DIY Furniture Refinishing-Spray Paint Style

I have refinished furniture with paint, and I have refinished furniture using stain. I decided I wanted to try refinishing a piece of furniture with spray paint to see how it turned out.

It all started with a little table that I got last year for $15 at the thrift store. It kinda scratched up, but I loved the shape, so I bought it anyway. It’s been sitting in my garage for months. I decided it was time to dust it off and give it a makeover. Here are the instructions in case you want to try it yourself. (You do, you want to try it. It’s easy. Promise.)

Refinishing Furniture with Spray Paint

1-Start with an old piece of furniture. When you’re shopping, ignore color. Just look for design or shape that you like. I started with this table.
how to-spray paint furniture2-Fill any holes or scratches in the furniture with putty or spackling. I used this stuff:
how to-spray paint furniture3-After the spackling dries, you want to sand the entire piece. Roughing up the surface helps the paint stick better, so make sure you sand everything. You don’t have to sand it down to the bare wood, a light sanding is just fine. When you are done sanding, make sure you wipe off all the dust. Tack cloth works best, but baby wipes or slightly damp rags will work in a pinch.
how to-spray paint furniture4-Primer. This step is optional, especially if you are painting a piece of furniture a dark color. If you are painting a dark piece of furniture a lighter color, you will definitely want to use primer. It will cut down on your coats of paint A LOT.  I did it on this piece just to be safe.  I haven’t had great luck with spray paint primer, so I used Kilz primer and brushed it on. I just did one coat and it worked fine.
how to-spray paint furniture5-After your primer has dried for at least 24 hours, you are ready to paint. I used Krylon satin black spray paint. Make sure you use light coats so you don’t get drips. Several light coats is way better than a couple thick coats. Follow the instructions on the can so you know how long the paint should dry between coats.
Here’s my table after several light coats of paint:
how to-spray paint furniture6-After your piece of furniture is thoroughly dry, you can distress the edges if you like. I like distressing, because if you have kids, everything ends up “distressed” anyway, so you might as well make it look like you did it on purpose. 😉
For pieces like this that have small details, I think it is easier to sand by hand than to use my palm sander. A large nail file works great for getting into small spaces. (How sad is it that I wear out more nail files on wood than I do on my actual nails?) When you are done distressing, carefully wipe off all the dust.
how to-spray paint furniture 7-At this point you can be done. But with four boys, I wanted an extra layer of protection. I decided to add a coat of polyurethane. I used this stuff:
how to-spray paint furnitureIt’s really easy, you just pour it on a rag and wipe it on. I used two coats. The directions said to sand in between coats, but I thought that was waaay to much work. So I just applied one, let it dry, and applied another one. It seemed to turn out fine. Fabulous actually!

Here is the final product.
how to-spray paint furniture
Much better, doncha think?


  1. La Habra Fence Company says:

    Simply amazing! I love the painted furniture. it looks so cool. If we apply paint on fence, it will also improve the exterior look of home.

  2. Thank you so much for your posts about painting furniture. I’m about to take on several furniture painting projects in my own home, and I wouldn’t even know where to begin without your ‘tutorials’. So THANK YOU! I hope they turn out as pretty as yours!

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  9. How did you get spray paint on the inside of the rods? I have a very similar table (just mine has a lift up drawer on the front) and after spraying the whole piece, I now realize that the paint is not evenly distributed on the rods (hard to get in between them for example).

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  11. This is just what I was looking for before I spray paint a really old table and chairs. I actually thought I’d just sand and paint, but now I’m definitely going to prime. I will add the poly too – kids galore, dog and cat – say no more! Thank you for your help! Julia

  12. hardwood flooring below grade says:

    Great post.

  13. I absolutely love this table! I have one at home almost identical to the before one that I have been wanting to refinish black! It looks like I have a project on my hands! 🙂

  14. Amazing result! Pretty cool! 🙂

  15. I have these same exact end tables and the matching coffee table that was my husbands grandparents. I’ve been thinking about updating them

  16. I perfectly love the result! We have similar furniture at home and I am planning to refurnish it too. Thanks for sharing the idea. 🙂 Great job!

  17. I love painting furniture.
    So many options and if you mess up, you can paint over it.

  18. Martha Ayotte says:

    I love your technique. We just bought a house in another state. I have an old secretarial desk of my mother’s. It is missing some verneer and her cat gouged it pretty badly. I am going to paint it black using your technique. Hope it comes out nice as yours!

  19. Kerry Ann Pike says:

    Why type of spray paint did you use? There are so many different finishes and such that I’m lost in that area. Help!!!

    I have a living room set that is still functional but needs to be updated and I’m about to take sandpaper and spray paint to it but don’t know which type.

  20. You just made my day! I wanted to paint with a darker spray paint, but was nervous. I will be doing this later in the week! = )

  21. I just bought a table like this at an antique store with the idea to refurbish it! Thanks for the tips!

  22. Professionial Furniture Restorer says:

    I think your table turned out beautiful but it is not refinishing, you did refurbish it, refinishing or restoring a finish the art of repairing or reapplying the wood finishing on an object to make it as beautiful is when new. With an antique the goal is to Restore the finish not refinish the piece because it will devalue the item.

    Martha Stewart paint can be brushed on and when dry will leave no brush marks. I used it in vintage pieces all the time. Also Behr paint is another great paint although a little more expensive.

  23. So I did a project with end tables like this, and EVERYTHING I tried to use to give a protective layer never worked. The polyurethane spray paint never cured– it just remained tacky. The shellac “booger’d up” really gross all over… So I just re-sanded and repained multiple times and finally left it with no protective layer… But now things STILL stick to it and flake the paint off. It’s been MONTHS since it’s been painted— PLEASE HELP!

  24. Stephanie says:

    I have always hated those particular tables, but seeing it painted made me realize I just hate the stain. I love what you did with it!

  25. Spray painting gives it a really great finish. Have you ever tried compressed air spraying or airless spray guns?

  26. Love it! I’ve always been taught to never use spray paint on wood because it won’t turn out well–but yours looks perfect! Lesson learned 🙂

  27. OMG!! I just gave mine away 🙁
    ’cause I didn’t know what to do with them (4)
    so so sad

  28. Thanks for sharing the cleaning techniques

  29. Wow, this really turned out great! I have an old wooden, half painted, kitchen table that is in desperate need of refinishing. I am going to give this method a try for a new look, thanks so much for the instructions!

  30. Looks great! Just curious though, has the paint chipped or scratched off at all? I want to spray some chairs, but I’m not sure the paint would adhere properly and end up chipping off.

  31. great way to save money and still make your home look beautiful.. good job and great idea haha.

  32. Anna Boyd says:

    I have a question and wondered if you could help me. I just now got back to working on the coffee table I mentioned in my last comment. I applied the first coat of paint (dark brown) and it shows my terrible job of putting primer on. Must have put the primer on to thick becouse it has some runs. I saw it after it had already dried, so I sanded it as much as I could. But when I put my first coat of dark paint on it, it is showing everything!! I was hoping the second coat would cover some of that up, but it didn’t. I have spent about $30 on everything I needed for this (primer, paint, sandpaper) and can’t stand the thought of giving up on it now.
    The sides and legs aren’t that big of deal to me if they have some bumps and uneven-ness, but the top REALLY shows every flaw.

    My original plan was to distress it like you did yours. Will that cover some of the blemishes on top? Do you have any ideas on how to make this any better?
    Also, I know you used spray paint, but I bought mine in a can. I’ve been using a brush; would it look nicer if I used a roller?

    Sorry, I hope this is not too many questions, I just have never done anything like this before and I need someone creative to help me out. Thank you so much.

  33. Anna Boyd says:

    Kara, after seeing this post I was so impressed. Then the following Saturday, I went to an auction and bought a sofa table for $3. It was UGLY.
    I have sanded it and put on one coat of primer. I am ready to apply the first coat of paint and just have a question about “distressing” it. (I have never done anything like this before.) Do you sand the whole thing after its painted, or just the edges to get that distressed look? Also, what kind of sandpaper should I use? Fine grit, or course? I would really appreciate your help.
    I’m having so much fun with it and can’t wait to see how it turns out.
    Thanks so much!!

  34. thanks soooo much, this tutorial is just what I needed for this weekend. A small desk re-do. I’ll link your blog when I post about it and I’ll let you know too. I’m your newest follower.

  35. Bridgette says:

    Thanks for joining us for another great Anything Related! ~Bridgette

  36. I have some furniture I need to redo and have been at a loss of where to start, so I’m glad for the advice. Now that I have a plan, if only I could find some time!

  37. This is a great project – I will need to try the poly urethane after I am done. I expect that it will stand up to spills and other mishaps better. I have 3 boys and, of course, my husband. You need all the protection you can get so that your work is protected. Keep up the good work!

  38. I love this so much! The best part is the Spray paint..Anytime I can get away with spray painting I use it…but yours turned out soooooo cute!! Great job girlfriend!!
    Also wanted to let you know I just became your lastest “FAN” & “Liked” your pg. on your FB Sidebar. I hope you will go the & become a Fan of mine as well..It’s on the sidebar..I’m just starting out on FB & could use any support I could get..Thanks..Barb

  39. It looks great! I love using spraypaint, I hate brushstrokes!

  40. Looks great in black!

  41. Emily@Decorchick says:

    I spray paint all my furniture and LOVE it!! I don’t think I’ve used “real” paint on anything yet. Sad. Your table looks great!

  42. SO pretty! It looks so smooth and nice… What thrift store do you find treasures at around here. The goodwill near me is pretty expensive when it comes to wood!

  43. I LOVE it! I want to try that wipe on poly sometime. Great tute! Thanks!


  44. Your table looks great! I am a huge promoter of spray paint! I ♥ spray paint!!!

  45. Anna Dawn says:

    Wow- thanks for the great tips! You have inspired me to tackle some furniture projects that I have been putting off. The piece looks great, but I am wondering what it is, an end table perhaps? 🙂

  46. Danielle @ Life on Dahlia Lane says:

    The table turned out great! My grandma had some of those when I was little…they looked more like the before picture though 😉

  47. Amanda Jones says:

    I love redoing furniture and yours is amazing! It is so fun to turn something frumpy into something beautiful! You did a great job!

  48. Love the black!

  49. It looks great! I like the color and using a nail file. 🙂

  50. Brittany says:

    I looks wonderful! I love the black! How many cans of spray paint did you end up using on that table? The black I mean?

    • It was kinda hard to tell because I didn’t start with a full can. But I’d say I used 1- 1 1/2 cans. If I’d painted it white I’m sure I would have needed a lot more!

  51. Molly @ A Bit O' Shine says:

    It looks beautiful Kara! Now it’s not suffering from dated yucky stain anymore.

  52. Oh. My.

    I LOVE IT!

    I really, really need to stop being scared of trying to do stuff like this…..sigh.

    • Yes you do. A few years ago I was terrified to try anything. Then once I started, I was hooked. Start with something small for your first project. That way if you do happen to hate the results, you’re not out much time or $$. Go for it! And feel free to ask me any questions! 🙂


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