May 19, 2022

5 options for painting wood furniture without sanding it first


Painting wooden furniture has to be one of the best ways to transform it in the blink of an eye (hello, flea market finds!), But sanding it down first can be a real pain. Maybe it’s a big platform bed or a bulky table and your arm is already tired just thinking about turning on the hand sander. Or maybe you don’t have a sander and don’t want to buy one. Or maybe the room you’re painting is way too intricate to sand down: a bentwood chair? A mirror with a detailed sculpture in the frame? A slatted bench? Stay away from sandpaper because there are actually a few reliable ways to paint wood furniture without sanding it first. As with any paint job, clean the surface well before you begin (and if you’re not sure which method to use, experiment with a few small dabs before you get on with the overall job).

Options requiring an additional step

If you have a very specific painting in mind …

Prepare with a bonding primer

So you really, really want to coat this little pine side table from Farrow & Ball, but not sure if it will stick to the lacquer? Look for a high quality bonding primer to paint over the part as a base coat – these are specially designed for paints to adhere to a range of surfaces. And as a bonus, it will also help you prepare metal, vinyl, glass, and other surfaces for painting in the future if you don’t go through the whole gallon. And it dries in an hour.

Kilz Bond Bond Primer, $ 40, amazon.com; Buy now.

If your object has intricate woodwork …

Preparation with a liquid sander

Also marketed as a “deglosser” or “sander / deglosser,” liquid sandpaper is a chemical solution that helps tarnish any paint or varnish you want to cover so that the new topcoat will actually adhere. And it’s really easy to use: just soak a cloth or sponge and run it all over the room – the liquid will seep into any complicated crevices. Big warning: Being chemical it really stinks – so you’ll want to use it outdoors and wear protective gloves and goggles (or maybe not use it for everyone if those kind of fumes really get to you) .