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What am I doing wrong when painting wooden furniture?

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It's all very well being told to upcycle some old furniture with a coat of paint, but if you've tried this previously and not achieved the result you were hoping for, you might not fancy trying again. 

We know that shabby chic ideas and funky painted furniture look simple to complete but, as any interior designer will tell you, in reality there's more to it than just slapping on some paint and hoping for a great result. 

We don't want you to lose faith in your home improvement skills, so put together some top tips for ensuring exactly the finish that you want. Take a look and see which of these steps you may have skipped before!

1. Skipping the prep stage

First things first, if you're hoping to paint a piece of furniture to zing up a hallway or add extra style to your dining room, you need to make sure it's actually wood and not veneer and you need to prep it. 

Start by giving it a really good clean to remove debris, then let it dry before you move onto the next phase.

2. Forgetting to sand

Sanding furniture might not be an exciting job but it is a vital one, if you're hoping to paint it. Pop some music on and get down to business to ensure a smooth and level finish. 

homify hint: Try to sand outside as the dust will get everywhere if you do it in the house.

3. Not using the right grade of sandpaper

If you have sanded your furniture, but it's not as smooth as you were hoping it would be, are you using the right grade of paper? 

Most professionals recommend working through a variety of grades, from coarse to fine, to get that perfect finish.

4. Skipping primer

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com

Annie Sloan

Never skip primer! 

If you see primer as an extra chore you can do without, you're wrong. Primer not only gets the furniture ready to accept a coat of paint that will last for years, it also hides any lingering imperfections!

5. Not thinking about paint varieties

Cabinet painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan: rustic  by Annie Sloan, Rustic
Annie Sloan

Cabinet painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan

There are so many different types of paint out there that you need to be sure you're choosing the right kind for your furniture. 

If you don't know the difference between chalk paint, eggshell and emulsion, ask for some advice in your local DIY store before you commit to buying anything.

6. Being afraid to get creative

If you have an artistic streak, don't be afraid to take a chance and let it out!  Anyone can paint a piece of furniture in one hue, but if you have patterns in mind, go for it.

Don't forget that masking tape can help with geometric designs, but if you're thinking a little more outside the box, dive right in!

7. Skipping the varnish

Varnishing your furniture after it's painted is an optional step, but it's worth considering if your work of art is going to see a lot of use or be placed in a high-traffic area. 

If the glossy look doesn't appeal to you, there are plenty of matt-finish varnishes now, and it makes sense to protect your hard work.

8. Not protecting the finished product

However much paint or varnish you put on your wooden furniture, it's still made of wood, meaning it's liable to react to the environment it's placed in. 

Try to keep it out of direct sunlight or spaces that have a high moisture content, which can cause splitting and swelling.

For more paint related DIY tips, take a look at this Ideabook: Clever ways to change everything you own with paint.

Have you painted any wooden furniture in your home?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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