Hello! I’m Sara from Sincerely, Sara D., and I am excited to be here with you today on Remodelaholic. If you follow my blog, you know that I will paint (almost) anything.
Today I am going to share tips for painting furniture using five different types of paint: latex, chalk, milk, spray and oil-based.
Painting Furniture with Latex Paint
Latex paint (also known as water-based or acrylic paint) is great because it is inexpensive and easy to clean up since it’s water-based.
Step One: Sanding
Sanding is a great way to remove some of the pieces current finish while creating a surface the paint can adhere to.
Step Two: Clean
Give your piece a good cleaning. If you sanded the piece first, use a damp rag to remove dust. If you didn’t sand, wash down the piece and use a cleaner like Simple Green.
Step Three: Prime
Priming takes time, but it will be well worth the time to have paint that doesn’t chip or peel.
Step Four: Paint
How the paint is applied will determine the look of the paint. Use a foam roller for a smoother look.
Step Five: Seal
Seal latex paint with a polycrylic protective finish. It’s water-based (like latex), and it should not yellow over time.
Painting Furniture with Chalky Paint
If you take a look around my blog, you’ll quickly realize I am a huge fan of any type of chalk-type paint (or miracle paint as I lovingly call it).
Chalk-type paint eliminates the prep work and doesn’t require stripping, sanding or priming! It adheres to almost any surface, dries quickly and cleans up easily with soap and water. It even works on a bathroom vanity like this or kitchen cabinets like these.
To begin, I usually just wipe down a piece to remove any dust or dirt. I personally have never used a primer with chalk-type paint, but I would suggest it if the piece has a really glossy finish.
Step 1: Paint
Paint the entire piece with paint. I usually use a brush (but a small roller could come in hand for some pieces such as cabinets). You’ll find that a little paint goes a long way, and I almost always use two coats of paint. Chalk-type paint dries really fast, but make sure the first coat is dry before applying the second.
Step 2: Wax (Clear)
After the paint is completely dry, apply two coats of wax on the piece using a wax brush. I don’t wait for the first coat of wax to dry before I apply the second coat. A tip when waxing, less is more!
You are not limited to using wax, but wax does work well with chalk-type paint. However, I would recommend a water-based polycrylic for cabinets, table and desk tops, floors and outdoor furniture.
Step 3: Wax (Dark)
This step is optional. Dark wax is good if you want to bring out details and/or like the aged look. You must apply clear wax BEFORE you apply dark wax. Go easy on the dark wax. You won’t need much! Apply the dark wax with a brush over somewhat dry clear wax. Remove excess wax with a lint-free cloth.
Step 4: Buff
Buff the wax using a lint-free cloth. It’s pretty easy to see where you missed the wax, so you can easily touch those places up with a brush or rubbing wax in with your cloth. Buffing helps smooth out and remove extra wax.
Step 5: Sand
I recommend sanding after you apply the wax because of the chalk nature of chalk-type paint. It will make a mess if you sand before waxing and then you risk waxing in the chalk paint particles. I usually sand the edges and places where normal wear and tear would occur.
And that’s it! This is by far my favorite paint to use on furniture.
Painting Furniture with Milk Paint
I have a love/hate relationship with milk paint.
I love it for the fact that it does not require any prep work, and it is a paint with beautiful dimension. Also, if you paint raw wood, milk paint will soak in and act more like a stain. However, my control-freak self can’t handle how unpredictable it can be if you paint a piece that has an existing finish because it has the tendency to chip, and it it hard to control.
Milk paint comes in powder form, and as I just mentioned, provides various beautiful results since it reacts to different surfaces in both color and adhesion. Because it is made from natural pigments, milk paint has beautiful dimension and can leave lighter and darker streaks. Also, milk paint will soak into wood (which is why it’s so durable), but it will react completely differently to a piece that already has a finish. If a finish exists on a piece and milk paint is added, there’s a good chance it will chip off.
There is good news for all of us control freaks: If you don’t love the chippy look and are painting a piece with a existing finish, you can add a bonding agent. A bonding agent is sold separately from chalk paint and usually added to paint. Chipping can still occur with the bonding agent – but not to the same extent as it would without.
Step One: Mix
Milk paint requires mixing. It comes in powder form which is great because it has an indefinite shelf life. However, once mixed the paint needs to be used fairly quickly. To mix, you add one part powder to one part paint. You can add more powder (or water) to get the consistency you prefer. Allow the paint to sit for a bit to allow the clumps to absorb water and help the bubbles to go away. Keep in mind that you will need to occasionally mix the paint from time to time since the powder will try and settle at the bottom.
Step Two: Paint
Milk Paint doesn’t require prep work before you paint – no sanding or priming! Milk paint is thin and drips pretty easily. Use quick strokes and try to stay on top of the drips. Wait for the coats to dry before adding another. I usually do 3 coats of milk paint.
Step Three: Sand
After you’re done painting, you can sand the piece. Sanding is great if you want to distress and smooth out the finish (you’ll notice some powder lumps). If you have a lot of chipping, you’ll want to smooth out these areas.
Step Four: Wax
I use wax on my milk painted pieces, but you can also use a polycrylic or oil. I would suggest a polycrylic for highly uses pieces such as cabinets or desks. Hemp oil is great because it’s food safe.
Step Five: Buff
Buff the wax using a lint-free cloth. It’s pretty easy to see where you missed with the wax, so you can touch up those places with the brush or cloth. Buffing helps smooth out and remove extra wax.
Painting Furniture with Spray Paint
Spray paint is so quick and easy. It offers coverage without brush stroke and easy cleanup. Also, since spray paint is typically oil-based, it adheres well to most surfaces. It dries fast and is durable. It can get expensive and it need warmer temperatures to work correctly.
Spray paint in a well ventilated area. I usually spray in the garage with my garage door wide open. I use a large cloth to protect the floor. To prep, shake your can for several minutes and wear a paint mask. Also, a spray paint attachment saves your manicure and your hand from cramping.
Aim the can away from the item you’re painting, push down on the nozzle and start spraying. The first spray out of the can can splatter. Move the paint stream to your item, keeping it about 8 inches away. Move back and forth in smooth rapid motion painting light coats. It’s easy to overspray but overspray means drips.
Continue painting coats after the previous coat has dried. I typically spray paint a coat and go work on something else for a while. Once the coat has dried, you can add another. Do this until you have complete coverage.
I rarely use a top coat unless there’s a certain sheen I’m trying to achieve. A top coat can add another layer of durability but generally spray paint holds up well on it’s own.
Painting Furniture with Oil-Based Paint
Oil-based paint is very durable because of its hard shell. Its beautiful glossy finish adheres well to most surfaces.
Oil-based paint is hard to clean up since it is not water-based, and because of this I usually find myself opting for other paint types. However, it does provide a beautiful and very strong finish.
Step One: Sand
Sanding before painting is always a good idea.
Step Two: Clean
Give the piece a good cleaning. If it was sanded first, use a damp rag to remove the dust. If the piece was not sanded, you can clean using a cleaner like Simple Green.
Step Three: Prime
I would always suggest priming, especially if the piece was not sanded. It will be well worth your time and energy to have a piece that doesn’t chip or peel. Remember to use an oil-based primer. Keep in mind that oil-based paint will take awhile to dry. I would estimate 24 hours for a coat to dry.
Step Four: Paint
How the paint is applied will determine the look of the paint. Use a foam roller for a smooth look and a brush for a more rustic look.
Step Five: Seal
Seal oil-based paint with an oil-based finish.
Phew! That was A LOT of information. I hope it was helpful. Thanks so much to Remodelaholic for having me today!
Plus, check out these other painting techniques and tips
plus more Best Painting Tips and Tricks
or if you’re restoring instead of painting, visit this step-by-step tutorial: How to Refinish and Restore Wood Furniture
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