Ask Tobi: Painting Furniture

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Q:  I’m a longtime reader of your blog and just adore your work!  I recently purchased a table on Craigslist. It reminds me of a writing desk that I have seen in one of your projects. I’d love to get your tips on getting a flawless finish when repainting old furniture, and also it would be great if you could recommend a fabulous navy blue paint color. It’s hard to find one that’s not too purple or too royal blue. Thanks for your help!  -Sarah

A:  Hi Sarah!

Thanks for the compliments! That’s so kind of you to say. Painting furniture is a great way to add color in a room to achieve a custom look. Here is a picture of the writing desk you mentioned. I repainted this desk for the Energy House, a green design showhouse located in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 Here are my tips for achieving a flawless painted finish on wood furniture.

Step 1 – Sand the piece of furniture using fine grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand with the grain of the wood — not against it.

Step 2 – Fill in any cracks or imperfections in the wood with wood filler.  Allow the wood filler to dry and sand away any excess.

Step 3 – Paint the furniture with one coat of primer (I like to use Kilz). Allow the primer to dry completely.

Step 4 – Apply the first coat of paint using a small to medium-sized paint brush. I recommend purchasing paint with a semi-gloss finish. Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely, and then apply the second coat of paint and allow to dry.

Step 6 – You may also want to apply a sealant, such as polyurethane, to protect against everyday wear and tear. It will keep you from making frequent touch-ups!

Also, keep in mind that to get to the color shade you want, you may need to apply more than two coats.

Here are two great shades of navy that I can recommend. You can’t go wrong with either one!

Happy painting!



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3 Responses to Ask Tobi: Painting Furniture

  1. Franki Parde says:

    Great tips! I do lightly sand after that first coat of paint. franki

  2. Monique says:

    Tobi, is it OK to paint over the poly if the finish becomes damaged? What would you recommend?

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Sarah K says:

    Thanks for responding! I’m thinking the Benjamin Moore color will be perfect!