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How to Guide: Spray Painting Furniture for Beginners

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DIY made easy! Try these tips for spray painting furniture for an easy update!

Alright, DIY-ers, gather ’round because today we’re diving into the art of spray painting furniture! Whether you’re jazzing up an old dresser or giving your dining table a fresh new look, mastering the spray paint game can take your furniture from drab to fab in no time. So drop your paint brushes, grab your can of spray paint, and let’s unleash our inner Picasso on those tired old pieces!

When my sister bought her new house she needed to fill it with some furniture. Luckily for her she has a sister (aka ME!) who enjoys shopping, finding deals and redoing furniture. So when she told me she was looking for side tables, a coffee table, and an entry table I went to work. I found these beauties at a garage sale for…get ready for this…$25 for all three!!! I couldn’t believe it either and of course I couldn’t say no!

Spray Painting Furniture tables before

They were awesome solid tables with no structural damage so it was a great find. Then I was at a flea market and found this little beauty for only $25! Four tables for $50- yes, please!!!

Spray Painting Furniture table from flea market

My sister loved them and told me how she wanted them to look. She wanted cream legs and a brown top on the side and coffee tables. I said OK and we got to work. First thing, we cleaned off all the table with my favorite cleaner Murphy’s Oil Soap.

Spray Painting Furniture Murphy Oil Soap

Next we started sanding the tops of all the tables. I originally thought I could sand off the finish and re-stain but I wasn’t having much luck. In hind sight I probably could of stripped the table top and re-stain that but we decided to do an easier solution. We were able to sand down the stain and scratches so that was a plus.

Spray Painting Furniture sanding

We wiped off the tops again after we sanded using Murphy’s Oil Soap. Now we were ready to paint. Since we were going to be using several colors on these pieces we went with spray paint instead of chalk paint to save some money.

So that is the question, which type of paint? Spray paint or chalk pain?! In my opinion if you are using multiple colors use spray paint. Chalk paint is great but can add up if you are buying several colors. Spray paint is cheap and you have tons of choices. I also think spray painting is faster and pretty straight forward.

When you are applying two colors on a furniture piece always start with the lighter color first. We used Gloss Honey Vanilla by Valspar on the legs.

Spray Painting Furniture Valspar Gloss Honey Vanilla

Tips on spray painting:

  • Make sure you don’t hold the spray paint too close to the surface your painting. If you do this will cause drips to occur. If you hold the spray paint too long in the same place it can also cause drips. The good news if you do cause drips you can wipe them up right away and spray again.
  • Gloss vs no gloss, primer or no primer? Which do you choose? I like the look of gloss on furniture so I say yes to gloss especially on wood furniture. As for the primer question, most pieces will need a primer so why not simplify your steps and start with the primer mixed in! Primer will give you a better coverage on your pieces.

On these tables we did two coats of spray paint on all the legs and then let dry.

Spray Painting Furniture painting legs

While the side tables and coffee tables were drying we moved on to our entry table. This table we did in a cool yellow.  We taped off the wheels of the entry table and the drawer knob and sanded the top of the table.

Spray Painting Furniture entry table

Spray Painting Furniture entry table taped off knob

We wiped off the top with Murphy’s Oil Soap and then we were ready for the first coat of spray paint. We used Valspar Color Radiance (we couldn’t find this color in gloss so we got a gloss finishing spray to use as the last coat).

Spray Painting Furniture valspar yellow

We removed the drawer and sprayed that separately. The entry table took two coats of this yellow and then we let it completely dry.

Now we were ready to spray paint the top of the tables. We applied tape around the edges to protect the bottom that we sprayed cream.

Spray Painting Furniture taping offFor the tops we used flat Labrador brown by Valspar.

Spray Painting Furniture Valspar paint in Labrador

To spray the edges I sacrificed my sister’s hands and she held a paper towel over the legs to prevent any additional spray. Don’t worry, spray paint does come off in the shower!

Spray Painting Furniture technique

We immediately removed the tape and touched up any areas we needed to. Since we could only find flat paint for the yellow entry table and the brown on the top we applied a clear gloss spray paint to seal them both and give a great finish.

Spray Painting Furniture Valspar Top coat gloss paint

Spray Painting Furniture Yellow table finished

This project took a couple of hours to complete and I thought they turned out pretty good. But more importantly my sister loved how they look in her house! Let me know how your next spray paint project goes!

More Spray Painting Furniture Tips

Can you spray paint both metal and wooden furniture? 

Absolutely! Spray painting can work wonders on both metal and wooden furniture, giving them a fresh new look with minimal effort. Here’s how to approach each type for the best results:

Metal Furniture:

  1. Prep Work: Clean the metal surface thoroughly to remove any rust, dirt, or grease. You might need to sand down any rough spots or rust patches to ensure a smooth finish.
  2. Primer: Use a metal primer to create a smooth, even base for the paint to adhere to. This will also help prevent rust formation in the future.
  3. Spray Away: Apply thin, even coats of spray paint, holding the can about 6-8 inches away from the surface. Keep your strokes smooth and steady to avoid drips or uneven coverage.
  4. Dry Time: Allow each coat to dry completely before adding another one. Metal surfaces can take a little longer to dry than wood, so be patient.
  5. Seal the Deal: Once you’re satisfied with the color and coverage, consider adding a clear coat or metal sealer to protect the paint and increase durability.

Wooden Furniture:

  1. Prep Work: Sand the wooden surface to smooth out any imperfections and create a clean, even surface for the paint to adhere to. Wipe away any dust with a damp cloth and let it dry completely.
  2. Primer (Optional): Depending on the type of wood and the condition of the surface, you may or may not need a primer. If you’re painting over a dark stain or bare wood, using a primer can help the paint color appear more vibrant and prevent any bleed-through.
  3. Spray Away: Apply thin, even coats of spray paint just like you would with metal furniture. Keep your strokes smooth and consistent to achieve a professional-looking finish.
  4. Dry Time: Wooden surfaces tend to absorb paint more quickly than metal, so you may need fewer coats and shorter drying times. Still, be sure to allow each coat to dry completely before adding another one.
  5. Protective Finish: Once the paint is dry, consider adding a clear coat or wax to protect the finish and increase durability, especially if the furniture will be exposed to moisture or heavy use.

A few more spray painting tips to give you good results:

  1. Prep Like a Pro: Before you even think about unleashing that spray paint, make sure your piece of furniture is clean and dry. Wipe away any dust or grime with a damp cloth and let it dry completely.
  2. Prime Time: If your furniture has a glossy finish or you’re painting over a dark color, consider using a coat of primer first. It’ll help the paint adhere better and give you a smoother finish in the end.
  3. Light Coat for the Win: When it comes to spray painting, less is definitely more. Instead of going all out with a heavy coat of paint, opt for several thin coats. Not only will this prevent drips and streaks, but it’ll also give you better control over the coverage.
  4. Mind the Weather: Outdoor painting? Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Ideally, you want to spray paint on a warm, dry day with low humidity. Windy conditions can also wreak havoc, so choose a sheltered spot if possible.
  5. Protect Your Surroundings: Unless you want your driveway or lawn to sport a trendy new color, lay down a drop cloth, tack cloth, or old sheet over a flat surface  to catch any overspray. Trust me, your future self will thank you for the easy cleanup.
  6. Patience is Key: Itching to see the final result? Resist the urge to rush the process. Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before adding another one. It might take a bit longer, but the end result will be worth it.
  7. Mind Your Respirator: Spray painting can release some pretty potent fumes, so don’t forget to protect your lungs! Invest in a quality respirator mask to keep those harmful chemicals at bay.
  8. Finishing Touches: Once your masterpiece is dry, consider adding a protective finish like a clear top coat or wax to seal the deal and give your furniture extra durability.

Spray Painting Furniture finished entry table

With the right prep work and technique, spray painting can breathe new life into both metal and wooden furniture, allowing you to unleash your creativity and transform any piece into a work of art. With these tips in your arsenal, you’re all set to paint furniture like a pro! So grab that can of paint and let your creativity run wild.

Spray Painting Furniture end table

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Monday 15th of August 2016

Those look great! Wish I could have them in my house! Thanks for the tips!


Monday 15th of August 2016

You did a great job on those! & what a bargain. I love a good deal.

- Cait |

Jenn @ Drink Coffee & Prosper

Monday 15th of August 2016

Really cool project. I used to do this kind of thing with my mom when was younger. Great pics.

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