Furniture refinishing!!

My in box has been filled with request on a “how to” refinish furniture!!! I better get on it already and just share it here for all to enjoy!!!

So let’s get started!!!

My rule of thumb when it comes to deciding if something is worth refinishing…

  • it has to be a solid piece to begin with!
  • made of real wood
  • not a veneer!
  • take a before picture because you will hardly believe what it looked like once you are done!

(I have heard of using a product called Liquid sand, or a special primer for veneer on veneer pieces to make it paintable! Ask your paint expert at Home depot what to use. Check it out and read the directions to see if you want to go that route! I haven’t used it though so if you do use it let me know how it goes!!)


The most asked question I get is “Do you have to completely sand off a finish first before you paint?”

and the answer is NO!!!!! Thank goodness right!!! As long as you use an OIL BASED primer you don’t have to sand!!! I recommend KILZ brand from Home Depot.
I buy it in a gallon size because I do so many projects and will use it all. I have also bought a KILZ spray can of oil based primer for a quick job. The spray can works great too.

I will say this…light sanding will be needed if you have areas on your project that may have splintering, or large peeling or chipped paint. Just sand the are to make it more uniform and smooth.

The only time you will need to sand off a finish completely before refinishing is if you are planing on staining a piece as opposed to painting. I’ll talk more about staining at the end of this post!

Because you will be using oil based primer just prepare to toss the paint brush you will be using. Oil based paint is a BEAST to wash so I recommend using gloves too if you are a messy painter.

Prime your piece once and let it dry completely before moving onto the next step!


You will want to use a Latex paint. I LOVE BEHR brand from Home Depot the best! ( Side bar: we painted all our rooms in our house with Behr paint and only had to paint one coat!!! Good stuff!!!)

I always do two coats for furniture. ALWAYS allow each coat to fully dry before you paint the next coat.

I buy my brushed from the dollar store. I like the synthetic fibers. For projects that have a lot of flat surface areas I’ll also buy and use a small foam roller. I’ll roll the flat surfaces and use my brush for the “cutting” meaning the corners and seams and detail work.

You can easily wash out and reuse your brushed when you use a latex paint!


Once the paint is completely dry you will want to add a Polyurethane Sealer. MINWAX is my favorite! It comes in Matte, Semi gloss and High gloss so be sure to pick the finish you want. I always do at least two coats and again it’s important to allow it to dry before adding the next coat!!! I use a foam brush to apply poly. NEVER shake a can of Poly! It makes small bubbles that may dry in your finish. ALWAYS use a stir stick and stir your poly well. It tends to settle.
They do sell poly in a spray can but I avoid it becasue I want a very even finish that only a paint brush can achieve.

Faux Finishing

I love me a good Faux finish! If you plan on adding a faux finish or rub you would do this step before your poly step. I usually do a glaze on all my projects but that’s just my style! My favorite technique is adding a brown glaze that settles in the details and seams of furniture…

I use Raulph Lauren Glaze in “Tabacco.” This technique requires you to paint a thick coat on and then quickly wipe it off with a rag and leaving behind the glaze to get the aged look you want. It takes a little getting used to but it’s by far my fav!!

I have also used a crackle finish effect. If you want to try to do a crackle the only thing you have to remember is that you have to use a FLAT finish in your base coat paint! It will not crackle correctly if it’s a egg shell, semi, high gloss or satin finish.

READ all the instructions on faux finishing products! Ask your local expert for tips and just have fun!

  • You can find “Oops Paint” or “Mistints” paint at a discount for $1-$5 a gallon. Ask your paint departments where they keep it!It’s not always out in front! I have found some great colors and have saved a ton of money!!!
  • Check your loacl Dollar Store and see what painting tools they sell. I was spending full price on brushed for almost a year before I discovered that the dollar store sold a three pack of brushes!!
  • Prime multiple pieces at the same time!Priming is my least favorite step but the most important!!! I just like to get as many things primed at once if I can.
  • If you are planning on painting anything RED you MUST tint your primer gray! Home Depot will do this for you by adding black paint. Gray primer is the only way to get a true to color sample result. If you buy a gallon of primer and only have one project to paint red, just buy a plastic container in the paint section, pour a good amount to cover your project into the container and they will add black to that. That way you don’t have to tint the entire gallon.
  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to allow proper time for drying in between each coat!!!!!
  • You can sand in between each step…primer, two coats of colored paint and poly if you want a very smooth feel in the end. I rarely do this because I like how it looks adn feels enough when I don’t and I am all about saving the effort if I don’t care! If you do sand use a very fine grit and wipe it down well before painting again.
  • Allow more time then you would think for the piece to dry before you bring it in the house. I have made the mistake of thinking it was dry before it was and got paint on my carpet!!! NOt fun!!! I wait over night before I move it in.

Be sure to check out This POST with all my before and afters when it comes to refinishing!

You must have raw wood to stain so you do have to sand. Once it is sanded wipe the piece of furniture clean. You can use tack cloth to insure that you get all the dust off.

I use MINWAX stain and seal.

There are two ways you can apply stain.

  • dipping a cloth in the stain and rubbing it on or
  • using a brush and applying it thick and then wiping it off with a rag.

Apply your stain, going with the grain of the wood, ’till it is the desires color! I usually do two coats. When it comes to staining you do not have to wait for it to dry before you add your second coat of stain.

Be sure to apply two coats of Poly even though it says it’s a “Stain and Seal!” Poly will protect it the best!

Follow the poly steps I listed above!!!

I hope this helps!!!! I’d love to see your projects!!!!! Email me before and afters and I’d be happy to feature you on my blog! Email me with any questions!!!!

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Happy refinishing folks!!!!


Before and Afters:It doesn’t take a lot of $$$ to get a look you love!

An $8 book shelf and some scrap fabric and $3 curtain rods make this project a steal at $11. I just used some paint from my collection!

It’s safe to say this piano project has been my largest undertaking! I found it used on line in our local classifies and all in, after buying it, paying for it to be moved twice, and supplies , this project cost a grand total of about $350… I say that’s pretty fantastic for a working, charming, one of kind piano and piece of furniture! I’ll spend more on piano lessons to learn how to play it!

This dresser I scored from a tiny store that was packed to the ceiling with random stuff. I payed $15 for it and it quickly made a home for itself in my heart and in my dinning room as our beloved buffet!

Yard sales at there best result in great finds like this! This Pottery Barn coffee Table came with a side table as well. I paid $25 for both! I used a crackle finish and now have this totally fun, random blue table in my family room! The best part of using a crackle finish is it makes the wear and tear my kids put on it look intentional! Gotta’ love that!
This project was a blast! I had to gut the entire inside of the bottom section so I got to use a saw and a little elbow grease to get this charming storage unit! I used the removed drawers to make ribbon organizers…I’ll post that fun project soon!! total cost: $20

I wish I had a before picture but I don’t… I was an average oak desk begging for a little love! $40 get’s you a lot when you put in the time and effort!The hunt is half the fun! I love yard sales, thrift stores and online ads! I look at furniture with a whole other eye. Everything has potential!

Here is my basic guidelines when it comes to my refinishing projects:

  • has to be a quality piece to begin with!Sturdy and solid and no veneer!
  • buying Oops paint,or what they call mistint paint is always a great way to cut cost! You can buy mistint paint for $1-$5
  • Oil based primer will save you from having to sand down your project when you fist go to paint it!!! One coat of primer is all you need!
  • take before and afters! You’ll never believe how ugly a piece started out as once you finish it!
  • A good antique glaze always adds depth and texture! It’s my favorite! I never just paint a one flat treatment! I love personality in my pieces and glazes, crackles and rubs will add just that!

This is the perfect time of year to try your hand at a refinishing project! So hit up yards sales this weekend and get busy!


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