In your restoration projects, it's the key to long-lasting results.
kitchen table shelves
Credit: Thomas Loof

You found the perfect dresser at your local thrift shop—it just needs a mini makeover. Can you use the leftover paint from your last DIY project? That depends. "A new coat of paint can provide a clean, refreshed look to a piece of furniture," says Hunter Macfarlane, a project expert at Lowe's. "But  it's important to choose the right type of paint to avoid an uneven finish and paint chipping."

It's also important to have the right kind of brushes on hand. If your furniture has grooves in it, use a small angled paintbrush to get inside the crevices, in addition to rollers in both standard and mini sizes. Other necessities: a drop cloth, paint tray, sandpaper, and a dust mask. Here, our expert provides some specifics.


After you lightly sand or use steel-wool on the furniture's surface to remove any imperfections and make it smoother, Macfarlane recommends that you put a coat of primer on your treasure. "This will prevent stains and knots from bleeding through the new coat of paint," he says. Primer dries quickly so don't skip over this step—think of it as laying the foundation for the paint. It's best to match the type of primer with the type of paint you'll be using; for example, use a latex primer with latex paint.

Latex Paint

One of the most popular paints for furniture, latex paint comes in numerous colors and can be mixed with other colors to create a custom shade. It's also available in a variety of sheens, including flat, low sheen or satin, semi-gloss acrylic latex, and oil-based enamel. While it's easy to clean with soap and water, it's not considered durable—the paint will likely chip if repeatedly exposed to heavy use.

Oil-Based Paint

The other favorite furniture paint is oil-based. It's known for its durability and won't easily chip or scratch. Families with young children like it because it's easy to clean spills and smudges. What no one likes: the strong odor it leaves while drying, which could take up to a day. Be sure to leave the furniture in a room with good ventilation until it dries.

Metallic Paint

While a room with walls painted metallic would be off-putting, a piece of furniture with a shimmering, vibrant feel is gorgeous. Use silver or gold iridescent paint on indoor furniture like stools, dressers, and nightstands.

Chalky Paint

Not to be confused with chalkboard paint, chalky paint leaves a smooth, matte finish. It's easy to use, though since it dries quickly, touchups may be tricky. You can use soap and water to clean it. Since the paint is a chalk-based, you should use sealing wax once the paint dries; it will protect the finish so the paint stays put.


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