How to Stain & Paint Wood Furniture


Staining or painting furniture gives you the ability to change the look of old furniture or add your own style to unfinished pieces. Before adding stain or paint, the furniture must be sanded to have an unblemished surface to work from. Electric sanders may be used on furniture, but if you are not familiar with using one, you are better off using fine-grade sandpaper and sanding by hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-grade sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Masking or painter's tape
  • Newspapers
  • Stain
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Paint sealer
  • Paint primer
  • Paint

Preparing the Furniture

  • Sand wood furniture with a fine-grade sandpaper. Sand the entire piece of furniture, rubbing slightly harder on any rough patches in the wood. Sand in the direction of the wood grain, not against it.

  • Wipe the sand residue from the wood with a tack cloth. Make sure to remove all dust and sand before staining or painting, as the grit stands out under the finish.

  • Mask off any hardware or upholstery on the furniture to avoid smudging with stain or paint.

  • Place newspapers outside (to help with the fumes), and lay your furniture on top. The newspapers catch any stain or paint that drips off the furniture.

Staining the Furniture

  • Apply the stain to a paint brush, foam brush or roller, and wipe onto the wood. Apply more stain if you wish to achieve a darker color. Wipe away any excess with a rag.

  • Allow the stain to sit overnight to dry.

  • Remove the masking tape from the furniture after the stain has dried.

Painting the Furniture

  • Brush a paint sealer on after sanding, cleaning and masking the furniture. The sealer helps to keep wood from absorbing the primer and paint, which can make the furniture look splotchy.

  • Apply paint primer to the wood furniture with a paint brush, and allow to dry for two hours.

  • Brush or spray the paint onto the furniture, and allow to dry for 24 hours before using.

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  • Photo Credit bauernmalerei image by Daniel Fuhr from
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