DIY Furniture Makeover: How to Paint Your Old Pieces Like a Pro

beginner's guide furniture painting May 01, 2023
Claire Furniture Painting

Are you tired of your old, worn-out furniture? Do you want to give it a new lease on life without breaking the bank?

Painting your furniture is an affordable and easy way to transform its look. However, choosing the right paint and preparing your furniture for painting can be daunting tasks.

That's why we've put together a comprehensive guide to help you achieve a professional-looking finish. In this article, we'll cover everything from selecting the right paint to troubleshooting common painting problems.

We'll also share creative ideas for customising your furniture and tips for sealing and protecting your newly painted pieces. So, let's get started on your furniture makeover journey!

Choosing the Right Paint for Your Furniture Makeover

Choosing the right paint for your furniture makeover is crucial to achieving a professional-looking finish. There are several types of paint available, each with its own unique properties and benefits.

  • One popular option is chalk paint, which has a matte finish and requires minimal prep work. It's perfect for creating a shabby chic or vintage look.
  • Another option is mineral furniture paint, which comes in a variety of finishes and colours and gives a smoother, more durable finish. Both of these water-based paints are easy to clean up with soap and water.
  • When selecting your paint, consider the type of furniture you're working with and the look you want to achieve. If you're painting a piece that will be heavily used, such as a dining table or dresser, choose a durable paint that can withstand wear and tear. If you're looking to create a sleek, modern piece, opt for a self-levelling mineral paint to get a high-end finish. If you’re looking to get creative with blending colours and textures, then chalk paint is the way forward.

Don't forget to also consider the environment when choosing your paint. Look for low-VOC (volatile organic compound) options that are better for both your health and the planet. With so many options available, taking the time to choose the right paint will ensure that your furniture makeover turns out beautifully.

Preparing Your Furniture for Painting: Tips and Tricks

Before you start painting your furniture, it's important to prepare it properly. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and lasts for a long time.

  • The first step is to clean the piece thoroughly. Use a mild detergent and warm water to remove any dirt, grime, or grease. If there are any stubborn stains - or your piece has been previously waxed - you can use a degreaser.
  • Next, you need to sand the surface of the furniture. This will help the paint adhere better and create a smooth finish. Use a fine-grit sandpaper (around 120-150 grit) and sand in the direction of the grain. Be sure to remove any dust or debris with a tack cloth before moving on to the next step.
  • If your furniture has any dents, scratches, or holes, now is the time to fill them in. You can use wood filler or putty for this purpose. Apply it with a putty knife and let it dry completely before sanding it down again. This will create an even surface for painting, unless of course you are going for a shabby chic look with characterful markings in keeping with the furniture’s age and life, in which case you can leave it just as it is.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Your Furniture Like a Pro

Now that you have chosen the right paint and prepared your furniture, it's time to start painting. When using lighter colours, begin by applying a coat of primer to your furniture. This will help stop any ‘bleed through’ staining. Allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  • Next, apply your first coat of paint using a brush or roller. Be sure to use long, even strokes and work in one direction, unless you’re actually looking to create a textured finish. Avoid going back over areas that have already been painted as this can cause streaks and unevenness. Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely before applying a second coat.
  • Once the second coat of paint has dried, inspect your furniture for any missed spots or imperfections. Touch up these areas with a small brush or roller as needed.
  • Finally, allow your furniture to dry completely before adding any finishing touches such as distressing or stenciling.

Troubleshooting Common Painting Problems: How to Fix Mistakes and Achieve a Professional Look

Even with the best intentions and careful preparation, painting furniture can sometimes result in mistakes or imperfections. However, don't let these common painting problems discourage you from achieving a professional look. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can easily fix mistakes and achieve a flawless finish.

  • If you notice unwanted brush strokes or uneven coverage on your furniture, try sanding down the affected areas with fine-grit sandpaper. This will help smooth out any rough spots and create a more even surface for your next coat of paint.
  • Additionally, using a high-quality paintbrush or foam roller can help prevent brush marks and ensure smoother coverage. For a smooth finish, stick to synthetic bristles. Natural bristle brushes create texture.
  • Another common issue when painting furniture is drips or runs in the paint. To fix this problem, wait until the paint has dried completely before lightly sanding down the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper. Then, apply another thin coat of paint to blend in the repaired spot with the rest of the piece. Remember to always work in thin coats to avoid excess build-up of paint that can lead to drips and runs.

Adding a Personal Touch: Creative Ideas for Customising Your Furniture

Now that you have successfully painted your old furniture, it's time to add a personal touch to make it truly unique. One way to do this is by using stencils or transfers to create patterns or designs on the surface of your furniture. You can find a variety of stencils and transfers online.

Simply choose the design you like, place it on your furniture, and use a small brush or sponge to apply paint over the stencil. This is an easy and affordable way to add some personality to your furniture. For transfers, follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.

  • If you want to take customisation a step further, consider changing the hardware or adding other decorative elements. For example, you can replace old knobs with new ones that match your decor style.
  • You can also add decorative trim or mouldings around the edges of your furniture for a more sophisticated look. These small details can make a big difference in transforming the overall appearance of your piece and making it ‘yours’.
  • Another fun way to customise your furniture is by using decoupage techniques. This involves applying paper cut outs or fabric onto the surface of your furniture using glue and varnish. You can use anything from vintage postcards to colourful patterned fabrics for this technique. Not only does this add visual interest, but it also provides an extra layer of protection for your newly painted furniture.

Finishing Touches: Tips for Sealing and Protecting Your Newly Painted Furniture

After all the hard work you've put into painting your furniture, it's important to take the necessary steps to protect your newly painted pieces. Sealing and protecting your furniture will not only help preserve its beauty but also extend its lifespan. One of the best ways to do this is by applying a clear coat or wax finish.

  • A clear coat finish is a popular choice for sealing painted furniture as it provides a durable, wipeable and long-lasting protective layer. It comes in different sheens, from matte to high gloss, so you can choose the one that best suits your style.
  • Before applying the clear coat, make sure that your painted surface is completely dry and free from dust or debris. Apply the clear coat using a brush or spray gun, following the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • If you prefer a more natural look for your furniture, waxing is another great option for sealing and protecting painted surfaces, particularly chalk painted pieces. Wax adds a subtle sheen while enhancing the colour and texture of your piece.
  • To apply wax, use a clean cloth or brush and work in small sections at a time. Rub the wax onto the surface in circular motions, making sure to cover all areas evenly. Once done, buff off any excess wax with another clean cloth until you achieve a smooth finish.

Want to learn more?  Sign-up to our Furniture Painting Masterclass.