Do-It-Yourself Painting Tips for Cabinets and Furniture


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With the right painting techniques and colors, you can repurpose furniture and salvage cabinets that are in great condition but need a facelift. Paint can transform dressers into dining room storage and traditional oak cabinets into sleek, contemporary cabinets. 

Use the best brush you can afford for a smooth finish. The 2-inch angled brush from Purdy gets into crevices and is wide enough to “lay off” well, yet small enough to be manageable for almost any project.

Prepare your surface carefully. The right preparation is the difference between a blotchy finish and a professional-looking job. While sanding does a great first job to remove color or stain, be sure you clean the surface of previously painted wood by washing it with soap and water or a solution of tri-sodium phosphate. Don’t skip priming.

Use a paint conditioner for better adhesion, penetration and flow of paint. This will also make it easier for you to smooth out brush marks.

The brand and type of paint does matter. If you are doing antiquing, glazing or other special finishes, interior latex paint dries fast and sands well. For exterior applications, use exterior paint. No- and low-VOC paints from Sherwin Williams have good color retention, are easy to apply and the overall performance is top notch.

Paint where you have enough space to work without a breeze. It’s easier to evenly paint all the surface areas of cabinet doors and dresser drawers if you lay them face up. Painting flat is a great idea since gravity helps smooth out brush marks. Sawhorses with planks on top provide a great surface to walk around and even look under. Don’t use fans that blow directly on the surface or allow the breeze to deposit debris on wet paint.  


Design tip provided by:

Lynn Morris, Senior Designer

Touch of Tradition Home & Garden

760-633-4474 (for more painting, distressing and antiquing ideas)


Kitchen design shown (top left) is by Lynn Morris, ASID (pictured, top right)


Categories: Home Design