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!

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.

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Supplies for Painting a Cedar Chest Black

Step 1: Prep

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

Next, I removed the old hardware.


And cleaned the chest with some Krud Kutter to remove all the dirt, grease, and grime.

Learn all about why its important to prep furniture before painting here!

Fill Holes and Make Repairs

Then I filled the extra hardware holes and a minor gouge with KwikWood.

Click here to learn how to use KwikWood. And here to see how KwikWood is the Best Filler for Hardware Holes

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!


Then I taped off everywhere that I didn’t want the paint to get.  

Here’s 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.

Step 2: Paint

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 with this 1 Day Dresser Makeover!

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.

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

Spray 1st Coat of Paint

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.

Learn more on how to use the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 paint sprayer.

Get my list of Best HVLP Paint Sprayers here. (Spoiler alert… the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 is one of my favs!)

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.

Fix Scratch / Spot Prime / Sand Filler and Primer

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 filler 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.

When that was all dry, I sanded those spots smooth and cleaned all the dust off again.

Sanding the primed spots smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.

Spray 2nd Coat of Paint

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

Spray 3rd Coat of Paint

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!

Remove Tape / Attach Hardware

So, we moved on and screwed some new knobs on.

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.

Step 4: Stain the Base

I lightly scuff sanded the base with 220 grit sandpaper.

Apply 1 Coat of General Finishes Java Gel Stain

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 The Wood 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 topcoat for 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.)

Step 5: Fix 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 created a different sheen on the side of the 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!

Top view of cedar chest with the top open and the drawer open.
Side view of Lane cedar chest painted black with gold knobs.
Black painted cedar chest with a stained wood base and gold hardware knobs.

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?

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.
  2. Spray 2-3 coats of black paint.
  3. Lightly scuff sand the base of the chest.
  4. Wipe some stain onto the wood base.
  5. Once dry, wipe 3 coats of waterbased polyurethane to seal the stain.

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  1. Jana Ashcraft says:

    So cute! Good job Taylor!

  2. Kathy Deitering says:

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

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