Tips for Painting Furniture or Cabinets


Written By: Janet Prince, Associate Broker

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations, Mobile, AL




I have always been of the mindset that there is nothing that a good coat of paint cannot cure or at the very least improve dramatically.  My favorite saying when I started my decorating ventures long ago was that if it would stand still I would eventually paint it.  Seems I am in good company these days. 


Painted furniture and painted cabinets are all the rage.  So, just a little tutorial for those of you that are still a little timid or just need the step by step.


1.)   First scuff sand.  This doesn't mean spending 3 days sanding down to raw wood.  Take 100 grit sandpaper and lightly go over the entire surface.  Sand with the wood grain if possible.  Then with a damp cloth, wipe down the surface to remove all the sanding dust.  Let dry.  You can also purchase a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust.

2.)  Prime with a good coat of primer.  Zinnsser makes a great one.  It will even adhere to glass or tile for paint adhesion if desired.  Let the primer dry.  Usually only takes an hour or so.  I will point out the obvious I'm certain but make sure you are doing the project in a dry and dust free area.  It's a process and can take a day or so with some projects.  So best not to try outside on a windy day or one with a good possibility of rain.  Just saying.  Ok, back to the steps.  

3.)  After priming, choose the color you wish to use and go for it.  My favorite paint for bath and kitchen cabinets is the Valspar Interior Kitchen and Bath Enamel.  It has a soft gloss finish but holds up very well to the natural oils in the fingers which is usually a problem with ordinary latex paints for cabinets.  Plus, no more awful toxic fumes from the oil based paints!  Not for me, no way.  Of course for antique finishes there are now pre-mixed milk paints, faux finish glazes, etc.  

The possibilities are endless and the results are both easy on the eye and the wallet.

See below a Before and After picture of some cabinets I have painted:


Have you transformed any cabinets in your house or a piece of furniture with just a few great coats of paint before?  We'd love to hear from you.  Send any before and after pictures to us at or leave us a comment below!  Any tips are always helpful. 

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