How To Paint Wood Furniture in 3 Basic Steps!


Wondering how to paint wood furniture, furniture painting tips, or even how to paint wood?  Then you’re in luck because today we’re focusing on how to paint to wood furniture in 3 basic steps!

You’ve gone out to yard sales, thrift stores, maybe inherited a family piece of furniture and you don’t know where to start! You’ve come to the right place! Today we’re going to show you how to refinish furniture by using paint to transform your furniture from drab to fab!

How To Paint Wood Furniture

Most furniture projects have 3 basic steps!  Prep, Paint and Finish!

Prep: Prepping is laying the groundwork for your project! Good prepping can take a piece of furniture from drab to fab! The prep works makes your hard work last forever!

Clean: Make sure your furniture is clear of any dust and grime. Use TSP (available at home improvement stores) to wipe it down really well before you get started.

Sand: Use an electric sander to smooth surfaces! Use a medium to coarse grit sandpaper for weathered wood or furniture with a glossy finish.

Prime:  Give your piece a coat or two of spray primer (like KILZ – available at home improvement stores) then use fine grit sandpaper to smooth away any gritty texture.

Paint: Go to your local home improvement store and find a paint color you love. For most furniture projects, a quart of paint is plenty.

Painting Tips

There are a few different ways to paint; you can use a traditional paintbrush, a trim roller, a paint pad, or a fancy paint sprayer. We love to use either a Wagner Paint Sprayer or even a sprayer attached to an air compressor.  Paint your piece with the method you like best! We’ve used all of these methods and they all work wonderfully!  If you paint a lot, you may want to invest in a either sprayer. They work wonders!

Most pieces of furniture have hardware. You can opt to replace the hardware but don’t forget, you can spray paint your hardware if you don’t like the finish on your piece. Hardware updates can really help transform your furniture!

Finish: Now that your piece is looking fabulous, you want to finish and protect it! Using Polycrylic and Polyurethane are a couple of ways to finish and protect your piece. Our favorite product to finish a piece is Minwax’s Polycrylic in Semi-gloss. It also comes in a spray!  We don’t use polyurethane on any light colored paints (especially white) because it can yellow over time.

Here are a couple of our makeovers, all using this technique!

Pottery Barn Inspired Black Credenza

Sunny Dining Room

For more tips and tricks on painting, head over to Classy Clutter! For bright funky furniture – All Things Thrifty. For more traditional and antique furniture – Miss Mustard Seed!  Be sure to stop by next week to learn how to Spray Paint Furniture!

Painting Wood Furniture:

I hope that gives you a few ideas on painting techniques. {wink} If you have a make over tutorial on your blog, we’d love to see it! Feel free to leave the blog link in the comments or on the Tip Junkie Facebook page. Or if you’re looking for a specific tutorial, let me know! I’ll be happy to find it for you. {{I’ve got your back!}}


Mallory and Savannah are best friends and the brains behind Classy Clutter, a one-stop shop for all things creative with a focus on Furniture and Home Décor. Both are moms with a mission for being creative on the cheap!  Mallory is a full-time mom of two little boys and a student.  She runs her Etsy Shop – Heartfelt Designs and Photography Business from her home in New York. Savannah is a cosmetologist at an Arizona salon called Hair Do and keeps busy doing furniture, crafts and activities with her two little girls!  Classy Clutter keeps them connected from NY to AZ! Classy Clutter is your place for inspiration, tips and tutorials!  Please hop over and check us out!  We’d love to have you!


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  1. Hi Laurie,

    Good tips here with well written advice and instruction. Painted furniture is always popular on my side of the pond, and it is, as you’ve demonstrated, a great DIY project.



  2. If you don’t leave enough time to dry in between coats this will happen. (if you prime, follow the time on the can to let dry, then if you paint, follow the time on the can to let dry in between coats. If you do a primer and 2 coats of paint, this will typically take you 2 days.)

  3. When you’ve painted wood furniture, do you have trouble with things sticking to the finished piece? My husband recently made me a desk and even though the paint has been dry for weeks, everything from my laptop to a piece of paper gets stuck on it. This also happens on a bookshelf he painted. Wonder what he is doing wrong?

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