How to Paint Wood Furniture, Step-by-Step

The third coat’s the charm.

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In Back to Basics, we’re providing you with the straightforward step-by-step instructions to tackle all those household projects you’ve been wanting to try. 

That wood table might have looked just right for your space when you picked it up, but maybe, after a few years, it’s feeling a bit drab. Or perhaps you snagged a cool bench off Craigslist, but it’s not quite meshing with your room the way you hoped it would. Never fear—you can easily upcycle your furniture with paint. 

The process of painting wood furniture goes beyond simply running a paintbrush along its surface, but it’s still a relatively easy DIY. To make it even more beginner-friendly, it’s worth investing in a hand sander, which helps the job go far quicker than it would if you relied on sandpaper. Here, contributing editor Elaina Sullivan shares the step-by-step of how she revitalized a simple wood table with a few coats of satiny black paint. 

What You Need

Painting supplies
Photography by Elaina Sullivan


top of table being sanded
Photography by Elaina Sullivan

1. Place the piece of furniture on a clean work surface, such as a drop cloth or plastic tarp. 2. Clean it off with an all-purpose spray or Clorox wipe.

Bottom of table being sanded
Photography by Elaina Sullivan

3. Sand all areas—top and bottom—that you want to paint. Use a hand sander for large, flat surfaces, and sandpaper or a sanding sponge for smaller or more detailed components. 4. Wipe or vacuum surfaces to clean off the sanding dust. 5. Flip the piece upside down.


Bottom of table being painted black
Photography by Elaina Sullivan

6. Using an exterior grade paint with primer, apply paint to the underside and legs of the piece. Use a roller brush for large, flat surfaces and a brush for smaller sections. 7. Allow it to dry before applying the next coat. It will take about 30 minutes. 8. Apply one to two additional coats—most pieces require a total of two to three coats of paint.

Top of table being painted black
Photography by Elaina Sullivan

9. Flip the piece of furniture upright. 10. Apply paint to the rest of it using the same method. Wait until the last coat is totally dry before styling and enjoying your newly rejuvenated table, chair, or other piece of furniture.

After - black table
Photography by Elaina Sullivan

It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.

Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.