So many people say that chalk paint requires no prep at all, but prepping furniture before painting is super important!

Prepping is so important for a long lasting finish. Without prep, there is a good chance the paint will end up peeling or chipping off. Annnnd if that happens, the paint all has to be stripped off and the project started all over.

Boo! So, don’t skip the prep!

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How to Get Furniture Ready for Paint

It may sound pretty intimidating, but it’s SUPER SIMPLE and PRETTY QUICK!


First, grab a damp old rag and some of my favorite cleaner / de-greaser, Krud Kutter.

You could just wipe it down with a damp rag and some hot soapy water, but I like to spray it with Krud Kutter first, then wipe it down because after years and years of use, most old furniture has a lot of yucky build up.

And if there ends up being any greasy build up, the grease will make the paint peel in that area. No bueno.

Clean the piece with Krud Kutter BEFORE you sand. This way, you won’t smash any built up yuckiness into the wood. Then make sure to wipe everything down with a damp rag after you sand to get rid of all the dust.

Scuff Sand

Then, lightly sand everything down with 220 grit sandpaper.

To make things easier, I wrap a small rectangle of sandpaper around a sanding block, and then remove the sanding block when I need to get into any small details.

What does lightly mean?

Well, I quickly rub the sandpaper over everything just a few times. This basically just scratches the surface up a bit so the paint has something to adhere to.

Use the hose attachment on the vacuum to collect the majority of the dust and then wipe the rest of the sanding dust away.

Do you Need to Prime?

Once everything is dried and cleaned it’s time to start painting! Wahoo! That wasn’t so bad, now was it?

I promise taking the extra few minutes to prep your furniture will pay off in the long run.

This prep works for a lot of furniture, unless the old finish is super shiny and slick (laminate, anyone?).

In that case it is best to prep, then prime, then paint.

The prep helps the primer adhere, and then the primer helps the paint adhere. 

Chalk paint is amazing paint, but it does have its limitations, just like any other paint.

BleedThrough (The #1 Reason I Prime Before Painting)

You know those orange or reddish-colored spots that just won’t go away after multiple coats of paint? That’s bleed through! And it won’t go away with any more coats of paint.

The best way to get rid of bleed through is with a shellac based primer, or clear shellac. I use it on almost all of my pieces before I get to painting.

Trust me, it will take away so much headache in the long run!

If you want to distress to show the wood underneath, and you don’t want the white primer to show, I use a couple of coats of clear shellac.

Shellac does smell though, so it should only be used in a super well ventilated area.

General Finishes Stain Blocking Primer is a waterbased primer (doesn’t stink like shellac) that works well, but not as good.


Now it’s time to paint! You can paint with chalk paint, latex paint, acrylic paint, mineral paint, all in one paint, and even alkyd waterborne paints.

You’ve set yourself up for success with whatever paint you decide to use.

Check out this post to learn more about the different types of paint you can use.

Happy painting friends!

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