How to Repaint a Piece of Furniture

Whether you're resurrecting an old, beat-up wooden table or giving that avocado-colored nightstand a new lease on life, a quick coat of paint can update even the most hopeless furniture.


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Attention, homeowners: Don't pay another repairman until you check out this video series on simple repairs you can make yourself.


You Will Need

  • A piece of furniture in need of repainting
  • A well-ventilated place
  • Some newspaper or a drop cloth
  • A fine-grit sandpaper
  • Tack rag or microfiber cloth
  • Water-based primer
  • Water-based latex paint
  • And a paintbrush or foam brush
  • A screwdriver (optional)
  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment (optional)
  • Some water-based varnish (optional)
  • And a paint roller (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Protect floor

    Put the piece of furniture on some newspaper or a drop cloth to protect your floor from paint. Make sure you're in a well-ventilated location.

  2. Step 2

    Remove hardware

    If the item has any hardware, unscrew and remove it now.

  3. Step 3

    Remove grit

    Gently rub the surface of the furniture with your fine-grit sandpaper to remove any grit and to help the paint adhere.

  4. Step 4

    Remove dust

    Remove any dust from the piece with a tack rag or a damp microfiber cloth.

  5. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove the dust.

  6. Step 5

    Apply primer

    Apply a thin coat of primer to the entire piece, brushing with the grain of the wood if it's visible.

  7. If you're going to use a bright or deep colored paint, mix a little of it into your primer for better coverage.

  8. Step 6

    Let primer dry

    Wait at least an hour or two for the primer to dry completely.

  9. Step 7

    Apply paint coat

    Apply a coat of your paint over the primer, again brushing with the grain of the wood if it's visible.

  10. Start painting in the middle of the object, as opposed to the outside. This will avoid paint dripping from the edges.

  11. For a very modern look, use a semi- or high-gloss paint with a foam brush for a smooth, shiny finish

  12. Step 8

    Let paint dry

    Wait for the paint to dry completely—the longer you wait, the better, so try to let it dry overnight if you can.

  13. Step 9

    Paint 2nd coat

    If the paint still looks a little spotty, blotchy, or uneven, give the furniture a second coat of paint.

  14. Step 10

    Apply varnish

    If the furniture will be outside or is likely to get scratched or dinged from heavy use, apply a coat of varnish.

  15. Step 11

    Replace hardware

    When the paint is completely dry, put any hardware you removed back on—or replace it with new, updated hardware—and position your renewed piece in a place of honor.

  16. Avocado green was the designer color of the 1960s and 1970s—there were avocado refrigerators, avocado countertops, even avocado toilets!