How to Paint Wooden Rocking Chairs

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Painting furniture can be a rewarding experience for someone who enjoys working with their hands, and a wood rocking chair provides a canvas that is simple but also lets you show some personal artistic flair. Whether you're painting a newly assembled chair or refinishing an old classic, just a few basic steps will give you a striking and comfortable piece of furniture.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden rocking chair
  • Bucket of soapy water
  • Cleaning rag
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Flat interior latex paint
  • 2- or 3-inch paintbrush
  • Small ceramic paintbrushes

Cleaning the rocking chair

  • Wipe down the chair with a rag dampened with soapy water, being careful not to get the wood too moist. Remove all dirt and dust. Let the chair air dry until you feel no moisture at all; this may take up to a hour. Use a fan to speed the drying if you wish.

  • Rub the wood with fine sandpaper, sanding lightly, in a circular motion, from top to bottom. Be thorough, and get into the smallest corners and creases by folding the sandpaper in half and using the folded edge to sand. When you have sanded all the surfaces, wipe off any dust with a clean dry towel.

  • Paint from the top to the bottom of the chair with long, up-and-down strokes. For the smaller creases, use the small ceramic paintbrushes. Cover all surfaces of the chair with one thin coat of paint.

  • Let the chair dry completely; this may take up to a hour. When the first coat is dry to the touch, paint a second coat and let it dry completely.

  • Add stenciling or paint in whatever designs you wish: classic alpine floral designs for an old-fashioned chair, blocky animal designs for chid's chair, geometric patterns for a modern chair. Paint directly inside or around stencils, but pencil in designs first if you are painting freehand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sand in a well-ventilated area. Paint in a well-ventilated area, away from any dust or debris that may stick to the painted chair. Before painting, stir your paint well, to make sure the color is even throughout the can. While painting, charge your paintbrushes properly: dip your brush head only halfway into the paint and make sure the brush does not drip paint when you remove it. This will help lay a smoother surface and will prevent uneven, thick paint layers and drips on the finished chair.
  • Wear masks when sanding and painting, to protect yourself from dust and paint fumes. Sanding dust can exacerbate respiratory problems, and paint fumes can cause headaches and breathing problems. Do not let children around your painting project until it is completely finished.

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