How to paint old wood furniture like a pro with a few easy tips
How to paint furniture correctly
Paint furniture like a pro with these easy tips.
ProblemSolved, USA TODAY
One of the easiest ways to give an old piece of furniture a fresh new look is by painting it. But if you’re not a painting professional or are new to the challenging world of DIY, painting furniture without making a mess or expensive mistakes can feel like an impossible task. Questions abound. What kind of paint should I use? What brush is best? How do I avoid brush strokes or roller marks? Thankfully, there are solid answers to those questions that can help foolproof the process for the novice painter. With the right tools and a few tried and tested painting tricks and tips, you can easily and affordably achieve a beautiful, durable, professional paint finish and transform that old piece of furniture into the star of the room.
How to Paint Furniture
- The first and arguably most important part of any furniture painting project is correct preparation. Whether that includes sanding, stripping, removing drawers and doors, or reinforcing unstable components, it’s important to prep your piece properly to make the painting portion of the project easier. Learn how to prep like a pro here.
- For most furniture painting projects, it’s important to prime your piece properly. Applying a great primer doesn’t just help your paint adhere to your surfaces properly for a durable finish, it also seals porous surfaces, blocks stains and odors, and thoroughly covers old paint. Learn how to prime like a pro here.
- If you’re painting cabinets, tables, chairs, a dresser, or anything else that will see daily use, it’s important to use high-quality interior latex acrylic paint to achieve a durable, professional finish. It’s easy to work with and will stand up to normal, everyday wear and tear like a professionally painted or manufactured piece.
- While oil-based paints are durable, they have a significant odor, and the application and clean-up are more difficult to manage. For most DIY furniture painting projects, the right water-based paint will work beautifully.
- Start by painting any edges, curves, and molding, like door panels and drawer fronts, using an angle sash brush. This helps ensure that you’re covering all of those little crevices and corners with paint.
- Next, use a 4” dense foam roller to paint all flat surfaces on your piece. Once you’ve gotten full coverage on one section, lightly roll back over that same section with your roller, without applying any pressure, to smooth out any peaks or brush strokes.
- Another tip for achieving that perfectly smooth, professional finish is to avoid overloading the roller with paint. Thin, even coats are best for proper adhesion and curing.
- Wait one to two hours before applying a second coat of paint using the same method outlined above.
How to Properly Seal Furniture
After working so hard to paint and restore a piece of furniture, you have to protect all that beauty with a high-quality, water-based polyurethane topcoat. Not only are the best water-based polyurethanes easy to apply, but they protect your painted furniture with a Teflon-tough topcoat that can effortlessly stand up to daily use and help achieve a flawless, professional polish. However, not all polyurethane products are created equal, so make sure you’re assessing your options. The best polyurethanes won’t alter your paint’s color or cause yellowing, darkening, or stripping when applied on top of the paint.
- For the ultimate easy application process, apply polyurethane with a 3” wide foam brush.
- Use smooth, long, continuous strokes that go with the grain, only brushing over the same spot if absolutely necessary to eliminate bubbles.
- Polyurethane is a runny substance, so if you’re applying near the edge of a surface, check to make sure no drops have formed. If they have, make sure you catch and remove them before moving on to the next section.
- Wait two hours between applying each coat.
- For lasting protection, apply two coats of polyurethane to most of the surfaces of your furniture piece. On high-traffic surfaces like tabletops and drawer fronts, apply four coats for maximum protection and durability.
- If you’re going to be setting things on top of your piece, give your topcoat time to fully cure (i.e. get really hard and tough). If you have the patience to wait a couple of weeks before setting any items down on top of your surfaces, you’ll avoid making any dents or dings in your topcoat.