Painting Furniture with Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is ideal for painting furniture because it can withstand wear and tear, and it’s easy to clean. Here’s everything you need to know about painting furniture with enamel paint.

Learn more about the different types of paint for furniture here.

lane cedar chest before painting with enamel paint

Here’s the piece of furniture we painted with enamel paint.

We bought this Lane cedar chest for a whopping $75 from the thrift store.

It’s a bit too frilly and 90’s for me though.

Supplies For Painting Furniture With Enamel Paint

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Get our list of the best painting furniture supplies that we use on every makeover here.

Preparing Furniture for Enamel Paint

No matter what, we always have to get the furniture ready for paint by cleaning it, repairing damage and scuff sanding to help the paint stick.

Learn all you need to know about How to Prepare Furniture For Painting here.

In this case, I wanted to change the look of the cedar chest first.

So we removed the old cushion and wood on the top. And we removed the old hardware and the scrolly detail on the front.

removing scrolly detail on front of the cedar chest with a metal scraper

And last but not least, we removed the recalled Lane cedar chest lock.

These locks were all recalled years ago because of kids locking themselves in the cedar chests.

And they just aren’t safe, especially if you have little kids. So we always remove them.

removing lane cedar chest latch with an electric screwdriver

We also should have cleaned the cedar chest before doing anything else, but I honestly forgot in the excitement of taking all the frilly stuff off.

Learn How to Clean Furniture Before Painting here.

Repairing Damaged Furniture

Now for the fun part… repairing the damage.

We sanded the wood under the scrolly detail smooth.

Then I had to fill in allllll of the holes.

We filled the big screw holes with my favorite KwikWood filler since it’s the best at bigger repairs.

Learn more about How to Use KwikWood here.

filling in holes on the cedar chest top with kwikwood

See how KwikWood compares to others in this Comparison: Filling Holes when Replacing Cabinet or Furniture Hardware.

And then I used the DAP plastic wood to fill in the small pin nails.

Check out the best wood fillers for painting furniture here.

Sanding Before Painting Furniture

We waited for them to dry, and then we sanded the wood filler flush with the surface around it.

And then we scuff sanded the cedar chest to help the primer and enamel paint stick to it.

I love my SurfPrep Sander with foam sanding sponges for scuff sanding, but if you are only painting one of two pieces of furniture, you can sand by hand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Learn more about sandpaper for furniture painting here.

Check out my honest Surfprep vs Festool Sander review here.

Learn all about Sanding Before Painting Furniture here.

Then we cleaned up all of the dust, and I taped off the edges of the cedar chest so I wouldn’t get paint inside of it.

Does Enamel Paint Need Primer on Wood?

Yes! For best results, prime your furniture before painting with enamel paint.

We rolled on 2 coats of BIN shellac-based primer that we had tinted in this grey color.

I used my favorite Mohair Roller from Sherwin Williams and a Zibra paint brush.

brushing and rolling bin shellac based primer before painting with enamel paint

I chose this primer for this piece because I wanted to create a base for the paint that would block bleedthrough stains from the raw wood, but also make it so the paint would have even coverage.

You can also check out how to stop wood knots from bleeding through paint to get more information.

Oh, and since it was tinted in a medium shade of grey instead of white, I wouldn’t have to paint as many coats of my darker paint on top of it to get full coverage.

Check out The Best Primers for Painting Furniture (and How to Choose the Right One) here.

I rolled it on so the primer would get pushed into the oak wood grain, especially where it was down to the bare wood.

If painted wood grain bothers you, check out this post on How to Hide Wood Grain When Painting.

Then we let the primer dry, and then I sanded all of the primer with a fine grit foam pad to smooth out the texture that was left behind because of rolling it on.

Painting Furniture with Enamel Paint

For this furniture makeover, we used Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in this deep red called Sommelier.

Anyway, I brushed it on with a Zibra round paint brush so you could see how well this paint levels out when you brush it on with a budget friendly, quality paint brush.

The first coat was soooo thin and streaky looking. But that’s not surprising with red paint.

applying first coat of red paint with a brush

We let it dry overnight, and then I found some paint drips, so I sanded those out, and then I sanded everything else with a fine grit foam pad to make it feel nice and smooth.

I cleaned up the dust again and painted on 2 more coats, letting them dry for at least 4 hours between coats.

Check out this post on painting furniture white to see another makeover with Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.

Before I show off the new look, let’s chat a little more about enamel paint so you know what to expect when you paint furniture with enamel paint.

What is Enamel paint?

Enamel paint is durable and can usually be used on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. It dries hard and doesn’t need to be top coated.

Most enamel paints on the market today are waterborne or alkyd paints instead of oil-based, so they don’t have as strong of fumes, and they can be cleaned up with soap and water.

What are the benefits of Enamel Paint on Furniture?

A lot of furniture gets used and abused every day, so it’s great to paint furniture in a paint that will dry hard and into a durable finish.

How to get a professional finish when painting furniture with enamel paint, even if you’re a beginner painter?

To get a professional finish when painting furniture with enamel paint, it’s important to start with a clean and smooth surface.

Make sure to sand your furniture piece thoroughly before priming and painting.

You should also use quality brushes and paint rollers to apply your enamel paint, ensuring that you get an even, smooth finish.

Here are our lists of the best paint rollers and the best paint brushes for painting furniture.

Another important tip is to brush it on in thin coats, so you don’t leave paint drips and brush marks behind.

Here are our best tips for How to Paint Furniture Without Brush Marks.

If you’re worried about getting brush strokes or uneven paint coverage, you may want to consider spraying it on with a paint sprayer.

Check out the best HVLP paint sprayers for furniture here.

This will give you a more uniform finish and make it easier to get professional results, even if you’re a beginner painter.

Finally, be sure to let your paint dry completely before handling or putting your furniture piece back into use.

Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Dry Time

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel typically dries in 2-4 hours, depending on the humidity levels and temperature in your area.

Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Recoat Time

After 4 hours of dry time, it should be ready for another coat of paint.

To get the best results when painting furniture with enamel paint, be sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s recommended application and drying times carefully.

Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Cure Time

It will be cured in about 30 days. Darker colors can take longer to cure because of the larger amount of pigments in the paint.

The humidity levels and temperature in your area can also prolong the cure time.

Do I need to seal Enamel paint on furniture?

No. Enamel paint doesn’t need to be sealed.

Actually, it shouldn’t be top coated in most cases.

Specifically, this Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim enamel paint can be ruined if you topcoat it.

It’s an alkyd paint, so once it is dry, it is very similar to an oil-based paint.

If you topcoat it with water-based paint before it has cured or even after it has cured, you may end up with a crackled finish.

Enamel paint is durable on its own and doesn’t need a topcoat.

Best Enamel Paint for Furniture

I know, Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel isn’t the only Enamel paint out there! So here are the enamel paints that I’ve used and recommend!

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel: It self-levels really well, so you can brush it, roll it or spray it and get a professional finish!

It dries relatively quickly and dries hard.

Check out this Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel painted dresser.

Rustoleum Protective Enamel: Now this stuff is the real deal.

Though it’s oil-based, so there are a lot more fumes, and clean up is harder.

But it really levels out beautifully, and it dries to the most durable finish. Recoat time is 24 hours though. Ouch!

Check out this post on How to Paint Furniture High Gloss with Rustoleum Protective Enamel.

Wise Owl One Hour Enamel: Just like the name suggests, it dries in an hour.

It boasts that it is cured in an hour, but I’ve yet to see that.

Since it dries so quickly, it doesn’t have a chance to level out as well. But you can spray it on to get a professional finish!

Once cured, it’s very durable.

Check out this post on Painting a China Cabinet with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel.

Benjamin Moore Advance: Okay, I’m not 100% sure it’s technically an enamel, but I think it fits.

You can brush, roll or spray it on and it levels out beautifully. (Apparently, don’t thin it out because it won’t dry as hard as it should.)

Recoat time is 16 hours though.

But once dry, it’s very durable.

Check out this post on Painting Furniture with Benjamin Moore Advance Paint.

You can also watch the Video of this Makeover below.

And finally, now that you know all you need to know about enamel paint, here is the after of the cedar chest makeover!

I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it! It’s so warm and cozy now.

What do you think of the new look? Can you see any brush marks?

showing the inside of the lane cedar chest

Painting Furniture with Enamel Paint

red painted lane cedar chest

Enamel paint is great for furniture painting because of its durability. Here are the steps for painting furniture with enamel paint.


  1. Prep the furniture for paint by cleaning it, repairing damage, and scuff sanding the surface.
  2. Remove the recalled Lane cedar chest lock.
  3. Prime with 2 coats of primer, once dry, sand to smooth out any texture.
  4. Paint a few coats letting them dry for at least 4 hours in between coats.

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after painting furniture with enamel paint

More Before And After Makeovers

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

side angle of lane cedar chest painted with red enamel paint

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cedar chest before makeover with text

One Comment

  1. Linda Van Asveld says:

    Looks like burgundy, wine color. I love it!

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