diy & how to tips for painting furniture

diy and how to tips for painting furniture: simple recipe for mixing your own chalk paint.

When you paint the piece of furniture, don’t be afraid of using one of the bold colors from your color palette, or a combo of colors. If you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest is always a good time sucking source for ideas.


  • Hand sander & sand paper – medium grit
  • Sanding block – For the light sand after primer is dry and before you start painting.
  • Primer – “They” say you don’t have to use primer on all pieces, but I actually prefer to. Whenever I don’t use primer, I end up having issues with the old dark stain coming through….even when I’ve sanded down to the wood!
    • Spray Primer – After trying the spray primer, I haven’t bought another quart of primer. Spray is just too easy! For smaller pieces of furniture like night stand, end table, coffee table, or single chair, one can of spray primer provides plenty of coverage. Spray primer is especially great to use on pieces with a lot of detail, or dining room chairs. The spray comes in oil or latex.
    • Quart of Primer – This also comes in oil or latex base. If you select an oil base you will also need paint thinner or mineral spirits to help the primer from getting thick and chunky, and to clean brushes. I recommend a cheapy paint brushes that you can toss after using oil based primers.
  • Scarf or Face Mask  – This is to cover nose & mouth while sanding and spray painting. I’m a horrible example, I don’t always wear my scarf while I’m sanding. This is supposed to be fun & it makes it hard to drink a cocktail or beer with a scarf on your face. It can also be suffocating bloody hot in Southern California. Maybe your Mom said it too “do as I say, not as I do!”. Oh, I know someone is gonna be shaking their finger at me!
  • Paint Brush – Sponge brushes not recommended at all. Sponge brushes are good if your using chalkboard paint….nothing else. You can use the cheapy wood handle paint brushes from art supply store or hardware store for the chalk paint. If you choose to use a latex paint, and or a polyurethane top coat, use a quality brush – it makes a huge difference in getting a smooth even finish. I learned this the hard way! I tried using a cheapy brush while applying a polyurethane top coat once. The top coat looked lumpy, uneven, and you could see the brush strokes. I had to sand the top coat off, touch up the paint, distressed again, then reapply the top coat. Ugh!
  • If you’ll be mixing up a batch of chalk paint, you’ll lso need * Jar with lid, Plaster of Paris, measuring spoon & and how to tips for painting furniture: simple recipe for mixing your own chalk paint.


  • Latex Paint – 1 Quart (or sample size for small projects) of flat or matte latex paint. You do not have to use chalk paint to have great results painting your piece of furniture. You can use a flat or matte finish latex paint and skip the *asterisk supplies.
  • Pre-mixed Chalk Paint – If you’re not comfortable with mixing your own chalk paint, or if you think this will be a one time project, purchasing a quart of one of the many brands of chalk paint may be more cost effective.
  • Mix Your Own Chalk Paint – In jar with lid mix 2 tbsp of Plaster of Paris and 2 tbsp water. Put the lid on and shake it up until smooth. Add 1 cup of latex paint. and shake it up again. Paint away. That is it!

Why do I use chalk paint? I think the main benefit of chalk paint is that it adheres well to all surfaces. There are some great pieces of vintage furniture out there that have laminate finish. It’s nice to give that furniture a beautiful new finish. “They” say you don’t have to sand or prime, but I do. In my opinion (my opinion only) the final project turns out better. You don’t run the risk of stain bleeding through in a month and then have to start over to fix it. I also like the finished look of the chalk paint.

diy and how to tips for painting furniture: simple recipe for mixing your own chalk paint.


  • Varnish; for what it’s worth, this is my opinion and I in no way profit from my view point. My very favorite top coat finish for furniture pieces I refurbish is Modern Masters – Dead Flat Varnish. It looks beautiful!
  • Wax paste; when I first started refinishing furniture, wax top coat is all I heard about. I still need to do more research, but from what I’ve learned and experienced, wax paste finish on furniture requires maintenance. Maintenance I don’t think most people are aware of. The wax finish begins to yellow and should be buffed out and reapplied. I don’t know how true that is, but I do have a piece or two that don’t quite look as nice as they did after they were first finished.
  • Polyurethane;
  • Polycrylic; a good finish to use on dinner tables or those furniture pieces that will have hot plates or dishes on them. Wax melts!

Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish is my go to top coat for furniture projects.


Suplies and tools that will make your project that much easier

  • Heat gun
  • Metal scraper
  • Blue painters tape
  • Sanding block
  • Bondo – For repairs, patching drawer pull holes, or to move or replace hardware
  • 3M adhesive spray to tack down drawer liner paper


This is getting long…I’ll try to make this quick.

8 MCM Coffee Table_clipped_rev_2

  1. Remove hardware – TIP, put all hardware in a baggie and mark it with the name of your piece. If you have multiple projects going this will save your a $$. You can use blue painters tape to tape the baggie somewhere on the piece that will not be painted.
  2. Sand – Hand sander highly recommended! Sand piece all over to remove old top coat of polyurethane or finish. If the furniture has a laminate, sand heavily (and evenly).
  3. Drawer Liner- This can be a dirty job. Remove ugly dirty drawer liner or contact paper. Liner with the sticky back can be crunchy and hard to remove. If you have a heat gun, these are amaze balls. If you don’t have a heat gun, your hair dryer may do the trick. Heat up and use a metal scraper to lift old paper off. You can clean out drawers with plain ol water or a water and vinegar mix ( 1:1 ratio). TIP, Sometimes the old contact paper leaves a sticky tacky layer on the bottom of the drawer. You can apply new drawer liner in a flashy color, or if the interior drawer looks nice, apply a coat or two of polyurethane. No more sticky!
  4. Primer – Primer helps block old stain from seeping through your paint finish. It gives you a clean canvas to work on. If you plan to use spray cans and its a bit windy, spray with the wind; oil primer can be a b*tch to get out of your hair. Let the primer dry completely then use a sanding block to lightly go over the piece.
  5. Start Painting! TIP, I prefer to flip the piece over and start painting the bottom first. When you have the bottom painted, if necessary let it dry or flip your piece and keep painting. I use the Behr Marquee paint from Home Depot and two coats of paint is all that is needed.
  6. Distress (optional) – Do you want to glaze or distress? I don’t use glaze, it just seems to look dirty when I do it. Distressing, I do. Use your hand sander OR if you have a dremel, even better. Lightly sand over areas of high contact such as: sides of drawers, drawer corners, corners of the top of the piece, legs, etc. You can use a mixture of brown craft paint and water to rub over those areas that you’ve sanded down; I guess this actually is a form of glaze.
  7. Top Coat – Use your preferred method of top coat.
    1. I have been using Dead Flat Varnish by Modern Masters and I love the finish it gives me. Select the method that is right for you and the piece you’re painting.
    2. Polyurethane or Polycrylic – apply with a quality paint brush. Best to use two coats, hand sanding with a fine grit (120) sandpaper between coats.

The best part; move your new piece of refurbished furniture into your space!

Atomic Hostess - vintage barware, decor and housewares

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