How to Paint Wood Furniture

Wooden furniture may be painted, varnished or stained while some furniture makers and woodworkers prefer the natural grain of the wood. There are many advantages of painting or staining wood.

This protects the wood from the elements namely rain and sun especially when the piece is a part of an outdoor setting. Painting wood can also help seal it and protect it from pests.

Learning how to paint wood furniture is one of the basic finishing techniques that you need to learn to become a good woodworker. This guide will show you how.

Painting wood furniture made easy

You will find tons of wood furniture tutorials online or even offline. Whether you are painting chairs, tables, shelves, bed frames, dressers or frames to name a few, this easy guide will help you with the best, time-tested techniques.

You will need the following

  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Orbital sander (optional)
  • Tack cloth
  • Primer
  • Mini foam roller or foam brush
  • Semi-gloss latex paint
  • Protective finish


1) Prepare the surface first


Sand the area first to ensure that the primer sticks to the wood surface. There are also primers and paints that guarantee no sanding necessary but if you really want perfect results, sand first. Sand all surfaces using 150-grit sandpaper or an orbital sander.

Always be careful not to completely strip and gouge the surface of the wood. You still need something where the primer can stick to. If you are working on a wooden piece with an existing varnish, use 80-grit sandpaper. This will effectively remove the varnished surface as well as the top coat of paint.

2) Remove any residue


Keep everything clean before applying primer by wiping the sanded surface with a tack cloth. Do not use paper towels or a lint-free cloth just use the tack cloth for removing residue. If you can, vacuum all the dust from around the furniture you are working on. Use can use a damp cloth to collect dust more efficiently.

3) Apply primer


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If you are working on laminate furniture you must use a primer that’s made for laminates but if you are working on a natural wood base, you may use a regular primer. Use a foam brush to get into hard to reach areas and crevices. Dry the primer according to the instructions included in the can of the primer you used.

After the primer is completely dry use a 220-grit sandpaper to remove any drips. Wipe your piece down using a tack cloth. Make sure all the bits are removed before applying paint.

4) Paint your project


Use a foam roller to apply semi-gloss latex paint. Apply three coats. Each coat should dry first before applying the next. Allow six to eight hours in between coats. Make sure to sand in between coats if there are any drips or residue on the piece.

You may use the same sanding block but please use a new tack cloth. You must remove all dust and specks of lint before applying the protective finish. The finish needs to be flawless so make sure to remove everything that can stand in the way of perfection!

5) Protect your work


Use a new foam roller to apply a thin coat of protective finish water-based protectant in gloss. The finish should be flawless so you need to go over this coat very lightly with the foam roller to remove any bubbles that can occur when you are moving the foam roller.

You must give your piece enough time to dry. Usually, it can take up to 72 hours for it to dry before using. If you don’t wait this long, your finish can get sticky. Check drying times and any curing times of the gloss you are using. These times may vary depending on the type of gloss and of course the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Let everything dry before you use the furniture piece.


Painting wood furniture is done in stages. First prepping the furniture surface which includes sanding the material, applying primer, applying paint and finishing the project which includes applying protective gloss or varnish. Learning all these can significantly improve your skills as a woodworker.

  • January 5, 2019
  • DIY