Skip to Main Content
Select shopping experience to find products and pricing

Learn step-by-step how-to paint an old, tired-looking piece of furniture and turn it into a brand new looking piece that you’ll love for years to come.

Step by Step Painting Wooden Furniture Directions:

How to Paint Wood Furniture:

  1. Protect the floor and yourself. Put down a drop cloth. Use masks, gloves, and a well-ventilated area.
  2. Place the furniture on the drop cloth.
  3. Prep the piece by removing extra hardware or dirt by wiping clean.
  4. Patch any chips or holes with wood filler. Apply to the most damaged parts only.
  5. Sand the furniture with the grain — removing any finish. Start with 100 grit and finish with 200.
  6. Wipe down with a wet rag.
  7. Apply a quality wood primer or multi-surface primer.
  8. Now for the painting: Feather the close areas and finish with the easier wide surfaces.
  9. Allow to dry and inspect for any mistakes. Apply a second coat as needed and allow a whole day to dry.
  10. Apply a clear finish and allow to completely dry.
View transcript

Video/Text on-screenCopy
Opening - Dunn-Edwards logo[Music]
Woman talkingHi. I'm interior designer Tracy Metro, and welcome to the Dunn-Edwards Paints "How-To-Paint" video series. Over the years I've discovered plenty of beauty in and uses for things that others have actually kicked to the curb. And there is no easier and less expensive way to breathe new life into one of those street finds than to do a simple makeover with paint. So today with just a few basic tools I'm going to show you step by step how to paint an old piece of furniture and turn it into a jazzy new-looking piece that will definitely get noticed in your house. Plus I'll even throw in a few tips and tricks to make the job even easier. Now before getting started you need to prepare the area that you'll be painting. First you want to protect the floor.
Clips of supplies neededWell, we're painting outside, but you still want to protect the ground. So you want to put down a drop cloth. To protect yourself, you might need to wear a face mask and some gloves.
Woman talkingIf you'll be painting indoors, open any windows and doors to allow plenty of ventilation into your work area. Now even though we're using a low VOC paint, it's still a pretty good idea to have some airflow. Next place your wood furniture on the drop cloth.
Prepping/Scrubbing furnitureWhether you're painting one color or attempting a fancier paint job like we are here, good prep is always a good idea. And frankly, it really is the key to painting anything, especially furniture.
Woman talkingSo, the very first step is to remove any hardware. This piece actually doesn't have any hardware, but you want to remove the hardware so that it's paint free. And this will make it look much more professional. And number two, the entire piece will be adequately painted so that at some point if you do decide to change out the hardware you won't have a paint coverage issue. Since this piece actually doesn't have any hardware, we get to skip step number one and move on to
Cleaning furniture clipstep number two, which is thoroughly cleaning the piece with warm, soapy water.
Patching chip clipNext patch any chipped, holed, or pitted areas with wood filler. And what you need to do is apply most of the wood filler to the damaged part of the wood and not so much on the undamaged part. Of course, there will be some overlap onto the damaged area, but don't even worry about that. You'll be able to sand that down later. This is so easy. All you do is take a putty knife and scrape away any excess wood filler. Then you just allow it to dry.
Woman talkingIf you're going to replace any of that hardware, what you need to do is fill in those wood holes and drill the new ones.
Sanding furniture clipSo now it's time to sand the furniture, and the goal here is to remove any varnish or lacquer that's on the wood surface, making it easier for the primer to adhere. So you need to start with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any glass. Then finish with a 120- to 220-grit sandpaper to make the surface really, really smooth. FYI, the higher the grit number on the sandpaper-- in this case 220-- the softer the finish, while the lower the grit number-- in this case 100-- the rougher the surface. Now a little word to the wise. If you're refinishing a large piece of furniture, you might want to use a palm or hand sander so that your hands don't get too tired sanding all day long. And remember, always sand with the grain, never across the grain, and worse never in a circular motion, because ultimately what that'll do is it'll show scuffs when you finish the piece.
Woman talkingNow if your piece has scroll work or other detailed indentations, make sure to sand those areas by hand just enough to be flush with the rest of the piece. Now this really could take some time, but do me favor. Don't rush it. Remember, good painting is all in the prep.
Sanding furnitureNow if your piece is a laminate, you want to use a really fine sandpaper and only move in one direction. What we're doing is we're creating a way for the paint to bond. And you need to start with a high-adhesion primer. Last thing after you're done sanding, always wipe down the piece with a damp rag to remove any of that excess dust and debris.
Woman talkingNext if you want your coat of paint to adhere evenly to the wood or to the laminate, and for the paint job to last a long time-- and honestly who doesn't want it to last a long time and to look good-- well, you need to use a really good-quality primer before you paint.
Paint can clipI'm using Dunn-Edwards Ultra-Grip Premium multi- purpose primer.
Priming furniture clipTo apply an even coat of primer, all you need is a paint brush and a mini roller. Gently brush along the corners, edges, and hard-to-reach areas. Then use the mini roller to hit those wide-open spaces like this. And be sure to use your paintbrush to feather out those rural areas for a smooth, even finish. Once the primer has completely dried.
Woman talking and paintingYou can finally begin the fun part-- painting. Now as we just did in the primer phase, first we're going to use a brush to cut into the areas that the roller won't reach, like the corners right here and the edges. What we're trying to achieve is a beautiful, smooth, even finish. Again, you want to remember to feather out these areas. OK now that we've cut in, it's time to go to the wide-open areas, and this is where I'm going to use my mini roller. Again, just like we did in the primer phase. Once I'm done rolling on the paint here, I'll use my paint brush to feather the areas to achieve that beautiful, smooth, even finish.
Paint can clipThis is going to look so beautiful when it's done, and what I've chosen is Dunn-Edwards Boat Anchor for the body of the piece. It's really modern.
Painting furnitureNow on the doors, because I'm using metallic paint, I'm doing the detail part first as I want the most control over any streaks that tend to pop up when you're using metallic paint. Next, I'm going to move onto our door color, which again is the boat anchor.
Woman talkingAllow the coat of paint to dry and inspect the piece for any areas that you may have missed. Yeah, I missed some right there. The first coat of paint should be given at least four hours to dry before another coat of paint is applied. So ask yourself. Do I need a second coat of paint? Well, in this case you absolutely do, and I would venture to say in most cases you do. Because one coat of paint might be a good-looking job, but two coats of paint could mean a professional-looking job. Then you want to give that second coat of paint the whole day to dry if you're doing one. Here's a Tracy's Tip for you. For added protection from nicks and scratches, apply a clear acrylic polyurethane finish over your second coat of paint. Now word to the wise. Make sure that you let the clear finish completely dry before moving the piece, because if you don't you'll wind up with fingerprints all over it.
Clip of finished furnitureBoy, doesn't this piece look stunning?
Dunn-Edwards Paint store clipWell, if you have any questions or you just need a little bit of additional help, please visit your neighborhood Dunn-Edwards paint store.
Woman talkingAnd for all of us here at Dunn-Edwards Paints, I'm Tracy Metro. Thanks for watching. And happy painting.
Opening - Dunn-Edwards logo[Music]

Other Videos From Exterior Painting Projects