How to Paint Furniture: Steps to Prep

I’ve painted a lot of furniture in my day. A lot! I am not an expert but I will show you how to paint furniture, using what I have learned, usually the hard way. Let’s get started learning how to paint furniture.

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The Prep

The most important step in painting old furniture is the prep. Take the time to do this right, and you’ll get the beautiful results you want. This week I was working at the beach tiny house. At my big house I have many more tools and my most useful one… my paint sprayer. At our tiny house though we only have the most essential DIY tools. So today I’m going to show you how to prep a project for painting with none of the  bells and whistle tools.

I found a Old Singer space saver sewing cabinet for $34.99 at Goodwill yesterday. At only 25″ wide this is the perfect piece for our beach tiny house. It has a fold down table for a sewing machine, shelves that will house my Cricut vinyl cutter, and supplies in the future.

The Beauty

Thrift furniture, Sewing cabinet, Singer Space Saver Cabinet

Singer Space Saver Sewing Cabinet 

How To Paint Furniture-Steps To Prep

Step 1

After moving the piece to a warm work area, remove all the hardware. Most furniture pieces require a phillips screwdriver The most important part of removing the hardware is to put it all in a container with a lid. I can’t tell you how many times I have lost a screw when reassembling furniture when I didn’t use this tip. It may seem like a hassle to remove the hardware, but later you’ll be glad you did.

Furniture prep, painting prep, the hardware

On this Piece I did decid to leave the door hinges on and paint them white to match the cabinet.

Step 2

The next step is put on a pair of rubber gloves, grab your cleaner and paper towels or rags to clean the entire piece. Your cleaner should have a degreasing component and I prefer a product with bleach. When you purchase furniture from thrifts stores, and garage sales you will rarely know the history of it. Be safe. Glove up and clean it well!

how to paint furniture Cleaning

I spray Q-Tips with cleaner and then use the to clean into the cracks and crevices.

How to paint furniture Cleaning the details

Step 3

Take any parts that need special attention and remove them from the area. In this case, the cabinet had thread racks that are plastic and would have to be painted with a “plastic specific” paint. I used Krylon fusion for plastic. The paint you normally use on wood furniture, will not hold up on plastic parts.

how to paint furniture Special handling of parts

What you notice before purchase that will save time later

Step 4

Before purchasing old furniture, I always check the hinges, make sure the doors line up, drawers slide evenly, and look for wood repairs that will need to be made. That doesn’t mean I wont buy a piece needing major repair, but that I know what i’m in for.

In this piece there was a shelf that was splitting. I squirted Elmer’s wood glue into the split, wiped off the excess, and then clamped the split piece together. I leave glued portions for 24 hours to set up.

Step 5

When glued areas are set up, it is then time to use wood filler . Apply the filler with a putty knife, to smooth out the repaired areas, fill in dents, and fill in the old handle holes. When you buy wood filler you want to make sure it is paintable. Push the wood filler into the holes or dents, and then use the putty knife to scrape off the excess. The neater you are with this step the less sanding you will need to do later. I will be adding new handles to this piece that will not line up with the previous holes.

Step 6

After the wood filer sets up it is then time to sand the entire piece. I gave the piece a light sanding, since I will be using a paint that contains primer. Using 2 in 1 paint and primer is a time saver. After sanding use a tack cloth or slightly damp rag to wipe off the sawdust. I like to use an old makeup brush to get sawdust out of the crevices.

That wraps up how to paint furniture, the prep. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

If you have any problem locating some of the products used to prep old furniture, I have included links below for you.

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