DIY Spraypainting Wood Furniture

We are always trying to figure out easier/better ways to paint furniture. When possible we prefer to use spray-paint or the paint compressor, because we get a nicer finish (no brush strokes).

With this most recent project we went the spray-painting route.



Here is how we achieved our final project:

We sanded it with 150 grit sandpaper to remove the brush strokes from the previous paint job.

Then we sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to now smooth out the previous sanding job.

Then you need to wipe it clean with a damp cloth, let it dry and then spray with Odorless Kilz spray paint primer.

Let primer dry, then sand with 220 grit sandpaper, wipe clean again, let dry and then respray primer.

Let dry 2 hours and then re-sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Now that you have a nice white flat surface due to the primer and sanding you can check out the piece and see if there are any small flaws that need to be addressed.

This is when you would use wood filler to patch up nicks. If your surface is nick free you don’t need to worry about wood filler.

If you are using wood filler use a spatula to apply wood filler into nicks. Let dry. Sand with 220 grit sand paper and then re-spray primer, let dry and then re-sand with 220 grit paper.

I know this may seem extreme and that it might make more sense to do the wood filler first and then prime, but getting a good coat of primer on your piece first will help highlight flaws that you may have not seen otherwise. We were going for a high gloss almost lacquer finished so we needed the smoothest surface possible.

Your surface prep is now finished (finally, right? :) ) and you can apply your top coat.

Coat your furniture piece in light coats and allow 15-20 mins in between said coats. Apply 3 to 4 coats making sure color is even on piece.

Let it dry 24 hrs before applying top coat.

It’s always best to apply a protective finish on pieces. It can be tricky when you are painting your piece white, because a lot of poly finishes cause yellowing. Yellowing happens because people apply oil based polyurethane over acrylic/latex/water paints when it should only be applied over oil based paints.

We tend to use acrylic spray paint so our go-to acrylic top coat is Krylon Crystal Clear.

When we use traditional paint like Behr latex paint on furniture our go-to top coat is water based polycrylic like MinWax Polycrylic.

Final set time varies depending on product. Make sure you read the labels.

Whew if you made it through all that. Hope this is helpful.

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30 Responses to DIY Spraypainting Wood Furniture

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    What a fantastic primer on painting furniture. It’s all in the preparation. I love that you sanded so much, i bet those drawers look just as great up close as the do in the pics. I’m going to link over to this in my post today!

  2. Heather says:

    thank you for the step by step instructions. she is a lucky girl to have such a great new room! can you tell us where you found the brand of spray paint you used.


    • effortless says:

      I found the spraypaint at Blick. I link to it in the spraypainting post. Hope that helps. It’s mainly found in art stores not home improvement stores.

  3. Thanks for laying out all of the steps- I so would just srapy, dry, spray again so clearly, I need some instruction on spray painting. The finished desk looks fabulous.

  4. you rule but where was this post last summer wen I was destroying many a piece of furniture. Oh well, saving it for future endeavors!

  5. wonderful step by step instructions. i like that chair. lovely greetings

  6. sparrowsandsparkle says:

    Thank you for these instructions!

  7. Looks fabulous, but one question. Are the handles still usable? I have been wanting to spray paint handles on a dresser I have, but have been concerned that I will botch it up and they will be stuck in one position and not be usable.

    • effortless says:

      The handles were still usable. We hung the handles on our laundry line. Having them dangle from the pull was great. We were able to get great coverage from all angles. Just let them set/dry and they should be good to use. I’ve done this in past and sometimes chipping occurs, but it’s normally not a lot or noticeable.

      Our handles were a really weird size and they would have needed custom pulls if we wanted to switch them up and that wasn’t an option so we sprayed them the same color as the drawer to have them disappear.

  8. Ashley says:

    Off to buy myself some spray paint…how gorgeous is that desk!?!

  9. The desk is gorgeous! The step by step instructions are much appreciated. Where do you spray paint in the winter?

    • effortless says:

      In the winter we spraypaint in our shop. Our basement is finished and has a man den, laundry room and shop full of tools, our heating tank, and a work station. We had a drop cloth on the floor and then hung up a drop cloth from the clothing line that is also in the shop to prevent it from spraying everywhere. It seemed to work out really well for us.

      We made sure to open up some windows and used an odorless primer, but which helped a lot. It’s not totally odor free, but better than most sprays.

  10. So much work but well worth it. Looks fantastic and the colors are awesome!

  11. Rachael says:

    This looks amazing! Thanks for the detailed instructions, and thanks for popping back in to answer questions!

  12. Sara says:

    Thanks so much for the detailed instructions!! SO helpful!

    Would you mind sharing why you opted for the spray paint, rather than the new cool compressor you have? I’d love to hear why! (Also, I’m just envying your compressor and trying to find ways to justify getting one, especially since I think I could convince my husband since it falls into the “tool” category and he already has a compressor ;)! )

    • effortless says:

      I love the compressor, but it’s on the large size and in the garage that was covered with snow. So it was just easier to use the spray-paint. I do love the compressor. So easy to use and provides great coverage and dries fast. Only downside is the clean up afterwards.

  13. Tara Sherman says:

    I’m getting ready to start painting a loft bed (twin), and although your instructions seem to guarantee a perfect finish, I’m worried how many cans of pain I may need. How many cans did it take it finish the dresser?

  14. carol McCarthy says:

    Love the painted furniture. Do you use semi gloss or satin? Thanks

    • effortless says:

      I tend to use semi-gloss. I like my pieces to be as shiny as I can get them. I just want to lacquer everything!

  15. Shelley says:

    Do you need to do several coats of Krylon Crystal Clear? Or does one coat get it covered enough?

  16. Stephanie H says:

    Could you tell me the name and brand of the colour you used for the drawers? I am planning on painting a dresser white with coloured drawers but just can’t settle on the “perfect” colour!

  17. Carlo says:

    Nice job there! I only wonder if you use a spray gun or a spray can. Which could be money saver of the two?

  18. Steve says:

    I have a couple of automotive spray guns and two small compressors and one larger (five hp single stage). I’m doing some little wood projects, furniture type stuff, and do not want to get out these spray guns for such. That would be overkill and they probably are not the best tools for the application anyway. Can you recommend some good spray guns for wood furniture paint finishing?

  19. Laura says:

    I had a question, I spray painted a wooden nightstand recently and I wanted more of a smooth/shiny/glossy finish. I did buy a sealer, but that did not work. Would you suggest painting on a sealer, if so what kind. Also, the primer I used kept on leaving a white residue, any suggestions on what I was doing wrong or a brand that wont leave that on the furniture?

    • effortless says:

      I use wipe on poly in high gloss. It’s available at Home Depot. I use Kilz as a primer and have never had an issue with residue. They have it in a spraypaint version and that’s normally what I use.

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