Painting Furniture White

If you’re painting furniture white, this post has got you covered. Learn the step-by-step process and the best tips and tricks to make it go as smoothly as possible.

Get more furniture makeover ideas here!

tv stand before getting painted white

Okay, I’ll be honest, painting furniture white can be a bit of a process. Especially if you’re painting dark wood white!

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This TV stand makeover wasn’t the quickest project I’ve ever done. But I’m sharing my mistakes and wins so your project can be as easy as possible.

Supplies Used for painting furniture white

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How to Paint Furniture White

Let’s dive into the makeover now! We started by prepping this piece of furniture just like we always do before painting it!

The prep work is one of the most important things to do if you want to have a durable and lasting paint finish on your furniture.

Learn all about how to prepare furniture for painting here.

Remove Furniture Hardware

First, remove the knobs, hinges (or tape them off so paint doesn’t get on them), and glass if you want… Basically, remove anything that you don’t want to get painted. Or tape it off so it doesn’t get painted.

Learn how to paint drawer pulls to give your piece of furniture a brand-new look with the old hardware!

Clean Furniture with a Degreasing Cleaner

Then clean your furniture with a degreasing cleaner. Dawn dish soap can work for this if you’re on a tight budget.

But I prefer to use Krud Kutter. It’s an amazing cleaner that cuts through grease and grime!

Cleaning furniture with Krud Kutter before painting

Bonus points, it’s great as a cleaner around your home too!

Just spray it on and scrub the surface of your furniture with a wet rag. I also like to go back with a clean wet rag and rinse it all off, just to make sure everything is off. Then let it dry.

Learn more on how to clean furniture before painting here.

Prime Furniture with a Stain Blocking Primer

Next, get comfy with a lot of stain-blocking primer. Yeah, you’re gonna need a lot of it. Especially if you’re painting dark wood white.

Primer has a couple of purposes.

  1. It helps with coverage.
  2. It blocks stains from coming through the paint.
  3. It helps the paint to adhere.

A really good primer will do all 3 of those things. Read all about the best primers for painting furniture and how to choose the right one here!

A basic, water-based primer will basically be a cheap white paint and might help your paint adhere better. My favorite type of primer is a shellac-based primer.

Specifically for this project, it’s a white-tinted shellac-based primer. And even more specifically, I recommend the BIN shellac-based primer. (NOT the advance, synthetic kind.)

BIN Shellac Based Primer will do it all.

How to Apply BIN Shellac Primer to Furniture

My favorite way to apply BIN primer is to spray it from the spray cans. But, if that’s not a possible option, the next best way is to roll it on with a mini roller.

Rolling on primer before painting furniture white.

I use a 3/8 nap roller or a foam roller. But beware that a roller will leave bumps. And when you spray it, it will be more rough. You can also brush it on. But it’s really thin, so brushing is the last option in my opinion.

How to Clean Up BIN Shellac Based Primer

No matter how you apply it, you can clean it up with Ammonia, Denatured Alcohol, or Acetone. Do not try to clean it with water. It won’t work.

Should I Scuff Sand Furniture Before Priming?

Nope. If you’re using a shellac-based primer (like BIN) you can skip the scuff sanding step. Shellac has AMAZING adhering properties. It even sticks to laminate without any scuff sanding.

So whether you’re painting laminate furniture white, or if you’re painting wood furniture white, you can follow the steps in this post.

Check out this post to see how we put different primers to the test on laminate furniture, and which ones held on even through a scratch test.

Prevent Yellow Stains Coming Through White Paint

BIN will also prevent yellow stains from coming through your white paint.

Yellow stain coming through white paint

It might take a few coats to completely block the stains (whether they’re pink, orange, yellow, black or brown stains). Shellac and oil-based products do the best job at preventing stains from coming through your paint.

Learn more about how to prevent bleedthrough from ruining your painted furniture here. Check out the best primers to stop tannin bleed here.

BIN Shellac Based Primer Dry Time

I love how fast this primer dries! Actually, when I’m rolling it on, I hate how fast it dries, because it’s really easy to overwork it because it dries so fast.

It’s usually dry to the touch within 15 minutes. But it’s ready for another coat of primer, or a coat of paint after 45 minutes.

If you’re trying to block stains, it’s best to let it dry overnight before painting over it.

Sand Primer In Between Coats

Once the primer is dry (30-45 minutes usually) it’s time to sand it smooth.

Sanding furniture between coats of white primer

BIN primer sands really easily and into a fine powder (make sure to wear a respirator!)

If you sprayed it on, the primer will be pretty rough. If you don’t sand that smooth before you paint then your paint job will be just as rough.

If you rolled it on, it probably will feel decently smooth. BUT it will most likely have a lot of bumps and texture from the roller.

I personally don’t like the texture, so I like to sand it down to remove that texture. Read about the best sanders for furniture here and how to choose the one that’s right for you!

Can I Skip Sanding Between Coats?

Yeah, you can. I don’t believe that it will make the paint less durable by any means. But, if you don’t sand after you prime, you’ll end up with a lot of texture, or a rough surface for your paint.

If you really don’t want to sand, you could try to get away with sanding just after your last coat of primer. Learn about the best sandpaper for furniture painting here.

Fill in Cracks, Dings and Details

Now is also a great time to fill in the cracks, seams, details, dings.. basically anything that looks black against the white primer.

finger pointing to cracks, dings and details on primed furniture

These things usually don’t show much when the furniture is just wood. But once you put a coat of white on furniture, all of these spots show up.

You can fill a lot of it with wood filler. Check out the best wood fillers for furniture here. The seams can be easily filled with paintable caulking.

Fill furniture seams with paintable caulking

After you’re done sanding, easily clean up the dust you created with a vacuum hose and a brush attachment.

Using a vacuum to clean the dust after sanding
Wiping off dust with a tack cloth

Then wipe off any remaining dust with a tack cloth. Tack cloths are super sticky and dust can’t help but cling to them!

Prime Furniture Until You Have Full Coverage

You’ll most likely need at least 3 coats of primer to get full coverage. If you sand the primer back down to bare wood in some spots, you’ll need to get those areas to full coverage before you paint.

You want to get mostly full coverage or full coverage with primer before painting because:

  • Paint is usually more expensive than primer. So it’s cheaper to paint more coats of primer than it is to paint more coats of paint.
  • Primer blocks stains. The more coats of primer, the less chance you’ll have stains coming through your paint at the end.
  • A lot of times primer is better at covering the previous surface than paint is.
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Paint Furniture White

After your furniture is nice and white from the primer AND after the primer has dried overnight and you don’t see any stains coming through the paint… Then it’s time to paint! Wahoo!!

An awesome paint to use when painting furniture white is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel. Learn more about painting furniture with enamel paint here.

Check out my list of the best white paint for furniture here for more options.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel

Why is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel a Great Furniture Paint?

It’s water-based but is durable like oil-based paint. This paint is a trim and door paint, so it’s really durable. More durable than latex paint. It’s also an alkyd paint and it’s water-based.

That basically means that when you’re painting it, it’s like a water-based paint.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane wet paint on a TV stand

But as it dries and cures, the water evaporates (I think?) and it basically becomes an oil-based paint. So it ends up being durable like oil-based paint is!

To learn more about oil-based paint, check out this makeover where we learned how to paint furniture high gloss with oil-based paint.

First coat of white paint on furniture drying

But you don’t have to deal with it like you would have to deal with oil-based paint. Awesome right? Learn more about the types of paint for furniture here.

Another thing that I absolutely love is that it’s a self-leveling paint! That means that you can brush it on and you won’t have brush marks left behind! Yep! It’s pretty amazing!

Here’s my honest Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Review to learn more.

Check out this painted armoire makeover where we used Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Doesn’t Need a Topcoat!

Move over chalk paint! If you’ve ever topcoated paint, you know that the struggle can be real. This paint doesn’t need a topcoat to make it wipeable and durable.

Actually, you shouldn’t topcoat it! If you put a water-based topcoat on it, it can crack and create a mess as the paint cures.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Paint Color Choices are Endless

You can have it tinted to whatever color your heart wishes!

What I Don’t Like About Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel

My biggest complaint is the sheen and how some felt kind of chalky.

white painted tv stand left to dry

The high hide white base, and satin finish has a chalky or velvet feel when it’s dry. But, the deep base and the ultra-deep base feel more like a satin sheen usually feels like in my opinion.

So, when you’re using any color that uses the high hide white base, go up a sheen to the semi-gloss sheen and you shouldn’t have issues with the paint feeling chalky.

I’ve also heard a lot of complaints that the sheens are off. So the satin sheen is more like a matte sheen, and the semi-gloss sheen is more like a satin sheen.

I felt like it was more in between than a whole step down to the next sheen. But the deeper the base, the shinier it gets. So the ultra-deep base seems like it has a true satin sheen when you get the satin sheen.

It’s weird how it’s so finicky. But that was my experience with it.

How to Apply Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint

You can brush it with a nylon or polyester paintbrush (or a synthetic paint brush). Check out the best paint brushes for painting furniture here.

Or you can roll it on with a roller (a 1/4 to 1/2 inch nap woven roller). These Mohair rollers are great! Read through this post to learn more about the best rollers for painting furniture.

You can even spray it on. Sherwin Williams recommends using an airless sprayer.

Closeup of fresh coat of wet white paint on furniture

But I sprayed it with my Fuji Q4 paint sprayer using a 1.3 tip and thinning it out a little bit (more on that below). I know other furniture painter friends have sprayed it with their stage 2 paint sprayers too.

Since it’s a self-leveling paint, you can brush it on and it won’t leave brush marks. Especially if you follow these tips in my post about how to paint furniture without brush marks.

You can also get a really smooth fine finish with a roller as well. Either way, be careful to not overwork it when you paint it on. Apply it and leave it alone.

Do You Need to Sand Between Coats of Paint?

Nope. But, just like with the primer, sanding between coats of paint will only help you get a better-looking finish.

I recommend sanding with a 400-grit piece of sandpaper for sanding between coats of paint. Especially right before the last coat of paint.

Sanding white painted furniture between coats

220-grit sandpaper can leave a lot of scratches.

Can You Thin Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint?

You can! Technically Sherwin Williams says you don’t need to thin it. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t.

Yeah, you might lose some of the durability factor if you thin it an excessive amount. But, it’s pretty typical to be able to thin paint 10-20% without messing up the paint properties.

Check out this post to learn more about how to thin paint for a paint sprayer.

Using Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane in an HVLP Sprayer

I have thinned it about 10-15% for my Fuji Q4 HVLP paint sprayer and gotten beautiful results.

Thinning Sherwin Williams Emerald paint before spraying it with paint sprayer

I also used a 1.3mm tip and needle when I sprayed it. The 1.3mm tip is my all-time favorite. I use it for everything. haha

Another furniture friend (Sarah at Sitting Pretty Decor) had success with her Fuji Semi Pro 2 HVLP paint sprayer and thinned it by probably around 20% I think she said. And she thought she would have used the 1.3mm tip.

Read this post to learn about the best HVLP paint sprayers for furniture.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint Dry Time

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel has a dry time of 2 hours, and a recoat time of 4 hours. This is assuming the conditions are 77°F (25°C), and 50% Relative Humidity.

How Many Coats of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Do I Need?

Sherwin Williams recommends 2 coats over the primer.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Cure Time

Paint is usually cured after 30 days. Darker colors will take a longer time to cure. Lighter colors should be cured in 30 days.

For the cane detail, here’s how to install cane webbing to a door for your furniture. If you’re worried about damaged cane, check out this guide on cane furniture repair. And for refinishing cane, here’s how to lighten cane furniture!

That’s all there is to it! Now, actually painting your furniture may be a whole nother story. Sometimes everything goes right. But usually, there is a bump or two along the way.

But once you know the basics of painting furniture white, you can do it!

See the full video of the makeover here, or scroll down for the after photos of this freshly painted white TV stand!

white painted tv stand after

More Before And After Makeovers

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

Painting Furniture White

white painted tv stand with cane webbing

Painting furniture white can be a bit of a process. Learn the step-by-step process and the best tips and tricks to make it go as smoothly as possible.


  1. Prep the furniture for painting and start by removing the old hardware then cleaning furniture with a degreasing cleaner. Go back with a clean wet rag and rinse it all off, just to make sure everything is off. Then let it dry.
  2. Prime furniture with a stain-blocking primer, and once a coat dries around 30-45 minutes, sand it smooth. You can also fill in any cracks, seams, details, dings, or basically anything that looks black against the white primer. After you’re done sanding, easily clean up the dust you created with the vacuum and tack cloth. Prime furniture with at least 3 coats for full coverage. Leave the primer to dry overnight.
  3. After your furniture is nice and white from the primer and you don’t see any stains coming through the paint, paint your furniture with 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel. You can sand using 400-grit piece of sandpaper between coats of paint to get a better-looking finish.
  4. Let your white painted furniture dry and add your hardware. Note that Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel is usually cured after 30 days.

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before and after of a TV stand painted white
Black tv stand before white paint makeover


  1. barbarann fagley says:

    love all your info. thank you

  2. Stephanie says:

    I’m looking for the paint color you used – was there one? I love your blog by the way! I like how you teach people to do it right the first time. That’s always been my struggle with other diy blogs – they skip too many corners.

    1. Hey Stephanie!
      I didn’t tint it to any color. I just used the white base as is.
      I’m so glad you love our blog! Thank you for being here!

  3. what do you use to thin the urethane? water?

    1. This specific paint is waterborne, so yep, I thin it with water.

      1. Hi Natalie, great info on the primer. I have a large piece with orangey wood stain and want to do a white or gray wash to neutralize the orange. Should I prime first?

      2. Are you only doing a wash over the original orange stain? You can prime with clear shellac. It’s never a bad idea to prime.

  4. How disappointed will we end up if we didn’t get the higher sheen paint for furniture? My dd bought the satin SW enamel urethane but just stumbled across this today. We’ve already had it tinted a different shade of white to go over black furniture. Also, am I reading correctly to not use a top coat of any kind?

    1. You’ll have to weigh that cost. Is it worth spending more money on paint to have a true satin finish? Do you worry about having a more matte finish on your furniture?
      Yes that is correct, do not use any topcoat on this paint.

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