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Man and woman painting furniture
Do it yourself

How to Restore Furniture with Paint

A fresh new coat of paint is an easy way to restore your furniture and get it looking like new again. Paint is highly versatile, easy to apply, and comes in different types for ensuring the best results. Just follow this step-by-step guide.

Difficulty level: Easy
Duration: 3 hours (plus drying time)
Man disassembling furniture

Take the Furniture Apart

  • 1.1 - Disassemble your furniture into its individual parts, removing any loose shelves, drawers, and hardware.
  • 1.2 - If you want to paint the inside of the piece, remove the back as well.
  • 1.3 - Use the chance to repair loose joints or fix damaged surfaces with wood filler.
  • 1.4 - Use 220-grit sandpaper to sand the dried putty.
Person sanding furniture

Sand the Individual Surfaces

  • 2.1 - Use a 220-grit sanding sponge to sand the existing finish. Wipe the surfaces clean with a damp sponge.

Pro Tip

If any rough areas remain, sand them down with a 180-grit sponge and wipe the surface clean.

Prime the Surfaces

  • 3.1 - Protect any areas you don’t want to paint, like hardware, hinges, or the cabinet interior, with painter’s tape.
  • 3.2 - Brush on a thin coat of primer, working in the direction of the grain. Allow it to dry.
  • 3.3 - Use a 220-grit sanding sponge to sand the primed surface.
  • 3.4 - Apply a second coat of primer and let dry.
  • 3.5 - Repeat the steps above until the surface is as smooth as desired.

Pro Tip

Priming and sanding are important for damaged surfaces or bare wood but, if the cabinet surface is in good condition, then you may be able to skip this step.

Choose the Right Finish

The term “sheen” describes how much light paint reflects. In general, a low-sheen paint is less resistant to staining. While trade names differ by manufacturer, sheen is usually classified, in order of increasing reflectivity, as “flat,” “eggshell,” “satin,” “semi-glass,” and “gloss.”

Make sure you use specifically marked “Interior” or “Interior/Exterior” paint indoors, as these dry faster and don’t have as much of an odour—two beneficial factors when painting inside.

  • Flat paint has very low light reflectivity and is a top pick for ceilings and large walls. It also splatters less and is more effective at hiding imperfections.
  • Eggshell paint has a low-sheen finish with a smooth appearance. It is often used for dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and dens.
  • Satin paint is an easy-clean option with a moderate level of sheen.
  • Semi-gloss paint is glossier than satin but is also an easy-to-clean and durable choice. It works well in kitchens, bathrooms, high-humidity and high-traffic areas, and on woodwork.
  • Gloss paint creates an easy-to-clean surface that’s good for high-use areas like kitchens and bathrooms. It is also often used on baseboards and wood trim. However, glossy surfaces make imperfections easier to spot as well.
When it comes to painting furniture, satin and semi-gloss paint is the best choice.

Chalk paint is another option you may want to consider, as it doesn’t require much, if any, surface preparation. It is a latex-based paint with a flat, matte finish useful for creating a variety of finishes, from opaque to distressed. The multi-step application process includes a finishing glaze or sealant and/or a soft wax to prevent chipping or flaking.

Prepare Your Work Area

  • 5.1 - Lay down drop cloths to catch spills and splatters while you work, and make sure that the room has proper ventilation.
  • 5.2 - Clean up any sanding dust or other debris and let the room air out before you start to keep residual dust from settling on the wet painted surface.
  • 5.3 - Use a portable light and set it up and adjust it in a way that illuminates the area at different angles to highlight surface imperfections.
Man painting furniture

Get Painting

  • 6.1 - Painting a Flat Surface: Apply the paint with a 4” roller, taking care not to drip around the edges.
  • 6.2 - Painting an Uneven Surface: Apply the paint with a bristle brush and check for uneven paint or drips as you go.
  • 6.3 - Spread the paint in the direction of the wood grain, brushing only back and forth.
  • 6.4 - Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat if necessary.

Pro Tip

For latex paint, use a synthetic brush. For oil-based paint, use a natural brush.

Fix Any Imperfections

  • 7.1 - After the paint is fully dry, inspect the furniture for drips or run. Fix them up with one of these two techniques:
    • Sanding: Sand the drips or runs off carefully and repaint the area if needed.
    • Utility Knife: Set the knife blade flat against the dried paint and tilt it to remove the bump without scratching the surrounding paint. Repaint as necessary.
  • 7.2 - If you have used a specialty paint, finish up the job by applying the finishing glaze or wax and allowing it to dry.

Pro Tip

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when using specialty paint.


These DIY projects are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in RONA’s DIYs is intended to provide general guidelines to simplify jobs around the house. Because tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations are continually changing, RONA inc. assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained herein and disclaims any liability for the omissions, errors, or outcome of any project. RONA inc. makes no representation on the feasibility of any project and the viewer bears all risks coming with the realization of the projects. It is the responsibility of the viewer to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes, and regulations for a project. The viewer must always take proper safety precautions and exercise caution when taking on any project. If there is any doubt in regard to any element of a project, please consult a licensed professional. 

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