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How to paint wood: tips for painting wood furniture and floors

Learn the best tips and tricks for painting wooden fixtures around your home.


person painting wooden surface with orange brush

Key steps:

To paint wooden furniture and floors follow these key steps: 

  1. Fill in any holes and cracks.

  2. Sand down to create a smooth surface.

  3. Apply a priming base coat and let dry. 

  4. Paint with the colour of your choice. You may need more than one coat.

  5. Finish with a clear varnish to protect the surface if required.

  6. Allow to dry fully before using the floor or furniture again.

Do you fancy upcycling your old furniture or floors but worry that it's too big a task? Painting is one of the easiest ways to change the elements of your home quickly which is why we've collected our best wooden furniture painting ideas and tips for painting wood. Whether you want to know how to paint wood or are looking for some easy-to-follow wood painting ideas, read on. 

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Painting wood furniture and floors: The basics

Painting wooden furniture and floors isn’t actually that tricky - just follow these 10 steps one-by-one:

  1. Open windows to ensure good ventilation.

  2. For futrniture: cover your floors with dust sheets and place the furniture on top. 

  3. For floors: cover skirting boards and the bottom of walls with decorating tape and thin sheets.

  4. Remove ‘extras’ from the furniture or floor such as knobs, pulls, or floor trims. These can be painted separately.

  5. Assess the wood for holes and chipped areas. Apply wood filler to any you find and leave to set.

  6. Sand down the surface of the wood, getting into every little nook and cranny. 

  7. Use a duster to get rid of the debris and clean the surface of your furniture or floor with a damp cloth.

  8. Apply a coat of primer. This helps create an even surface so the end result will look much smoother.

  9. Apply the paint colour of your choice ensuring you cover the whole surface. Wait for it to dry completely before applying a second coat for a stronger colour.

  10. Finish with a final coat of varnish if you want to protect the surface. Wait for it to dry completely.

These are the key steps for painting a piece of wooden furniture or a wooden floor but it can be easily adapted for use when painting non-wooden items such as walls! Read our article on DIY wall painting for more advice on this.

Three great wood painting techniques

If you’re looking for style inspiration while learning how to paint wood furniture and floors then you may want to try one of these techniques:

  • Distressed wood. To achieve this vintage feel, simply paint the furniture as above, then use sandpaper to remove the paint in different parts so that it looks naturally worn down and distressed. This is great for giving your piece a historic look. 

  • Smooth wood. This is great for modern, sleek interiors. Use the technique above but apply at least three coats of primer and three coats of coloured paint. Leave each coat to dry and sand between layers to ensure it's silky smooth.

  • Patterned wood. To get a contemporary and funky look, try painting patterns onto your wood. Use masking tape to draw out the pattern on the surface before painting. Once fully dry, remove the tape to reveal the full pattern.

Those are our top tips for painting wood. Whether you want to transform a new piece of furniture or paint your floor to update a room, try some of these techniques and see what works for you.

Originally published