There is no "one" best way to paint furniture, because it depends on several factors, among them the type of finish you're looking for and the type of material that your furniture is made of. That said, painting furniture is easier than most people think. In fact, most problems that arise during the process are the result of people overcomplicated the process.

For the purpose of this article, I won't be discussing upholstered furniture, such as couches or easy chairs. But these tips will work with just about anything else. I'll discuss a couple different strategies:

  1. Spray Painting Furniture
  2. Painting Furniture With Brushes
  3. Staining Furniture

Spray Painting Furniture

It's easy to discredit spray paint as a legitimate painting method. But the truth is that it's a great way to ensure equal coverage without leaving any brush marks.

You can spray paint just about any type of surface, including upholstered items such as canvas or cloth. And it works great with wood and metal, too.

And if you're looking to work on wicker, then this is the only real option you have, as using a brush will look horrible.

The trick to getting great results with spray paint is to remember the mantra: "It's better to undercoat than overcoat." So don't lay down really think layers of paint. Instead, use light, even strokes with the can. If you need to go back over it ten more times, so be it. It will look great; but thick layers of spray paint isn't the best way to paint furniture. It will look hideous. Trust me.

I'd also recommend a solid coat or two of primer before painting, especially if you're working with a smooth surface. Don't worry, primer is available in spray form, too.

And don't forget to work in a well ventilated area.

Painting Furniture With Brushes

Painting with brushes isn't that much different than using spray paint. The goal is to get great coverage, even coats and a light hand.

You can use several types of paint, each with their own properties. Latex paint is water based and cleans up easily with running water, whereas oil-based paint will require paint thinner. Personally, I like latex simply because it's easier to clean up should you make a mess. Or your can even use acrylics or dyes, too, if you'd like.

As far as prep work, make sure you've got a drop cloth under the piece of furniture that you're painting. If at all possible, take the furniture to a safe place, such as a garage or back yard, and place it on top of a plastic drop cloth. If you can't, at least try to tuck the cloth under the bottom of the piece. And have a wet rag near by in case you spill or dribble some paint.

You probably won't need as many coats of paint if you use this type of paint, but you'll still want more than one - at least usually. A good coat of primer is always helpful, too.

How To Stain Furniture

Staining seems like painting, but it's actually quite different. For starters, you want to apply stain on bare wood, not over existing paint - otherwise you won't get that great wood grain look that makes stains so attractive.

So, if you furniture is already painted, start by sanding the existing paint off. You want the surface as clean as possible. Start with a decently big grit, then work down to fine grit. Make sure your wipe the surface down when you're done, otherwise tiny pieces of sawdust will completely ruin your stain job.

Also, don't prime any piece of furniture before you stain it. Again, you want the stain to go onto bare wood.

You shouldn't need more than a couple of coats of stain for most pieces of furniture.

Distressing Furniture

Not every person looking to paint their furniture wants it to look brand new. In fact, many people actually want their stuff to look "distressed," as if it's been around for quite some time, and knocked around a bit in the process. It's not uncommon for people looking for the "best way to paint furniture" to actually want to learn how to distress it.

You can do this yourself very easily, with only a few extra steps. If you want to distress an existing paint job, simply sand through the paint until you reach bare wood, but only in certain places. The key is to make it look rustic. This sounds scary, but it's actually quite easy. Start with a hidden area first if you're unsure and I bet you'll gain confidence very quickly.

If you're refinishing furniture and want it to look distressed, you actually have even more options. But my favorite technique is to use a dry rag and actually scrape away small spots of paint - but only after the paint has had some time to dry, but not too long. I usually wait about 10 to 15 minutes, just enough for the paint to start sticking to itself.

What Is The Best Way To Paint Furniture

That depends on you, and how you want your stuff to look. It also depends on the type of materials you're working with. If you're working with wicker or canvas, I'd highly recommend spray paint, as your results with paint brushes will look very, very bad.

If you want that "wood grain" look, go with stain. You can even pick up several different colors of stain, so you don't have to go with the natural look if you dont' want. I recently used purple stain on pine and it looked great.

What I would highly recommend before you get started is to go to a second hand store and buy a very cheap piece of furniture, maybe a small night stand or end table. Then practicing your painting techniques until you're comfortable working with your real furniture. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to try out various techniques and see what you like best - of course it will help if this "practice piece" is of the same type of what you're looking to work with.

As you can see, the best way to paint furniture is really dependent on your personal style.