How to Paint Wooden Furniture Like a Pro

Painting wooden furniture is one of my favorite ways to decorate a space while saving a little money. It’s also a great way to create pieces for your space that may not be available at your favorite retail store.

For example, my client really wanted a mint green, vintage Bentwood chair for her home office, but we weren’t able to find one in that particular color that fit her budget. We browsed through Craigslist ads and local flea markets and searched numerous online retailers. We came across one store that had the chair in nearly every color imaginable, but they were completely sold out of mint green.

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My client was disappointed, but I came up with a brilliant solution. I recommended that we purchase a Bentwood chair online and then paint it mint green. I knew that with a little imagination and a couple of coats of paint, we could replicate her dream chair in a snap.

Photo courtesy of Gray Livin'

Before: A look at the Bentwood chair before receiving its new coat of paint. (via Gray Livin’)

Painting wooden furniture doesn’t require years of experience. All it takes is a little patience and a willingness to get your hands dirty. Pick your favorite color and follow these simple steps.

Materials and Tools:

  • Painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Latex multipurpose primer
  • Oil-based paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tarp or drop cloths

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  1. Disassemble. First, take apart the piece. Remove any legs, drawers or hardware (if applicable) from the frame. Be sure to store hardware screws in a safe place, so they will not get lost or accidentally thrown away.
  2. Clean. Wipe down the frame with warm, soapy water to remove dirt, dust and grime.
  3. Prep. Gently sand the item and remove dust. Both old and new pieces should be sanded. This technique gives the primer something to hold on to.
  4. Prime. Before you begin painting, apply one coat of primer using a high-quality brush or roller. Apply a second coat of primer if the wood’s stain or original paint color bleeds through. Prime the entire piece evenly and let it dry.
  5. Paint. Mix the paint well. Always paint from the top down; this makes it easier to apply a nice, even coat. Depending on the color you choose, it may be necessary to add a second coat of paint. Allow the paint to dry completely — up to two days for oil-based paint. Replace the hardware as needed.

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It took less than an hour to paint the entire chair using Benjamin Moore’s Soft Mint, and my client loves the finished results.

After: Here’s the same chair with its new, mint green color. (via Gray Livin’)

Photo courtesy of Gray Livin'

After: The entire job took less than an hour. (via Gray Livin’)

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Danielle A. Gray

Danielle A. Gray

Washington, DC based interior designer, blogger and creative force behind Gray Livin', a home interiors brand inspiring cool people to live soulfully with style. To schedule a design consultation, please visit:

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