easter-craft-for-kids
FREE Carrot Patch Easter Printables on Craftaholics Anonymous #freeprintables #Easterprintables #freeEasterprintables
Easter Egg banner. Loving the rainbow easter eggs!
portraits3
spring smile card
laundry-room1

How To Paint Furniture Part 1: Prepping

Every wondered how to paint furniture? Jenn, from the Creative Team, is a master furniture painter and she’s doing a short series on How to Paint Furniture. Everything you need to know from start to finish and plenty of tips! Enjoy! -Linda

How to Paint Furniture: Preparing your Furniture 

how to paint furniture

Is the light and bright trend that has taken the DIY world by storm, just another trendy? I don’t think so! It’s actually pretty timeless.  It seems that everywhere you turn on Pinterest, there’s some beautiful new piece of furniture in white or some pastel shade, so today I wanted to share with you a few things everyone should know before you paint your furniture a light color.  Tips that will ensure that your piece looks beautiful and professional, and that all your hard work LASTS!

How to Paint Furniture White

how to paint furniture white

So let’s start with the dreaded:

1.  PREP {dun-dun-dun}

After a piece of furniture has been thoroughly scrubbed down, I am usually a HUGE proponent of sanding EVERYTHING, but painting furniture white (or a light color) is often times the exception to my rule. Some of you may have painted a piece of furniture, only to go back and find that your furniture looks like it has yellow chicken pox.  It’s happened to me and it’s infuriating!  It’s called tannin bleeding, which is the oils in the wood bleeding through the paint. Tannin bleeding is usually at its worst in knotholes in wood.

tannin bleeding

Oak and pine {which lots of affordable furniture is made out of} are usually the biggest culprits, and sunlight will expedite the process.  Pine is definitely THE WORST. If you know for a fact that your wood is oak or pine, I actually recommend very little to no sanding, especially if there’s still a fairly decent coat of polyurethane, because the poly will act as another barrier to the bleeding.  If you don’t know what type of wood you’re working with, find an inconspicuous spot, sand it, and then paint the spot.  Give it a day or two and see if you find yellow coming through.  If you do, you’ll know that you need to address the tannin bleeding issue with your piece {I’ll tell you how in the next steps}.

You can see on this piece {below} how light the sanding was.  Not down to the bare wood, just enough to get rid of some of the nicks and scratches.

painted furniture

2.  PRIMING

While I’m a huge proponent of sanding, I don’t always prime.  I usually distress my furniture, and in my experience, priming makes distressing a lot more difficult because you have more layers of paint to get through. So priming can make distressing hard to look natural. So…if you’re going to distress, but you’re facing the tannin bleeding issue, I recommend:

*Avoiding sanding off the original finish where at all possible.  I realize sometimes this is completely unavoidable, because some things are just in such bad shape.

*Use a paint like Milk or Chalk paint {or this homemade version}.  This way, your paint will sand off with minimal agitation to the actual wood so you get a beautifully distressed finished, without the yellow bleeding

*If there are any knotholes in your wood, it would probably be wise to put some primer over just the knotholes and then not distress those knothole parts.

*You can also paint the whole piece with a dark brown or black first, so that when you distress, the dark paint shows through and mimics the wood look, but you don’t end up with yellow spots all over the furniture down the road.

distressed furniture

This piece was not sanded or primed and I used the homemade chalk paint recipe.

If you are NOT distressing:

*PRIME, PRIME, PRIME!  I know priming is not fun–I hate it.  But it makes for such a better finished product if you’re looking for a clean, sleek finish.

*Prime with a stain-blocking primer like Zinsser or Kilz.  Make sure it’s water-based if your paint is water-based {latex paint is water-based}. If you’re not sanding, I also recommend buying the Zinsser or Kilz that indicates that sanding is not necessary.  You can find it on the label on the back of the can.  These primers will also cover and seal rust!

primer

*Paint + Primer in One paints are NOT the same as stain-blocking primer.  I learned that the hard way after hours of work on my board and batten and then walking into the living room one day to find that my walls had yellow spots EVERYWHERE (which you saw above in the picture with all of the yellow knotholes).

*If you get one coat of primer on and still see quite a bit of yellow coming through, give it another coat.  It’s not necessary to completely cover the yellow, because the primer is meant to seal off and block the stain, so once you’ve primed over the yellow stain, it is blocked and shouldn’t continue to bleed, but you need to make sure it’s covered enough that the original stain doesn’t show through the paint.  Make sense?

*Remember you’re priming, not painting, so the coat needs to be even and smooth, but the color underneath does not need to be completely covered.

how to prime furniture

Finally, you’re ready for painting.  rarely use spray paint.  While spray paint is SUPER convenient,  I find it to be very unpredictable as far as finish goes and have had to start over on too many pieces after the spray paint didn’t turn out like I wanted.  My favorite tool for painting furniture is one of these high density sponge rollers.

paint roller

They don’t leave brush strokes and are soft enough to form to, and get paint into, all of those little crevices that are hard to reach with a brush.  When painting, roll or brush on thin even coats.  I know it can be tempting to try to paint in one coat, but you’ll end up with an ugly mess.  Be patient, roll on a coat, let it dry for a few hours and then go back and paint another coat until you get the finish you want. Trying to do several coats when the paint hasn’t dried completely is like touching your brand new manicure before it’s dry.

And finally, always let the paint cure for at least a week before setting anything heavy on it or putting it in an area where it will be getting a lot of wear.

how to paint furniture white

diy painted furniture

Do you have any questions about How to Paint Furniture? If so, leave them in the comments! 

Happy painting!

Jenn

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Plus

Join The Conversation!

Your email address will not be published.

*

Comments

  1. 1
    Susan says:

    Love your furniture! Just one question, were you using the foam brush with a poly? I had a major mess up using a foam brush with poly on the top of my dresser… I ended up with bubbles and a very rough texture… was it just me? Thanks :)
    Susan

    • 1.1

      SUCH A GOOD QUESTION! Oh I’ve made that mistake too :D NEVER use a foam brush with poly and NEVER shake a can of poly. It will develop air bubbles and the little foam brush with all of those spongy little holes is the air bubble’s greatest friend and poly’s worst enemy. I prefer wiping on poly with a rag–you can find bags of jersey knit rags on the paint aisle for about $1.50 and they won’t leave bubbles or holes behind. If you get the occasional air bubble, rub it out a bit immediately and then smooth the finish back out while it’s still wet. Sand between coats with the finest sand paper you can get, something 220 grit or preferably higher!

      Also important to note: make sure if you’re PAINTING furniture, not staining, you use a water-based poly. Oil-based poly can yellow fairly quickly. It says water-based right on the cans :D

  2. 2
    jess says:

    Hi! Love your blog and all your helpful tips. I do have a question… this is all new to me and I am wanting to redo my kitchen table. Do you have any helpful tips for me. I would love to distress it but I really have no clue where to start. Its a cheap wood table. With some kind of laminated top. Thank you!!

    • 2.1

      Thank you! With laminate I would ALWAYS sand to rough it up and give the paint something to stick to. I’m going to cover several of my favorite painting techniques in the next “installment” so watch in the next few weeks for some tips on distressing!

  3. 3
    Ashley Evans says:

    So helpful, I am new.to the diy game but what about if you want to paint a piece black, maybe even distress the black….then what?

  4. 4
    Melissa says:

    Hi there. I enjoyed your post. Can you help me I started my first project and its not turning out quite right. It was a cherry wood end table. Primed it then spray painted. I planned to use glaze and latex mixed on top. It really didn’t take well so I decided to give it a good sanding to make wood grain type scrapes on it. What is showing underneath is the white primer but I need to know what I can use that will stick to what I have so far to make the white a little antiqued looking. By the way the primer I used was oil based which is what the girl at lowes recommended. I think that might have been wrong. I would like to use a stain on it to see if it darkens the white on the piece. Will that work? Also do I just use polycrylic on it to finish it.

  5. 5
    Barbara says:

    Thank you, thank you for your tutorial! I have a rocking chair that I picked off the street and I’ve been thinking of painting it a barn red but want brown to show through ( mind you, the chair is an off white color). Do you think spraying it brown first and then painting it red would show the brown when I distress it? Thanks for your awesome tips!

    Barb

  6. 6
    john chisum says:

    I would love to have your recipe for chalk paint – thanks!

  7. 7
    Heidi says:

    I have a chair with much of the raw wood exposed. I’d like to distress it since it’s for a country style home. I’m wondering how the foam roller would work on a chair? I will be hand painting designs on it in acrylic. Love your stuff!

  8. 8
    Laura says:

    Jenn. We have a problem. My daughters and myself are painting an old metal steel case tanker desk with a wood composite???? top. They told us to use Oil based primer which we did and we applied it with a sponge roller. It now has a rough surface and we already painted two coats of paint on top of it and still have to paint more. The also sold us a water based poly to finish it. Do you know if that will make it become smooth?? I’m thinking we should have sanded the primer a bit before we painted and looking at your info we should have had a water based primer. Not happy with HD people right now. We are on a time crunch as she is moving Sunday so we have to finish the desk. I think I am going to try to lightly sand it today before putting more paint over it. We really wanted it to be sleek, not rough. Any thoughts? Should we use the poly??? I’m scared…we did that on advice from HD on my moms countertops we painted once and they turned yellow.

  9. 9
    Lisa Martz says:

    I have a pine 4 poster bed that I want to paint black or espresso. Do you recommend sanding and priming when using a dark color? Or can I skip those steps? This project is calling my name for this weekend, so any help you can give is appreciated!

  10. 10
    Valerie says:

    I like the way the chest turned out! We are moving and in 2006 bought a dark Red barn style tv armoire-what can I say? I wish that I’d bought the black or white, but it was focal point in the living room! It has a hard finish that I think is a commercial water based paint, as it will come up if something damp is placed on it. My problem is that I want to turn it into a combo tv/clothing armoire for the bedroom and preferably it’ll be white-not distressed-although I could do black or even a dark grey since my ten percent color is black and my bedding will be grey, yellow, celadon and white. Even though I have done a lot of painting and refinishing I am not sure what to do-just prime dark and go black? I read that oil based primer is needed in a case like this! Thanks ; )

  11. 11
    melodie says:

    I am painting my kitchen table white. It is medium oak. So, I should leave the glossy poly on and just prime over it (I’m not distressing). After I prime & paint, should I cover it with a poly or no?

  12. 12

    I was wondering if I could use chalk paint on a table and hutch that was previously painted black. Do I need to sand the furniture first ? I have never used chalk paint and would like to give my kitchen a face lift…thanks for any suggestions.

  13. 13
    Joy says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m going to paint oak furniture that my hubby made (he’s a carpenter) years ago. It was stained and polyurethaned as well. I’m going to get Kilz. I’ve got a question on ‘white’ colors. I know you’ll probably say it’s personal preference but – first – should the paint be high gloss, gloss or satin? I’m thinking gloss but I’m not sure AND – is there a white you’ve used that you like? I don’t want any beige or warmth/yellow color in the white – but I’m just not sure which white is really the best to use. I’ll be painting two night stand tables and a comforter storage chest that he made. I think they’ll look so updated when they are painted nice and bright white. Thanks again.

  14. 14
    Renee says:

    I painted my wood piece with kilz primer couple coats of white latex now should I use a water-based polyurethane or would wax to protect and also add a am I do want a little bit of sheen

  15. 15
    Michelle says:

    What color paint did you use on this bench?

  16. 16
    Annie says:

    I have a question about painting over white primer. If I put enough coats on do I still need to paint it white over the primer or can I just poly over the white primer? I am new to painting and I don’t want to be über unhappy with my project when I’m done. Thank you! :)

  17. 17
    Ronda says:

    Where do you get your “sponge” rollers? I’m having a hard time finding the high density sponge ones.

  18. 18
    Katlyn says:

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. I’m about to start on a few furniture pieces for our home and i’m so glad you addressed the yellowing issue! I never knew why that happened and it was always a pain to try and fix! Hopefully due to this tutorial i’ll be able to avoid those issues in the future :)

  19. 19
    Linda Veylupek says:

    i have 3 pieces of furniture that are all different colors one is stained light brown, another is dark cherry and the third is antiq. gold painted with dark stain in grooves. i want it all to end up turquoise sanded off here and there with the groovs dark. should the first step be to paint them all a dark brown color?

  20. 20
    Laura says:

    Hello,

    I am painting my oak dining room table that had a natural stain, with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Did not sand it and painted at least three coats to cover well. I want to distress it. Can you please tell me how to distress. I have 320 sand paper. I also have the dark wax to finish it. I distress first and then the wax, correct? I look forward to hearing how to do this. Thank you in advance!

    Laura

  21. 21
    Debbie H. says:

    Hi, I love your post on painting furniture. It is the best explanation I have ever come across. One question though is in the post you suggest Chalk paint, etc or my own version. I clicked on the highlighted “my own version” and it took me to another blog but I could not find info on your “own version” I am sure it is there but I just cannot find it.
    Thanks,
    Debbie

  22. 22
    June Siegel says:

    Can you give me advice? i have no idea where to start. I have a white dining room table and matching wall unit type of thing to display dishes. I bought it with the distressed look 10 years ago, and I want to repaint it white so it looks modern. It’s a very heavy wood – I don’t know what kind. Can you tell me if I need to sand it, and anything else I need to know? Thanks so much.

  23. 23
    tartil ali says:

    Hi! I was wondering whatvtype of paint you used? Is it okay if i bought Color Place interior flat latex paint for my dresser? And i wanted to know if i need to get my paint can shaken at the store before i use it! Sorry i have a lot of questions!

  24. 24
    cc says:

    Making footstool out of pine. Primed it with water based Bulls eye primer twice. Painted it with water based Krylon latex enamel. On third coat and the grain is still showing through. Looks like I stained it with paint and its not the look I want. How can I get this to cover? Thank you

  25. 25
    Stacie says:

    I am painting my first piece of furniture (which is my great-grandmothers french provincial bedroom set) and after sanding and priming the furniture is a bit yellowed. I have applied 2 coats and still just a bit yellow. What should i do? Go ahead and paint because the primer will do its job or try a different primer? (I used Zissner)

    thank you for your help!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How To Paint Furniture Part 1: Prepping [...]

  2. [...] of furniture? Well, Jen is here in Part 3 of her “How to Paint Furniture Series” {see Part 1: Prepping and Part 2: Distressing} and teaches us when to use spray paint and how to spray paint furniture! [...]

  3. [...] other ladies know much more than I and have great tips as well! Centsational Girl Craftaholics Anonymous Young House Love [...]