Meg Piercy, owner of furniture restyling company MegMade in Chicago, offers this step-by-step tutorial on prepping and painting an old piece.
Disassemble Any Doors And Drawers
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

As MegMade owner Meg Piercy will tell you, paint is one of the quickest, most affordable ways to transform wooden furniture. Whether you want to reinvent an heirloom or freshen up a secondhand find, this tutorial takes you from start to flawless finish.

How to Prep and Paint Wood Furniture

Use Meg's simple instructions to rehab your old piece.

Removing hardware from wood furniture
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

1. Remove Hardware

Store all hardware pieces in a plastic bag or bucket so you don't misplace them—it's easy to lose small screws.

Disassemble Any Doors And Drawers
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

2. Remove Doors and Drawers

Work in sequential order and label the doors/drawers for faster re-installment. Piercy likes to add little smileys or numbers to keep the positions straight.

Cleaning wood furniture before paint
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

3. Clean

Getting the grease and grime off your piece is super important to the overall finish. MegMade sells a wood cleaner called Clean Slate. To prevent your paint from chipping, steer clear of any product containing a wax derivative. Lightly sand all surfaces to improve paint adhesion, then wipe with a tack cloth.

Fix imperfections and sand wood furniture
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

4. Fix Imperfections

If you want a smooth finish or are replacing hardware with a different size, you'll need to do this step. Otherwise, skip. Piercy recommends Bondo, an all-purpose putty that mixes with a hardener, but any wood filler will do. The filler dries fast, so work quickly as you apply it. It's best to over-apply and sand off the excess. Remove all the sand dust before applying paint.

Fix imperfections and patch holes in wood furniture
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

5. Paint

Apply a coat of chalk-finish furniture paint (it doesn't require a primer) with a foam brush, latex brush, chip brush, roller, or sprayer. Let dry. Depending on the color, you may need to do multiple coats. Piercy likes to lightly sand the surface between coats for a supersmooth finish.

Apply paint in a well-ventilated area while wearing a protective mask, gloves, and safety glasses/goggles. Cover any nearby wall and floor surfaces with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Paint the piece one side at a time, letting it dry before you flip it over.

Pro tip: Piercy preps her paint in a blender to give it smooth, easy-on consistency. She says to add a bit of water to the paint in the blender and use a low speed—you're not making a milkshake. If painting with a sprayer, use a strainer to remove any debris from the paint.  

Use a Finish to Seal Wood Furniture
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

6. Finish

Once the paint is dry, add the finish of your choice for the desired sheen. Piercy typically applies a clear or colored wax, but you can also use a clear-coat spray. Glossy is her go-to for a dramatic look. Buff wax with steel wool or a rag to make it look shiny.

Clean hardware before attaching to newly painted furniture
Credit: Courtesy of MegMade

7. Clean Hardware

If you're reusing hardware, a good cleaning makes a world of a difference on a vintage piece. Pierce uses Brasso Metal Polish as an alternative to respraying the metal.

8. Re-Install Doors and Drawers

This step is a cinch if you kept your pieces organized. Re-install in the same order you removed. It's easier to add the hardware before you put the doors and drawers back on.