How to Paint Furniture Like a Badass


I’m a self appointed craft queen. I can make pretty much anything out of air and a little bit of hot glue. It’s not a hobby for me, it’s a way of life. I can make sauce the way my great grandma did, and I can sew badass store bought-looking Christmas stockings. Recently I had a huge crafting failure, and I thought I’d tell you about it so that you, grasshopper, may learn from my mistakes.

Long story short, there’s this beautiful antique table that has been in my family for decades. It was originally the color of the wood, but was later spray painted pink before it was given to my grandmother who painted it green… with a glossy finish. It’s an awfully ugly color, and didn’t go with anything in our house, so my mom wanted to paint it and enlisted my help. It. Was. A. Disaster. It’s funny now, but at the time - not so much. I remember staring at it and thinking it was an un-paintable table. It had been painted so many times that it just gave up on life.

We wanted it to be white, so we went to Walmart (which I hate, but Target doesn’t have a big paint department) and talked to the highly qualified pain specialist (LOLLLL) who said I:

  • didn’t need to sand the glossy paint off
  • didn’t need a primer
  • could simply paint over the green with white
  • didn’t need to wait hours for the coats to dry. Once you’re done with one, head straight into two.

Thank you "highly qualified paint specialist" there’s a special place in hell waiting for you.

Needless to say, it didn’t work out well. That night it looked fine, however a few days later, I went to sew. If you also engage in this beautiful pastime, you know that sewing machines are heavy as f*ck. When I removed the machine from the table that night, the feet left imprints in the paint. Then, the paint started peeling off in huge plastic chunks. I was truly baffled. Being impatient, my thought process went something like this:

  1. I didn’t want it white anyway.
  2. Let’s do blue.
  3. Tiffany Blue, that would be cool.
  4. Spray paint! Surely that will work!
  5. Better get the old paint off first though.
  6. But I don’t have a sander.
  7. Oh, just pull up the paint that’s peeling!
  8. High five! You’re so smart!

I’m sure you used your context clues to figure out that, this too, was a disaster. The white peeled up in some spots but not others, the green peeled up in some spots exposing the pink, and one can of spray paint didn’t even make a dent. So, here I was with a table that was four different colors and looked something you’d find at a dump…

If you want to paint a piece of furniture, this is what you need to do:

  1. Pick out a color and finish. This is super important, because satin, matte, and glossy are not created equal. If you need help figuring out what would look best, bring a picture of the piece to a paint or home improvement store and they’ll be able to guide you.
  2. You don’t need to sand it, whether it’s the original color or has been painted seventeen million times.
  3. You DO need primer. It doesn’t, however, have to be white. I went with a Robin’s egg blue paint and the girl at my Home Depot was able to make the primer the same color as the paint (Ah, the joys of technology!)
  4. You’ll need supplies*:
      roller + sponge and/or a brush
      paint tray
      key/flathead screwdriver to open the paint + primer
    *They’ll have all this stuff, just look around or ask. It’s also all pretty cheap.
  5. Apply one coat of primer with the roller and use the brush for hard to reach spots if the piece has ornate carving.
  6. Once it has dried, you can apply another coat if need, but usually you’re okay applying a coat of actual paint.
  7. Once this has dried, go over any spots you may have missed.
  8. Enjoy your hard work and boast about it in an obligatory Facebook post.