How to Paint Furniture {Update}

by Chris on March 28, 2013

Today is my first day of spring break, so I’m taking some time to catch up on some things. One of my most popular posts is how I paint furniture, and I’m afraid the paint I love, adore, and swear by no longer exists. Essentially, it’s being weeded out. The “replacement” paint is similar, but I need to tell you that it’s not the same. Bummer. Because I’ve received some e-mails that the link doesn’t always work (I think something happened when I transitioned to WordPress), I am presenting you with an updated version of how I paint furniture. Let’s begin!

First and foremost, clean the piece. Sometimes some mild soap and water will do, but I almost always use TSP. It removes dirt, oil, and some buildup that can appear on furniture–especially if it’s an older piece. It’s an easy product to find. I buy mine at my grocery store. :)

Furniture cleaner

While my old paint claimed that a piece did not require primer, I always use it. There have been a couple of smaller pieces where I didn’t prime, and they turned out just fine. However, it’ll last much longer if you do. What kind of primer? (Let’s pretend that’s what you asked.)

Furniture primer

Laziness took over, and I used an old picture here…I love Zinsser. I generally use oil-based primer because of it’s excellent coverage and adhesion. It works beautifully when painting laminate and will do a good job of covering up smell that some older furniture pieces can have.

Oil primer

And now…for the paint. I used to use Benjamin Moore’s Low Lustre Metal and Wood paint. It was perfection. The coverage was impeccable and the finish was stunning. And then they stopped making it. Ugh! I had a loooong conversation with my paint guy about why they chose to do it, but essentially it’s a matter of re-branding and complying with the changes in VOC regulations. Without getting too technical, just know that my love is no longer.

Benjamin moore low lustre

So we talked about different replacements, and he said this is it. Benjamin Moore Super Spec D.T.M Acrylic (still in low lustre for me). Do I like it? You BET! Do I love it? The jury is out. I feel like it’s missing the leveling of my old paint, and it takes more work to get the even coverage that the M&W offered. If you’re looking for the look I achieved with the buffet below, I think it’s a good investment to use this paint. It’s not perfection, but it’s pretty close.

Benjamin Moore Super Spec

However, never fear. There are plenty of other high-end paints that can give you an incredible look. I have always been an advocate of cutting costs where you can, but trust me when I say invest in good paint. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams are my go-to brands, but even then, don’t go with their low-end paint. Generally, the more money you spend (unfortunately), the better paint you’ll get.

how to paint furniture with a smooth finish

Paint with a smooth finish

Pottery Barn finish

Some info–I purchased the handles at Lowes a few years ago. I also used the Benjamin Moore paint on the projects below, and I didn’t prime either of them.

Painted Garage Door

Painted black door

Bar Stools

Black barstools



Amy March 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Wow, you achieved such a beautiful, smooth finish! Did you use a particular brush or roller on those projects?

Chris March 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Amy, I always use foam roller brushes (meant for cabinets), and my brushes are Purdy. However, in crevices or non-flat surfaces, I just use dollar store brushes and toss them. :)

Kimberly Vogel March 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Have you ever used the Benjamin Moore Advance Paint? I just painted my bedroom furniture with this paint, recommended by my local BM store. But, I was curious if you liked one better than the other?

Heidi March 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Hi, thanks for the info. You didn’t mention a top coat. Do you use one?

Chris March 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Good question, Heidi. I didn’t mention it this time because I didn’t use a top coat on any of the pieces I showed in this post. That was really the beauty of this paint–it seriously didn’t need it. I painted these items years ago, and there is not a single scratch on them. Incredible. However, I do highly recommend a top coat! I usually use a polycrylic, but I’m experimenting with some waxes as well. I’ll post about some of my results.

Heidi March 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Thanks Chris. I’ve used wax on milk and chalk paint and I love how it turns out. But I wasn’t sure if you could use it over a latex. I figured it needed to be porous… it would be neat if it worked. That would open up a whole new technique for me.

Kamaila March 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Do you know or have you inquired if Sherwin Williams have a paint comparable to Benjamin Moore’s Mental and Wood paint?
I hate when companies discontinue products I love

Chris March 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I’m afraid I don’t, Kamaila. I use Benjamin Moore ALMOST exclusively, so it would take some research for sure.

Terri March 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I was just at Benjamine Moore the other day asking the same question since I’m going to paint our master bathroom cabinets. I was recommended Cabinet Coat and was told it dries just like an oil-based paint, super smooth with no brush marks. Maybe it’s something for you to check into to? I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t comment, but it’s what I’m going to use. Unless…. you use it first and report back! :)

Chris March 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Ha! I’m never against using anything that’s highly recommended. I trust “my paint guy” completely, so I’ll have to ask him about it! I’ll certainly let you know if I use it! :)

Elaine March 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Shut the front door!! I cannot believe the above items were DIY paint projects…
P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N! ‘Nuff said. ;D

Alyssa March 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

Thanks for the tips! I’ve painted a piece of furniture before, but I didn’t use a top coat and the doors stick to each other because of the paint. Not sure what I did wrong- any ideas? Thanks!


Lala March 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Foam roller brush? Do you mean just a foam roller or am I completely missing out on something amazing? In which I need to drop what I’m doing and run to the hardware store. I’ll be re-doing my bathroom cabinets today and would love to try something different. We did out whole kitchen with a sprayer. And while I loved the smooth results, it’s very tedious to clean the sprayer after use. This cabinet looks amazing!

Chris March 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Ha! Just a foam roller, Lala. Sorry for the confusion. :)

Lauren April 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Hi Chris! Have you used this paint (Super Spec D.T.M…) on any projects lately? Just wondering if you have any links to painted pieces that you’ve finished with it. Thanks!

Previous post:

Next post: