Furniture painting FAQ’s
Hi everyone, Today I am sharing some furniture painting FAQs, from how to paint your kitchen cabinets to painting Ikea furniture I am sharing all of my tips. I have been painting pieces of furniture in my home for the past five years. I have painted everything from kitchen cabinets, fireplaces to even painting fabric. I get a lot of paint questions in my DM’s on Instagram so I thought I would put together a furniture painting FAQ post so you guys could use this post as a guide for your projects. I know how intimidating it can be when you want to start a project. There is so much variety of paints to choose from. Whether you want to use chalk paint or satin I have used loads of different paints and I can share what has worked for me. I have also had a few painting disasters too and I will try my best to share as much info with you so you can avoid making the same painting mistakes I made. I am no expert when it comes to painting furniture but I can speak from experience. I also like to try new brands as well and I haven’t tried them all so I can only comment on the ones I have tried. Below are the most common painting questions I get asked, I hope you find this post useful.
How do I paint my kitchen cabinets?
I painted my laminate kitchen cabinets over three years ago and they are still going strong. It was the best thing I ever did to my kitchen and it made a massive difference to the room. I had ugly orange coloured fake wood presses and I was able to paint them. I do not recommend chalk paint for kitchen cabinets. I recommend using primer and an eggshell or satin finish paint. Whether you have solid wood or laminate presses then these are the steps I took to transform mine.
- Start by using warm soapy water to remove all the built-up grime from your cabinets. You can also use sugar soap to remove the build-up of dirt.
- Very lightly sand each cabinet door, you do not have to sand it back bare. You just have to scratch or key it so your paint has something to grip onto.
- Apply one or two coats of primer to your cabinets and follow the drying time for each coat. It is tempting to recoat but always allow for the paint to fully dry.
- Once the primer is dry you can apply your top coat. You can use either an eggshell paint or satinwood paint. Apply two coats. Allow the paint to dry.
- You do not need to apply a sealer with eggshell or satinwood paint. This paint will dry with a sheen and once it cures it is durable.
I find satin and eggshell paint is more durable in my home. So for pieces that get a lot of traffic, I would use those paints. I have pieces in my home that are painted in chalk paint and they have discoloured over time or the wax hasn’t been durable enough. So, for kitchen cabinets, my go-to paint would be primer and satinwood/eggshell. Both Farrow & Ball and Colortrend have a great range of colours in their paint ranges. You can see more pictures of my kitchen in this post here and check out the video below.
Do I have to sand and prep a piece before painting?
Yes, regardless of what a paint company says on their tin, I always prep a piece. Would you apply makeup to a dirty face? Furniture will build up a layer of dirt, oils and grime over time. I have skipped the prep in the past and these are the pieces of furniture that have not stood the test of time. When you start to paint furniture it is easy to want to cut corners and skip the prep. Allow yourself the extra time to prep your piece properly. Here is how I prep a piece for painting, this is the same prep I do for all pieces included wood and PVC.
- I use warm soapy water and some sugar soap to wash my piece, this will get rid off all the dirt and grime. You will be surprised by how much dirt comes off a piece of furniture.
- using a sanding block I lightly sand my piece. You do not have to sand a piece to the original wood. You are simply scratching the piece so the paint can grip to it. This step doesn’t take long and you can sand in the direction of the wood. Make sure to wipe away any dust from sanding before painting.
- I leave my piece to fully dry before applying any paint. Generally, I will prep a piece for painting the night before painting the piece.
I know a lot of brands advertise that you don’t need to sand a piece before painting. I would still give these items a clean with warm soapy water before painting. You want your piece to last and you don’t want to be covering up chips every few weeks on your piece. Take your time, painting is fun and enjoy each step.
Chalk paint V’s Satinwood
Before chalk paint exploded onto the market everyone would have used Satinwood and Eggshell paints on wood and metal. I have used many different brands of chalk paint and I find satinwood more durable and sustainable over time. I do love chalk paint, however, I have noticed it is not as durable over time and I keep it for small pieces like mirrors/jars and the odd chair. When it came to painting my kitchen cabinets and front door I went with an eggshell paint. With chalk paint I have had to redo and go over some past projects from 2-3 years ago that didn’t last long under daily use, However, my kitchen cabinets and pieces I painted with the eggshell are still durable with no chipping.
There are pro’s and con’s to each type of paint, from my experience if you are painting something big like a kitchen, fireplace, a piece of furniture in high traffic areas like your kitchen table etc then go for satinwood or eggshell. For smaller projects or pieces that you want to achieve that aged shabby chic and antiqued look then go for chalk paint. Money wise depending on the brand of paint there is not much price difference between chalk paint and satinwood. With chalk paint, you can easily get a distressed shabby look and there and brands of chalk paint that have ranges of products to achieve crackle effect and different decorative effects. It’s also good to note, chalk paint brands advertise that you do not have to prime, however, you do have to seal chalk paint with wax or lacquer. Satinwood and eggshell you can apply a primer but you do not have to seal. So, when it comes to time I find I don’t save any more time by using chalk paint versus satinwood. Also, most brands of satin have low VOC’s and don’t have an odour.
It all comes down to personal preference. As you paint more pieces of furniture and try different paints you will find which one works best for you and your style. I always encourage people to get tester pots and try out some paints before making their minds up.
How do I minimise brush strokes?
If you want a really smooth finish for your project then I love to use a sponge roller. I also use a makeup brush to get inside the smaller hard to reach areas. I love the foundation brushes from Pennies (Primark) to give me a smooth finish. I love the Harris brand of paint brushes. I try to avoid the cheap paint brushes from the likes of the pound shops as they shed over time and don’t wash as well. I have some Harris brushes that are years old and still going strong.
Did you paint your skirting boards, any tips?
Yes, I have painted my skirting boards and doors. I had ugly orange pine doors and skirting when I first moved into my home. Painting these made a massive difference and has made my rooms look bigger. I have a post about painting skirting which you can find here. I basically follow my three rules that I mentioned above. Prep, Prime and Paint! I won’t lie, painting skirting boards aren’t the most fun thing to do. Your back aches and you want to give up halfway through. My best advice is to break up this job and take it in steps. I didn’t tackle all of mine at once. I painted my skirting boards room by room.
How is your painted fridge holding up?
I painted my ugly black plastic fridge pink around two years ago. I am happy to report that it is holding up well and I haven’t had any issues. I haven’t used magnets on it so that has helped with making the paint last. I also wash it down with warm soapy water and I don’t use harsh chemical cleaners on it. If you have an ugly fridge, maybe you got it second hand or can’t afford a new one then check out my post on painting your fridge here. My fridge has a plastic coating to it so once I prepped and used a primer the paint was able to adhere to it. If your fridge is metal then I can’t recommend painting it as I haven’t painted metal aside from metal garden furniture.
Tips for painting Ikea furniture?
I have painted a few Ikea items and I always use a primer on it and follow the steps above. I wouldn’t skip priming as Ikea furniture can have quite a sheen to it and using rimer gives it a better base for paint to stick to. I know people who have used chalk paint on it too and I would recommend sealing the chalk paint with a lacquer. You might like my Ikea kids kitchen makeover, you can read about it here. I used Colortrend primer and satinwood paint to paint this unit.
What brand of paint should I use, what paint is the best?
When it comes to choosing a paint brand I will always tell you to do your own research and read up on the brand before purchasing. Each brand of paint has different drying and curing times. I always recommend getting a tester pot and following the brand’s guidelines on how best to use it. There are tons of paint brands on the market and I haven’t tried them all. When it comes to eggshell and satinwood paints my favourite brands are Colortrend, Farrow & Ball, Little green and Autentico eggshell. When it comes to chalk paints I like the Autentico vintage range, Rust-oleum and Frenchic range of chalk paints. Have fun trying out new paints and if you have any doubts then do a patch test first.
Prep, Prime and Paint
Whether you are painting a chest of drawers or your kitchen presses I follow those three rules. When I first started out painting I would be really impatient and would want to paint a piece within the day. Nowadays I take my time and enjoy each step. I regret rushing some of my past projects as I had to go back and redo them. Take your time, do a good prep and you won’t go wrong.
I hope you found this furniture painting FAQ’s post useful. I have some projects to tackle that involves stripping and removing paint so I will do a separate post on that topic soon. Let me know if you have any fun painting projects planned for this year. Comment below or tag me in your projects on Instagram. Also please share this furniture painting FAQ’s post with others if you found it useful.
Thanks for reading,
Please add the below image to your Pinterest boards
Thanks for the tips! We’ve just bought our first house & the previous owners are leaving some furniture behind. I’m hoping to paint some wooden pieces & keep them for a couple of years.
Very very helpful Catherine Thankyou xx
Congratulations on the new home, exciting times ahead. Have fun decorating it and making it a home x
Thanks so much for reading Annie! x
Did you get a new worktop in your kitchen as well as painting?
Very comprehensive post on painting furnitures! This inspires me to try painting my old stool that I wanted to change but put off doing so for years! Thank you, Catherine!
Hi Helen, No I think it is the lighting in the pictures. The old before picture was taken on an old iphone years ago so the lighting gis really bad. x
Thanks so much for reading and have fun painting your stool. Take your time and enjoy the process x
I’ve thought about painting my fridge. It has stainless steel doors, but the sides and top are black that like a texture to it. I’m not sure what color I would paint it, but I think it would be cool to do it and give my little dark corner some brightness! Thanks for all your information and tips. From Louisiana, USA.
Thanks so much for reading! I find Pinterest is great for inspo. You could always use sticky contact paper to cover your fridge if you didn’t want to take the plunge and paint it? You could change it easier then if you didn’t like it x
Love your page, I’m doing a kitchen makeover, haven’t found any tea coffee sugar canisters I like so I’m thinking of painting kilner jars, what paint do you recommend, will I need primer? Ideally I’d like a washable gloss finish. Thx
Hiya! So, painting glass can be a tricky one but what I would to is either, lightly sand the glass, add some all surface primer from rustoleum and then spray them. Or you you skip the primer, use chalk paint and then seal with lacquer, if you spray them you will get a smooth silky finish, if you chalk paint I would use a make up foundation brush so you don’t get as much brush strokes. Have fun making them!
I saw on your insta that you painted your little couch in your bedroom and wondered if you could share any tips? I have just got a plain cream wing chair second hand for £15 and was going to recover it for my living room as its a little old and grubby looking. What would be the best paint do you think? And is it as easy as just painting the colour on?
Thank you so much x
I painted the pink chair around 3 years ago and here is the post with all the info in it https://www.daintydressdiaries.com/2016/09/painting-fabric.html xxx
Hi, Catherine, I love your videos so much. My husband and I have reached to thie conclusion: you and me share the exactly same taste in everything!!!!! Please, continue doing what you do. But, one question which is killing me: are you from the USA or from Ireland?
Thanks a lot and here, in Spain, you’ve got a great fan of you.
Lots of hugs
Aw thank you for the lovely message Irene, I am from Ireland and live in Dublin x
Great tips. I do have a question, though. Do you use latex base paints on the furniture? I find that items stick and mark latex painted pieces. Thanks for sharing all your experiences!
Wendy from Virginia, USA
Hi I just came across your fabulous video regarding painting your fridge. I’m hoping to do the same painting a silver fridge either green or cream. I’ve painted my press units cream last year and they turned out lovely. I’m delighted I came across your channel. Love the demos. My questions if you dont mind are :1 did you paint your worktops and :2 where did you get your kitchen table and chairs ? . Like you I have an ugly big square table which is taking over my kitchen and I’d love something smaller. Also my worktops are marked and an awful black shade. Would really appreciate your reply. Thanks so much Sharon. x
Hiya Sharon, Thanks for reading. Nope, I dind’t paint my counter tops and I got my table second hand off adverts.ie ,It was a bargain and I painted it cream and whitewashed the top x
Thanks so much for this post. So useful. I have a gorgeous solid Blanket box that has been subjected to little feet with shoes on and many toy car crashes and as a result the paint is all chipped. I have been vaguely threatening to paint it but had no idea where to start! Great advice for a complete beginner! Fingers crossed I don’t make a feck of it lol!
Thanks for reading Ciara, Yes, definitely tackle your blanket box and give it a new lease of life. If you have little feet then definitely a Satin or eggshell paint would be durable and hopefully won’t chip on you x
Thanks a lot for sharing this kind of information. Your article provides such a piece of great information with good knowledge. Recently, I bought some furniture. It will be easy for me to paint my furniture by following your tips.
Hi pretty lady, are you using water based oil solvent based paint on your woodwork etc? I’ve had awful problems with water based paints ie.satin & eggshell. Had peeling, marking, tackyness, a horrendous struggle enough to put one off painting.X
Hi Sandra, Yes, I use water-based paint and not oil-based. Oil-based is stronger and not as kind on the environment. Normally issues such as chipping/peeling are due to a poor prep and primer not being used. I have had no problems with peeling etc, once I have given a piece a good prep, prime and paint.
If you do want to get back into painting, why not start on a small piece to build confidence. Don’t forget about cure time too.
Thanks for the message,