How To Paint Furniture Like A Pro

Have you ever had an old dresser or other pieces of furniture that you didn’t know what to do with? Maybe a hand-me-down dresser or a dining table that you got off the classifieds? Painting old, unwanted furniture is one of my most favorite pastimes and today I am going to show you how to paint that unwanted furniture like a pro! Hey, it’s Sara from Twelve On Main and I am excited about this post today! I had this hand-me-down dresser that had been sitting in my closet for the past 10 years and it needed a little love. I had started to paint it once but changed my mind, so it sat in this condition for a while.

It all starts with a few decisions.  What color of paint do you want?  What kind of paint do you want to use? 

The first question is all yours.  I tend to lean more towards whites and other neutrals.  For this piece of furniture, I actually chose a charcoal color, but this choice is completely up to you.  You could either complement other pieces of furniture with the same or a coordinating complementary color.

The next decision is what type of paint to use. Some of the most common types of paints used are:  latex (water based) paint, chalk paint, milk paint, and enamel paint.

For most of my projects, I use the first three, since they are the easiest to work with.  For this project, I used milk paint. 

With both chalk paint and milk paint, there is less prep since the paint is great at sticking to most surfaces.  With a latex paint, it is recommended that you sand and use a primer to prepare the surface. 

I did not have to do any prep other than a little cleanup. 

When I paint a piece of furniture, I like to work in thin layers, making sure to let each coat dry completely.  This is important with milk paint. 

I like to keep straight, smooth strokes and make sure to catch any paint drips.  The first layer always makes you second guess yourself and the furniture will not look very pretty.  Keep going though, it will turn out.

Once the furniture is painted completely, I like to distress much of my work. Sometimes I will leave it crisp and clean, but, especially with milk paint and chalk paint, it lends itself to a more rustic and distressed look.

When I decide to distress a piece of painted furniture, I generally use a sanding block.  The sponge sanding block is really nice because it has a more squishy feel to it and can lend to an easier distressing job.

The key places to distress would be the obvious places that would be rubbed and worn over time- the edges of drawers and corners.

This is where I focus for the most part.  I like to sand a bit then stand back and see how it looks, see what parts may need a little bit more sanding.

Once you have sufficiently distressed the space, it is time to seal it.  If you paint with latex, sealing isn’t necessary in my opinion. 

Chalkpaint and milk paint are a different story, you can either wax or seal with a poly acrylic.  I actually like to seal with a polyacrylic because it’s much easier.  Wax requires being painted or rubbed on, left to dry and then buffed off.  It requires a lot more elbow grease.  Who wants that?    

Now that it’s painted, sanded, and sealed, it’s time to get accessorizing.  That really is my favorite part. 

I topped mine with an antique toddler bed headboard, my favorite farmhouse wreath, a rusted bucket, some books, and one of my deer antlers.   It’s a simple vignette but one of my favorites. 

I hope these tips help you to want to tackle a painting project of your own.  I know there is so much to learn and so many different options and ways to do things.  I try to keep it simple and not muddy the water too much.

For more home DIY projects: 5 Easy Planters to Make For Your Home This Spring | DIY Lumbar Pillow

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About The Author

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Sara Syrett
Sara is the founder and creative force behind the blog Twelve On Main, where her main goal is to inspire others to DIY for themselves. She is inspired by her 4 children and the simple farmhouse lifestyle they have created in the quaint town in the mountains of Southern Utah. She started her blog only 1 year ago, and has had an incredible following thus far in her career. In addition to raising her children with her husband, she works with him in their family business, and in her free time, can most often be found working on a new project or creating beautiful spaces for herself or others.