How to Paint Furniture With Acrylic

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Things You'll Need

  • Painter's plastic/old cardboard

  • Phillip's-head screwdriver

  • Wood putty

  • Palm sander

  • 150-grit sandpaper

  • Latex white primer

  • Acrylic latex paint

  • Water-based polyurethane

  • 2- or 3-inch foam brush

  • Buffing pad

  • Tack clothes

Painted Armoire and Dresser

Do you have old furniture that needs a fresh look? Or is your furniture just not looking as appealing as it use to? Buying brand new furniture isn't always an affordable option, but you do have options to making it look new and appealing again. With just a little time and paint, you can turn your old drab furniture into a modern look that will brighten any room.


Step 1

Place furniture in a well-ventilated room that has a consistent temperature of 63 degrees F. An unfinished basement with windows or a clean garage work best, since there will be a possibility of spills. Place furniture onto a large piece of cardboard or painter's plastic. If you are finishing a table, remove the legs and place the table onto two large saw horses. Remove all doors and hinges. Lean doors up against a bare wall. Place hinges somewhere safe. Remove drawers from dressers, and remove knobs.


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Step 2

Fill in any chips or cracks with wood putty. Color doesn't matter since you will be painting over it. Repair any necessary problems before continuing, such as broken cabinet doors or loose drawer fronts.

Step 3

Lightly sand the furniture with a palm sander and 150-grit sandpaper. Always sand in the direction of the grain. Do not press the sander into the wood, this can cause sander marks which can be seen even through paint. Just lightly sway the sander back and forth. This process is to rough up the surface of the furniture so that the primer and paint will adhere. When the furniture looks dull and feels rough, it is ready for the next step. Use a tack cloth to wipe away the dust particles.


Step 4

Apply a coat of white latex primer, such as a Kiltz brand, with a 2- or 3-inch foam brush (size depends on the size of your furniture). Allow it to dry according to directions on the can. Buff the furniture with a buffing pad. Always buff in the same direction as the grain. Wipe clean with a tack cloth.


Step 5

Apply your first light coat of acrylic latex paint, going in the same direction as the grain. Make sure you even out all clumps and avoid heavy application of paint. Remember, more lighter coats are better than fewer heavier coats. Allow the paint to dry for 3 hours.

Step 6

Buff the furniture after the paint has dried. Wipe clean with a tack cloth. Apply a second coat of paint, going in the same direction as the grain. Allow 3 hours to dry. Repeat for a third coat. Paint color will depend on the amount of coats needed. Lighter colors like white often need more coats of paint than darker colors.


Step 7

Apply the first coat of water-based polyurethane, using a 2- or 3-inch foam brush. Allow to dry for 6 hours.

Step 8

Buff furniture and wipe clean with tack cloth. Apply a second coat of polyurethane. Allow to dry for 6 hours.

Step 9

Replace all drawers, doors and knobs.


Acrylic latex paint and water-based polyurethane are all available in the following sheens: matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. If the furniture that you are finishing is not real wood, then bypass the sanding and go straight to the primer step.


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