Painting Furniture Black – No Topcoat!

My husband’s second-ever furniture makeover takes us through painting furniture black with no top coat needed, and no sanding required with a thrifted cedar chest.

Learn more about Heirloom Traditions Paint here.

Tall Lane cedar chest before getting painted black

I (Natalie’s husband, Taylor) am back with my second makeover, this tall Virginia Maid, Lane Cedar Chest!

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I found this piece at our local thrift store for $70, which is a little higher than I probably should have spent on it, but I personally love cedar chests so I couldn’t pass it up!

And it was in great shape too, so I knew that this would be a good piece for a newbie like me.

Supplies Used for Painting Furniture Black

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Prep Cedar Chest for Painting

Before we painted our cedar chest, we needed to prep it for paint. Learn all about how to prep furniture before painting here!

Remove Recalled Lane Lock

Right when we got it home, I unscrewed the lock on the top. Lane has a recall on these locks because of kids getting locked in the chests, and with kids in our house, that had to go.

Click here to submit a request for a new Lane Cedar Chest Lock.

Remove Hardware and Clean Cedar Chest

Next, I removed the old hardware. And cleaned the chest with some Krud Kutter to remove all the dirt, grease, and grime. Learn more how to clean furniture before painting in this post.

Fill Holes and Make Repairs

Then I filled the extra hardware holes and a minor gouge with KwikWood. Check out this post to learn how to use KwikWood. And see here how we used KwikWood in filling holes when replacing cabinet or furniture hardware.

Using KwikWood to fill in old hardware holes.

Remove Velvet from Drawer

While the KwikWood dried, Natalie removed what was left of some old velvet drawer liner.

While Natalie stood back and watched me do most of this project, I did ask for her advice a lot, and this was definitely one of those times.

She sprayed water on the velvet and used a razor blade and a rag to remove the felt.

She had removed velvet from drawers before by saturating the velvet with warm water and it came up easily. But this drawer had an MDF bottom so we didn’t want to saturate it, or it would have gotten damaged.

Using a damp rag and razor blade to remove old felt in the bottom of a drawer.

Because of that, we weren’t able to get all of the velvet up, but it looks a lot better than it did before! Learn more on how to remove felt from wood drawers.

If your drawer was lined with contact paper, here’s how to remove contact paper from wood.

You can also replace the liner to make it look better and protect the inside of the drawers. Check out the best material to line dresser drawers here.

Then I taped off everywhere that I didn’t want the paint to get. Learn more about how to prevent overspray when painting furniture.

Sand KwikWood and Other Imperfections

Once the KwikWood was dry, we sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper. And then there were some drips in the old topcoat that I sanded down as well.

Learn how important sanding before painting furniture is in this post.

Paint Cedar Chest

Then we were ready to start painting! Check out this list of furniture painting tools and supplies that will make your project easier.

Mix Paint into Sprayer

Finally, I mixed Heirloom Traditions All In One Paint in the color Iron Gate and then poured it through a paint filter into the paint sprayer.

I personally love spraying paint in a paint sprayer, but if that is not an option for you, check out how we brushed and rolled Heirloom Traditions Paint in this post about painting furniture without sanding or priming.

Learn more about Heirloom Traditions All in One Paint here and check out this guide for painting furniture with Heirloom Traditions Paint.

Also, check out these Heirloom Traditions Paint before and afters for more inspiration!

I also mixed in 20% water to thin the paint so it would create a less textured finish. Learn more about how to thin paint for Wagner FLEXiO sprayer here.

Pouring Heirloom Traditions All-In-One Paint through a paint filter.

Spray Paint Cedar Chest Black

Before I sprayed the cedar chest, I double-checked the settings and once I got it to where it looked good, I sprayed the first coat. Get my list of the best HVLP paint sprayers here.

(Spoiler alert… the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 is one of my favs!)

Learn more on how to use the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 paint sprayer in this DIY blue painted nightstands makeover.

At first, I was nervous because it looked like there was going to be a lot of texture, but when it dried, it leveled out and it looked really good!

Spraying the first coat of black paint onto a Lane cedar chest.

I’m seeing why Natalie has grown to love this paint!

Check Wood Base Contrast

Then we uncovered the base to see if we liked the contrast of the wood on the bottom with the black.

Annnnd…Natalie convinced me that the wood was a little too orangey, so we were gonna have to do something about that after we painted.

Check out this tutorial on how to tone down orange wood furniture here.

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Fix Scratches and Spot Prime

With the first coat of paint on, we could see a few problems that we couldn’t see before. We had to fill in a scratch with wood filler, and the paint was a different sheen in a few spots.

Check out my list of the best wood fillers for furniture.

Using wood filler to fill a scratch on the side of the black cedar chest.

So, I mixed some grey-tinted 123 primer with a little bit of water and brushed it onto the spots that had a different sheen in hopes that it would create an even-looking finish.

Here are the best primers for painting furniture to help you choose the right one.

When that was all dry, I sanded those spots smooth and cleaned all the dust off again. Learn how to choose the best sandpaper for furniture painting here!

Sanding the primed spots smooth with 220 grit sandpaper

The second coat went on just as good as the first and looked so good again!

But I could see the primer still, so I sprayed another coat and crossed my fingers that it would cover those spots up. And guess what!? It finally worked!

Attach Hardware to Cedar Chest

So, we moved on and screwed some new knobs on. Learn how to change hardware here.

And of course, the last piece of hardware slipped out of my hands and scuffed the paint!! Natalie tried rubbing it out, and it kind of disappeared.

So I moved onto the base.

Stain Base of Cedar Chest with Gel Stain

I lightly scuff sanded the base with 220 grit sandpaper. Then I used a lint-free rag to wipe some General Finishes Java gel stain onto the wood.

Check out the best wood stains for refinishing furniture here.

Wiping General Finishes Java Gel Stain onto the wood base with a lint free rag.

I let the gel stain sit for about 30 seconds and then wiped it back off with a clean lint-free rag. Check out this post to learn more about how to stain wood darker.

Topcoat Stained Base

5 days later, after plenty of time for the stain to dry, I wiped on three coats of water-based polyurethane, letting it dry between each coat.

Check out the best topcoats for painting furniture here.

Wiping Varathane Polyurethane topcoat onto the wood base of a cedar chest.

(If we didn’t let the stain dry for so long, we would have top-coated it with oil based poly instead. To use a water-based poly topcoat over oil, you need to let it dry for at least 48 hours.)

Fix Painting Mistakes

And…In typical Taylor fashion, I found a way to create more work for myself on the very last coat of poly! I got some poly on the paint. So, there was a big smear of poly that was a different sheen than everything else.

You might want to check our post on the five biggest furniture painting mistakes and how to fix them.

Smeared polyurethane on black painted cedar chest

I was getting a little flustered at this point…but Natalie gave it to me straight and reminded me that I was just going to have to paint another coat, or else it would be easy to see the touch-up.

So, we covered the base up and sprayed the sides… and the front to cover up where I scuffed it with the knob earlier.   

And here’s what it looks like now!

Side view of Lane cedar chest painted black with gold knobs.
Black painted cedar chest with a stained wood base and gold hardware knobs.

More Before And After Makeovers

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

Top view of cedar chest with the top open and the drawer open.

Even though I ended up creating more work for myself with some of the mistakes I made, I think it turned out great.

I personally love the stained wood base with the contrast of the black paint, but maybe that’s just me! Would you have painted the base black to match the rest, or left it wood like me?

Check out our list of the best black paint for furniture here.

I know which one Natalie would have picked!

Painting Furniture Black - No Topcoat!

Black painted cedar chest with stained wood base

Painting furniture black is the best way to give your old cedar chest a brand-new look. Here's how to paint your furniture black.


  1. Prep your furniture for painting by removing old hardware and cleaning the furniture with some Krud Kutter to remove all the dirt, grease, and grime. Fill hardware holes and repair areas with KwikWood. Once the KwikWood dries, sand it down with 220 grit sandpaper.
  2. Filter your paint into the paint sprayer and mix in 20% water to thin the paint to create a less textured finish. Spray 2-3 coats of black paint onto your furniture.
  3. Attach old or new hardware to your furniture.
  4. Now, lightly scuff sand the base of the chest. Wipe some gel stain onto the wood base. Let the gel stain sit for about 30 seconds and then wipe it back off with a clean lint-free rag.
  5. Once the stained base is dry, wipe 3 coats of waterbased polyurethane to seal the stain, letting it dry between each coat.

Recommended Products

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Tall Lane cedar chest before getting painted black.


  1. Jana Ashcraft says:

    So cute! Good job Taylor!

  2. Kathy Deitering says:

    I love it and the stained base just raises the bar!

  3. Definitely like it with the stained base!

  4. The good news is that it is possible to get rid of the smell. Spray everything with clear shellac, at least a few coats. The smell should be gone after that and airing it out.

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