Painting Wood Furniture (without sanding or priming)!

Hello!! I hope you’ve all had a great week! As you know I am in the middle of a handful projects right now (and in a variety of rooms).

This week I unexpectedly added another room to my project list!  My youngest son’s crib broke last week!  We were planning on moving him to a big boy bed in the next couple of months anyways so instead of trying to fix it we decided to go ahead and make the transition.

The timing actually worked out well!  My friend Erin (you can view her gorgeous home tour, Here) and I are taking an online interior design course.  In the course we have to design a bedroom as one of our assignments. I have been working on my friend, Lolly’s, master bedroom (which we only have one thing left to do–build a sliding barn door).

And Erin is now helping me turn my son’s nursery into a “big boy’s” room.

Here is a little mood board Erin put together for his room.

Boy Bedroom Mood board


I love how it is looking so far and can’t wait to show you once it is all said and done!

One of the projects I did this week for his room is paint the “hall tree”.   The hall tree is an old, wood piece of furniture I got about four years ago free from a woman at church who was moving (pictured below).
Paint Old Furniture Before P
At that time we didn’t have our last child yet so we were using the room as a guest bedroom.

I like how the mirror helps this tiny room feel a little bigger and the hooks come in handy too so I kept it in the room once it became the nursery.

I still like the “hall tree” but I was ready to give it a makeover for my son’s “big boy” bedroom.

Here are the results!

How to paint old wood furniture

How to Paint Wooden Furniture

How to paint wood furniture


And here’s how I did it!


TSP or TSP Substitute

Deglosser or Sanding Block

Foam Roller

Foam Brush

Behr Hi-Gloss Indoor/Outdoor Enamel

(My paint color is Benjamin Moore Old Navy)

Painting wood furniture with no sanding or priming

Note:  I only got a quart size and hardly used any of it.  A little bit of this stuff goes a long way!

How to Paint an Old Wood Piece of Furniture

 1. Clean the piece of furniture thoroughly with TSP or Krud Kutter made especially for paint prep.

2. Either lightly sand with sandpaper OR use a deglosser.  I used a deglosser that I had left over from painting my kitchen cabinets.

Deglosser for prepping old furniture to paint


Just pour deglosser on a scouring pad and push into the wood moving the pad back and forth.  Then go over the area with a rag or paper towel to pull off of the the varnish (don’t be alarmed if the wood doesn’t look much different after deglossing…it’s normal).

3. Take off drawers and all hardware on the piece of furniture.  I took off the hooks, and the drawer, and the marble top came off.  Tape off areas that you don’t want painted that cannot be removed (like a mirror).

How to Update Old Furniture with Paint

Also, make sure to put newspaper or a drop cloth (or old sheet) under the piece of furniture to prevent floors getting paint on them (I learned this the hard way).


4, Using a foam roller (and a foam brush for the smaller areas) paint the furniture piece with a thin coat making sure to go in the direction of the wood grain.

Paint Old Wood Furniture

How to paint old furniture 1st coat

Warning:  It looks horrible after the first coat!!  If after the first coat it looks so bad that you want to hide under your covers in the fetal position and cry uncontrollably that means you are right on track.:-)

Let the first coat dry for a couple of hours or until the directions on the paint can states.

5. Apply a second coat to the piece of furniture in the same manner as the first coat.

Painting old furniture 2nd coat

Painting old furniture 2nd coat

With the second coat you will see improvement in coverage but it will won’t be pretty.  Let it dry again.

6.  Apply third coat in the same manner as the first two coats.

Paint Old Furniture

With this coat you should see full coverage and and no more streak marks.  Let dry completely.  You may want to wait a few days before putting back on the hardware and drawers to prevent damage to the paint (it can take up to 7 days for the paint to cure completely).

7.(Optional) Update hardware.  To make the piece feel like it fit style wise in the room I decided to change up the hardware.

I replaced the old drawer pull with a simple cup pull.

Painting Old Wood Furniture Before Photo

How to paint furniture to look laquered

The original hooks were a dirty brass.  I wrapped the knobs on the top of the hooks with tape and then sprayed them silver to match the drawer pull.

Painting Old Furniture

Painting Old Furniture Ideas

You can see a sneak peek of what’s going on in the room so far in the reflection of the mirror.:-)

Painting old wood furniture

So what do you think?  Do you have an old wooden piece of furniture that needs new life breathed into it via paint?  If you don’t have one now keep this in mind when you are thrifting or see an old piece of furniture on the side of the road or on Craigslist.

A nice glossy coat (or 2 or 3) can do wonders!  As always let me know if you have any questions and thanks for being here!!!:-)


Feel free to pin for later!

How to Paint Old Wood Furniture to Look Beautiful

I Love Hearing from You!

  1. That’s a rather amazing transformation, Tamara! The new hardware really updates the pieces and spraying the old hooks was a brilliant idea. Adding the basket also makes the piece more up to date. I know some people would hesitate to paint old oak, but honestly it’s better to paint it and love the more modern result than live with something that isn’t making your heart sing.

  2. Tamara, I’m so glad you posted this! I am seriously considering painting my kitchen table and this post helps a lot. A couple of questions: the table top is a laminate. Will the same paint work on that? Also, will the table top need a protective coating like polyeurethane? This has got to hold up to 5 kids. 🙂

    • Hi, Katie! So great to hear from you!:-) Yes this product does work for laminate too just lightly sand OR use the deglosser beforehand. I love Behr’s enamels and I have had absolutely no wear or problems from using it (I’ve used it on the kids bathroom cabinets, basement stair railings, and now furniture etc.). However, I know that no place will test a paints durability like the kitchen table of someone with kids!:-) I think it would hold up on it’s own but I don’t know for sure because I haven’t tried it. So if you would want to play it safe then go for a protective coat on top. I would tell the the person at the paint desk what paint you are using and ask them for a top coat recommend. Let me know if have more questions come up!!

  3. the navy wood furniture you painted for your son’s bedroom looks amazing, along with everything else in his room! I have an old book shelf I got from a friend and I would like to transform it for my son’s room. This give me a great idea. Thank you!

  4. I am confused as the title of blog is how to paint without sanding or priming,however you used a deglosser which is liquid sanding, is it not?

    • Sorry to confuse you, Virgie! Sanding and deglossing does the same thing (prepares the surface for paint by getting rid of the varnish, etc.) but they go about it in a very different way. Sanding is done with sandpaper or a sanding tool and usually creates dust. Whereas the liquid deglosser does not create dust. You just pour a little deglosser on a rag, wipe it onto the furniture surface and then wipe away. I know there are some deglossers that say they say a sander deglosser…I’ve never used those so I can’t say if they are really sanding or not. I’ve only used a liquid deglosser and it does not sand but does prepare the surface for painting. Hope this helps!

        • No problem, Virgie! Just a heads up when you use the deglosser it may not seems like it is doing anything to wood because the wood won’t change very much (if at all) in appearance. Just know it is working even though it might not seem like it.:-)

  5. After deglosser can I use spray paint? Or a stain? I bought new chairs and to return them will cost more than the time and money to just add a darker finish. I don’t hate the color, I just need it to have black highlighs. Have you ever done something similar?

    • Hi, Sarah, thanks for the question! It wouldn’t work to use stain…you would have to sand the chairs completely down to stain. Spray painting would probably work though. It sounds like though that you just want to add a streaks of black so I would suggest buying a quart of black paint and a brush and brushing streaks of black on and then wiping some of it away with a rag so it looks more natural. I wrote a post for Remodelaholic on a similar topic at this link, Best wishes!!

  6. I love how that came out! How long does it take to use the deglosser? Is it literally wipe on wipe off and is there a lot of goop to deal with? Also does it have to sit for a while? I just purchased a vintage vanity that someone painted shiny black. Will it also work on paint or just the varnish. Sorry for all the questions.

    • Hi, Lisa, great questions! Basically I applied the deglosser onto the whole piece of furniture and then right after wiped it off in the same order that I applied it. So I would say it probably sat on the furniture for 5-10 minutes before I began wiping it off. It is not goopy at all in fact sometimes you can’t even tell you are taking off anything (but you are). As soon as I am done with the deglosser I usually go right into painting. Unfortunately I don’t know if it works with paint gloss…I’m thinking it only works for varnish but I am not definite on that. Hope this helps!!

  7. Hi Tamara, I would like to know, where you got the Marble top. I want to paint a kitchen cart and want to buy a nice smooth top for it.
    Thanks in advance.


  8. Lazy mans job. You made a nice wood piece into a cheap piece. Why do you think there are veneer’s and laminates that imitate wood? Because wood is nice and expensive. Making stuff cheaper won’t make them more beautiful but instead it will make them more dull. Ask any woodworker.

    • Hi, Karen, great question! TSP is a heavy duty cleaning spray created specifically for cleaning surfaces before painting. It can be found in the cleaning products aisle at Home Depot and Lowes. Krud Kutter also has come out with a version of spray that does the same thing…it will say TSP substitute on it. Let me know if you have any other questions!:-)