As my dad is a decorator, I pretty much grew up with a paint brush in my hand. In our house furniture was sponged, stencilled (I’m looking at you Linda Barker) and painted within every inch of its life.

As effortless as it was to cut up a sea sponge and grab a tester pot, these days I think we all prefer more of a polished finish.

I’m still yet to use chalk paint (I know I can’t believe it either) which I know lots of people love to slap on as you don’t need to worry about prep, however this feature is about using regular gloss or satinwood to paint furniture. I do get lots of emails from people asking how I’ve painted various pieces so hopefully this feature will be helpful if you’re considering reinventing a piece of furniture.

It’s All About The Prep

  • Fill in any dents or old holes using a general purpose filler
  • Regardless of whether it’s a new or old piece always thoroughly sand. On previously painted surfaces you don’t need to remove all of the old paint but you do need to create a rough surface for the new paint to adhere to.
  • Wipe down the surfaces with white spirit to remove all the sanding dust and leave a clean finish
  • Painting Know-How

  • Use a primer as it gives better adhesion to the surface and increases paint durability. We always use Wilko Primer as it’s dirt cheap and dries really quickly.
  • Apply your paint. You’re always going to need two coats so don’t go mad on the first coat. A thin even layer avoids runs and build up in the corners.
  • Leave adequate time to dry and then apply your second coat
  • If you have large flat areas consider using a mini 4 inch radiator roller. Be sure to use one designed for the application of gloss (usually smoother rather than the shaggier variety). The Farrow and Ball Railings Chest of Drawers which used to sit in our old spare room was painted using a smooth mini roller and as you can see the finish is pretty good.

    Extra Tips

  • Paint in the direction of the grain of the wood
  • If you’re not waiting days between coats wrap your paint brush in a few layers of cling film to save brush washing
  • Use a good quality brush, it really makes a difference, especially on the last coat you apply
  • James and I have used the technique above on both melamine and wood. The Ikea Hemnes Sideboard in our bedroom is a wood finish but has an almost gloss like, melamine type finish. We bought the white stain version and created a more polished look by painting with two coats of Dulux Satinwood which we had mixed to be ‘white’. I realise this sounds a little crazy but they added a pigment to the brilliant white paint to take off the cool edge. You can see the full bedroom tour shot by Little Beanies in our archives.

    Paint Choices

    I always favour a more of a matte finish to my furniture rather than a glossy one so usually paint with a satinwood or eggshell formulation. I’ve been asked before if you can use emulsion and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want a hard wearing finish.
    You can get satinwood in both an oil or water based formulation. Oil based will take longer to dry and is prone to yellowing but often offers a smoother and more durable finish to a water based paint.
    For a very low sheen you can also use eggshell where as you might have guessed, the finish is similar to that of an egg shell. These paints didn’t use to be particularly durable but they’ve come on leaps and bounds recently. We painted our living room alcove shelving and fire surround using Farrow and Ball Cornforth White Eggshell and after eighteen months they’re holding up really well.

    Any tips you’d like to share for painting furniture? How do you get a good finish and what paint do you use?