How to Paint Furniture

Discover the versatility of furniture paint in our step-by-step guide. From preparing the surface to choosing the proper paint, like wood or chalk paint, refinish your furniture and reclaim your furnishings today!

Few Hours
Less Than $100

What You Need for This Project

Prepare the Surface for Painting

  1. 1

    Disassemble Furniture

    • Carefully disassemble your furniture, removing drawers, loose shelves, or hardware.
    • If you plan on painting the inside of the unit, remove the back.
    • Repair any loose joints and repair damaged areas with wood filler.
    • Sand the dried putty with a 220-grit sanding sponge.

  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Sand the Surface

    Sand the existing finish with a 220-grit sanding sponge and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

    Note: For any rough areas, go over them with a 180-grit sponge and wipe clean.

  2. Steps:

  1. 3


    • Use painters' tape to cover areas you don’t want paint on the interior of the cabinet, or any hardware and hinges you cannot remove.
    • Apply a thin coat of primer, brushing in the direction of the grain, and let dry.
    • Sand the prime surface with the 220-grit sanding sponge and apply another coat of primer and let dry.
    • Repeat these steps until you reach the desired smoothness.

    Note: You can skip this step depending on the condition of the surface. It is a good idea to prime and sand bare wood or damaged surfaces.

  2. Steps:

Choose Your Paint Finish

When painting indoors, use paint marked as "Interior" or "Interior/Exterior." Interior paint tends to dry quicker and has less of an odour — an important factor inside the house.Sheen is the term used to describe the degree of light reflection a paint has. Usually the less sheen an interior paint has, the less stain-resistant it is. Different manufacturers may have various trade names for them, but in general, sheens are classified as "gloss," "semi-gloss," "satin," and "flat."

  • Gloss is an easier surface to clean, which makes it a good choice for areas of high traffic or constant use. Gloss is most often used on a home's wood trim, baseboards, and kitchen and bath walls. It will, however, show imperfections in the surface more than other sheens.
  • Semi-gloss paints are also durable and easy to clean, but have less shine than gloss. They are just as suitable for woodwork, kitchens, baths, and other high-traffic or high-humidity places.
  • Satin offers a good combination of easy-clean and moderate sheen.
  • Eggshell is a smooth, low-sheen finish that has less sheen than satin. It is ideal for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and dens.
  • Flat paint is considered non-reflective and a good choice for large wall and ceiling areas. It also hides imperfections well and spatters less when applied.
  • Semi-gloss and satin are typically the best sheen choices for painting furniture.

Chalk Paint 101

  • Due to the thickness of chalk paint, it requires little to no surface preparation.
  • It is usually latex-based and has a flat finish.
  • It is applied in multiple steps that includes a soft wax and/or a finishing glaze or sealant to protect from flaking or chipping.
  • Chalk paint offers a super matte look and can be used to create a variety of looks, including distressed or opaque.

Find out more about Chalk Paint.

Get Inspired with Four Different Chalk Paint Looks

Apply the Paint

  1. 1

    Set Up Your Work Space

    • Ensure you have proper ventilation in the room you are painting, and use drop clothes to protect your flooring from any splatter or spillage.
    • Clean the area of sanding dust and debris, and allow the air to clear so there will be no residual dust on your freshly painted surface.
    • Set up a portable and adjustable light in an area that ensures the light will hit the piece at different angles. This will help you find any surface imperfections.

  2. Steps:

  1. 2


    • Flat Surface: Using a 4 in. roller, apply the paint making sure you don’t drip around the edges.
    • Uneven Surface: Using a bristle-brush, apply the paint, checking for any drips or uneven paint as you go.
    • Brush back and forth only to spread the paint and always paint in the same direction as the wood grain.
    • Let dry and apply a second coat if needed.
     Note: Use a synthetic brush for latex paint, and a natural brush for oil-based paint. 

  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Fix Any Imperfections

    Once your furniture is dry, check for any drips or run, if you find any you can do one of two techniques:

    • Sanding: Carefully sand off any drips or runs and repaint if necessary.
    • Utility Knife: Lay the knife blade flat on the painted surface near the dried paint and carefully tilt it until the blade edge removes the bump without damaging the surrounding area. Repaint to conceal the spot.
    If you are using any specialty paint, apply the finishing wax or glaze, and let dry.

    Note: When using specialty paint, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. Steps:

How to Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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