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Furniture Facelift: How to Paint Furniture

Moving into your first home or apartment has its challenges. Between calling up your friends for help, sifting through things to keep or toss, and figuring out how many car trips it will take, there is one factor that should be considered: new furniture. It doesn’t have to be brand spanking new. It just has to be new to you. That’s where garage sales and thrift stores—coupled with your innate sense of personal style and craftiness—come into play.
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Some of the best pieces of furniture can be found at second-hand stores and garage sales. But even those pieces need a little love. The best way to update a garage sale find is by slapping on a fresh layer of paint. The latest trend in do-it-yourself décor is using a stylish hue. So, go ahead and pass up that trip to IKEA, grab a cool paint color, and invite your friends over for a furniture makeover. Just follow these tips for successful furniture painting.  


What You Need
First, you’ll need the item you’re painting. It can be an old coffee table, a dresser, or a funky nightstand you found at the curb during spring cleanup. Whichever the case may be, you’ll need the following to get your paint party started:


  • a drop cloth
  • sandpaper
  • a smooth cloth or tack cloth
  • small and large paint brushes
  • the paint color of your choice
  • primer


Prep the Piece
Next, prep your piece of furniture. Take all the hardware off the piece (if there is any) and then give it a good scrub. Use cleaning oil for wood pieces to really get into the nooks and crannies and to create a clean, smooth surface.


Wax On, Wax Off
No, not Karate Kid-style, but close. We’re sanding away the glossy finish so your new layer of paint won’t peel or chip away after all your hard work. The best practice is to use a fine-grit sandpaper for an extra smooth finish. This will clear away any imperfections and create a clean surface the primer and paint can adhere to. After you’ve finished sanding away the shine, wipe the furniture down with a smooth towel—a tack cloth works best—to get rid of any leftover particles.


Prime Time
It’s time to prime. This is a crucial step—let’s face it, they all are—because it helps the paint stick to the furniture. It will also hide any discolorations or stains on the original coloring. Once the primer is completely dry, you’re set to paint.


Paint, Paint, Paint
Now that your piece is prepped and primed, it’s ready for its first coat of fresh paint. Interior latex paint works best and you can use glossy, semi-gloss, satin, or matte finishes—whichever you prefer. Sating and semi-gloss are the most commonly used finishes, but if your piece will get a lot of use (like a kitchen table top), you may want to use a gloss to stand up to the wear and is easy to clean. Use the large paint brush when painting larger areas and use the smaller paint brush for the hard-to-get-to spaces. You'll probably want to apply two coats of paint, allowing it to dry completely between coats as recommended by the manufacturer. Let the paint dry completely before showing it off in your new home, or use a sealer to keep the paint looking like new and to create a smooth surface for cleaning.


Replace the Hardware
The final step after letting the paint dry completely is replacing the hardware. Put your pieces back together, move your like-new furniture into your new home, and put your personal style on display!


Want to see all this in action? Check out this video tutorial from our sister site BHG.com.


 

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