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

  1. Check furniture
  2. Check drop cloth
  3. Check 220-grit sandpaper or flexible foam sanding sponge
  4. Check primer
  5. Check latex paint
  6. Check roller frame and rollers
  7. Check paintbrushes
  8. Check foam paintbrushes

Follow These 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.