How to Paint Over Stained Furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

If you're tired of your old stained wooden furniture, and you are ready to give it a new look, painting is a great option. Painting is an inexpensive way to refinish any piece of wood furniture. It can be a bit time consuming, but with a few tools and a little effort, your furniture will look like a brand-new piece.

Run your hand over the wood furniture to see if you can feel the grain. If not, there is a possibility that the finish has been waxed or varnished. Another way to test is to scrape the surface with a butter knife. If a thin, whitish layer scrapes off, then you will need to strip the furniture first, or the paint will not adhere. To strip the furniture, purchase a wood stripper and follow the directions on the package before proceeding.

Skip the stripping process if there is not a coating on the stain. Stain alone will not inhibit the paint from adhering to the piece.

Move the piece to a well ventilated area and set it on a drop cloth. If the furniture has drawers, remove them until the job is done. You will only need to refinish the front area that will show. If your furniture has doors, remove them if possible, and remove the hardware to protect it from the paint.

Wash the furniture with mineral spirits and a rag to remove any grease or dirt that may have built up over the years.

Use a medium grit sand paper and sand the surfaces of the entire piece, going with the grain whenever possible. This will give the surface a "tooth" so that the paint has something to adhere to.

If there are any holes or gashes you wish to fill, use a wood filler and allow it to dry. Sand it so that it is flat. Wipe the furniture with a wet rag to remove any remaining dust. Allow it to air dry.

Coat the furniture with a good primer. While any interior primer will do, a bonding primer will help the paint adhere best and last longest. Use brushes for pieces that are carved or curved, such as chairs, or for any corners, details or hard-to-reach areas. If the furniture has a lot of flat surfaces, use a roller for an even coating. Allow the primer to dry.

Finish the piece with two coats of your choice of paint. Again, use brushes for small and detailed areas, and a roller for wide, flat surfaces. Allow the first coat to dry at least four hours before applying the second coat. You will probably not need a third coat, but if the color is uneven after the second coat dries, you can give it a third coat of paint to finish it. Allow it to dry.

If you would like to seal it and protect the painted surface, paint one to two coatings of varnish over the paint. Wait 24 hours to replace any hardware and re-attach doors, or put drawers back into place.

Things You'll Need

  • Mineral spirits Rags Sand paper (medium grit) Primer Paint Paint brushes Roller Paint pan Drop cloth Varnish Wood filler (optional)
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