How To Paint Indoor Furniture & Tips On Maintaining It

Painting indoor furniture is an excellent way to give your home a fresh new look while staying within budget. Whether you’re looking to refurbish an old piece or add a personal touch to a new item, painting offers a creative outlet to transform your furniture’s appearance.

This guide will take you through the step-by-step process of painting indoor furniture, covering everything from preparation to final touches. By following these guidelines, you’ll achieve beautiful and long-lasting results that will enhance the aesthetics of your living space.

painting furniture

How to prepare indoor furniture for painting? 

Before diving into the painting process, preparing your furniture adequately is crucial. Start by cleaning the furniture surface using a mild detergent and water solution. To prepare the furniture, use a soft cloth or sponge to eliminate dust, dirt, or grease. Rinse the furniture and ensure it is completely dry before moving forward.

If your furniture has a glossy or rough finish, sand it to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Ensure that you sand the furniture in the same direction as the wood grain, using medium-grit sandpaper. Remove any resulting dust by wiping the surface with a damp cloth.

Inspect the furniture for dents, scratches, or holes. Repair these imperfections using a wood filler or putty, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the filler is dry, sand the patched areas lightly to blend them with the surrounding surface.


Choosing the Right Paint and Finish 

Selecting the appropriate paint and finish is essential for achieving the desired look and durability. 

Decide on your desired finish, such as matte, satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss. Matte finishes offer a subtle, non-reflective look, while glossier finishes provide more shine and durability. Consider the style of your furniture and the level of maintenance you’re willing to commit to when selecting a finish.

In some cases, priming the furniture before painting is necessary. Primers help the paint adhere better, cover stains or discolourations, and prevent bleed-through of tannins from certain wood types. Check the label of your chosen paint for its primer requirements.

What paint to use when painting wooden furniture? 

When it comes to painting wood furniture, several options are available, but the best paint for wood furniture largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here are a few popular choices:

  1. Latex or Acrylic Paint: Water-based or acrylic paints are commonly recommended for wood furniture painting. They are low in toxic fumes, dry quickly, and easily clean up. Latex or acrylic paints also offer a wide range of colours and finishes.
  2. Chalk Paint: Chalk paint has gained popularity recently for its ability to create a matte, vintage look. It adheres well to wood surfaces without requiring extensive preparation or priming. Chalk paint is known for its ease of use and can be distressed or sealed for different effects.
  3. Milk Paint: Milk paint is another option for a rustic or antique appearance. It comes in a powdered form that needs to be mixed with water before use. Milk paint provides a more authentic, old-world look and works well on porous wood surfaces.
  4. Oil-Based Paint: Oil-based paints are renowned for their exceptional durability and ability to provide a seamless finish. They provide excellent coverage and are suitable for high-traffic areas. However, they tend to have a stronger odour, longer drying times, and require proper ventilation during application.

When picking the best paint for your wood furniture, consider the desired finish, durability requirements, and the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake. High-quality paints from reputable brands are also advisable to ensure better adhesion and long-lasting results.

paint brush

Painting Techniques

With your furniture prepared, it’s time to begin painting. Start with a base coat. If a primer is required, apply it first according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, apply the first coat of paint as the base coat. Use a top-notch brush or roller to apply thin, even strokes towards the wood grain. Allow the base coat to dry entirely before moving forward.

Apply multiple coats of paint to achieve even colour and coverage. Make sure each coat is fully dry before moving on to the next. Use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand between coats, creating a smooth surface.

Work methodically, starting from the top of the furniture and moving downward. Use long, smooth strokes to avoid drips and brush marks while maintaining a wet edge. If using a brush, choose one with bristles suitable for your paint type for a smooth finish.

Consider spray painting for intricate or hard-to-reach areas. Ensure proper ventilation, protect surrounding areas from overspray, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

painting cabinets

How many coats of paint does furniture need?

The required number of paint coats for furniture depends on various factors, including the paint type, the paint’s colour, the desired coverage, and the condition of the furniture surface. In general, applying multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat is recommended.

This approach allows for better adhesion, smoother coverage, and even finish. Two to three coats of paint are typically sufficient for most furniture painting projects.

However, evaluating the coverage after each coat has dried is essential to determine if additional coats are needed. If the colour or the underlying surface is still visible or if there are any uneven patches, applying another coat will help achieve a more opaque and professional-looking result.

Finishing Touches and Sealing

To enhance the durability and appearance of your painted furniture, consider the following finishing touches:

Apply a clear topcoat or sealer to protect the paint from scratches, moisture, and general wear and tear. Choose a product specifically designed for use over paint and follow the manufacturer’s instructions during application.

If you desire a vintage or distressed look, experiment with techniques such as sanding, glazing, or applying a crackle medium. Test these techniques on a small, inconspicuous area or a separate piece of furniture before applying them to the entire piece.

Before painting, remove or protect any hardware or accessories. If desired, update or replace them to complement your newly painted furniture.

How to clean painted furniture? 

To maintain your painted furniture’s longevity and cleanliness, it’s crucial to start the cleaning process with dusting. Dusting may feel like a never-ending chore, but it plays an important role in protecting your furniture and promoting a sanitary living environment.

Skipping the dusting step before cleaning can result in rubbing the dust into the wood grain, leading to potential condensation and discolouration. Gently remove dust from all surfaces using a microfiber cloth without furniture polish.

After dusting, moisten a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe the furniture. Ensuring the cloth is damp rather than wet is important, as excessive moisture can cause severe damage and leave unsightly marks, diminishing its aesthetic appeal over time.


Painting indoor furniture offers an exciting opportunity to transform your living space while showcasing your style. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll confidently embark on your next furniture painting project, from preparing the surface to selecting the right paint and applying the finishing touches. 

Remember to take your time, use high-quality materials, and enjoy breathing new life into your furniture. The results will be a beautifully customized piece that brings joy to your home for years to come. Happy painting!

If you would like to watch more videos and pick up some more DIY and painting tips check out the DIY on YouTube. You will also find a new video on my channel every Thursday and Sunday. Or click here for more DIY and home posts.


1 Comment

  1. August 11, 2023 / 2:06 pm

    Love what I’m seeing. Do you have any posts for painting MDF finished with laminate in bathrooms?
    Any tips for repainting MDF kitchen cabinets?

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