How to Paint Oak Furniture

Oak furniture, with its hardness and characteristic raised grain, is a valuable investment in the home. Because it lasts for years or even generations, painting oak furniture when you want to change decor or protect its finish can save money compared to purchasing new furniture. Adapt your painting technique to whether the furniture is finished or unfinished.

Sand the furniture to add roughness to finished surfaces or to lower any raised imperfections. Start with coarse sandpaper and finish sanding the surface smooth with fine-grain sandpaper.

Fill in any low spots or holes in the wood, using wood filler applied with a putty knife. Scrape away any excess. Allow the wood filler to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, then sand it to blend into the surrounding wood.

Apply a coat of oil-based, high-hiding primer. The primer helps hide the grain for painting.

Paint the oak furniture using interior paint. Either latex or oil-based interior paint can be used over the oil-based, high-hiding primer. Allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions and apply a second coat if necessary.


If the oak furniture has previously been topped by several coats of paint, strip the paint before beginning the repainting process for the best results.


Use oil-based primer and paint stripper in well-ventilated areas only.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Stainable wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Interior oil-based primer
  • Interior furniture paint
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About the Author

Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.