How to paint plywood furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Plywood is a man-made surface manufactured by gluing multiple pieces of soft and hardwood together to form a single sheet. If you wish to paint a piece of plywood furniture, you must prepare the plywood to accept adhesion before you get started or the paint will eventually chip off. In addition, because plywood is so porous, you should apply the paint in a specific manner that will promote an even coverage free of streaks and varying sheen.

Move the plywood furniture to a ventilated area, and place it on top of a fabric dust sheet.

Wipe down the plywood furniture using a tack cloth, effectively removing sawdust that could inhibit primer adhesion.

Protect areas of the plywood furniture you want left free of paint by covering them with a low-tack painter's tape.

Add a coat of latex primer to the plywood furniture using a paintbrush intended for use with water-based latex paints. Wait a minimum of three hours for the primer to dry.

Wash the brush with ordinary water.

Add a coat of gloss or semigloss latex paint to the primed plywood furniture using a mini roller. Apply to a small area and then smooth the paint using the cleaned brush. Continue until the plywood furniture is completely coated. Wait six hours before using the finished plywood furniture.


If your plywood furniture will be left outdoors, use an acrylic-based primer and paint instead of an ordinary water-based latex primer and paint.


Do not paint over unprimed plywood furniture, or the paint will eventually chip off.

Things You'll Need

  • Tack cloth
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric dust sheet
  • Latex primer
  • 2- to 3-inch latex paintbrush
  • Gloss or semigloss latex paint
  • Mini roller
  • Acrylic latex primer and paint
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.