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.

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)

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.

Step 2 Remove hardware If the item has any hardware, unscrew and remove it now.

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.

Step 4 Remove dust Remove any dust from the piece with a tack rag or a damp microfiber cloth.

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.

Step 6 Let primer dry Wait at least an hour or two for the primer to dry completely.

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.

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.

Step 9 Paint 2nd coat If the paint still looks a little spotty, blotchy, or uneven, give the furniture a second coat of paint.

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.

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.