"Do it right, the first time."

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Guide to Furniture Painting Prep Work


I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike having to do things twice. When I first started to paint furniture I couldn’t find a hard and fast list detailing how to properly prep pieces so that I could feel confident in my finish. If you’ve ever seen an advertisement for one of the many furniture paints out there all you read about is “no prep, no sanding, no cleaning products needed besides soap”… and whatever else they can think of.


I’m here to tell you that none of that is true if you want a quality finish that will last a long time.


Now you are welcome to ignore all of these steps and ‘slap some paint on your piece’ but if you get tannin bleed through, or the paint has adverse reactions that you don’t like… well you’ll find yourself having to do the piece over. Who has time for that? So, if you’re like me and want to do it right, the first time, then read on.


The way I share how to prep will work on any wood surface, whether it’s solid wood, wood veneer, or even a photo printed veneer (which is what most new furniture is made with), and even some slicker surfaces like Formica. I’ve once seen an MDF wood vintage dresser with a Formica top… it happens, unique combinations are out there.


These steps are tried and true, I followed them to take a former cherry wood dining table to a creamy white finish with dark wax--zero cherry wood bleed through! The process works!


**Oh, and before you begin any new project, make sure you wear your personal protective equipment--eye protection, gloves, and respirator.**


First, the cleaning. No, we aren’t going to just use a dish detergent and warm water, that’s not good enough. Krud Kutter is an amazing cleaner but your elbow grease is required. (You can find Krud Kutter at Home Depot, and I use the one with the red label-- the ‘Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser St