How to Paint Furniture

From time to time, the interior needs to change. And global changes are not necessary: you can re-paper the wallpaper, change the textile decor, move the couch. It’s simple and not very expensive. Sometimes it does not seem enough and you want to change the comfortable, but boring table or closet. However, there is a better way: they can be restored. Let’s understand how to paint furniture made of different materials.

Where to start

Breathe new life into an old shelf, nightstand or chest of drawers is not difficult, if you choose the right restoration technique. The creative idea depends on the choice of decorative material and technique of its application. First it is necessary to determine what the furniture is made of. Any material can be repainted: metal, wood, plastic, etc. It is clear that the composition must match the base.

You can not be limited to paint furniture only. There are techniques of additional decoration. This is painting, manual or on stencils, decoupage with drawings or photographs, the application of craquelure, patination and aging, and much more. The decor is chosen according to the style of the interior. If you want, you can find very interesting solutions. 

Choose what paint to paint furniture

Immediately stipulate that you may need more than one paint furniture composition for the work. Therefore, we offer a brief overview of paint and varnish materials that can be useful to the master.


Applied at the initial stage of processing, in order to improve the properties of the substrate. Improve the adhesion or bonding of the decorative material with the surface. They close the pores of the substrate, which reduces the consumption of paints and varnishes. Masters recommend choosing a primer of the same color as the finish or, if that is not possible, as close in tone as possible. This way it will not shine through from under the main decor, which will reduce its consumption.

Stains, varnishes, waxes

Used to paint furniture. With their help restore the appearance of wood, emphasize its structure. Colored stains tint the base, highlight its texture. Available solutions that mimic the precious species of wood. So from the usual pine you can get wenge or mahogany. True, the result does not always meet expectations. If you have a desire, you can try to make a stain with your own hands. To do this, take a decoction of nutshells, roots or bark. 

Varnishes form a dense protective film that prevents the destruction of the decorative coating. A distinction is made between transparent and colored preparations. The latter perform two functions at once: decoration and protection. Varnish can be of any color, there are commercially available products that imitate precious varieties of wood. In addition, transparent and colored waxes, shellac and olive are used for wood treatment.


Used when it is necessary to completely close the structure of the basis and change its color. Choose the composition based on the material on which it will be applied. Thus, there are preparations for metal, wood, plastic, etc. In addition, hiding power, ease of application and resistance to abrasion are taken into consideration. The color gamut of preparations is very diverse, as well as the type of surface that is obtained as a result. It can be gloss, satin, matte plane or texture. 

For the room, it is desirable to choose eco-friendly paints, especially if they will paint the furnishings of the nursery. For example, compositions on milk are completely safe and at the same time wear-resistant. They give a special “faded” shade, which is well suited for interiors in the Provence or country style. To create a micro-textured surface, special textural products are used. In them, fillers are dissolved, giving the plane a certain structure.

Stages of painting old furniture with their own hands

In detail, let’s analyze the general technique of painting furnishings from any material at home. It is suitable for old and new products, if, for example, you want to change the design of a standard dresser or cabinet from IKEA.

Preparing to paint furniture

All recommendations on how to paint lacquered or any other furniture begin with a description of preparatory work. They are necessary to ensure that the painted surface is even, uniform and will last a long time. It is important that the paint was chosen correctly, otherwise a good result will not be possible. Be sure to study the instructions for painting, which specifies how to prepare the preparation for work and other important points.

Preparation steps

  1. Completely disassemble the product. Carefully unscrew the fasteners, remove doors, remove shelves. Remove the fittings. Anything that cannot be removed, such as stained glass or glass inserts, should be sealed with masking tape.
  2. Pour warm water into a container and dissolve a small amount of detergent in it. Wash all parts and remove any dirty or greasy stains. If they are made of laminated or veneered boards, wash very carefully to prevent the boards from bloating. Dry the elements thoroughly.
  3. Sand the surface with a fine sandpaper. Sanding is necessary to improve the adhesion of the coating. Especially if the surface is lacquered or polished. Sometimes use a grinder. Work with it very carefully, so as not to damage the substrate.
  4. Remove dust from the parts with a vacuum cleaner or sweep it away with a dry brush. Prim the base with a suitable primer. Follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations. Apply one or two layers of primer so that there are no untreated areas.
  5. Carefully examine each piece. If you find cracks, chips or other defects, patch them with putty. To get a good result, take a soft rubber spatula. After drying, sand and prime the restored surface again.
  6. After the primer has dried completely, sand the nearly ready-to-work surface once more. Carefully clean all dust from the most inaccessible places. Do it only with a dry rag or brush. A damp cloth will “drive” the dust particles into the cracks.

Such preparation is done on each item removed from the product. After that, you can paint the parts.

Painting and Drying

Before you paint polished furniture or any other, it is necessary to prepare the workplace. If the chosen paint has a pungent smell, you must ensure good ventilation and protection for the upper respiratory tract. In any case, windows and doors of the room should be open. In the summertime, it is advisable to drape them with netting to prevent insects from getting inside and settling on the paint that has not dried. This will spoil the work.

Painting instructions

  1. Prepare the composition for work. Aerosol can shake. The liquid mixture should be stirred or diluted according to the instructions. Lay the item on the even surface, cover the surrounding surfaces with plastic so as not to stain it.
  2. If we apply the paint solution, pour it into the tray. Take a roller, dip it in the liquid, roll it on the tray, taking off the excess of the mixture. Paint the part with the roller. Paint all the hard-to-reach areas with a brush. Leave the first layer to dry. For a clear color, which is most often the case with white, apply one or two more layers.
  3. For spray painting, which is better for MDF or chipboard, we use a different technique. We bring the spray to the base at a distance of about 30 cm. Apply the paint tightly, with smooth movements. Try not to have any drips. They will be difficult to remove. If necessary, apply a second coat.

Now all that is left is to dry the painted parts well. The drying time depends on the type of mortar, but it is unlikely to be fast. You need to let the mixture harden completely. Important point: each subsequent layer is applied only after the previous one has dried. If you want to decorate the part, for example to make decoupage or patination, you should do it after the paint layer dries.

On the dried paint, you can apply a transparent varnish that will strengthen the decoration and give it a deeper tone. After the varnish dries, carefully remove the masking tape and proceed to assemble the furniture. It is performed in reverse order. If the old fittings or fasteners are worn out, they must be replaced. 

paint furniture

Features of painting different surfaces

The process of painting in general, we have disassembled, it remains to figure out the details that are peculiar to different materials.


It is difficult to answer unequivocally how to paint particleboard furniture, because the boards are different. The basis in any case is compressed wood waste, but the finish is different. So, the board can be laminated, that is, covered with a decorative film, veneered or glued over it a thin layer of veneer. In addition, boards are lacquered and laminated. In the latter case, strips of paper are glued to the substrate. Before painting, laminated chipboards are completely stripped of their paper finish and any traces of glue are removed. Particleboards and veneered boards are only sanded to improve adhesion. Priming is mandatory. It is important to choose the right paint to paint particleboard furniture. Acrylic or alkyd paint will work best, it is possible to use oil paint. 


Wood is not difficult to paint, provided that it is carefully prepared. The only nuance: the possible “raising of the pile”. It appears when applying any moist compositions: varnish, stain, enamels, etc. It is easy to prevent such “lifting”. After the first priming, the coating is sanded with the finest emery cloth.

Varnished wood

Preparation for painting consists of removing the varnish. This can be done in different ways. Soften the lacquer layer with a hair dryer or a special washer, carefully remove it, you can remove it with a grinder. Then proceed according to the described technology of painting. The polishing removal procedure is very time-consuming, so many are interested in how to paint lacquered furniture without removing the varnish. It is possible, but only if the lacquer coating is firmly held on the base. It is sanded, primed and painted with a suitable composition.

Even the most inexperienced craftsman can paint old furniture. It is not difficult, but painstaking work, where proper preparation is especially important. Only then will the updated kitchen set, dressing cabinet or dining area will please its owner for many years to come. And when the décor becomes boring again, the furnishings can be repainted again.