January 21st, 2014

Painting Old Furniture: Modernize with Bold Color

Repurposing second hand or vintage furniture is a concept welcomed by many, and you can modernize old furniture by painting it a bold color in a few simple steps. It’s possible to take something dowdy and reinvent it to suit your style and space in a weekend. These are the tried and true techniques for repairing, priming, and painting an old hand-me-down, a lucky Craigslist find, or a thrift store score like this wood dresser.

regal wave dresser

There are a few tools you’ll need to start: a drop cloth, flat head or Phillips screwdriver, medium (80-120 grit) sanding wedge, bonding primer, latex paint in the color of your choice, 2″ quality angled brush, foam roller, and water-based polyurethane or furniture wax protectant.

  1. Remove all hardware before you begin.
  2. If your piece is in good condition, you can skip the sanding step or the use of a power sander and go straight to priming your piece. Bonding primers don’t require sanding, even if your piece is heavily varnished, but giving the furniture a good scuffing with a medium (80 grit) sanding wedge helps clean off any debris and gives your primer a better surface to cling too. No need to sand away all the varnish and get down to the raw wood, just give it a good 5 to 10 minute scuffing with a sanding wedge, then wipe away any debris with a soft cloth.
  3. If your piece suffers from holes or dents, you can use wood filler to cover or fill those unsightly blemishes. Wood filler allows you to repair scratches, dents, welts and fill holes in your wood furniture before you paint it. If you’ve opted for new knobs, often they will fit right in the old holes, but many modern pulls are sized differently than the old hardware. Wood filler is also your best bet for starting over with new hardware.
  4. If you want a paint job that will last, using a good bonding primer is key. If you’re going to take the time and energy to paint a piece, take the time to prime it too with a primer like Glidden paint’s Gripper formula. Apply the primer with a foam roller and/or angled brush.
  5. Once your primer is fully dry, sand away any drips or residue and wipe your piece down with a soft cloth.
  6. Apply the paint in thin coats to avoid drips and when temperatures are between 55 and 70F to prevent the paint from drying too quickly. An angled brush helps get into grooves and crevices better, plus with a steady hand it cuts in straight lines extremely well. Two coats should be sufficient, but if you’re applying a darker color, often you’ll need three coats. This dresser was painted in Glidden paint’s Regal Wave, a beautiful bold shade of blue (similar to Cool Cobalt).
  7. To protect the furniture, use a water-based polyurethane in satin or gloss formula or a clear furniture wax for a matte finish.


Once the protectant is dry, you are free to bring the piece inside your home and make it work for your space! Painting old furniture is easy and any piece can be modernized with fresh color over a weekend by following these steps.


Categories: How to Paint