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.

If you want to change up a room—and you don't want 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
  • Primer
  • Latex paint
  • Roller frame and rollers
  • Paintbrushes
  • 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. 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).
  7. 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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