How to Paint Furniture High Gloss

A high gloss white finish on furniture can give it a modern and sleek look. Plus, it’s actually not hard to do! In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to paint furniture high gloss with just a few simple steps and materials.

Get more painting techniques for furniture here!

dresser before the makeover

Seriously, painting high-gloss furniture can be a simple process that anyone can do.

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We made a mistake that set us back on this project, but it still came out SO GOOD in the end!

Above is what the dresser looked like before. It was in pretty good shape to begin with, so we didn’t have any big repairs to fix or anything.

If your furniture has damage, here is a great resource for repairing old furniture.

Supplies Used to Paint Furniture Gloss White

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Preparing A Dresser for Paint

Alright, first things first, we have to prepare furniture for paint.

This includes things like removing the old hardware, cleaning the furniture really well, and scuff sanding so the paint can adhere better.

We used my favorite electric screwdriver to help us easily remove the hardware, but don’t you worry, I’m not getting rid of the hardware!

removing hardware from dresser drawers

Then we cleaned the surface with Krud Kutter to remove all of the dust, oils, and grime.

All of these things can make it harder for the paint to stick, so we want to get rid of them. And Krud Kutter eats through grease and grime better than other cleaners do.

Here are more ways to clean furniture before painting.

Then, we scuff sanded the dresser with 220 grit sandpaper and our SurfPrep 3×4 Sander to roughen up the surface and remove the shine from it to help the paint stick.

Check out my post about sandpaper for furniture painting to learn more.

scuff sanding the dresser top before painting

Learn more about the importance of sanding before painting furniture here.

And then we cleaned off all of the dust.

Primer for Gloss Paint

Here is where things went south for us.

Priming with Waterbased 123 Primer

We primed the dresser with waterbased 123 primer… but I thinned it out a little so we could spray it.

(I probably shouldn’t have thinned it out!! Ooops!)

Here’s a list of the best primers for painting furniture (and How to Choose the Right One).

It looked so good and we thought it was all going to work… until we filled the wood grain, sanded everything, and the primer started scratching off really easily.

You should also remember these five furniture makeover mistakes to avoid for a successful painting project.

primer scratching off while sanding the side of dresser

So we set it aside and let it cure before deciding what our next move was.

But over a week later, the primer was still easily scratching off. It had gotten a little better, but it was still scratching. So we sanded all of the primer off.

sanding primer off the entire dresser

We made use of it though and compared our sanders while we did that to find out which one is the best sander to remove paint.

But it still took all day to sand all of that primer off because we had to watch the kids, sand in the little groves, which these little sanding grips that you wrap sandpaper around, and a good ole flathead screwdriver came in handy for.

Check out this post for guides on how to sand in tight spaces.

Read through this post to learn more about the best tools for removing paint from wood.

using sanding grips to sand primer off the little groves of the drawer

And then Taylor sanded over everything, moving through the grits until he got to 220 grit to make the wood nice and smooth.

Priming with BIN Shellac Based Primer

So then we went back to the drawing board and did what we should have done in the beginning… we primed the dresser with BIN shellac-based primer instead.

Learn more about the best primers to stop tannin bleed here.

But this time I brushed it on a couple of test spots and let it dry for an hour or so, and it didn’t scratch at all. So, we brushed and rolled it on with a mohair roller and a round Zibra paint brush.

applying bin shellac based primer onto dresser with a roller

Check out the best rollers for painting furniture here and the best paint brushes for painting furniture here.

Both of these primers work with oil-based and water-based paints, by the way. I think the biggest mistake here was putting water in the water-based primer.

How to Hide Wood Grain When Painting

Then I repeated the process of filling in the wood grain texture. Since we sanded it all down to bare wood, there was a lot of wood grain to fill.

I added some water to some plastic wood filler, and then I brushed it on the dresser, all over to fill in the grain.

applying plastic wood filler to hide wood grain using paint brush

Learn more about how to hide wood grain when painting here.

Then I let that dry for 4 hours. And then I sanded everything again with 220 grit sandpaper. And brushed and rolled another coat of BIN Shellac-based primer onto the dresser.

Can you guess what I did next??

Yep, we sanded the primer again to smooth it out. Then we cleaned up the dust with a shop vacuum and tack cloth for what I hoped would be the last time.

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Painting a Dresser with Gloss White Furniture Paint

Alright, we’re finally ready for the glossy paint! We used this oil based Rustoleum Protective Enamel in gloss white.

Read through this post to learn more about painting furniture with enamel paint.

can of oil based rustoleum protective enamel in gloss white

I used the spray can version of this paint last year, compared to other spray paints, to find the best spray paint for wood furniture, and it ended up being one of the most durable options!

So, if you don’t want to brush and roll this on, you could totally use the spray can version!

Check out my comparison between Krylon vs Rustoleum Spray Paint here.

I used a Zibra fan brush and a white woven mini roller to paint the glossy paint on.

painting the dresser with the glossy paint using a fan brush

It is oil-based paint, so everything has to be cleaned with mineral spirits… and it’s a pain, so I just threw away the brush and roller afterward.

You might want to keep your brush so here’s my guide on how to clean paint brushes.

And it smells really strong. So I wore my respirator the whole time, and I would only recommend using it outdoors. Because the smell lingers for a long time.

The awesome thing about oil-based paint is that it levels out really well even when you brush and roll it on. And it’s pretty darn durable.

I found that it dripped more than water-based paint does, so I had to keep looking everywhere for drips.

And then I left it to dry for 24 hours. It was dry to the touch after 4 hours, but it says to wait 24 hours before putting the next coat on.

drying newly painted drawers

The next day, I filled in the crack on the side of the dresser with some paintable caulk, and with 400 grit sandpaper, lightly sanded any spots where dust landed in the paint while it was drying.

filling in the crack on the side of the dresser with some paintable caulk

I cleaned up the dust and painted another coat of paint on. In total, it took 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of glossy paint to get full coverage.

We left it to dry over the weekend, and then put the hardware back on, and here’s what our DIY glossy white dresser looks like now!!

Get more white painted dresser ideas here.

Here’s a list of the best white paint for furniture to give you more options.

Watch the full video of this makeover below…or scroll down for the after photos and additional tips on how to paint furniture in high gloss!

Oh, I don’t know that I could love it more! I hate painting with oil-based paint, but man, that gloss white paint looks so good!!

Get more white painted furniture ideas here.

close up photo of dresser painted with white high gloss paint
after photo of the dresser painted with white high gloss paint
side angle photo of dresser painted with high gloss paint

Gloss Paint for Furniture

Rustoleum Protective Enamel isn’t the only gloss paint for furniture out there! There is a spray can version available as well.

Plus there are many glossy spray paints available in hardware stores. Just at Home Depot, there’s Behr Gloss Spray Paint, and Rustoluem Painter’s Touch Gloss Spray Paint.

Here’s what spray painting furniture in gloss paint looks like.

There are also boutique, high-end gloss paints available elsewhere. Benjamin Moore Advance comes in a high gloss sheen, and it’s water-based. I want to try that out now!

Here’s how I have used Benjamin Moore Advance on furniture before (In satin sheen). Check out the pros and cons of this paint in my Benjamin Moore Advance Paint Review here.

Rustoleum Gloss Paint Colors

Right now, Rustoleum Protective Enamel in Gloss comes in 18 colors, but there are so many more options in the spray cans.

The colors are pretty basic, but they at least have the primary colors so you could mix together some colors to make your own color.

Best Paint for High Gloss Furniture

The best of the best paint for high gloss furniture is Hollandic Bright Paint from Fine Paints of Europe. I haven’t personally tried it, but my friend Kayla paints furniture in high gloss paint, and that’s what she swears by.

They will tint it whatever color you want and ship it to you!

How to Paint Furniture High Gloss

dresser painted with white high gloss paint

High gloss paint is the perfect way to give your furniture a fresh, modern look. And, with a little bit of patience, it's not difficult to achieve. Here's how to paint furniture high gloss.

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dresser for paint by removing the old hardware, cleaning the furniture really well, and scuff sanding so the paint can adhere better. Then clean off all the dust from sanding.
  2. Prime the dresser with 2 coats of primer. To hide any wood grain, add some water to plastic wood filler and then brush it on the dresser, all over to fill in the grain. Sand the primer to smooth it out then vacuum all the dust.
  3. Paint the dresser with Rustoluem Gloss Paint. Leave it to dry for 24 hours before putting the next coat on. Apply 2 coats of glossy paint to get full coverage.
  4. Let the paint dry then put hardware back on.

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dresser before the makeover

2 Comments

  1. I am planning to paint an old upright piano and would love to do a high gloss black. You noted that the oil based rustoleum paint seems to drip more than water based paint – I obviously can’t lay the piano down to paint it so I’m curious if you think the dripping was enough of an issue that painting the vertical aspects of the piano may be difficult with the oil based paint? Thanks for your response!

    1. I think if you are aware that there can be drips, you can just keep an eye out for them and it will be okay.

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