How to paint antique furniture

painted antique furniture

How to Paint Wooden Furniture

Whether it’s a farmhouse table or shabby chic antique pine furniture, painting can breathe new life into a piece of furniture. Even if you detest the look of painted furniture, it’s often better to toss on a coat of white paint than to throw out an outdated piece of furniture.

But painting needs to be done properly if you plan to continue using the furniture. No matter whether you’re working with pine furniture or oak furniture, the process is generally the same.

1.    Gather Your Supplies

Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the right supplies on hand. Most painting projects will require:

  • Oil-based wood primer
  • Sandpaper in coarse, medium and fine grades
  • Polyurethane varnish (water-based)
  • Latex paint
  • The painters teeth
  • An old rag for cleaning up
  • Drop cloth to protect the floor
  • Plastic paint tray
  • Small foam rollers
  • Small detailing brush
  • Soft brush for varnishing

The amount of latex paint you’ll need will depend on the size of the furniture piece. A painted pine sideboard, for example, will require less paint than a painted cupboard. Make sure that you have plenty of paint on hand. It’s often better to purchase more than you need just in case.

2.    Sanding

Once you have all the supplies you’ll need, dismantle the furniture as much as you can. This means removing drawers and doors, and unscrewing hardware and pulls.

If you’re working with a simple piece of furniture, like a pine table, dismantling won’t be necessary. Some coffee table designs with shelves or doors may require dismantling.

Use the course sandpaper on all surfaces that you plan on painting. Use a circular motion and press firmly. Don’t worry so much about even coverage. The goal is to just rough up the old varnish on the surface of the furniture. This will allow the primer to adhere properly. If the furniture is unvarnished, you can skip this step and just work over the surface with a medium grade paper. But if you’re working with a polished dresser, for example, you’ll want to use the coarse paper first.

Next, go over the same area with a medium grade paper, ensuring that you’re moving in the direction of the wood grain. Once the surface is smooth, clean it up with a damp cloth. Allow the furniture to dry before moving onto the next step.

3.    Use Painter’s Tape

Some people prefer to paint the interior of the drawer as well as the back and sides, while others prefer just to paint the exterior. Regardless of which one you choose, make sure that you use your painters tape to separate painted and unpainted surfaces. The tape will serve as a guide while also helping to prevent drips and spills at the same time. So, if you wanted to create a cupboard with a painted base, you’ll need to carefully apply a strip of painter’s tape along the edge to help create a clean, even line.

4.    Start Priming

Using one of your foam rollers, apply the primer. If you’re working on a large piece of furniture, like a pine cupboard, you may consider using a larger foam roller to get the job done quicker. Remember, you only need to apply a thin layer, and be sure to stay within your taped boundaries.

5.    Paint

Once the primer has dried, you can start painting. You may need to apply 3 to 4 thin coats, depending on the colour that you are using. Be sure to use a small detailing brush to get in those corners a foam roller cannot reach.

6.    Varnish

Varnish is optional, but will offer extra protection and make it easier to clean the furniture in the future. Apply a very thin layer with a soft, clean brush after the paint has dried. Typically, it’s best to wait 24 hours before applying varnish.

Varnish will create a polished furniture look, but if you’re hoping to mimic the look of antique painted furniture, you may want to skip this step.