How to Paint Unfinished Wood Furniture

To redecorate a room, there’s no need to buy new furniture—just update what you’ve got with a fresh coat of paint. Watch this video to find out how.

What You Need

  • furniture
    drop cloth
    220-grit sandpaper or flexible foam sanding sponge
    latex paint
    roller frame and rollers
    foam paintbrushes
Follow These Six Easy Steps
  1. Lay a drop cloth

    If painting inside, you’ll want to protect your furnishings. Remove any knobs, pulls, or hardware from the furniture.

  2. Sand furniture

    For a smooth finish, use a flexible-foam sanding sponge or 220-grit sandpaper. If your piece has knots, sand them until they’re even with the grain.

  3. Dust furniture

    To remove residual grit, you can use a clean cloth or a vacuum.

  4. Prime

    To seal the wood, roll or paint a coat of primer over the entire piece. You can also use spray primer. Priming hides imperfections and provides a surface for the paint to adhere to. Let dry for at least an hour.

    Aha! If you’re not sure whether you want a shiny or a flat finish, try flat first. You can always re-cover flat with a satin or a semi-gloss, but it’s harder to go in reverse and cover the sheen.

  5. Paint

    Using a roller on large surfaces and a brush on smaller ones, apply a coat of latex paint.

  6. Let dry for at least two hours

    When the paint is dry, use a clean brush to apply a second coat of paint (two coats are generally the minimum needed for a nice, even finish).

    Tip: Between coats, put your brush in a plastic grocery bag and stash it in the refrigerator to keep it moist. That’s faster than cleaning it and waiting for it to dry.

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