Furniture Painting 101

A Beginner’s Guide to Painting Furniture


SMALL REPAIRS – Look your piece over do you need to make any repairs? Fill holes and small damaged areas with your favorite wood repair filler. Let dry!

 DAMAGE – If the damage is more severe like lifting veneer or broken drawers, fix those now. If you are painting don’t worry about veneer just remove and sand any glue left behind. (Always wear a mask when sanding)

SURFACE – Is your piece flaking or chipping? Sand any loose or chipping paint off, if it is flaking now, painting over it won’t change that. Do you have a high gloss finish? If so roughing it up quickly with sandpaper to give it “tooth” will make adhesion better and you’ll use less product. Saving you paint and money!

HARDWARE – Remove hardware and set aside in a safe place if you are reusing. If you are painting kitchen cabinets mark all hinges so you can put them back exactly where they were. You will thank me later 🙂

CLEAN- WE CANT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! Clean all surfaces and hardware! Shabby Paints recommends a 50/50 warm water white vinegar mixture and adding a few drops of Dawn to help cut grease. This is the most important step. Your paint must have a clean grease free foundation to adhere. A kitchen scrubby pad can really give you an extra advantage. Grease and dirt have spent years building up so take the extra few minutes to make sure you have removed all the years of dirt and grime.

How to clean furniture for painting

RINSE – Equally as important as cleaning. Left over cleaner can impede adhesion. In short: Paint won’t adhere to a surface with cleaner on it.

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Choose a “FINISH” – What kind of look are you wanting to
achieve? Chippy distressed look, contemporary, modern, sleek,
shimmery, primitive, French country, shabby chic? Anything is
possible so plan it out and if you aren’t sure how to achieve it
reach out to your local Shabby Paints Stylist.  Find a Stylist

How to get the Perfect Chippy Finish with Chalk Acrylic Paint

Don’t have a local stylist?  Shabby Paints has a great online support group too. Shabby Paints Questions and Answers

Paint Brushes – As important as the paint you choose. A high quality, synthetic brush will always be your ideal option with acrylic paints like Shabby Paints.

Cling On! Paint Brush


When working with latex, thin layers are ideal. With chalk-acrylic, you want a thicker coat for ideal coverage and to allow the product to level properly. Load your brush about 1/3 of the way up (any higher and you risk having the paint get into the ferrule, it can take much longer to clean and misshape your brush in the drying process if you don’t get it all out.

Lay the paint on, you don’t need to go over it multiple times, that can spread it out too thin. It’s ok to just get some more paint.

Let dry FULLY and assess if you need additional coats. Here’s a trick- lay the inside of your arm on the piece. If it feels cool, it isn’t fully dry. Room temperature? It’s dry all the way through. We recommend no more than 2 coats of any of our products (paint or finishing) within a 24 hour period.

Cling On! Paint Brush


Wood – Easiest, done most often. A quick scuff sand to the entire surface is recommended.

Glass – Your first coat should be thin. Because air can’t circulate from underneath, allow extra drying time for each coat.

Fabric – Mist your fabric first and use a 50/50 water paint mixture making sure all fibers are adequately coated with paint. Lightly sand any stiff or standing fibers with sandpaper between each coat. VAX is optional depending on the end result you want to achieve.

Laminate – Like glass, air circulation is an issue here as well. Scuff sanding is your friend. Thin coats are key. You may need additional drying time.

Metal – Similar to glass or laminate. Will require extra drying time and initial thin coats.

Waxed – Painting over wax can be a real issue. Wax is temporary and breaks down over time. This doesn’t make for a solid foundation for paint. Don’t give up, there are a few tricks that might help. 1. Make sure the waxed surface has had plenty of time to cure..45 to 60 days depending on humidity, brand and if it was applied properly. 2. Protect yourself! Waxes are very toxic. Put on mask and work in a well-ventilated area. 3. Make a cleaning mixture of 50/50 Warm Water, White Vinegar, and a few drops of original blue dawn. 4. Scrub then scrub some more. (save some of this mixture for your next step) 5. Use the remaining mixture to dampen a (fine to medium) sanding block and sand the wax off. 6. Rinse thoroughly with water, let dry 7. Now test an area with paint, let cure and scratch and see if it was able to bond. PS – this is one of the many reasons we hate WAX!!

Bleed -This is used to describe a stain that can “come through”
your paint after the initial coat. It generally presents as a pinkish
(which is common with mahogany furnishings, especially in the
40’s), or a “wet” dingy green yellow (nicotine). If you experience
bleed through after your first coat, apply two thin coats of vax
over those areas, let dry and continue on.


VAX comes in two finishes – matte or satin.

Stir or shake well. Surface must be clean and dry. With all the finishing agents, THIN COATS ARE KEY! A blue Shabby Paints applicator sponge can make application faster and easier. Small damp brushes may be preferred for small areas and crevices.

A minimum of TWO COATS is necessary for best results. The first coverage coat of any finishing agent will be spotty and possibly streaky. This is due to the absorption of the surface below. The second coat will fill in voids and assure the full coverage and protection.

You must wait for 3-7 days for full cure time before heavy use or placing anything heavy on your piece. If it feels “sticky”, it isn’t yet fully cured. Humidity and application thickness will play a role as well. If it’s been over 10 days and you still feel it’s sticky, your application may have been a bit too thick. You can wait it out, or lightly sand the surface and reapply one last SUPER THIN coat (this starting the “cure-time clock” over). Allow to dry for 15-30 minutes between coats and no more than 2 coats of any product (paint or finishing) in a 24 hour period.

reVAX Complete – age, glaze, stain and protect.

Stir or shake well. Surface must be clean and dry. Dispense a small amount into a clean dish and use a roller, soft brush, lint free rag or a blue Shabby Paints applicator sponge to apply.

Aging: Lightly apply to entire surface or just to area’s you wish to add age or depth to.

Glaze: Seal first with satin or matte VAX and allow to dry. Apply reVAX full strength or dilute with VAX for longer open time.

Stain: Surface must be clean, dry, and free from existing finishes. Following the grain in thin layers with long strokes will yield best results. Add additional layers for a darker finish or alternate colors for depth.

Protection: Apply over entire surface for durable tinted protection.

We recommend a damp microfiber cloth to clean your painted
furniture. Please do not use any cleaning agents as this may
damage the surface.

Download Caring for your Painted Furniture

Strong Lasting Protection
Superior self-leveling
Fade Resistant
Zero VOC
Made in the USA
Use Indoors Year-Round
Indoor/outdoor use
Keep from Freezing – Use and store at temperature 60-85
No Formaldehyde – No Mercury – No Glycols – No Phthalates

Painted Restorations