Painting a Sideboard

Sideboards are storage pieces that offer both style and functionality. Their classic yet versatile design makes them an excellent addition to any room. But if you’re thinking of an update, one way to take your sideboard to the next level is by painting it. Painting a sideboard can instantly transform the look of not just the piece itself, but also the entire room.

So we’re sharing one of our painting furniture ideas featuring a sideboard painted blue with a wood stained top. Read on to learn how to recreate this look and give your own a fresh new makeover!

sideboard buffet furniture before painting

A sideboard or buffet is commonly used to store your dishes, linens, and other dining essentials. But aside from its ample storage space, it can also serve as a statement piece beyond the dining room, like in your living room or hallway.

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A fresh coat of paint can totally change the look and feel of furniture, and a sideboard is no exception. You can make it stand out or blend in with your existing decor, depending on the color and finish you choose.

We’ll show you how to paint a sideboard, and as mentioned above, we’re going with a beautiful blue color for this project. And we’ll make it extra special by adding a wood stained top, which will give contrast and charm to the overall look.

Supplies Used for Painting a Sideboard

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Stripping the Top of a Sideboard

Start by removing the hardware from the sideboard. This will make it easier to work on the piece, as well as prevent any damage to the hardware during the painting process. And if you’re using them again, you can set them aside and clean them separately. Here’s how to clean old furniture hardware so you can easily add them back later.

Next, we’ll strip the top of the sideboard using Citristrip. We want the wood raw and ready for stain. Let the stripper sit for around 8-12 hours to do its job. After that, remove any leftover gunk with mineral spirits and 0000 steel wool.

Mineral spirits will help dissolve the stripper residue while the steel wool will gently scrub off any stubborn bits. Check out how to strip paint from wood furniture with Citristrip here for a detailed guide.

using citristrip to remove old finish

Once the top is stripped, let it dry for a couple of days. You want no moisture left in the wood before staining. Once dry, sand the top smooth to remove any remaining finish and rough spots. We used the combo of 220 grit sand discs on a Dewalt orbital sander for this step.

Staining the Top of a Sideboard

With the top stripped and prepped, now it’s time to add a stunning wood stain. Take a dark walnut wood stain and apply it in sections. Make sure to work in the direction of the wood grain so that the stain looks natural and blends in seamlessly.

applying wood stain onto furniture

Remember that the longer you leave the stain on, the darker and more intense the color will be. So if you want a lighter shade, wipe off excess stain sooner rather than later. For wiping the excess stain, use a clean, lint free cloth and still follow the direction of the wood grain. We also have a guide on how to stain wood furniture that you can check out for more tips and tricks.

wiping excess stain using clean rag

Once you’ve covered the entire top, let everything dry for at least 24 hours. And before painting the rest of the sideboard, cover the stained top with pretaped plastic to protect it from getting any paint on it!

Prepping the Bottom of the Sideboard

Now let’s move on to the bottom of the piece. We’ll make sure it’s clean and free from any dirt or grime. Use Krud Kutter – simply spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a clean cloth.

Next, lightly scuff sand the sideboard using 220 grit sandpaper. You can scuff sand by hand with sandpaper sheets, or you can use a power sander to speed up the process. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface and give you a smoother finish. Afterward, make sure to vacuum and use a tack cloth to totally remove any sanding dust. Here’s sanding for paint prep to learn about sandpaper grits and more to prepare for painting.

scuff sanding furniture

And because we want a smooth and long lasting finish, we’ll prime the piece with clear shellac primer, specifically in a spray can. It’s one of the best primers to stop tannin bleed so we don’t face any bleeding issues later on.

Apply 2 coats of primer and let each coat dry for at least 1 hour before adding another one. Clear shellac does have a strong smell so make sure to work in an area with good ventilation or wear a respirator if needed. After the final coat, wait overnight for the primed sideboard to fully dry before proceeding to paint.

zinsser clear shellac in spray can

Painting A Sideboard Blue

Now it’s finally time to paint the sideboard blue! We chose the stunning Peacoat color from Country Chic Paint and used a Fuji Q4 sprayer for easy application. Before spraying, filter the paint into the paint container then thin it with 20% water.

thinning paint by adding water

Thinning the paint helps it flow better through the sprayer and gives a smoother finish. Follow our how to thin paint for a sprayer guide if you’re unsure how to go about this step. Once the paint is ready, spray 2-3 coats for full coverage. Here’s more on how to use the Fuji Q4 Platinum paint sprayer if you’re using the same sprayer for your project.

Sand in between coats using 400 grit sandpaper to get rid of any rough spots or texture. But make sure not to sand through the paint! We want a smooth surface with no visible brush strokes or texture. And don’t forget to tackle the dust and debris from sanding!

Sealing Painted Sideboard

Now that the painting is done and we’re happy with how our sideboard looks, it’s time to seal it. We want to protect the paint from any scratches or stains and to make sure that the finish lasts for a long time.

For this, we’ll use Varathane waterbased polyurethane still in our trusty Fuji Q4 sprayer. Spraying polyurethane gives a smoother finish compared to brushing it on. Plus, it’s much faster and easier!

Apply 3 coats of polyurethane, and let each coat dry before adding another one. Here’s how to spray polyurethane so you can get the same professional finish with your sprayer.

mixing polyurethane before painting

Apply the topcoat on the entire sideboard including the stained top. The stain needs the protection as well! After the final coat, let everything dry for 24 hours before handling or using the sideboard.

We did attach new copper hardware instead of the original handles, but you can also choose to keep your old ones or use different ones that you like.

close-up top view of painted sideboard with stained top
full view of painted sideboard with stained top

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

close-up side view of painted sideboard with stained top

And this is how we transformed a vintage sideboard into a modern, chic piece that’s perfect for any space. We hope this tutorial has been helpful and fun, and we can’t wait to see your own sideboard transformation!

Painting a Sideboard

full view of Sideboard furniture

We'll show you the process of painting a sideboard so you can learn how to recreate this look and give your own furniture a fresh new makeover!


  1. Strip and prep the top of your sideboard before applying any stain. Let Citristrip sit and do its magic for 8-12 hours, then use mineral spirits and 0000 steel wool to remove any leftover residue.
  2. Allow the stripped top to dry for a couple of days before sanding it with a Dewalt orbital sander and 220 grit sand discs. You also want to remove any remaining finish and smooth the rough spots on the wood with sanding.
  3. Apply a dark walnut wood stain on the top in sections, making sure to follow the direction of the wood grain for a natural looking finish. Wipe off excess stain with a lint free cloth according to your desired stain effect. Let the stained top dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding with painting the rest of the sideboard.
  4. Clean the bottom of the sideboard with Krud Kutter to remove any dirt and grime, then lightly scuff sand it using 220 grit sandpaper. Vacuum and use a tack cloth to remove any dust before applying primer.
  5. Use clear shellac primer in a spray can to prime the bottom of the sideboard for a smooth and long lasting finish. Apply 2 coats, waiting at least an hour in between each coat and overnight for the final coat to dry before painting.
  6. Get your paint sprayer and filter the paint into the container, then thin it with 20% water for better flow and smoother finish. Spray 2-3 coats of your chosen paint, sanding in between each coat with 400 grit sandpaper so there are no visible strokes or texture.
  7. Protect your painted sideboard with Varathane waterbased polyurethane. Spray 3 coats all over the sideboard, including the stained top, and let each coat dry before adding another one. After 24 hours of drying time, your sideboard is read to use or display in your home!
  8. Attach the original hardware back or add in new ones, such as copper handles, for a new and modern touch.

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