Painting Vs. Staining Furniture


Changing your décor style in a room doesn't have to be expensive and doesn't require a whole new furniture set. If you get bored of furniture easily, there are some great ways to refurbish an old piece and give it a whole new look. Also, buying unfinished wood furniture can save some money and allows you the freedom to personalize the look. Various specialty stores and large outlets such as Ikea sell unfinished wood furniture.

Prep Work

  • Both painting and staining require prep work. Both options are relatively easy but can be complicated by certain situations. If the furniture that you are working on already has some kind of finish, which is likely, you will need to remove it. This requires special chemicals--strippers--that dissolve the paint, stain or varnish from a piece of furniture. Various types of strippers can be found at a hardware or home improvement store. The furniture will then need to be carefully sanded to create a smooth surface. Another option is to have the piece professionally stripped. This requires taking it to a specialty store where they will dip the furniture in a vat of furniture stripper and professionally clean it of all finish. This will yield more professional results, but your wallet will take a hit from it.

Priming for Paint

  • Usually, painting a piece of furniture requires priming it first. A coat of good oil-based primer should be painted on and allowed to dry. The primer creates an ideal surface for the paint to adhere to and prevents any remaining stain on the furniture from bleeding through into the new paint. This is an extra step that is required in the painting process but not the staining process. If you are staining the furniture, you will not need to incur the cost of the primer, though it is relatively inexpensive.

Applying the Finish

  • The next step would be applying either the paint or the stain. The best way to paint a piece of furniture is to use several thin coats rather than one very thick coat. This reduces the chances of drips and thick spots in the paint. For the best results, use a high-quality synthetic fiber paintbrush. If you choose to stain the furniture instead, you will need a can of wood stain and a clean rag. Dip the rag into the stain and start rubbing it onto the wood, in the direction of the grain. Continue rubbing to allow the stain to set into the wood and spread it out. For a darker finish, apply more stain. In general, the supplies for staining are fewer and are less expensive. For an extra protective layer, you can apply a coat of polyurethane to painted or stained wood.

Things to Consider

  • The durability of the piece of furniture depends on the quality of the work and materials. Cheaper, low-quality paint may chip easily. Low-quality varnish may bleed and stain carpets and walls. One benefit of painting is that you have many more color options. However, staining allows the beauty and texture of the wood to shine through. Stain can only be used on wooden furniture. There are certain types of spray paints that can adhere to metal and plastic.

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