6 Easy Steps to Painting Furniture - Movement Mortgage Blog

The phrase “hand-me-down” conjures up images of used, or valueless items that have been passed through many hands to yours. But when it comes to old furniture, this can be a treasure in disguise! You’d be surprised how much an update in color can enhance the look of a dated item.

Here’s a quick guide on how to paint your furniture to match your home décor.

1. The first and easiest step is to pick out the perfect piece of furniture, if you do not already have it. Check out places like flea markets, thrift stores, or even Good Will!

Courtesy of 17 Cherry Tree Lane

2. This next step is not a must-do, but if you have a piece of furniture with a polyurethane finish, sanding it down (even with a quick rub just to break up the slick poly finish) is the key to getting the paint to adhere. When sanding, you can use a palm sander with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Then finish off with finer sandpaper (150- to 200-grit) to get an even smoother surface. Note; the higher the number, the finer the sandpaper grit.

Pro tip: When sanding, always move with the grain of the wood.

3. If you’re worried about the original color bleeding through (especially if they’re darker colors like red or black), a few coats of primer should do the trick. If you’re painting raw wood that’s never been painted or stained before, give it a coat of primer before painting. This helps to reduce the number of coats.

You can find different primers at your local home improvement store. Some designer-recommended primers are Kilz primer or Zinnser primer. Apply the primer as if you’re applying paint, using a roller or brush.

4. Sometimes the hardest part about repainting your furniture is simply deciding which color to choose! We recommend  grey, beige, soft blues, or greens. Soft colors will make a bigger statement than you expect! Layer the paint and sand the top layer of paint down to give the piece a more aged feel. We will go into more detail on this in step 6.

Courtesy of Julia Hetzel Interiors

5. Choose the paint finish you would like (could be a flat finish, or something that has a little bit of shine). For an extra touch, you can add a wax or glaze on the furniture. Poly sealer/topcoat will ensure your high traffic furniture is protected because it cures to a super hard finish. This is best for pieces of furniture that are going to get a lot of use like a buffet, table, or nightstand because you can wipe it down easily.

Pro tip: Make sure your surface is clean from any dust or particles before you apply your wax.

6. This final step is optional, but if you want to give your piece some character, you can sand off some of the edges to expose the paint underneath. That way the color layer underneath will give your piece a custom, unique look! This creates the more antiqued look/feel that a lot of people love. For example – paint it blue, then paint white over it, and sand off the white to show some blue.

Painted furniture
Courtesy of 17 Cherry Tree Lane

If an old piece of furniture is not the perfect fit right off the bat, do not be discouraged. With a little craftsmanship, it could be just what you’ve wanted! Don’t forget to have fun – this is your work of art!  


About the Author:

Adam O'Daniel

Adam O'Daniel is Movement's Communications Director. He leads corporate communication and public relations efforts across the organization. Email him at adam.odaniel@movement.com.