10 Tips for Spray Painting Your Wood Furniture

Spray Painting Your Wood Furniture
What You'll Need
Approved respirator
Proper ventilation
What You'll Need
Approved respirator
Proper ventilation

Spray painting is an easy way of achieving a smooth, even finish on wood furniture. This is especially true of items that have intricate designs. Whereas painting with a brush can result in drips and brush marks, spray paint can give you a near-perfect look. Like all other materials, wood requires some preparatory steps before the application of spray paint.

Tip: DoItYourself’s painting consultant Edward Kimble, the author of Interior House Painting Blog, adds, “If the wood has a waxed polyurethane or shellac or lacquer finish, it will not accept paint until the existing finish is removed. However, there are some chemicals sold that can remove the wax and prepare the furniture to accept paint. Check at the paint store. Lightly sanding may help, but it may not.”

1. Choose Appropriate Furniture

When you spray paint your wood furniture, avoid upholstery. If you are painting outdoor furniture, choose paint with a high degree of moisture resistance and sun protection. Avoid painting antique furniture as altering those pieces too significantly can damage their value.

2. Remove All Hardware

Depending on the type of furniture you are painting, you may have to unscrew and remove some of the components. On cabinets and drawers, remove the knobs and handles beforehand. Remove any drawers as well. Paint all of these objects separately and reassemble the furniture when all the parts are dry.

3. Cover Surrounding Area and Objects

Spray paint consists of minute particles that can settle on surrounding surfaces, so it is important to protect them beforehand. Cover all surrounding objects and the floor with newspapers, drop cloths, or masking tape.

4. Sand the Surface Beforehand

Spray paint on a chair.

Before spray painting your wood furniture, sand it thoroughly to remove all the rough edges. Start with rough sandpaper and then repeat with a finer version to achieve a smooth texture.

5. Clean Thoroughly Without Wetting the Furniture

After you sand your piece, clean it thoroughly and remove all the sawdust. Use a soft cloth for this purpose. Avoid using water because it will penetrate the wood and cause damage. Use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the area. Any dust in the surrounding area can land on the furniture when the paint is wet.

Air from a compressor can be used to blow off the dust. Aerosol cans of pressurized air are sold at computer and hobby shops.

Edward also suggests investing in tack rag, “A tack rag can be purchased at paint or hardware stores. They are specifically for dust. They are a porous rag that has something like pine pitch on them that just suck up dust.”

6. Use Compatible Paint and Primer

When you buy paint and primer, ensure that they are compatible with each other. Most manufacturers will recommend suitable primers that will work best with the paint.

7. Practice on a Scrap Object First

It is a great idea to practice spray painting on a scrap object or piece of cardboard before you paint your wood furniture, especially if it has been a while since your last spray painting project. Not only does this get you accustomed to how powerfully or consistently the spray gun behaves, but it's also a good opportunity to figure out how you're going to stand and how fast you're going to move. By spending even a couple of minutes practicing and honing that technique, you will get a much better result from your spray painted wood.

8. Apply Primer Before Paint

Spray paint on a chair.

Wood furniture needs one or two coats of primer before painting. Spray the primer in light coats over the furniture and ensure complete coverage. Let it dry completely before spray painting. The use of primer results in a smooth, glossy finish overall.

Warning: Many primers and paints have harsh chemicals and fumes. Ensure you are wearing protective gear and are taking steps to ensure proper ventilation such as using a ventilation fan, opening windows when possible, and using face masks or respirators.

9. Avoid Spraying in Dusty or Windy Conditions

To avoid stray sprays of paint and dust accumulation on painted furniture, try to work when it is not windy. However, always ensure good ventilation.

10. Maintain the Right Distance Between Paint Can and Furniture

Avoid spraying from too close or too far. Maintain a distance of about 10 inches at all times. Never stop moving your hand as you spray the paint.