby areas from overspray.

Prepare Your Supplies

Before you learn how to paint wood surface, it is imperative that you have the necessary supplies. Here’s a list of some things you might need to consider during water based paint furniture job:

  • Murphy’s Oil Soap or another cleaner
  • Tack Cloth
  • Medium Grit Sandpaper
  • Fine Grit Sandpaper
  • White primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush, Foam Roller or Paint Sprayer
  • Top coat (thin coat)
  • Paint stirrer

5 Step Guide To Easily Painting Furniture 

1. Prep Work is Key

A quality paint job starts with the prep work to paint furniture. It takes more than a fresh coat or first coat or new coat of paint to make it look Good Bones.

Start by cleaning the furniture well. There is probably years of dirt in areas of that furniture that you weren’t aware of.

Make sure you also remove all the hardware and properly label it so you can reassemble later.

If the finished entire piece of furniture has drawers, you’ll need to remove them for painting separately.

2. Sand Your Furniture

For the good primer and paint to adhere properly, you’ll want to sand it like cabinet door and get any glossy paint finish off.

Medium-grit sandpaper is ideal for this. If you are using paint, you don’t need to strip the entire paint finish.

If you are planning to stain furniture like it must be down to bare wood surface.

The Frugal Girl recommends “an orbital sander, but other small sanders would work just fine too. I wouldn’t really recommend hand-sanding unless you are very strong/patient. It takes a LOT of sanding to remove old paint and stain, and I would get very weary of sanding if I had to do it manually.”

best paint sprayer for furniture

3. Prime the Furniture

Once it is free of all dust and completely dry, you can apply primer. This will help the paint adhere better and also covers any discolorations or stains. I find that oil-based primers seem to work well. Allow primer dry completely.

Once the priming is complete and fully dry, you need to sand again. Use fine-grit sandpaper this time and lightly sand. This isn’t necessary but will ensure you have the most professional painter like and even finish possible. Use a tack cloth to remove any dust afterward. 

4. Paint It The Smart Way

Woman painting furniture outside with bosch sprayer

You are ready to paint. Most people choose to use either a roller or a paint sprayer on most furniture projects. You will want to avoid flat surfaces finish paints as they can show fingerprints and become difficult to clean.

Your best bet will be to use a semi gloss interior latex paint for household furniture. By using a paint sprayer, you avoid seeing any paint brush strokes when the semi gloss latex paint is dry.

Here are some tips if you choose to use a paint sprayer:

  • Always paint in a ventilated area.
  • Paint thin coats or less coats.
  • Practice spraying on scrap material first.
  • Stand about 10 to 12 inches away from furniture while spraying.
  • Use smooth finish, even motions and don’t paint with your wrist.
  • Allow it to dry completely before applying another coat of paint.

If you want the best finish possible, you’ll want to sand lightly between each coat of paint. I know it seems like a lot more work, but the outcome will be worth it.

5. Protect the Furniture

Once the last coat has dried, it is time to seal the furniture. If you aren’t going to seal it, plan to let furniture sit and cure for about 30 days.

Many paint sprayers will apply sealers easily as well. Be sure to let furniture sit for a day or two and completely dry before using it.

Safety Tips To Keep In Mind

Safety is important, no matter what you are doing. Careful planning and awareness can save you from injury, protect your equipment, and the items you are working on.

Your paint sprayer owner’s manual will have a lot of safety information about the model you are using. Pay special attention to these areas to ensure you are meeting all safety requirements.

On top of that, you need to protect yourself. This can include protective gear, respirators, gloves, and goggles, as well as being safe on ladders or step stools and proper lifting techniques when moving large pieces of refinishing furniture.

You will also want to use caution when working near your items. Bangs, slips, and trips and dropping tools or the spray gun can cause damage to your paint furniture. You'll need to be strong to hold onto a belt sander.

While refinishing furniture can be time consuming and hard work, it is well worth it when you see the outcome and know that you have created a custom piece of furniture painting for your home.

Do you have to use a foam roller to prevent brush strokes? Prime using a mini foam roller, and use a foam brush to get into any hard-to-reach areas. The roller helps prevent visible brush strokes

Painting Furniture FAQs

Can I paint furniture without sanding?

This is not recommended because sanding is necessary to remove old paint and achieve a smooth surface. Sanding between two coats is also important to avoid imperfections.

Do you use more paint when using paint sprayers?

Using a paint sprayer may use more paint depending on the sprayer, paint type, and tip used, but more paint is actually applied to the surface compared to using brushes or rollers which waste paint.

Can I use a furniture spray paint instead?

Yes, furniture spray paint can be a convenient option for painting furniture but it may not produce as high a quality finish.

Can I spray paint over varnished wood?

Yes you can spray paint over varnished wood but prepare the surface and use oil-based paint.

What is the best paint for wood furniture?

There are many options for the best paint for wood furniture, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Where Can I Find Some Painted Furniture Ideas?

The internet has plenty of painted furniture ideas to explore. Check out Pinterest for inspiration on everything from chalk paint to bedroom furniture.


Painting your household furniture or distressed furniture can be a time-saver as well as fun. In addition, it takes old, worn-out pieces and makes the new again.

You can change the whole look of an entire room with some cans of paint. Try the techniques list above and see what creations you can make.