How to paint old kitchen chairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Kitchen chairs take a beating, especially in a home where there are children. The cost to replace them can be high. If you want a new fresh look for your kitchen chairs but can't afford to get new ones, paint the ones you already have. It is easy and cost efficient. So if you have a weekend to spare, then all you need now are the right supplies and a little direction to get you started.

Set up a work table in an area that is well ventilated. Place plastic sheets on top of the table to protect it from paint. You can also place the plastic on a hard surface floor if you do not have a worktable.

Wash chairs thoroughly with warm soapy water before you begin the finishing process. This is important to do so that any grime and stuck-on food will not affect the look of your paint once it has dried. Substances, such as syrup, can actually cause the paint not to dry. Allow the chairs to dry completely.

Fill in any chips or gouges with wood putty. Glue and tighten any loose legs and spindles.

Sand chairs down with a 220-grit sandpaper. The idea of this sanding is not to remove the finish already on the chairs but just to roughen it up so that the primer and paint will adhere better. Wipe the chairs clean with a tack cloth.

Apply the primer with a 5 cm (2 inch) foam brush. Apply the primer in the direction of the grain on your chairs. Allow the paint to dry and cure for four hours.

Apply the first coat of paint. Allow to dry for four hours or until the paint is totally dry to the touch. Buff the chairs after first coat of paint is dry. Wipe clean with a tack cloth. Apply second and third coats of paint, if necessary. Most light-coloured paints, especially white, will require more coats than darker-coloured paints. If you can still see a hint of the old stain or finish coming through, apply another coat. Allow the paint to dry completely.

Apply a light coat of oil-based polyurethane using a 5 cm (2 inch) foam brush. Watch the polyurethane carefully for drips until it begins to thicken up. Allow the polyurethane to dry for 12 to 24 hours, depending on weather conditions. Polyurethane will take longer to dry when the humidity is high. Apply a second coat of polyurethane. Allow this to dry for 12 to 24 hours.


Keep in mind that the temperature should always stay around 16 degrees C (60F) so that the paint will dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex interior paint
  • Primer
  • Oil-based polyurethane
  • Wood putty
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Buffing pad
  • 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) foam brushes
  • Tack cloths
  • Plastic sheets
  • Warm water
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Sponge
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kelly Nuttall is a student at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. She is set to graduate in the spring of 2011 with her bachelor's degree in technical communications. She has been writing for various websites since March of 2009.