How-To Paint Wood Furniture

Decorating my table for Fall was a nice break from painting!  But now it’s back to the grind finishing up the last details of the china cabinet makeover – Yippee Skippee!

Prep is done.

Sanding is complete. >>> [tutorial here]

Priming is finished. >>> [tutorial here]

Now on to the painting.  This was definitely the longest + most tedious part of the makeover, but absolutely the most important step to focus on.  With all the work that has gone in to prepping this cabinet, or any piece of furniture for that matter, painting it right really makes all the difference in the world to achieve a nice looking end product.

This post is completely dedicated to sharing the steps I took + tips & tricks on how-to successfully paint wood furniture.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

As I’ve explained and stressed in the previous two posts, the prep work + priming is very important before paint is applied.  To achieve a successful end result, a primer is a must.  For this project, I used Glidden Gripper primer (a picture of it + more details can be found in the last post).  Once the primer is dry, which typically takes little time (about a day), painting can begin.

Before Painting.

  • The Magic Formula. One of my secrets for painting wood furniture is to use floetrol (<- affiliate link).  With all furniture painting projects,  I always add my favorite “formula” to eliminate brushstrokes. It works like a charm to achieve a clean, brushstroke-free surface! (And I wasn’t even paid to say that – I truly just love it ;)
  • The Brush.  The brush used for painting really does make a difference.  I always use Purdy brushes because they truly make for an easier, better painting result. Yes they are expensive, but it’s worth the cost.  Most of the time I use a new brush when starting a project. (Again, I wasn’t paid to say that)

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

The Color.

The paint color I chose for this cabinet makeover is Red Red Rose by Glidden.Glidden Red Red Rose

How-To Paint Wood Furniture.

When painting furniture, like this china cabinet, I started on one side of the base cabinet and continued across to the other side while working in small sections.  I always continually look at what was just painted to check for drips, which you want to avoid as much as possible!

Typically I will add paint to the overall surface and then go back to smooth it out so all the strokes are in one direction (usually you want to follow the grain of the wood, but it’s not a must since with paint you don’t see the grain).

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

Even if you try to avoid them, drips are normal.  To deal with those nasty, inevitable paint drips, I sand them off once they are completely dry.  Using an orbital sander is easiest, but sanding the spot by hand also works.  If you catch the drip before it’s dry, then go over it with your paint brush to smooth it out.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

I didn’t take a picture of me sanding that drip, but here is one from another section of the cabinet…

Once the paint was dry, I lightly went over the drip to smooth out the section of cabinet.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

Another issue I encountered  which I didn’t like was the result of the buffet top once the first coat of paint was on.  I guess when I added the primer, I didn’t continue my brush stroke from on side to the other, so the top surface looked bumpy.  Once the first coat of paint was dry, I lightly sanded the surface. This left the top very smooth and ready for coat #2.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

Coat #2

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

In all the top got about 3-4 coats.  All the other areas of the cabinet got 3 coats.  Because of the intense color 2 coats wasn’t enough.

Here are some more outtakes while painting…

The cabinet fronts.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

The cabinet top.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

The base cabinet after one coat.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

I will tell you, painting the cabinet took a good 3 solid days of off and on work.  It was tiring, but well worth it in the end.  Most of the painting took place at night after the kiddos went to bed which is why the coloring of the cabinet in the pictures looks a bit off.

Here’s a peak at what was my crazy life for a few days.  Just keeping it real…

Once every surface, nook, and cranny were done, it was time to add a coat of polyurethane.

Applying polyurethane is similar to primer… a little goes a long way.  It’s also a lot thinner than paint, so it can easily run creating those annoying drips.  Applying a light coat and fanning it over the surface is best.  It goes on as a white milky liquid, but as you work it into the surface it will be come clear.  And of course it dries clear.

For this cabinet, I used a semi-gloss polyurethane.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

And then it was done.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

Well almost. The painting is complete, but there are still some details that I need to work on, like the hardware and another secret surprise.

But back to the painting result, here are a few closeups…

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

You see that one piece of hardware on there?  I couldn’t resist giving you a peak at what it will look like once it’s all done.

Next up… styling this pretty gal.  Here’s a peak at the start of the process…

Let’s rewind and take a look at where I started and the progress I’ve made.

DIY Tutorial: tips + tricks on How-To Successfully Paint Wood Furniture.  Follow along on this multi-post blog series of transforming a china cabinet.  Easy-to-follow directions and all the steps fully explained!

Not too shabby.  More to come.  Stay tuned.

Follow along on this makeover with these other posts
Backstory + Choosing a Color
Prepping & Sanding Wood Furniture
Why & How to Prime Wood Furniture
Tips + Tricks to Painting Wood Furniture
Accessories, Details, & Styling {China Cabinet Makeover}

Coming up (still to do)
China Cabinet Makeover {Reveal}

 




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Comments

  1. Linda says

    Love, love, love the new china cabinet. I like that you’re not afraid of colour! That is my biggest problem. While I do love colour, I’m a little hesitant to use it but I’m starting to see that it’s not necessary that everything be so co-ordinated on the colour palette. You must have worked very hard on this big piece, and with a new baby too, plus other kids! Good for you! It looks great!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Linda! I am definitely not afraid of color, but am always conscious of not going over the top crazy with color. It’s all about the balance of mixing intense color with neutrals. I’m so happy to have inspired you with this cabinet transformation. More to come! xo Jenna

  2. says

    I love the color, but I wish you had called me. I could have helped you get the same result and color in only three simple steps: two coats of paint and then wax for the top coat. Maybe next time.

    Also, always be very careful that the vibration of a hand sander does not cause the glass to shatter and crack too if sanding the doors. Some people will take painters tape and make an “X” across the glass- just in case.

    As always- I love your posts and photos!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Trish. I am sure you could have created the perfect color, but I was excited to try out this paint brand. Next time!

  3. Ashley says

    Hi there! I’m in the polyurethane stage of painting my china cabinet and like your cabinet, mine has two separate pieces: a buffet and a hutch. How long did you let your paint/polyurethane cure before stacking and using? Did you let it cure, or just dry? I’m worried that the pieces will stick together or chip.

    Also, thanks for the tutorial! This project has been easy and fun and really relaxing. I’m so proud of my piece and it’s all thanks to your great advice and product tips.

    • Jenna says

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!You probably already moved forward with the polyurethane, but I wanted to respond any way. I waited about 5-7 days before placing the top onto the hutch. I don’t intend on taking the hutch off so I wasn’t overly concerned about it scratching, but I also didn’t want the pain to “pull” if the hutch needed to come off in the future. Timing really depends on the temperature + humidity in the house, but really make sure it feels dry & cured before putting the hutch on.
      -Jenna

  4. Kris Canaday says

    I just found your blog when looking for ideas on painting an old china cabinet. I am so glad I found you! I am going to repurpose the china cabinet and use it as a pantry. Have been trying to decide what kind of paint to use. Chalk paint or latex. I do not want to distress it, just clean it up and add color. I like the idea of no priming or sanding that ASCP always mentions, but being as this will just be a solid color and just for storing some cans, etc — do you think I should use this method instead? I sure appreciate your input. Thank you.

    • Jenna says

      Hi Kris,

      Thank you so much for reaching out to me. To be honest, from my experience bot ways would take about the same time and most likely the same cost. Obviously you see the steps I took to redo this china cabinet using paint (sand, prime, paint, seal), but using ASCP will also take about the same time. Even though you can paint on direct wood with chalk paint, it still has to be sealed and if you haven’t worked with wax before, it can be tricky. I am still no expert using wax, but it takes time and patience (which is why I chose to go the paint route for this large piece). Plus ASCP is $$$ so that might be a factor. As an alternative, you can try making your own chalk paint and then either using a wax to seal it or polyurethane. I know that doesn’t exactly answer your question, but I hope it helped give some insight…

      Here are a few more posts you might find helpful:
      http://www.jennaburger.com/2012/08/my-first-annie-sloan-experience/
      http://www.jennaburger.com/2014/02/make-your-own-chalk-finish-paint/

      Good Luck!
      Jenna

      • Kris Canaday says

        Thank you so much. You helped me make up my mind. I have painted a lot but not yet with chalk paint. If I am not going to save time, I will use the methods I know. I will practice chalk paint and waxing on something smaller than a china cabinet! And yes I will prime it — thank you so much for the step by step tutorial. Again, so glad I found you!!

  5. Diane says

    Love the post! It was very helpful. I have two questions regarding sanding. First, when you sand a piece how do you know you are done and it is ready to prime? Second, do you sand in between coats of paint and/or primer?

    • Jenna says

      Hi Diane,

      There is no right or wrong to sanding, but sanding down to the original grain is best because that means you’ve taken off the layers and have reached the raw wood to restain or paint. This doesn’t have to be done though and many time it’s impossible to sand down to the original wood because of the intricate detailing. If you are painting a piece of furniture, like I did, lightly sand the surface to de-gloss the surface, then use a primer which blocks the (old) stain + preps the wood for the paint. Depending on the surface, I do sand between coats to achieve a smoother surface. For the top of this piece, I sanded it between coats, but not every surface as I did before painting. If you end up with a drop spot or unevenly applied paint, then yes, you can sand those areas between coats once the paint is dry. I hope I helped! Good Luck.

      Jenna

  6. Jordan Baker says

    How long would you say it took you to do this entire project? It seems like it may have been a bit complicated. However, I can also see how it would have been quick and easy. I may do something like this for my bench. Would you recommend I use a different kind of paint as I will be sitting on it?

    • Jenna says

      It took me about 2 weeks in all, but certainly not everyday / all day. Maybe in all about 10 hours, but it is a big piece. For me, I loved the transformation and the process!

    • Jenna says

      That’s a good question. With painting furniture, I have found that I don’t use nearly as much as when painting a room + the wood isn’t absorbent as sheetrock. With this large china cabinet, I used a gallon, but had a lot left over. Typically on an average piece, a quart size should be fine. I hope this helps!

  7. Vera says

    I noticed you said you had to apply 3-4 layers of paint due to the intensity of your top coat.
    Handy Hint:
    If the top coat you are using is either dark or a strong, vibrant colour, don’t use white as the primer. You can get grey or even almost black as the primer. This will give your intense colours much more vibrancy. Plus you will use far less paint, therefore saving you $$. Hope this helps ☺

  8. Martina says

    I am going to do this project just trying to find the cabinet I like at Goodwill or somewhere. Can I use spray paint ??

    • Jenna says

      All the details of the paint are in the post, but the color is Red Red Rose by Glidden. It’s a great color!

  9. Colin says

    Good tips. I need to paint a small folding table. I was considering spray painting but will now probably go with three coats of paint.

  10. Hibah says

    Hi. I love the paint color and your helpful step by step advice. Have you painted with oil based enamel before? Do you prime before?

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