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 smooth as possible.
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Okay, I’ll be honest, painting furniture white can be a bit of a process.
Especially if you’re painting dark wood white!
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.
Painting Furniture White
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- Krud Kutter Cleaner Degreaser
- A LOT of The Best Stain Blocking Primer
- Favorite 220 Grit Sandpaper
- 400 Grit Sandpaper
- Shop Vac with Hose and Brush Attachment
- Tack Cloth
- Paint Rollers, Brushes, Or a Sprayer
- Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Paint
- Wood Filler Or Paintable Caulking (optional depending on the piece)
How to Paint Furniture White
- Remove the Hardware
- Clean with a Degreasing Cleaner
- Prime with a Stain Blocking Primer
- Sand In Between Coats
- Repeat Steps 2-3 Until You Have Full Coverage
- Paint 2-3 Coats of Paint
Step 1: Remove the Hardware
First, remove the knobs, hinges (or tape them off so paint doesn’t get on them), 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!
Step 2: Clean 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!
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.
Step 3: Prime 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.
- It helps with coverage.
- It blocks stains from coming through the paint.
- It helps the paint to adhere.
A really good primer will do all 3 of those things.
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.
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.
Yellow Stains Coming Through White Paint
BIN will also prevent yellow stains from coming through your 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.
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.
Step 4: Sand In Between Coats
Once the primer is dry (30-45 minutes usually) it’s time to sand it smooth.
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.
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.
Filling 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.
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.
The seams can be easily filled with paintable caulking.
The Best Way to Clean the Sanding Dust
After you’re done sanding, easily clean up the dust you created with a vacuum hose and a brush attachment.
Then wipe off any remaining dust with a tack cloth.
Tack cloths are super sticky and dust can’t help but cling to them!
Step 5: Repeat Steps 2-3 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.
Step 6: Paint 2-3 Coats of Paint
After your furniture is nice and white from the primer,
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.
Why is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel a Great Furniture Paint?
It’s waterbased, 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.
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!
But you don’t have to deal with it like you would have to deal with oil-based paint.
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!
It’s pretty amazing!
It 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.
The 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.
The high hide white base, 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 paint brush (or a synthetic paint brush.)
Or you can roll it on with a roller (a 1/4 to 1/2 inch nap woven roller). These Mohair rollers are great!
You can even spray it on. Sherwin Williams recommends using an airless sprayer.
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 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?
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.
220 grit sandpaper can leave a lot of scratches.
Can You Thin Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint?
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.
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.
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 probably around 20% I think she said. And she thought she would have used the 1.3mm tip.
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), 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.
Check out this Youtube Video for more info on painting furniture white with Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.
Step 7: Enjoy!!
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!
Check out this post to see how to install cane webbing to a door./>