How to spray-paint wood furniture

Updated November 21, 2016

Before you spray-paint your wood furniture, prepare the wood surface. Getting your wood furniture ready for paint is not a difficult process, but it is the most important. Your paint job will not last long if you fail to provide a surface your paint can adhere to. Sand the surface of the old paint or stain to remove the gloss, and sand off peeling paint completely before you paint again. If your furniture is new, a light sanding to smooth the wood grain will work just fine. It is then just a matter of priming first, and then painting.

Sand the entire surface of your piece of furniture with 100-grit sandpaper. The 100-grit sandpaper will cut through old paint and stain, and it will also help smooth out chipped areas of paint. On large surfaces, use a palm sander to make your sanding go faster. Sand a second time with your 220- grit sandpaper. 220-grit sandpaper has finer grit, and will create a smooth surface. Always sand with the grain and not against it.

Wipe down the surface of your furniture with your tackcloth. A tackcloth is somewhat sticky and will collect the sanding dust. If you do not wipe off the sanding dust, it will leave a gritty feel on the surface of your furniture.

Spread out your dust sheets to cover your garage floor, or to protect your lawn.

Shake your primer can before you spray your furniture. Shaking the can will mix all of the primer components that may have settled to the bottom of the can. Remove the lid and hold your primer can 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches) away from your furniture. Press the nozzle button and spray back and forth in a sweeping motion. Overlap each pass you make with the spray can by at least 13mm (½ inch). Allow your primer to dry before you prime the opposite side.

Apply paint to the furniture. Replace your dropcloth with a new one before you paint the opposite side. Spray paint is sticky on plastic dust sheets. If you don’t replace the plastic, your furniture will stick to it when you turn it over to paint another side. Apply a second coat of paint if the first coat did not completely cover your furniture. Allow the paint to dry.

Spray your furniture with a clear-coat protector. A clear coat will give your paint a moisture-proof barrier. Clear coats also help to protect the surface of your furniture from scratches. Allow your clear coat to dry, and spray on a second coat for added protection.


Only paint on days with temperatures between 15 and 27 degrees Celsius. If it is too hot or cold, your paint will not bond properly.

It is best if you can spray-paint your furniture outside. If you paint in your garage, purchase a respirator. Spray paint emits toxic fumes that can cause permanent physical or neurological damage.

Things You'll Need

  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Palm sander
  • Tackcloth
  • Dust sheets
  • Spray primer
  • Spray-on clear coat
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About the Author

Based in Oklahoma City, Debbie Tolle has been working in the home-improvement industry since 2001 and writing since 1998. Tolle holds a Master of Science in psychology from Eastern Illinois University and is also a Cisco-certified network associate (CCNA) and a Microsoft-certified systems engineer (MCSE).