How to paint wooden furniture

Follow our five simple steps to give your furniture a makeover

From refurbishing a family heirloom to refreshing a well-loved table, painting wooden furniture can be a fun and rewarding experience. It’s a great way to tie in a new color scheme or give a space a quick and easy update.

What you’ll need:

Tools needed to paint wooden furniture


  • Wood primer 
  • Top coats


  • Brush
  • Masking tape
  • Paint tray
  • Sander / Sand paper
  • Roller
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum cleaner

Additional items:

  • Cloth
  • Degreaser
  • Paint stirrer
  • Screwdriver
  • Spray bottle

Before you start, protect your working area to prevent any damage and place your piece of furniture in the middle. Then, unscrew or cover any handles, knobs and hinges. 

Sanding chair
  1. For furniture that is already painted or varnished, create a smooth absorbent surface by giving it a gentle sand with medium grain sandpaper. Then wipe it down with a damp cloth and wait until the furniture is dry. If your furniture is uncoated, you can jump to step 4.

Top tip:

If you’re working on a large piece of furniture with flat surfaces, it might be quicker to use an electric sander for this step. You will still need some sand paper to hand, for any areas that are difficult to reach.

Wiping chair after sanding

2.  Wipe the furniture down with degreaser and allow it to dry.

3.  Give it a second sand with fine grain sandpaper and remove any dust with a dry cloth, wipe it down again with degreaser and allow it to dry.

Top tip:

If you’re only painting the legs of a piece of furniture, it may be easier to place it upside down.

Sanding chair

4.  Apply a coat of wood primer, using a small brush for the corners and a small roller for the larger surfaces.  Don’t forget to give your primer a good stir before using it!

Top tip:

If you’re using a brand new roller, use a spray bottle to lightly coat your roller with water to help the roller to absorb more paint. 

Painting wooden furniture

5.  For the top color, apply 2 coats of satin finish paint evenly to avoid runs and sags. For a professional result, check the paint tin for drying times between coats and sand down lightly in between each layer.

Top tip:

To avoid streaks, use brushes and rollers that are suitable for painting wood.

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