Fool Proof Way to Update Furniture Like a Pro

Fool Proof Way to Update Furniture Like a Pro

Hello friends! It’s Jessica from Decor Adventures, back this month with tips on The Fool Proof Way to Update Furniture Like a Pro! I have some tips to make your furniture finishes look like they were professionally done. Help you pick the best paint, primer and tools for the job. And finally a few quick and easy ways to update your furniture in minutes! If you’ve been craving updated furniture, but aren’t sure where to start, this is your chance.

Update Furniture Like a Pro Materials:
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How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Prepare Your Furniture the Right Way

Sanding Dresser

Proper preparation will make the whole project a success. First remove any hardware. Carefully look over your piece and fill any cracks or dents with wood putty.

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Sand the putty and the rest of the furniture until the finish is smooth.

If you didn’t have to use any wood putty, a light sanding with a sanding block will go a long way to helping your paint stick and give you a smoother finish. Remove any sawdust, dirt and debris from the piece with a tack cloth or vacuum. Finish cleaning off the furniture with a damp rag and mild cleanser. Allow your furniture piece to dry.

Tape off any parts that will not get painted: drawer edges, hinges, or any hardware you couldn’t remove. Add tape inside the drawer to protect from wandering brush marks.

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Good Brushes, Rollers and Sprayers:

Don’t skimp on your brushes, roller and/or sprayers. Opt for a higher quality brush (like Purdy brushes), the paint will go on smoother and you’ll have less shedding. You may initially baulk at the extra dollars, but if you properly clean and care for your paint brushes, they will last you for years. Have a lot of painting to do?  A small brush with a flexible handle will keep your hand from cramping. Using a small foam roller and paint tray can help you get a nice smooth finish on your furniture.

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Paint sprayers are great for painting furniture with intricate details, like chairs or spindles. A sprayer will produce a very smooth finish and is easy to use. (Read more tips on using a paint sprayer using the HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish SprayerUpdate Furniture Like a Pro (affiliate link). If you don’t have a paint sprayer, you can still get a smooth finish with spray paint, but you will be limited to the colors available and the quality of spray paint.

spray painting a chair1

Good Quality Paint and Primer:

The easiest way for a furniture makeover to turn bad is to use the wrong products. Some people think you can use any paint and call it a day. Sadly you cannot!

First choose a good primer with strong adhesion. Zinnser PrimerUpdate Furniture Like a Pro is the brand I prefer and it works on a variety of surfaces, plus it comes in a spray, too. Just be sure you use it in a well ventilated area. If you have to work inside, KILZ MaxUpdate Furniture Like a Pro does a good job with less odor.


Primer is mandatory to having your paint stick to your furniture and to hide any knots in the wood. A good quality primer will stick to any surface and hide a multitude of sins (knots and stains.) Believe it or not, a primer can also help seal in any musty, smokey or other nasty odors. After the primer has dried, use a sanding block to gently smooth the surface.

Quality Paint:

There are a few paints that you can use without using primer. Primarily chalk or milk paint are the two options that don’t require a primer before painting. That being said, unless you like a chalky finish, you’ll probably want to finish your piece off with wax or a polycrylic coating after the paint has dried.

Quick Kitchen Cart Makeover with BB Frösh Chalk Paint Powder

It used to be that you could only get a permanent finish on furniture by using an oil-based paint. Thankfully oil-based paints are being phased out because of the hazardous chemicals they release into the environment. Instead, paint brands are making products that are more eco-friendly and perform just as well without the chemicals.  Look for paint that is meant for cabinets, trim and doors like Benjamin Moore Advance or Sherwin Williams Pro-Classic for a finish that will resist abuse. These paints also have an added leveler that helps the paint dry smooth and leave fewer brush marks.

Stenciled and Dyed Scarves Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

To eliminate brush marks all together, use a foam roller and add a little Floetrol to your paint. If your furniture won’t be exposed to a lot of abuse, you won’t need to add a top coat of wax or polycrylic since these paints also contain a hardener.

Finishing Touches:

To make a furniture makeover extra special consider the following changes to your furniture:

Glazes. Add a metallic glaze for extra depth and shine.

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Or add an antiquing glaze to highlight details on your piece and give it some age.

Facelift for a Knotty Pine Dresser | Pretty Handy Girl

Change the hardware. Even if you don’t paint, this can be the quickest and easiest way to give your furniture new life. Instead of replacing it, you could try painting the hardware and not the dresser. On this dresser, I replaced dated wooden handles with sleek metal ones.

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Delete or Add: This won’t work with all furniture, but consider removing a dated furniture “skirt” or add simple trim. (Plan on adding the trim before you start so you can add wood putty to any holes.)

How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro

Swap out, remove or add new feet to further change your furniture’s appearance.

Updating a Knotty Pine Nightstand | Pretty Handy Girl

Adding Interest. In addition to making the outside look good, why not give yourself something nice to look at on the inside. Line your drawers or the back with contact paper, maps, wrapping paper, or scrapbook paper. This can add a fun surprise when you open a drawer.


Now all you have to do is find a piece you’d like to change and you’re on your way to updating furniture like a pro.

Check out these other posts for more painting tips and tutorials and what to do when you encounter paint problems.

Jessica at Decor Adventures Blog~ Learn More About Jessica ~


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5 replies
  1. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    How do you prep really intricate wood detailing for painting? I redid a hutch a little while ago and nearly tore my hair out over the carved detailing on the trim. I tried sanding it but it was impossible. I ended up putting a liquid sander on it and then primed it. I would love to hear how you do it.


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