Painting Unfinished Nightstands

Lead Image
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-200
What You'll Need
Tack Cloth
Masking Tape
Paint Brush

Painting unfinished nightstands can provide a perfect finish to your bedroom. Whether you built it yourself or are hoping to revive some life into an old piece of furniture, it can be a fun project. An unfinished nightstand usually looks a little rough and rugged. Some people like this look while others want to neaten up the rough look and give it a nicer, squeaky clean finish.

Step 1 – Sand the Nightstand

It is important to sand the unfinished nightstand; otherwise the paint will appear uneven when applied. Start sanding with a rough piece of sandpaper with a low grit rating, then move on to a piece of sandpaper with a high grit rating for a lovely smooth finish. If you do this outside, it will reduce the tidying up at the end. Before moving on to the next step, use a tack cloth to wipe down the nightstand to remove any loose dust.

Step 2 – Prime the Nightstand

A primer should be applied to the unfinished nightstand using a paint brush, and the best primer to use for this task is water based as opposed to an oil-based primer. Once dried, it will create a smooth base when you apply the paint. It will also make the paint stay in good condition for a longer period of time. When putting on the primer, make sure you have lain newspaper or an old sheet down to prevent damaging your flooring.

sanding a varnished side table

Step 3 – More Sanding

Once the primer is dried, you will need to lightly sand the surface with a piece of high grit sandpaper. This provides a bit of a rougher surface for the paint to adhere to. Remove remaining pieces of dust with a tack cloth again.

Step 4 – Apply Masking Tape

This step is optional. It is only necessary if you are going to apply multiple colors to your unfinished nightstand. Many people will paint them all one color, whereas others will make the top surface a different color than the legs. If you are planning on using multiple colors, use strips of masking tape to mark the edge of the region you are first going to paint to prevent the color bleeding and to provide a nice line of definition.

Step 5 – Apply Paint

Apply the paint to the nightstand using a clean paint brush in thin even strokes. It's better to have to reapply another coat once the paint has dried than to apply one thick, uneven layer. The choice of paint is personal preference, but as nightstands are small pieces of furniture, you can go wild with a bright color to accentuate an otherwise neutral room. As for the type of paint, high gloss latex is an excellent choice for nightstands as spilling a drink in the middle of the night can be wiped up easily and won't harm the finish.

Step 6 – Remove Masking Tape

Once the paint has dried, you can remove the masking tape that you applied in Step 4. In order to remove the masking tape, peel it away slowly to reveal a crisp paint line. Until the nightstand is fully painted, you will need to repeat Step 4 and 5. Once done, you no longer have an unfinished nightstand, but a great piece of furniture.