How to Paint Dining Room Chairs


The nicks and chips are getting you down. Or maybe the dark is looking dreary. Painting your dining room chairs is a great way to change their look and the look of your room. If your chairs are a jumble of different styles, unify them by painting them the same color. Paint revives a dining set that looks more elderly than antique, lets you add new seating without a random look, and gives a lift to chairs you were promised were durable enough to last forever. Painting chairs is easy and fun, and you'll enjoy your dining room more with its refreshingly renewed chairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Chairs Sandpaper (medium grade and fine grade; at least one sheet of each per chair) Rags Paint-proof protection for your work surface 2-inch and 1-inch paintbrushes (not sponge) Tube of wood filler Small putty knife Screwdriver Plastic wrap and masking tape (if your chairs have any non-removable upholstered areas) Paint (1 gallon will cover 4 chairs with 2 coats) Solvent for brushes if using oil-based paint Rubber or latex gloves Well-ventilated work area

Preparing to paint

  • Remove upholstered seats if possible. (Turn your chairs upside down and remove the screws that secure the seats.) If your chairs have non-removable upholstered areas, use plastic wrap and masking tape to protect them from paint and sanding residue.

  • Cover your work surface and sand the chairs. Use medium-grade sandpaper first, to smooth nicks or scratches, then fine-grade sandpaper all over the surfaces to roughen them so the paint will adhere. Wipe off the sanding residue with a rag.

  • Use a putty knife to apply wood filler on deep scratches, nicks or gouges. Keep the coat of wood filler as thin and even as possible. When thoroughly dry, sand the filled patches smooth. Wipe off the sanding residue with rags.

  • Choose a painting strategy. You may have already noticed, during sanding, that chairs have a surprising number of surfaces to paint. If you have lots of working space, you may prefer to work on all the chairs in sections--painting all the legs and undersides first, then all the sides and backs. Whether you work assembly-line fashion or paint one chair at a time, give all the chair seats a coat of paint first. Seats will require two coats because they get the most wear; other parts will need one or two coats, depending on condition. Two coats are recommended for chairs used frequently.

Painting Your Chairs

  • Paint the chair seat first, using a 2-inch brush. Keep your strokes smooth and the coat thin and even. Let dry so the chair is easier to handle. Do not worry if the paint seems slightly streaky; this will be remedied with your second coat.

  • Turn the chair upside down to paint the legs and the underside of the seat. Use a 2-inch or 1-inch brush as needed (rungs are often easier to paint with a narrower brush). Remember to cover all surfaces; there will seem to be quite a lot of them, but they all show at some time, so keep painting. After you finish, set the chair upright and check for any spots you've missed on the first coat. Check for drips and brush them off without adding more paint to your brush.

  • Paint the chair back, both sides, with the chair upright. If your chair back has slats or spindles, paint them first, then the uprights or frames. Check both sides for drips, removing them with your brush as you did on the legs. Let dry overnight. If you are using oil-based paint, clean your brushes with solvent, rinse with soap and water, and wrap in plastic (this will make your second coat smoother). Clean latex paintbrushes with soap and water and wrap.

  • Examine the dry chairs carefully. A light second coat will likely cover all streaks and missed spots. Keep the second coat thin and even. Save the seat for last. Let dry thoroughly. Enjoy your beautiful new chairs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Whether using oil-based or latex paint, keep your work area well ventilated to avoid breathing paint fumes.

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