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How to Refinish Furniture with Paint

I recently acquired some used furniture that just screamed, “Make me pretty again!” Come along with me as I show you How to Refinish Furniture with Paint.

how to refinish furniture with paint 2 shows a painted piece of furniture in a bedroom


I find something very satisfying with taking an old piece of furniture and updating it with new paint and maybe new hardware to make it into something beautiful again. 

Oh yes, I could have gone out and bought new furniture. But they don’t often make things these days like the older pieces. Almost everything was better built way back when.

Here is what makes this a great upcycle DIY project:

  • Sometimes, you can find solid wood furniture pieces at garage sales, in facebook groups or through family members for free or next to nothing.
  • If you are a DIYer as I am, you probably have many of the supplies needed already.
  • Do your part to save the planet. Save that old piece from the landfill.

For this project, you will need:

the wooden furniture pieces you want to redo – I redid a credenza and night table.

paint – I used three different paints: paint plus primer eggshell country white, a one-coat satin dark beige I had on hand, and a metallic gold spray paint I had on hand

Polycrylic – use this rather than a polyurethane which tends to yellow after time

paint brushes – you will find the better ones show less brush strokes. Sponge brushes sometimes work well.

paint rollers – small size that you can find at the dollar store

sandpaper – different grades, course and fine

drop cloth – for protecting surfaces

paper towels


how to refinish furniture with paint 3 shows the supplies used including paint, brushes, rollers, sandpaper, drop cloth and finish coating

Come along as I show you how to refinish furniture with paint:


Start by removing the drawers and as much of the hardware as possible. This will make the project much easier if you do not have to paint around these things. I did not remove the hinges from the doors though. When the project was completed, I simply used my fingernail to gently remove the new paint from the hinges.


Using a course sandpaper, go over your pieces very well. I used a piece of wood block as a sanding pad. Just wrap the sandpaper around the wood. This will work on flat areas, but not on the crevices. For the crevices, use your fingers and hands with the sandpaper. The whole point of sanding is to remove as much of the finish and gloss as possible in order for the paint to grab hold of the wood. Using a slightly damp paper towel, remove all of the dust from the finish, and let dry completely.


I painted the tops of the pieces first, which required two coats. I used a fine sandpaper to sand in between coats. Refer to the paint can for drying time. Since I wanted a light dusting of metallic gold on the tops, I used the spray paint to lightly dust the top. If you use this technique, once the paint has dried, use a slightly damp paper towel to go over the surface. Some of the spray paint will come off; this is normal. Again, let it dry before proceeding.


Use the drop cloth to protect surfaces. Use the paint brushes or foam brushes to paint the crevices and fine detail areas. After you have completed those areas, use the small paint tray and roller to roll on the paint on the flat areas. Be sure to use the ribbed area of the paint tray to evenly distribute the paint on the roller.

how to refinish furniture with paint 4 shows applying the paint with a roller

As you can see from the below image, the white looks pretty rough after the first coat. I ended up applying three coats of the white, and just two coats of the dark beige. Just be sure to let the first area dry completely before sanding with a fine sand paper and applying the finish again.

how to refinish furniture with paint 5 shows the painted pieces after the first coat of paint

As you can see, things are starting to look pretty good.

how to refinish furniture with paint 6 shows the painted pieces after 3 coats of paint


I only applied the top coat polycrylic to the tops of the pieces since they get the most wear. I have learned through trial and error that the best way to apply this is by working very quickly. And I have found that if you follow the directions on the can, you will end up with streaks. Apply a stream to the top of the project, as shown below. Using a warm, damp paper towel, wipe the coating on the piece in long smooth strokes, no arching…just straight back and forth. This has to be done quickly, less than five minutes before it starts to set up. Let dry several hours. Lightly sand with fine sand paper, and repeat the process.

how to refinish furniture with paint 7 shows how to apply the top finish

Important Note:

Be sure to let your project cure before you use it. This may take a couple of weeks, depending on the weather, the humidity, the air inside your house, etc. You do not want to place items on the finished pieces only to have it peel off.

If you like this how-to instruction, please like, share and let me know in the comments–Thanks!

I hope I have provided you with some handy pointers on how to refinish furniture with paint. I would not call this a quick project, but it is one you can be very proud of. When I walk into that bedroom, that is one of the first things my eye is drawn to…I am so happy with the outcome. For more about furniture refinishing, see my post Modern Furniture Refinishing. Need to repaint your outdoor patio furniture, see my post How to Repaint Furniture for your Patio. Bob Vila has some great information on Polycrylic vs Polyurethane.

I have been cooking, gardening and DIY/crafting for years to Inspire a Creation.

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