Painting end tables doesn’t have to be complicated. Check out how easy it is to get a professional finish while painting with General Finishes Milk Paint.
Get more tips and ideas for painting furniture here.
Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint
It started out with this $15 end table from my local thrift store.
It has a slick laminate top, but the rest is all real wood.
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- Thrifted End Table
- Degreasing Cleaner
- Painters Tape and Pre-taped Plastic
- Spray Shellac
- General Finishes Milk Paint in Seagull Gray
- Zibra Paint Brush
- Minwax Polycrylic Spray
- New Knobs
I wanted this makeover to be super simple.
So, even though I love to use a paint sprayer, I opted to use a paintbrush and General Finishes Milk Paint.
This paint is self-leveling so even though I used a paintbrush, I wasn’t left with brush strokes in the finish.
But when it comes to top coating paint, spraying poly is the easiest way.
So I opted for a spray can of it.
And, I even skipped scuff sanding!
Yep, no sanding is needed for this makeover (and the finish feels silky smooth!)
Seriously, this is a makeover that I believe that anyone can do!
How to Use General Finishes Milk Paint on Furniture
- Clean and Remove Hardware
- Paint with General Finishes Milk Paint
- Seal with a Clear Topcoat
Step 1: Cleaning and Removing Hardware
First things first, I scrubbed it clean with a degreasing cleaner and a wet rag.
Click here to learn more about How to Clean Furniture Before Painting.
While I was cleaning, I removed the old hardware as well.
Then, while the end table dried, I taped off the drawer so my paint lines would be crisp and clean.
Step 2: Priming
Then I primed the end table with 2 coats of shellac so that the paint would stick without sanding.
How to Paint Furniture Without Sanding
(Thanks to this experiment, I’ve learned that shellac is amazing at making paint adhere to any surface.)
But, the shellac does more than just make the paint stick. It blocks stains and tannins from the wood from staining the paint. You can learn more about why bleed through is an problem when painting furniture here.
I used clear shellac in a spray can so it would be quick and easy to apply.
And no sanding was required before or after I primed.
Step 3: Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint
For this end table, I chose a stunning light gray from General Finishes Milk Paint, called Seagull Gray.
The biggest reason why I love this paint is because it’s self-leveling, meaning it doesn’t leave as many brush marks behind.
It also sprays beautifully if you are wanting to spray it from a paint sprayer.
Thinning General Finishes Milk Paint
It’s a water-based acrylic paint that is really thick straight out of the can.
So, before I use it, I like to add some water to it to make it easier to brush on.
I don’t measure an exact amount of water to paint here, but I would say I might add around 10% water to the paint.
After mixing the water and paint together really well, I brushed it onto the end table.
Brushing General Finishes Milk Paint
I brushed it on using a Zibra chiseled wedge brush.
Even though this paint is self-leveling, it can still leave brush marks behind.
So, I still try to brush it on in long brush strokes that go with the grain, so any brush marks that are left behind blend in with the grain.
Click here to learn more tips and trick on How to Paint Furniture Without Brush Marks.
When I got to the round part of the legs, I switched to my Zibra round paint brush because it’s easier to paint round things with the round brush.
(If I had to pick one paintbrush to use on a project, it would be the round brush, hands down!)
Read more about The Best Paint Brush for Painting Furniture here!
I let it dry for a couple of hours between each coat, and I wrapped my paintbrush in some plastic to keep it wet.
I ended up needing to paint 4 coats of this light gray color to get full coverage.
Filling Wood Grain
After a couple of coats of paint, I noticed how deep the wood grain was on the side corners.
So I took some time to fill in the wood grain there before I finished everything up.
Step 4: Topcoat with Spray on Waterbased Polycrylic
After that last coat, I sprayed 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic in a rattle can.
This water-based poly is a protective coat, making the paint more durable and wipeable.
I sprayed it on thicker than a mist, but not too thick to make it run or puddle.
And then I let it dry between coats for only an hour before spraying the next coat.
Keep on reading to see what it looks like now!
Best Brush for General Finishes Milk Paint
General Finishes’ website says that foam brushes are the best because they don’t leave brush marks.
Here’s an awesome foam painting sponge that covers so much more area than a dinky little foam brush.
But, I’ve found that regular Zibra paint brushes (synthetic brushes) leave an almost brush-stroke-free finish.
I wouldn’t use a natural bristle brush if you are wanting a brush stroke-free finish.
Does General Finishes Milk Paint Need a Top Coat?
Yes, if you’re using it on a high-traffic surface (especially the top of furniture), General Finishes milk paint needs a top coat.
Learn more about Topcoat for Painting Furniture options here!
No, if you’re using it for things that don’t need to be durable (wall decor for example), General Finishes Milk Paint doesn’t need a top coat.
Best Paint for Furniture Without Sanding
It dries really smooth and is self-leveling, so even when you don’t sand it, you’re left with a soft, smooth finish.
Before and After
So, here’s what it looked like before.
And here’s what it looks like now.
I love the light gray color. And my brush mark-free loving heart loves that you can barely see any brush marks in the finish.
I ended up spending $90 on supplies, but most of those can be used for multiple projects, so I would guess that I used around $30 max on supplies for this project.
What do you think of the makeover?
If you’re a visual learner, check out the video of this makeover here.
More Makeovers with General Finishes Milk Paint and Similar Paint:
- DIY Cedar Chest Makeover with General Finishes Milk Paint
- How to Paint Laminate Furniture (with Olive Green Paint)
- Mid Century Modern Farmhouse Dresser in Olive Green
- Rust-oleum Milk Paint Review
- Heirloom Traditions Paint Before and Afters
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