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How To Paint Distressed Furniture


 How To Paint Distressed Furniture

Painting an Old Chair

Photo: Titi Matei
Garage Sale Saturday has produced a great find – a dresser with great lines. But there are at least 7 layers of paint visible beneath it's scratches and nicks. Can this dresser be saved? Yes! All it takes is a little patience, a little paint, and these easy steps:
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: A Weekend

Here's How:

  1. Find an area that is well-ventilated and away from heat sources, open flames or anything that can produce sparks.
  2. If there are drawer pulls and hardware, take them off before you start painting.
  3. Put the piece on an old sheet, disposable drop cloth or old newspaper to catch drips and spills. (Everyone drips and spills, no matter how careful they are!)
  4. Sand the piece with fine-grit sandpaper on a sanding block or a small electric sander. Make certain the surface is as smooth as possible. It will look more professional if you remove the bumps and gouges. Wear safety goggles, gloves and a dust mask.
  5. Use a hand vacuum, a tack cloth or a barely damp rag to remove any residual sawdust. If you don’t, your finish will be bumpy.
  6. Apply a coat of primer – either by spraying (if the piece is small) or by brush (for larger pieces). Use a good water-based primer.
  7. Let dry until the piece is dry to the touch. It usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the humidity.
  8. If the primer coat looks too thin (the original coats of paint are still showing through), you can apply a second coat and allow it to dry.
  9. Sand away any rough spots.
  10. Apply a coat of water-based paint in any color of the rainbow! Brush it on with even strokes, going in the direction of the grain. If you are using spray paint, make slow passes with the can. Hold it 8-12 inches from the surface. Allow the first coat to dry.
  11. A second coat is usually required. Allow the final coat to dry overnight.
  12. Wash the paintbrushes immediately after you finish. Rinse under water until the water runs clear.
  13. Now step back and admire your work. Great job!


  1. To save time, use disposable foam brushes available at discount stores in a package of three to five.
  2. I hate to sound repetitive, but sand, sand, sand! Your finished product will not look it's best unless you sand the surface smooth.

What You Need:

  • An old sheet, disposable drop cloth or old newspaper
  • Fine-grit sandpaper or a small electric sander
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • A tack cloth or a barely damp rag
  • Good water-based primer
  • Water-based paint of your choice
  • Paint Brushes

Decorate, paint, and landscape your way to a more beautiful home.

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