Step 1

Test For Lead

Before you start, test for lead paint. You can find inexpensive testing kits at your local big-box store. These steps apply only to items with paint that tests negative for lead. 

Step 2

Remove Loose Paint

Scrape off loose paint, being careful not to gouge the wood with the scraper by holding it parallel to the wood and applying even pressure. 

Step 3

Sand Smooth

Sand the entire chair with a palm sander to even out the surface. First sand the entire chair with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Then switch to a finer sandpaper between 150- to 200-grit to get a really smooth surface. The higher the number, the finer the sandpaper's grit.

Pro Tip

When sanding, always move with the grain of the wood.

Step 4

Hand Sand Crevices

You may need to hand sand to get into the crevices. When finished, wipe down the chair with a tack cloth to remove dust.

Step 5

Apply Primer

Use a spray primer for neat, even coverage. Choose a white primer under light colors and a darker primer under darker colors for uniform coverage. Begin with the underside of the chair. Spray slowly for a consistent spray pattern to avoid drips and overspray. Use a back and forth motion following the natural lines of the chair. Apply 2 to 3 light coats, allowing primer to dry to the touch between each application. Check your primer label because drying times vary widely.

Step 6

Sand if Necessary

If surface feels a little coarse once the final coat of primer is dry, lightly sand with very fine sandpaper and wipe again with a tack cloth to remove dust.

Step 7

Start Painting

Apply the paint with nice smooth strokes following the natural lines of the piece. Use a high-quality nylon bristle brush for the best results. Brush back over the last stroke for an even finish.

Step 8

How to Eliminate Drips

If you get a drip, lightly drag the brush back over the area to stop the run and smooth it out before moving on.

Step 9

Apply Second Coat

Apply 2 to 3 light coats, allowing each coat to dry to the touch between applications. Check your paint label because drying times vary depending on the product.

Step 10

Clear Coat

A polyurethane clear coat gives an added layer of sheen and hardens and protects the paint. Match oil-based top coats with oil paint and water-based top coats with water-based paint. Hold the can 10 to 12 inches away and spray using a back and forth motion. Follow the natural lines of the chair to coat it evenly. After the first clear coat dries, lightly sand with 200-grit or higher sandpaper for a professional finish before spraying on the final coat. 

Step 11

Let it Dry

Let your furniture fully cure in a warm, dry well-ventilated area before use – typically 24 hours. Once you know how easy it is to repaint wooden furniture, you’ll see the hidden potential in all kinds of pieces!



Worn wooden furniture can easily be updated with a new paint job. We took this chair from dumpster-worthy to super adorable in less than a weekend.