How to Paint Mahogany Furniture

Written by linda stamberger
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How to Paint Mahogany Furniture
Painting mahogany a lighter colour requires a bit more work. (autumn home decor image by Leticia Wilson from

Mahogany wood is naturally dark. Light-colour paints do not fare well on mahogany; purple, black or darker shades of red fare best. To paint mahogany furniture a lighter colour, the wood must first be painted with a metallic paint, which makes the wood appear lighter. Some people like to paint mahogany in gold or silver, which are considered metallic. Sometimes clear varnish is all you need to show the natural beauty of the wood.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old newspaper
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Electric sander
  • Tackcloth
  • Paintbrushes
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Oil-based paint
  • Metallic paint
  • Spray paint
  • Varnish

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  1. 1

    Place old newspaper around and underneath furniture.

  2. 2

    Sand the furniture with 320-grit sandpaper, or use an electric sander on big pieces, such as tables and dressers. Sand in the direction of the grain. Remove wood dust with a tackcloth or clean paintbrush.

  3. 3

    Fill surface cracks with wood filler. Glue any lifted pieces of wood back into place with wood glue. Wait for the filler and glue to dry, and gently re-sand the surface with 100-grit sandpaper. Remove wood dust with a tackcloth. Apply primer with a clean paintbrush and allow it to dry. Apply a second coat of primer and allow it to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply one coat of a naturally dark, oil-based paint with a clean paintbrush, using even strokes. Let dry and check that the dark of the mahogany wood is not showing through. Apply a second coat, and let dry.

  5. 5

    Apply metallic paint in the same way, or use spray paint. Place the furniture on top of old newspaper outside, and begin spraying. Spray evenly onto the surface of the furniture, and apply a second coat, if needed. Use spray paint made for painting wood furniture.

  6. 6

    Coat the furniture with a clear, waterproof and insect-proof varnish, using a clean paintbrush. Varnish will seal in the new paint, and protect the wood. Let the first coat dry before applying a second coat.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear cotton gardening gloves to protect you hands from splinters, and a dust mask to prevent wood dust inhalation while sanding. Open up windows for proper ventilation. Seal off air duct vents in the work space.
  • Never paint rare, expensive wood. Just refinish by sanding and painting on a clear varnish.

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