basics of painting furniture

There are 1000’s of many different videos and blog posts on how to paint furniture. This is not an end all list, but a quick run down of what we’ve found that works. My husband and I have been painting furniture and doing DIY projects for about 7 years. We have literally used all kinds of products, seen what works and what doesn’t, found tricks on being cost effective, and more efficient.

{Quick Steps}

1. Clean and prep. This part is IMPORTANT. You really need to clean well so that the paint will have a good surface to adhere to. You can use a mild cleaner or a tsp product (from Lowes). You would be surprised how much dirt and grime you get off the older pieces. All that wax build up will affect the paint adhering to the wood.

2. Decide what brand of paint you want to use. This is where it gets tricky. So many people have very strong opinions on what type is best. I have tried all kinds of chalk based paint and I have to say it really depends on what you like. We have made our own with plaster of paris, Annie Sloan, milk paint, CeCe Caldwell, Wise Owl, and Fusion Mineral paint.

There are some that are harder to work with and have lots of texture that shows brush strokes. For me, I like a cleaner look and Fusion has been my go to for the last few years.

Each one has its benefits and in the grand scheme of things, you want it to be the easy and hold up. Fusion does have a built in sealer, so you do not have to wax your piece afterwards. For me this is the best benefit, because I despise having to wax pieces.

Fusion Mineral Paint This is by far the best paint I have found that is easy to work with. I have made my own chalk paint, used all the name brand chalk paints, and still have gone back to this one. It goes on super smooth, you can distress (if you want), self leveling, built in top coat, and goes really long way. For an average 6 drawer dresser, I can paint 1 pint and have some left over. So for $22 in paint, I have a finished updated piece.

Like I said before, use what you love to work with. If you don’t have a preference, feel free to give Fusion a try.

3. Grab a your brush and start painting.

Despite what you may think, you do not need a special brush. People ask me all the time what brush I use. I grab a Purdy brand brush to paint with. Just pick one that isn’t a cheap brand that the bristles fall off. Trust me, you will thank me for this piece of info later.

The Purdy brand has 2″ size in an angled bristle so I can get in all the crevices of the furniture piece. These are perfect for any project. I use them painting trim as well.

Here is the link to the one I use. *affiliate link

A paint sprayer might be another option if you plan on doing lots of painting. For instance, we found that they are the best and fastest at painting chairs. Our steps for this is I go paint a coat with a brush and then once it dries one of us will paint with sprayer. Its a super smooth finish but the sprayer will use way more paint. So in order to be cost effective and save time that’s what we’ve found to work best. This would also be excellent to use on cabinet doors.

The paint sprayer that we use is one that needs an air compressor. This is by far the easiest to use and the cheapest to do those tedious projects like chairs. We use the Fusion mineral paint in the sprayer (sometimes with tiny drop of water) to give the piece a great factory finish. You can find these paint sprayers on Amazon for around $20.

Here is the link to the one we use. If something goes wrong, you don’t have a ton of money invested in it. *affiliate link

This is where it depends on the piece where you start.

For instance, I’ve found its better to flip a chair over and paint then flip upright. The buffets and dressers, I do the top first then the sides. Totally up to you on where you want to start. It helps to take the drawers out and set with drawer facing up to you. Its all going to be trial and error on what you find works best for you. Most all paints will take 2 coats and if its a lighter color it will take more. Whites always take more paint versus a paint color with pigment.

4. Finish up. This is when you need to decide how you want to seal the piece. I absolutely despise waxing as I’ve said before. Its time consuming and stinks, however, a piece without sealer is not going to hold up very long at all. All that work you did will be a waste. My advice is to wax with a clear wax if you use chalk paint. Fusion has the sealer (poly) built into the paint. It will have the same matte finish from day one. After 21 days, the Fusion is fully cured and will be able to withstand the wear and tear.

I have clients that really want to make sure that they don’t have to paint again, so they choose to seal with another poly overtop. This poly will change the sheen a little, so just be aware of that. It is good to do if doing tables and chairs, anything that you will be hard on.

There are so many “extras” that are possible. I think that is what can be so overwhelming. Glazes, colored waxes, stains, stencils, metallic finishes that you can add on to the piece that can be daunting. If this is your first piece, just learn the basics. If you want to try an embellishment, do on a test piece before you tackle.

Don’t let painting overwhelm you. Its the best way for trial and error. My motto is if you don’t like it, you can always paint over. There are so many pieces in my home that have been multiple colors. No joke.

Grab you paint and your brush. Turn on the radio and just have FUN. That’s the best way.

Here are a few more blog posts about painting furniture &

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