So, you’re looking for the best paint for furniture. I applaud you for doing your research. Paint is a great way to give new life to an otherwise tired piece of furniture. But, your good intentions can turn into a nightmare, if you choose the wrong paint. After all, it’s not like you’re painting a wall. Whether you are painting raw wood, an old piece of furniture, or even cabinets, it’s important to find paint that comes in a variety of colors, is easy to apply, and has long durability.
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The Best Paint for Furniture (and raw wood)
Once upon a time I painted an oak bench and did a terrible job at it. To be honest, I tend to rush it when it comes to paint. I just want it done. Once I began to build furniture pieces, I realized that nobody appreciates the quality and craftsmanship of a piece of furniture when it’s covered by a crappy paint job. Taking the time to select the right product and not rushing the job pays off.
Regardless, I have to admit that sanding, priming, and painting are
the pain of my existence not my favorite. So, once I found a paint with amazing coverage (without priming!) that also does a superb job at making cheap lumber look stunning, I was sold. General Finishes milk paint actually makes it enjoyable (kinda) for me to paint furniture. The dread is no longer there. Gorgeous colors. And you can actually mix colors to make your own custom shades.
Now, I can feel you rolling your eyes at me. You don’t like the price. Believe me, I get it. I thought the same thing! But, I have to tell you, the older I get, the more I believe the phrase my mom used to say: You get what you pay for.
Or, if I’m being honest what she actually said was “lo barato sale caro”, which is Spanish for -cheap stuff will eventually cost you more- when you are forced to repair or replace it.
You’re so right mom.
I actually bought my first can of GF paint at a small local paint shop. So, you may want to shop around to see where you can find it at the best price. The lady running the shop was SO passionate about this paint. She had several pieces of furniture that she had painted on display. She had some old pieces and some newly built pieces. I was amazed at how soft the finish was on both.
In the past, when I had attempted to paint raw wood or other existing furniture (like that poor oak bench…) the finish was never that soft, even when I coated it with polyurethane. Seeing that persuaded me to try it. Plus, she was super helpful at giving me tips! I walked out of the store with my paint and I was stunned that I was able to paint my entire bedroom armoire with only one quart of paint.
Projects using GF paints on existing furniture. Click each photo for details.
Since then, I have used GF paint for all of my projects and new builds. It is fantastic on raw wood. It soaks up the color like no other. And the high performance top coat is the key to a soft finish. My favorite is the flat finish top coat. You get all of the softness without the shine.
Projects using GF paints on Raw Wood. Click on each photo for details and free plans!
GF paint is also ideal for painting cabinets. The cool part is, you may be able to get away with no priming! If you have cabinetry where you need to fill the knots GF recommends using a stain blocker to ensure no bleeding occurs over time. While I have not ventured into painting my kitchen cabinets (yet) I did paint the vanity in our basement bathroom using one of GF gel stains (I used wheathered gray) and I love the way it turned out.
Lastly, I need to share with you some of the products that also help make painting furniture bearable. Because I don’t like to hand sand unless I have to, using a battery operated sander has been a game changer. You can find my favorite one here! I also love these super fine and flexible sanding pads for gentle hand sanding between coats.
If you need to strip old paint first, I am so sorry…But, don’t dare attempt to do it unless you use this stripping gel. It is the absolute best!
And that’s it! I hope you are inspired to paint some furniture!
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Janice Thomas writes detailed tutorials for beginner DIYers. Besides being a fan of scrap wood projects and budget- friendly home ideas, Janice works full time as university professor in the health care industry. She is also a wife, mother, grandmother, and breast cancer survivor. Feel free to send Janice a message here!