A staple inside homes for centuries, wood furniture brings a certain sense of regality and comfort to a space. It can be crafted in many styles to fit any home decor and is known to be one of the most long-lasting and durable materials for furniture. As wood furniture experiences regular usage and ages, it can become damaged through scratches, nicks, fading, and more. Still, when solid wood furniture starts to show signs of age, you may not feel ready to part with it—after all, a few scratches and fading marks aren’t enough to render a quality piece of furniture useless. One great option that will make custom wood furniture appear new again is to paint it. Painting wood furniture is simpler than one may think. For all wood painting projects, check out these helpful tips for painting wood furniture.
Sand the wood before you start
The first thing you should do when painting a piece of wooden furniture is to sand it. Sanding wood is something many guides, primers, and paints will insist you don’t need to do. Even with primers designed to eliminate the need for sanding, sanding is always the best option. It buffers out any flaws in the wood, making scratches and imperfections disappear. Sanding gives you a fresh, even canvas to work with when you start painting, so your paint goes on smoothly. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when sanding your wood furniture:
Hand sand: Powerful sanding tools can damage the surface of your wood and even strip it beyond repair. Carefully hand sand the entire surface of your wood furniture piece.
Dust off the wood before continuing: Take a brush or a soft cloth and wipe the dust and wood particles off the surface of your furniture before continuing on to further steps. Leftover dust particles can get stuck in the paint, causing patches of unpainted space on the wood and an uneven, bumpy surface feel.
Use a primer
Using a primer is another useful tip to follow. Many paints claim that they are a color and a primer built into one, but the true effectiveness of a primer relies on it going on first—not simultaneously. A primer—specifically a wood primer—helps the paint to better adhere to the wood. It makes it more durable and helps smooth the surface so the paint doesn’t show slight bumps and dips that might remain after sanding. Check out the top tips to keep in mind when you are priming your furniture:
Identify if your wood has finish on it or not: If the wood furniture that you’re painting is already stained and finished and you don’t plan to strip the wood, you will need to use a stain-blocking primer, which will ensure that the stain doesn’t affect the color or the way the paint lays on the wood. If you’re painting wood without a stain or finish, use a latex or an oil-based primer for the best results.
Don’t over or under apply the primer: You should aim to apply two coats of primer to your wood’s surface. Brush the primer on, and allow the first coat to dry completely before adding the second coat.
Test the paint color before applying it to the entire item
Once you’ve decided what paint color you want to paint your wood furniture piece, be sure to test out the paint on the wood before you apply it to the entire item. There can be slight variations in color between swatches you pick out in a paint or home improvement store and what the paint can actually contains. There is also often a difference between what the paint color looks like printed on a white swatch paper and what it looks like on actual wood—even after priming it. Just as with products you use on your skin, patch test the color first. Apply a small amount of the color to an underside or lesser seen part of the furniture item. A good example of a spot is underneath a wooden chair seat or on the inside of the cabinet on a wooden kitchen island. Check out these tips for testing a paint color:
Test a small, out-of-sight patch: When you’re testing the paint color, it’s because you want to know what it will look like when you apply it to the wood. In the case that you don’t like the result, you don’t want it in the center of the piece, which would require you to strip and re-sand your entire furniture item.
Wait for the test patch to dry before making a decision: Paint often looks different when it’s dry than when it’s freshly applied. Give your patch test a chance to dry before you embark on the full-coverage journey.
Leave time between paint coats
Once it’s time to paint your furniture, apply the first coat. It should be a thin, even coat, applied on top of the primer. Don’t worry about avoiding your test patch area, as this should be in an unnoticeable location on the furniture anyway. After you’ve applied the first coat, give the paint some time to dry before jumping in and adding another coat. This can take anywhere from three to eight hours, in general, depending on the furniture and the paint. Allowing the paint to dry before applying another coat ensures that the coats go on more evenly and that you will avoid clumping or uneven paint tones. Check out these painting tips:
Paint a full coat, then walk away: Paint an entire coat evenly to your liking, and then walk away from the project for a while. It can be tempting to keep messing with a full coat of paint while you wait for it to dry. Try taking a walk right after you finish the first coat, and then come back and go about your normal day—trying to stay out of the room with the furniture mid-paint in it.
Make sure there is good ventilation where you’re painting: If possible, use a face mask while painting to protect yourself from the paint fumes, and paint only in a place with good ventilation. Paint fumes can be dangerous, and you should take that seriously. Try to paint with a fan, open windows, and good airflow.