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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.


  • 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.
  • TIP: You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove the dust.
  • 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.
  • TIP: If you're going to use a bright or deep colored paint, mix a little of it into your primer for better coverage.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Start painting in the middle of the object, as opposed to the outside. This will avoid paint dripping from the edges.
  • TIP: For a very modern look, use a semi- or high-gloss paint with a foam brush for a smooth, shiny finish
  • 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.
  • FACT: Avocado green was the designer color of the 1960s and 1970s—there were avocado refrigerators, avocado countertops, even avocado toilets!

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)

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