How To Paint Wood Furniture

Woody Jackson | Last modified on June 13th, 2021

Paint is an excellent choice for rejuvenating wooden furniture that has faded and dulled with time. While it’s true a fresh coat of paint will not make wood furniture look new, a fresh coat will bring your furniture back to life and darken the surface just enough to absorb any future scratches. To paint wood furniture, you need to choose paint, sand, and clean surfaces, prime and apply paint.

How To Paint Wood Furniture

There are many different types of paint you can use, but some give better results on untreated or previously painted wood surfaces than others. So whether you’re painting oak or expecting high traffic from children, there are paints made specifically for the task! Read on to learn more about how to paint wood furniture using different paints.

Why You Need To Paint Wood Furniture

Anyone you know cares about the aesthetics of their home. Our eyes are constantly looking at interior details, and the quality of the furniture is paramount in establishing a beautiful living space. Whether you are furnishing your first home, a furnished rental, or just want to do a little sprucing up on your current furniture, you will find that painting wood furniture is not only affordable but incredibly easy to achieve.

A lot of people don’t realize that wood furniture needs to be painted at some point to protect it from moisture, heat, and light. Wood is a porous material, and it cannot be treated with finishes to make it water-proof or provide UV protection. As a result, painting wood furniture often- but not always guarantees that they won’t need re-painting for years.

Paint Types

However, if you are looking for something unconventional, there are few things easier than painting wood furniture in bold colors. We’ve put together instructions for using both spray paint and oil-based paints on wood surfaces. 

Here’s everything you need to know before starting:

  • Spray Paint: This is the kind of paint used by everyone, from professional painters to home improvement volunteers. It’s easy to work with, costs less, and is very forgiving of imperfections. It’s also available in a wide variety of colors.
Spray Paint for Wood Furniture
  • Oil-Based Paint: Oil-based paint is made from oil mixed with other chemicals and solvents. It has a thicker consistency than spray paint and is ideal for wood surfaces that need to be prepared beforehand.
Oil-Based Paint for Wood Furniture

How To Paint Wood Furniture: Step-by-step Guide

Painting wood furniture is a great way to give new life to old pieces or avoid the cost of replacing them altogether. A few key steps will make this project go smoothly, and we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide to show you how to do it.

Prepare The Surfaces For Painting

Before you begin painting, it’s a good idea to plan how you want your piece to look. For example, if you aren’t planning on doing anything formal with the result, a more subdued color scheme will look best and ensure your furniture lasts as long as possible.

Step 1: Remove The Drawers And Doors

This step is meant for large furniture pieces like dressers, chests, tables, etc., where you won’t be able to fit the whole piece inside the painting area but still want to make it fairly easy to move around. Just be sure to plan and clear a path large enough to allow you to move the piece in and out of its final position.

Step 2: Sand And Clean

The surface of your furniture must be as smooth as possible before painting. Otherwise, your paint won’t adhere properly and will just come off with the first few uses. For wood furniture, lightly sanding each piece by hand is the best way to make it nice and smooth.

Step 3: Mask Off Areas

This step can be completed either before or after sanding the paint (this comes down to personal preference). It’s best to start with a plain white mask so that any imperfections can be blended in with the background. If you’re working on special surfaces such as wood but not going for an utterly bold look, try a darker color to blend the paint truly.

Step 4: Prime

Once all of your surfaces are nice and smooth, it is important to prime them before painting over them. You’ll want to use an oil-based primer that will lock the paint in place until it starts to wear off after some time.

Paint Furniture

There are two different ways to complete this step if you choose to go with spray paint. First, for large furniture pieces (i.e., beds, dressers), it’s best to spray paint the whole thing at once so that you don’t have to move them around many times during the process.

Step 1: Prep The Work Area

You’ll want to have your piece on its side and ready for painting for this step. As a guide, using your masking tape, use a circular motion to paint around the entire piece in an even or figure-eight pattern.

Step 2: Apply The Paint

Before applying the paint, you’ll want to test out your spray equipment on something that won’t be ruined. Look for something easy to clean, such as a piece of cardboard or a junk piece of wood you’ve got lying around. Then, you can start spraying or painting your wood furniture.

Step 3: Apply Additional Coats

Once the initial coat is dry, it’s best to apply a second or even third coat of paint for extra strength and durability. This will also create a very smooth surface that will last longer and look better over time.

Protect Wooden Surfaces

Once everything is nice and dry, it’s time to apply a protective surface to your furniture to get damaged over time. This can be in the form of wax, beeswax, polyurethane, polyvinyl acetate (PVA), or a spray sealer. Remember that this will only last as long as you use it, so get comfortable with the process and don’t be afraid to experiment with new options.

Protect Wooden Surfaces

FAQ

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Wood Furniture?

First things first, there are mainly two types of paint. There is oil-based paint and latex-based paint. Latex-based paints are also known as water-based paint and are the most widely used type of paint. Because they don’t require solvents to dry, they are considered environmentally friendly. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, dry slower and have a thicker consistency than latex-based paints. They also tend to hold up better against moisture, which is why they’re often used by boat owners who need their boats to resist the moist weather conditions at sea or even in a marina for an extended period.

Can You Just Paint Over Wood Furniture?

The answer to this question is no; you can’t just paint over wood furniture. Many people think you should simply use a paintbrush and acrylic paint to restore the natural beauty of your furniture, but this will not accomplish anything. Painting over wood is never the best option because paint can chip and flake away very quickly. It may only last a few weeks before suddenly looking awful again. All you need to do is sand it down completely and then apply some oil or stain depending on what you want your furniture to looking like for it to be worth another coat of paint.

What Is The Most Durable Paint For Furniture?

The most durable paint that is safe for furniture is oil-primer paint. It has an oil-based binder with pigments suspended in it and dries fast for faster work times. This type of paint can be applied to the interior and exterior but not painted over old or worn surfaces because of its lack of hardness protection.

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