Flawless Matte Satin Finish/ Furniture Painting Basics (Paint It Monday)

Furniture painting basics for painting a flawless matte finish {The Creativity Exchange}

 

Furniture Painting Basics for A Flawless Finish {The Creativity Exchange}

I hope you guys had a wonderful weekend and welcome to another Paint It Monday!

This post has been a long time coming.  I really haven’t had a great furniture piece to use as an example for this post/finish until recently.  Over the years, it has really bothered me to hear from so many of you that you really want to try and paint an old piece of furniture but you’re just too nervous to give it a try.  I know many of you love seeing all of the gorgeous furniture transformations out there but you sit on the sidelines because you worry you’ll mess it up.  Well, this post is just for you!

With so many painting techniques out there and thousands of different paint products to use, I know it’s confusing and intimidating for someone who has never painted furniture before.  There is one very basic technique that you really can’t mess up and I wanted to go into really great detail today because if you follow each of the steps, you are pretty much guaranteed an amazingly beautiful matte finish like this:

 

How to paint a flawless matte finish on furniture {The Creativity Exchange}

 

My goal today is to convince you sideliner’s to finally paint your first piece of furniture. I’m making it easy for you by walking you through each step and I have included every little detail in this post including what the piece should look like at each step and what products work best.  This finish is the perfect technique for painting furniture for the first time.

The piece I’m sharing today as an example is a hutch and it’s a typical old piece of furniture that is perfect for transforming with paint.  My friend Rita had this piece in storage for years and we painted it for her daughter Taylor, who recently graduated from nursing school.

So this is what the piece looked like before we revamped it:

 

Furniture Painting for Beginners from The Creativity Exchange

 

We decided on a the color that we wanted (Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams) and Rita wanted a beautiful painted matte finish. Rita also wanted to do the revamp with me so that she could learn this basic paint technique because she has other pieces in storage that she is interested in trying on her own.

So directly below are my step by step instructions.  I have listed the instructions like an outline so that you can print this page out and have it with you when you pick up your paint supplies.  If you decide give it a try, I would love to see pictures of your finished project.  I really hope this helps someone to finally give it a try!

So let’s jump right in.

Instructions;

Prep

1. The first thing you want to do when getting ready to paint a piece of furniture is to look over the piece for any problems.  For instance, Rita’s hutch had a small decorative wood piece missing off of the top and she happened to have saved the little piece.  We glued it back in place with wood glue and let it dry.  If something is loose on your piece, just use a little wood glue underneath it to secure.

2) Next, you will want to lightly sand your piece.  This will only take about 10-30  minutes depending on the size of your piece.  I think the thought of having to sand a piece before painting scares people from painting a piece of furniture.  You do not have to sand off a finish down to raw wood or anything like that, you just want to slightly rough up the finish and ensure that any residue from old polyurethane or sealant (very top sealant coat) is off.  If the piece has been previously painted, you just want to smooth and rough up the old paint.

The most important thing to know when you sand a piece for painting is that you need to use fine grit sanding sponge.  Anything with more grit will leave lines in your wood or old paint that you will see on your final finish.  The sanding sponge is my little trick for light sanding at high speed because you can get into tiny areas and arch the sponge around furniture legs, etc..

Below is a picture of the sanding sponge that I like.  I pulled off the label so you could see what the sponge looks like:

 

Use a fine grit sanding sponge to lightly sand and prep furniture for painting {The Creativity Exchange}

You can find sanding sponges right next to the sand paper at the store and it will say right on the front what grit it is.  Notice my label says “Fine”.

Again, all you want to do is slightly rough up your piece and just make sure that it’s smooth.

3) Wipe down the piece thoroughly with a slightly damp old t-shirt or lint free towel (cut in big squares).  You want to be sure an get any dust and sanding residue off of the piece before you paint.  After using a slightly damp towel (you don’t want your piece to be too wet), go behind it with a dry towel to make sure the piece is completely dry.

4) Tape off any edges along glass.  Remove any hardware.

Priming

1) When it comes to priming a piece of furniture, regardless of whether it’s been painted before or not, I prefer to use Kilz Original Primer:

Kilz Original Primer.

 

 

I personally think Kilz Original is the best stain blocking primer on the market.  Even though it’s oil based and contrary to what people say, you can  paint latex paint over an oil based stain blocking primer.  The confusion is because you should not paint latex paint over oil-based paint (not a primer).  I prefer an oil based primer because it helps seal and product the wood, thoroughly blocks any stains from bleeding through and it lays the best foundation for a flawless finish.

A lot of primer goes along way!  I used about 1/3rd of a quart for this hutch.

2) When it comes to priming a piece of furniture, you want to use an old cheap paint brush that you can either throw away when your done or clean up with mineral spirits. Because Kilz is oil-based, you cannot clean the brush with water.  I usually just pour some mineral spirits in a plastic container and soak my brush overnight and then swirl around until the paint is off the brush.  I wipe it with an old t-shirt.

3) Next, brush on a coat of primer.  I am fairly generous when I paint on primer but I don’t paint it on too thick.  I just basically cover the piece like this:

Step by step furniture painting for beginners {The Creativity Exchange}

 

You can get an idea about how much coverage you need by looking at the image above.  I just brushed on enough piece to cover the piece.

You don’t have to worry terribly about even brush strokes when brushing on primer because you will lightly sand the primer ridges after it dries.

4) Allow the primer to completely dry for at least 24 hours.  Some people only wait a few hours but I completely disagree and always wait a full 24 hours.  If the primer is not completely dry, the primer will gum up and will not sand evenly.

5) Next, lightly sand the dried primer with fine grit sanding sponge.  This should only take a few minutes and you basically want to make sure the surface of your primer is smooth.  You do not want to sand off the primer, your just making sure its smooth and you can feel the difference before and after lightly going over it.  This makes all of the difference in the smoothness of your end paint finish! Unfortunately, so many people do not sand their primer and they think the are seeing paint brush strokes in a final paint finish.  However, primer leaves ridges/brush marks that need to be lightly sanded.

6) Wipe down the piece thoroughly with a slightly damp old t-shirt or lint free towel (cut in big squares).  You want to be sure an get any sanding residue off of the piece before you paint so the surface is smooth.  After using a slightly damp towel (you don’t want your piece to be too wet), go behind it with a dry towel to make sure the piece is completely dry.

Painting

1) For the paint itself, I like to use a premium latex paint in a satin (matte) sheen.  I don’t recommend scrimping on paint when it comes to painting furniture because premium paints are thicker and cover more and you really get what you pay for in a finish. It doesn’t really matter where you get your paint, I just always ask the paint store which paint is their premium paint.  I also always tell the guys what I’m doing and say that I want the best (or close to the best) paint and they always point me in the right direction.

I also always use an extender and this is very important and helps to ensure a flawless smooth paint finish. A paint extender is an additive that you add to your paint that “extends” the open time for painting.  In other words, it slows down the drying time to allow you more time to paint and even out your brush strokes.  The other thing an extender does is that helps spread/level out the paint.  Think of paint like honey and an extender is like adding oil to it.  Honey doesn’t really spread or level out well but if you add oil to it, it will spread and your brush marks will spread out and disappear.  I never paint without an extender and it ensures a smooth fiish!

My favorite extender is Floetrol:

Floetrol is an additive that you pour into paint that eliminates brush marks {The Creativity Exchange}

 

 

2) When you paint a piece of furniture, just know that you are always going to need two coats of paint.  The other thing is, your first coat is going to look terrible and you’re going to think you have done something wrong.  Just know this going into it.  Do not panic!  First coats just always look bad.  They look really bad! Got it?

For our hutch, I used up about 3/4ths of a quart of paint.  If your piece of furniture is about the same size of the hutch, you will only need a quart.  If it’s a little larger, a quart will still probably be all you need.  Anything larger, you will need two quarts, which is still cheaper than a gallon of paint.

Keep in mind too that you’re going to need a really good brush.  I use a smaller brush for little hard to reach areas and a really wide brush for more coverage.  Because I use an extender, I don’t get the top of the line brushes but I don’t buy the cheapest brush either. Medium priced is best.

3) I always begin by stirring my paint thoroughly and then I pour it into a plastic measuring paint cup that I get at the paint store. I believe they hold about 3-4 cups of paint.  I fill it about 2/3rds full of paint and then I add two cap fulls of my extender.  (It doesn’t take much) and then I mix again.

4) I brush on my paint with medium coverage; not too thin and not too thick.  I do not worry so much about my brush strokes because I’m using an extender. However!! A word of warning*** When you use an extender, after about 10 minutes, your paint will start looking like its drying funny and uneven.  Do not worry, it’s just the extender doing its job and it will be gone when its completely dry.  In some cases because the extender helps make the paint spread, you may start seeing your paint begin to run slightly in areas.  Just make sure to go back after about 10-15 minutes (that’s when the extenders really start to work) and brush over these areas again.  Again, extenders do not work immediately, so be sure and go back and look after 10-15 minutes.

5) Allow your first coat to dry completely overnight. Remember, your first coat is going to look like your dog painted it!  Don’t think you’ve done something wrong. It’s completely normal!

6) For your second coat (the next day), do the exact same thing as your first coat.  Pour your paint into a paint measuring cup and add two cap fulls of extender, stir and brush on.  For the second coat, I use more medium to thick coverage but not too thick that my paint will run.  Your extender will do the same weird thing and look funny drying and may run.  Check your brushed areas after 10 minutes for drips or the paint running.

When your piece completely dries, your finish should look something like this:

Furniture Painting Basics for A Flawless Finish {The Creativity Exchange}

 

How to paint a flawless matte finish on furniture {The Creativity Exchange}

 

 

 

 

Furniture Painting Basics for Creating a Flawless Matte Finish {The Creativity Exchange}

 

 

 

Furniture Painting Basics for Ensuring a Flawless Matte Finish {The Creativity Exchange}

 

Let me just say, that it’s impossible to get this beautiful and smooth of a finish without an extender.  An extender makes all the difference and as you can see, not a brush mark to be found.  What’s amazing is that this piece was also beat up.  It had a lot of scratches and and uneven wood but you would never know it now!

Rita wanted to a very light glaze on the finish after we were done and we simply did a dry brush technique over the piece after it dried.  We used Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams and swiped over the piece with a dry brush in certain areas.  Dry brush is where you dip your brush in paint and then try and get as much paint off of the brush with a towel as possible.  Then you very lightly swipe the piece of furniture.  This is what the piece looked like when we were finished:

Furniture painting for beginners {The Creativity Exchange}

I know it seems like a lot here but I have been wanting to write an extremely detailed post specifically for beginners. You know that piece that’s been in the corner of your garage for years that you’ve always wanted to paint?  Let’s paint it!  You can do it!!

Thanks for hanging out with me today and if you missed last week’s Paint It Monday, I shared a round-up of beautiful wide wall stripe inspiration and you can get to that post here.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a fun project!

Cheers!

Cyndy

Sharing post with Home Stories A to Z (Tutorials & Tips Link Party)

This entry was posted in DIY, Do It Yourself Projects, Furniture Revamps, Paint Colors, Paint It Monday, Paint Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Flawless Matte Satin Finish/ Furniture Painting Basics (Paint It Monday)

  1. Linda Owens says:

    Interesting….never heard of this extender before… I have my Grandmas sewing cabinet I want to re-do and now I think I’m going too!!!!!
    Thanks

  2. Great instructions and a beautiful piece!
    Jenny@EvolutionofStyle recently posted..Love the One You’re With: Kitchen & Bath MakeoverMy Profile

  3. Loretta says:

    Another beautiful piece!! Love your Blog!!! Loretta

  4. Heather says:

    I’m wondering what sort of technique you used on the interior of the piece. Wallpaper or stencil? I love it!

  5. Yvonne Welsh says:

    I want to paint my whitewashed red oak kitchen cabinets (that look pink!) a creamy white color but do not want brush marks. Would extender in the paint be better than having the cabinets sprayed? Would it be durable for a kitchen? Would I use the same steps you outlined for painting old furniture on the cabinets? Thanks for your advice.

    • Cyndy says:

      Absolutely! In fact, extenders are ideal for cabinets because it takes so long to even out brush marks when painting cabinets. Also, extenders make the finish even more durable as well (perfect for the kitchen). If you do this Yvonne, be sure and remove the cabinet fronts from the hinges and paint flat! Very important because this will really ensure that your brush marks will level out evenly with the extender in the mix! If not painted flat, gravity will pull the paint more downward because of the extender versus spreading out evenly. Hope this helps Yvonne and good luck!!
      Cyndy recently posted..Flawless Matte Satin Finish/ Furniture Painting Basics (Paint It Monday)My Profile

  6. Kari says:

    Can you still distress a piece if you use a primer? I have a dresser I want to paint white but want to distress it where some of the black shows around the edges and some of the high points.

    • Cyndy says:

      Yes Kari you can! In fact, you can even asked to get your primer tinted to a certain color! So, you can prime your piece in black, sand, etc.. Then use white or something lighter on the top coat and give it a full day to dry and then lightly sand. You can sand down to the black primer or go beyond it to the wood if you want some of the wood popping out.

      When you distress, be sure and use the finest grit sand paper or very fine steel wool to not have lines.

      Good luck Kari and I would love to see a picture when you’re done!!
      Cyndy recently posted..Flawless Matte Satin Finish/ Furniture Painting Basics (Paint It Monday)My Profile

  7. Megan says:

    What a gorgeous piece! Thanks for sharing all your fabulous tips along the way.
    Megan recently posted..Shadow Box Bracelet StorageMy Profile

  8. Nancy says:

    Any suggestions for pieces that have been covered in contact paper for about 30 YEARS…how do I get the sticky off?? (one is my grandma’s 1920’s cedar hope chest and the other is a painted dish cabinet….ugh.)

  9. Joan B. says:

    Thanks for the tutorial and I LOVE the piece. I absolutely agree about the extender after learning the hard way on a dining table top. I must have sanded and re-coated that thing 5 times trying to get it smooth and even. I have also found Sherwin Williams Pro Classic line’s self leveling ability is fabulous. But I still use Floetrol. Love your blog!
    Joan B. recently posted..Sunday Market in TorontoMy Profile

  10. Camille says:

    I have painted some pieces, but I absolutely LOVE your detailed instructions!!! I think many of these pointers are going to alleviate some of the frustrations I’ve had in getting a smooth finish. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all these details. The hutch is beautiful! Rita’s daughter is a lucky gal!

  11. Peggy Mitrano says:

    Thank you soooo much, I’m one of the fraidy cats…..but not any more,

  12. Chelsea says:

    This is great!! I’m thinking of painting my front door a glossy navy blue. I’d like to use this technique but would you still use an extender with a gloss?

    • Cyndy says:

      Oh yes Chelsea, for sure use extender on the front door! Cabinets too! Places where eliminating brush marks is key. However. if you can take it off the hinges and paint it flat, it will look like butter! Extender will spread down versus evenly because of gravity!

      Good luck and I hope this helps!

  13. This looks great Cyndy! Thanks so much for the tips, I had never heard of an extender before but I don’t think I’ll be painting another piece without it!
    Jenn @ HomeStyleReport recently posted..Simple White & Gold Fall DecorMy Profile

    • Cyndy says:

      Thanks Jenn! Oh yes, an extender is life changing! Never a brush mark again! You do not have to worry about how you’re brushing or anything!

      Hope all is well sweet friend! Hope I get to see you again at Haven next year! xxoo

  14. sherry hart says:

    Dayum girl…you gave it to us in detail and I appreciate it! I used to use Floetrol years ago mixed in with oil base paint. When I firsts moved in my house I painted the whole thing….all the doors, trim and walls. Whew…I was more motivated then:)
    sherry hart recently posted..ONE ROOM CHALLENGEMy Profile

  15. Terri Anderson says:

    Love this tutorial! But you didnt mention using any top coat? Do you have a special brand or technique?
    What

    • Cyndy says:

      Thanks so much Terri. I do not use top coats for this finish. The extender addictive also helps harden the paint and make it more durable. For extra high traffic pieces like a kitchen table, I use an oil based finish instead of latex. Anything other than something like a kitchen table should hold up well with this finish IF the extender is used. Hope that helps Terri.

  16. This tutorial is amazing! So perfect for a beginner like me. I really appreciate the detail. I am painting a dresser and just finished my first coat of paint. I used an extender and almost everything feels smooth but looks streaky. Is this what you meant by the first coat of paint will look bad? I’m worried and wondering how much I should sand? Thanks for this tutorial!!

    • Cyndy says:

      Yep, your first coat is going to look really streaky and bad! Don’t panic. Trust me! Remember I said that it’s gonna look like your dog painted it? You’re layering a flawless finish and it’s going to be beautiful. So excited to see your note pop up and hear that your a beginner giving this a try. I’m here if you need me, just leave a comment and I will get it and respond if you have any more questions. Have fun!!

  17. P.B. says:

    Thank you for this valuable information. I never waited overnight to paint after priming nor did I sand my primer coat. Now I will. Thanks again.

  18. Awesome tips! May I repost this on my blog?
    Melissa Pearson recently posted..Follow my blog with BloglovinMy Profile

  19. Vanessa says:

    Getting ready to try the extender tonight. I’ve only been reading your blog a couple of months but it is AWESOME!
    I have primed and applied one coat of latex. It’s looking good but then I saw this about adding an extender. Should I go ahead and do that now or just finish up as I have without. I could trying the extender on another piece I have been putting off out of fear!
    Thanks!

    • Cyndy says:

      You can add the extender right now Vanessa. It will help ensure smooth top coat. Thank you so much for your kind words. You are gonna love the extender!

  20. Michelle says:

    Hi there! I am SO SO SO glad I cam across your blog! I am painting an old wooden vanity that I have had my whole life. It has been well loved, which shows, so I am painting it white (Behr ultra white semi-gloss) to go with the décor in my new guest bedroom/ ME room :) This is the first time I have ever painted a piece of furniture so I have been doing a ton of blogger research lol Your post was by far the MOST helpful! So far I have everything I need except the Floetrol which I will pick up tonight. I have already sanded and am ready to apply my primer which I believe is the same brand, Kilz, that you mentioned in your post except the low-odor spray version. Thanks for letting us know the first coat will look like sh*t because I would have definitely been worried!! My only lingering question is do I use a finishing wax, polycrylic, or clear wood lacquer over the finished paint job? Or just leave it alone. I do not want to drawers to stick, or the finish to feel tacky. It will be a piece that gets lots of use. Any advice? xxo Michelle

  21. Anita says:

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and this tutorial has given me the push I need to go ahead and finally try my hand at painting a piece of old furniture. I have always had an eye for this type of work but have been afraid to try it myself for fear of messing it up. But I am off for the summer and I plan to try my first piece in the next week or so. It’s a pIr of old solid wood mirrors that I have been wanting to use for our ensuite bathroom. I paid $10 for the pair!

    Thank you so much! I cannot wait to read more (see more) of your posts!

    Sincerely,

    Anita in Ottawa, Canada

  22. Mel says:

    Thanks for this awesome post! I know I’m commenting well after it was originally posted but I’m so glad I found your blog. Just came across it last week and have already made a mixed moss wreath just like yours!

    Very excited to paint a dresser I’ve had sitting in the basement forever. Just a note to Canadians like me: not sure if you’ve had trouble finding extender, but I searched everywhere (Lowes, Home Depot, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, WalMart) and no one carried it. Finally found it at Sherwin-Williams at a reasonable price. Benjamin Moore also carries it. Just thought I’d share that!

    Thanks again, Cyndy! Love your projects!

    Mel in Niagara Falls, Canada

  23. Stephanie says:

    I am going to try my hand at painting a vanity white just as Michelle in her post above. I was wondering the same as her, If I should be using something over the paint at the end as this is for my 10 year old daughter and it is going to get a lot of wear. I love all your ideas! I have never painted furniture before so Im going to try your version and see what happens.

  24. Cyndy says:

    Yes Stephanie, you can use a satin polyurethane just over the top of the dresser where it will get the most wear. You could leave it and see and add the poly later. The floetrol actually has a hardener additive that makes the finish even harder, so you may not need the poly.

    Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so excited to hear you’re going to paint your first piece. Remember, the first coat is gonna look bad!! Keep me posted!
    Cyndy recently posted..2015 Gorgeous Frame Worthy Wall CalendarsMy Profile

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