How to paint wood furniture white

Updated March 23, 2017

Painting wood furniture white is a great way to recycle old pieces of furniture. Any room can be given a whole new look, but it does take time and patience. Since it is very inexpensive as compared to purchasing new furniture, it is a common choice among many people. In order to successfully paint wood furniture white, there are several steps that must be followed for a professional finish.

Place the furniture on a dust sheet, newspaper or cardboard. Using a screwdriver, remove all hardware from the piece of furniture including any knobs, drawer pulls, hinges and decorative emblems. Remove all drawers and doors and place them separately on the dust sheet.

Using sandpaper or an electric sander, sand the surface of each piece of the furniture. Make sure to sand in the same direction as the wood grain in order to avoid creating scratches. Used a tack cloth to remove the dust from the surface. Check each piece to see if it must be sanded again. It is very important to remove all of the clear finish that protected the wood furniture. Once all of the clear finish is removed, lightly sand each piece with fine steel wool. This will provide a smooth surface for the final layer of paint.

Using a paint brush, apply a coat of white primer to the furniture by following the grain of the wood. After this has dried, apply a second coat of primer. This will assure that the final coat of paint adheres to the surface.

Apply the white semigloss latex paint to the surface with a paint brush. Again, paint in the same direction of the wood grain. When this has dried, check to see if all pieces are adequately covered with paint. Usually only one coat of paint is required if primer was applied.

For added protection, apply a water based polyurethane finish with a paint brush to all of the furniture pieces. This will also provide additional shine to the furniture. Allow all furniture pieces to completely dry before putting hardware back in place.


Painting in a well-ventilated area will allow the furniture to dry faster. Use a sanding brush to get into small areas. Wear protective eye wear especially when using an electric sander.


Do not use a fan to dry painted furniture. This can result in dirt drying on the final finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper or electric sander
  • Fine steel wool
  • Paint brushes
  • Water based primer
  • Water based semigloss white paint
  • Water based polyurethane
  • Tack cloth
  • Dust mask
  • Protective eye wear
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust sheet
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About the Author

Based in Florida, Rosemary Rugnetta has been a freelance writer since 2007 specializing in home and garden topics and real estate/mortgage. She is a former property manager and mortgage underwriter who writes for eHow and Answerbag as well as private clients. She has completed continuing education courses in writing, construction management and design.