How to Paint a Wooden Stool


The Chinese are the original pioneers of hand-painted furniture, with evidence of lacquer resin varnishing dating back over 3,500 years. Europe began importing painted furniture from China around 1500 A.D. and European settlers brought their painted furnishings with them to the Americas. Today, you can paint a wooden stool with ease, using affordable commercial products that are readily available at any hardware store.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth (or newspapers)
  • Sandpaper (150 grit for natural wood; 100 + 150 grit for painted wood)
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • 1 can spray-on primer (grey for dark paint jobs, white for light paint jobs)
  • 2 wide-bristled paintbrushes
  • 1 large can water-based paint
  • Paint stick
  • 1 can clear varnish (optional)
  • Place the unfinished wooden stool on top of drop cloth. Sand the entire surface using 150 grit sandpaper, following the natural wood grain. Use 100 grit paper on painted stools, switching to 150 grit paper once most of the original paint has been removed. Vacuum the wooden stool using a brush attachment to remove all sanding debris.

  • Spray a thin, even coat of primer on the entire surface of your stool, following the natural grain of the wood. Allow the primer to dry for 10 minutes and repeat the process. Run your hand over the surface of the stool. If you feel bumps in the primer, sand the bumpy areas with 150 grit sandpaper. Spray another thin, even coat of primer over the entire surface of the wooden stool. Allow the stool to dry for another 10 minutes.

  • Stir your water-based paint thoroughly with a stir stick. Apply a thin coat of paint (with a bristled brush) to the entire surface of the wooden stool, following the natural grain of the wood. Allow the paint to dry for 10 minutes. Repeat the process, applying up to five thin coats of paint. Allow the painted stool to dry overnight.

  • Use your second bristled brush to apply a thin coat of varnish over the entire surface of your wooden stool. Allow the varnish to dry for 1/2 hour and then repeat the process. Varnish is an optional step that will provide additional protection for wooden stools placed in high traffic areas.

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  • Photo Credit stools image by Gina Smith from brush image by Albo from
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