How to paint furniture without chalk paint. Chalk painting furniture was all the rage several years ago and yes, I have tried it! As a long time home decor addict I have tried pretty much every method of painting furniture. My tried and true method of painting furniture remains the same as it was years ago. Why? Because it works and stands the test of time! I still have a couple of wood pieces that I painted back in my college days! Let’s talk about what I don’t and what I DO use instead!
There are now numerous brands of chalk paint. The chalk paint revolution and subsequent frenzy was started by Annie Sloan back in 1990. She started her own line of chalk paint which was the first commercial brand that I know of. Using chalk paint was easy, since you didn’t have to sand wood furniture. Contrary to the commercial chalk style paint, I used to make my own chalk paint before that was even available. I learned how when I studied art and in my brief art teaching career.
I LOVE a nice, elegant semi gloss finish on furniture.
The Chinoiserie dresser above is in our dining room and I found it a couple of years ago at a thrift shop. It’s an old Thomasville piece that resembles Henry Link Bali Hai faux bamboo. I wanted a lacquer finish but did not want to spend the money to have it professionally done. See my tutorial in THIS POST, which again…did not involve chalk paint. Clearly I’m happy with the results 😀 and in contrast to a chalky finish this is glossy!
My New Dining Room Table Project
One day we were up at our beach home and I was taking a break perusing FBMP. Facebook Marketplace…a most wondrous place for furniture! I had been thinking of replacing our existing dining table with something smaller. At $20… indeed a SCORE, but in really bad shape though so this table needed to be rescued and revamped. I should note that the seller had this listed simply as “a project table”!
The Gustavian lines called to me and the size was just perfect. Additionally the oval shape works better for our small dining area. I knew that it would take some work, but it’s not my first rodeo and I was ready for the challenge!
How To Paint Furniture Without Chalk Paint
Supplies That You Need
- Sandpaper in various grits, depending on the finish
- Tack cloth or cheesecloth
- GOOD latex primer
- Can of acrylic wall paint in satin
- Can of clear gloss poly acrylic sealer
- Angled paint brush (cut in brush)
- Mini paint roller (foam)
This table was obviously in someone’s garage and used as a work table. The top was covered in rings and drips of paint and grease. I hand sanded the top only down to the original finish, which was fairly straightforward. Then I used a tackcloth to remove the dust.
Next I set up an area inside the a/c of the house laying down a painter’s drop cloth to protect the floor. Then I gave the entire table a good coat of primer using Kilz.
How To Get A Smooth Finish On Wood Furniture
The best way to get a smooth finish on wood furniture is by rolling the paint! It will adhere well and settle nicely by using a foam roller.
We have done dozens of painting jobs over the years this way! On the table, of course I could only do the rolling application on the top. On the legs I used a 2″ cut in brush of good quality. The example below is from our recent beach house laundry room renovation.
Of course the type of paint matters! Allow the primer coat to dry for a full 24 hours. I know that it can be tempting to give it a fresh coat of paint sooner…don’t. I use Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in a satin finish to paint furniture without chalk paint. This is a water base paint and is low VOC, so can be used indoors with no mask. All of the paints that I use have little to know odor and these days are water based. They work just as well as the old oil based paints used to, as long as you paint properly and give enough curing time between coats. I do wear disposable gloves to protect my hands and nails and below is a shot of the paint used. It’s simply called WHITE.
Give your furniture nice even light coats. While it might be tempting to slather the paint on like cream cheese to a bagel…NO! I gave this table 2 coats of paint about 12 hours apart and allowed a day to dry before sealing.
When painting furniture, don’t overlook the details! The apron of the table had this beautiful reverse dentil molding. I highlighted it with my favorite tinted wax using a cotton t-shirt rag. Less is more and I applied a tiny amount while I had my finger wrapped in the rag. Then I rubbed it in and wiped off the excess with a fresh part of the rag. For the brass hardware, I brought out the beauty by using this shade of Rub N Buff applied in the same manner.
A very close up shot…and you could use a tiny brush for the gilding, but IRL no one gets this close!
Painting furniture is a process and be prepared to paint over the course of a few days for a long lasting job.
After ALL was dry I rolled on the sealer, using a small foam roller. Several coats were applied with 24 hours inbetween to dry. This gives the furniture a nice hard finish to protect it against water rings in the future. I used this sealer, but any water based acrylic sealer will do. I DID NOT SEAL THE LEGS…not necessary and I didn’t want them as glossy.
You know what they say in decorating about one project leading to another? How to paint furniture with house paint also called me to paint these chairs! In order to use them along with this upcycled table it was necessary. I took my time and gave the chairs two coats of the same paint (no sealer). They were already “primed” with this tutorial – Secrets To Giving Furniture A Chalk Finish. You can use this method to prime any raw finish fairly easily! As you can see I used a cut in brush and carefully painted only up until the piping. I did get a few tiny spots of paint on the piping here and there, but they aren’t really noticeable.
And finally…the finished dining room set!
It pairs well with the sideboard now and the sheen of the table has that upscale look I was going for! The FRESH PEONIES are from PETAL DRIVEN.
The old farmhouse style table has sold on FBMP and will be residing at a home in the Florida Keys!
I’m really pleased with the look and hope that you’re inspired to do a budget friendly makeover as well! Let me know your thoughts if you’d like in the comments section below!
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