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10 common mistakes when painting furniture

Even though many times I am all about throwing some paint on a small table and calling it a day, there are definitely somethings you either shouldn’t do, or somethings you should do to make it a bit easier with a better result! Here are 10 common mistakes when painting furniture, and tips to fix them.

#1  You’re not turning your smaller pieces of furniture upside down and painting the underside first.

Flip small pieces of furinture upside down to get the best coverage

This post explains why for the best coverage, and why it makes your job easier.

#2  You’re not using the right paint for the right surface.

Mistakes made when painting kitchen cabinets white

Even though chalk-like paint is pretty amazing for it’s ability to adhere to almost everything, if you have a rusty surface, the rust is eventually going to bleed through, and over time on slicker surfaces, it can peel and chip off. Also, it can pick up oil from daily use from fingers if it’s not sealed in some way. There are times when a latex paint, or even  a more durable oil-based paint might be a better choice such as for really high-use furniture like kitchen tables, and cabinets (Like when we painted our cabinets and did our entire kitchen for under $12,000.).

#3 You don’t use primer…Ever

ALways apply a stain blocking primer to mahogany furniture

There are many awesome paints out there that now have the primer included which makes it much easier to slap some paint on,but in reality, really high use furniture items, or wood with a slicker surface should be primed first for better adhesion. Also, mahogany furniture can bleed through the top coat with out having a stain-blocking primer applied first.

#4 You don’t properly prep your furniture first

Wipe paint off of wood to whitewash paint

While with newer paints, there is less prep that needs to be done somethings, but many times furniture has factory coatings, or oils on them that need to be removed with a degreaser. While cabinets don’t have to be completely stripped every time, but should at least get a light sanding to rough up the surface and give the paint something to grab onto.

#5 Painting in too cold, or too humid conditions

Spray paint plastic pumpkins

I am the first one outside with a can of spray paint the minute it hits 40 degrees. I’ve made the mistake in the past of dragging everything outside trying to get a project done in the  upper 20’s only to see my paint freeze in the air before it hits the furniture. And, I’ve painted when it’s 80 degrees with 60 percent humidity and then impatiently waited for DAYS for my paint to dry. It’s super important to follow what the restrictions are on the can for the best result.

#6 You’re not using the right sealer for the right paint

do I used paste wax or polyacrylic sealer?

In this post, I share a chart when and how they should be used. Most pieces of furniture should be sealed for durability, and wax is not the best choice every time.

#7 you don’t allow enough dry time between coats

Painted with enamel paint in warm white

In reality, even though I will put another coat of paint on the minute  the previous coat dry to the touch, the needs to be a longer dry time. Even though some day 30 minutes or an hour,depending on the weather, it should be 3 to 4 hours. This is especially true when painting a wall with latex paint. When you hustle a little too fast is when you see the paint starting to lift from when you roll. it means even though the top of it is dry, underneath the top, it’s hasn’t cured enough.

Piggy-backed on to this is 7a -not realizing full cure time for most paints is actually 30 days. So, if you are jumping into using something before that, there is a good chance it is more likely to get dinged or chipped before the paint fully cures and hardens.

#8 You don’t wear gloves, eye protection or wear old clothing just for painting.

Use brown paint to stain unfinished wood

Guilty. I remember about half of the time actually. Even though paint seems safe, most of the time it still has chemicals an colorants we shouldn’t get on our skin, and especially not in our eyes. Or, we get paint on our hands and grab something, an then end up getting paint on everything. And the clothing thing. Double guilty. I forget to change (or am too lazy) all of the time and ruin stuff on a regular basis. It’s just  a good practice.

#9 You use the wrong brush for your paint, or surface

Feather the gray paint into the white paint maintaing the line how to paint faux marble

Using a natural fiber brush with an acrylic paint can cause color variations as the natural fibers can wick colorants. Also, using a regular roller for a smooth surface can cause unwanted texture.

When painting furniture, I prefer (affiliate link) a short-handled angle paintbrush with synthetic fiber, and a dense foam paint roller for the best results.

#10 You are so afraid of how it’s going to turn out, you don’t even start, but you hate it the way it is.

I’ve had family members say to me, “but it’s good wood, you can’t paint perfectly good wood!”

Vintage buffet in kitchen

Yes you can. Unless something is an antique or an heirloom(always check first!), or you love the original tone,and you’re not happy with it, the worst that’s going to happen is it would have to be repainted or stripped if you didn’t like it(Yes ,I know stripping furniture is a pain.). I’ve had friends say about ugly 80’s oak furniture, “I hate the color of this___, but it’s wood.” Well, if you hate it, then it’s not good wood. And the 80’s are over, and it’s not an heirloom. I recently painted my grandmother’s buffet. It was getting completely banged up and trashed by daily use, but our home is too small to have something not working for us. Up close, the finish was in horrible shape, and the feet had started to break off. I felt like by painting it, I was actually protecting it from heavy use  a bit,that the paint would take the brunt of abuse, and later when and if I decided I wanted it to be wood again, I would take on the task of stripping and restraining.

Kitchen with painted buffet in kitchen

And to be honest, I am completely in love with how it turned out, I wish I had done it sooner. I hope these 10 common mistakes when painting furniture post tips help you pull out your brush and have beautiful results!

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One Comment

  1. Jennifer,
    This is a terrific post! I immediately saved it to my Perfect Paint folder over on Pinterest for my readers and myself to refer back to. Yes, I am guilty on all of the above {aren’t all of us painters??} but after 30 years of messing around, now I take my time. 🙂 But, too, sometimes learning the hard way is a good teacher. 😉

    Thanks for the wonderful tips, and yes, your grandmother’s buffet turned out beautifully! I did love the before, too, but saw what you mean about the feet. I have a desk currently in storage whose feet are getting like that…

    Happy Friday!
    Barb 🙂

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