How To Upgrade Furniture with Paint and Hardware

Home Hacks

Most people know how to paint a piece of wood furniture, but it never hurts to have a refresher course. This hand-me-down case of drawers was the perfect size for our entryway, but its dark wood stain and knobs weren’t our taste. After reviving it with a coat of primer, a couple coats of paint, and some new knobs, we love it…

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Project: Case of drawers with new paint and knobs
Time: 1-2 days
Cost: $30 - $60 for primer, paint, and hardware

Tools and Resources:

  • Paint (we used Behr's 510B-5 Jamaican Sea in semigloss*)
  • Primer
  • Two paintbrushes
  • Two rollers
  • Two paint trays
  • Painter's tape
  • Newspapers or drop cloth
  • Rough sponge, soap, and water
  • Sandpaper
  • Wet cloth
  • Hardware (we used Anthropologie's Zinnia knob in aqua)
  • Screwdriver

*Note: We like the results of the semigloss finish, although it shows imperfections a lot more than a matte or eggshell finish would. If you've got a really beat-up piece, we'd suggest a matte finish to hide surface scratches.

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Step by Step:

  1. Start by scrubbing your piece of furniture with a rough sponge, soap, and water. Give it an hour or two to thoroughly dry.
  2. Give the piece a once-over with sandpaper. We skipped this step, since the wood was fairly rough already and the rough-backed sponge gave it just enough sanding.
  3. Use a wet cloth to remove any excess dust. Allow the piece to dry.
  4. Remove all drawers or cabinet doors.
  5. Use the screwdriver to remove any hardware from the piece: knobs, hinges, etc.
  6. Use painter's tape to section off any areas that you don't want painted. If your project is a case of drawers, leave the sides of the drawers and inside of the dresser unpainted. Painting them will cause sticking when you reassemble the piece, and your drawers won't slide properly.
  7. Lay down your newspaper or drop cloth to protect your floors or painting surface.
  8. Pour a small amount of primer into a paint tray. Use your paintbrush to cut in the edges of the piece that a roller can't access.
  9. Use the roller to coat the rest of the piece in a thin, even layer of primer. Don't use too much or you'll get blobs and cracks when the primer dries.
  10. Give the primer several hours to dry. In a hot, dry environment it will go faster. In a humid, cool setting it will take longer. When fully dry, the primer should be smooth and dry to the touch - not tacky.
  11. Pour a small amount of paint into a new paint tray. Use a second paintbrush to cut in the edges.
  12. Use a fresh roller to coat the rest of the piece in a thin, even layer of paint. Again, don't use too much.
  13. Wait several hours for the paint to dry into a smooth, dry, non-tacky surface.
  14. Repeat with a second coat of paint.
  15. When the piece has been coated with one layer of primer and two layers of paint, you're almost finished. Usually two coats is plenty, but you may need a third coat if you're using especially thin layers or if the surface of your piece is particularly uneven.
  16. Once the piece is dry, use the screwdriver to install your new hardware.
  17. Reassemble the drawers, or reinstall your cabinet doors, and you're done!

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Originally published 06.16.09 - JL

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