How To Get the Perfect Paint Finish

Furniture Painting Tips

Last weekend one of my friends came over and wanted to see what I was working on. Right now my garage is filled with hand-me-down furniture that I am transforming with paint, production-line style for my daughter to use in her apartment.   Two of the items are metal and my friend was surprised that you could paint metal. She didn’t think you could.  “Yes, a big yes, I told her – you can paint ANYTHING and get the perfect paint finish at the same time.   Over the years I have painted quite a lot of things and have figured out what the right products are and what formulas work to give me professional results every time.

Here is a daybed frame that is getting painted. It has both metal and wood parts. It is in great shape, but the black and wood tone color are not in my daughter’s decorating scheme.  I know with the right products that I can paint this to look brand new – like it came directly from the factory.


Furniture Painting Tips

My secret – any of these products.  I would not even think about painting this bed or any piece of furniture without one of these primers on it first. They are my go-to products – tried and true and have never let me down. Normally I use a brush or roller, but for this bed I used the Kilz spray primer since the bed has all round surfaces – hard to paint evenly with a brush or roller.


I didn’t always know to use these products and learned the ins and outs of painting surfaces the hard way when I was younger.

Learning The Hard Way #1:  The Need For Gripping Primer

When Ed and I were newlyweds in our first house we were given the armoire that is now in my Studioffice.   We used it in a breakfast room as a pantry back then  – it was orange.  I was 24 at the time and very excited to put my style on it and paint it.  Easy peasy – right?  Wrong!  When the paint was dry – it rubbed right off. I was horrified!  What a big HUGE mess – all the detailing and curved top.  Yikes!  I had to go over the entire surface with a wet rag and scrub until it all came off. It is a big piece of furniture and I had to stand on a ladder to do most of it. Not fun.  Off to the paint store I went to find out what I needed to do.  Gripping primer was the answer.

What I Use It On:  Anything that has a bit of a shine or gloss finish, even after sanding – I use 2 light coats of gripping primer first letting each coat dry before applying the second. Then I paint.

It now comes in a grey color which helps when using deep paint colors. It will bring out the color and lessen the need for more coats of paint.

I painted my kitchen cabinets over 10 years ago using Glidden Gripper primer before putting on 2 coats of semi-gloss Sherwin Williams latex.  They still look newly painted. Benjamin Moore also makes a good gripping primer called Aqua Grip. 

Learning The Hard Way #2: The Need For Stain Blocking Primer

Around the same time – being newlyweds in our first house we were eager to make it ours and built a built-in bookcase in our living room. We stained it and after a week I didn’t like the dark color and decided it would look better white. “Just roll on some white paint”, I thought – and I did.  It looked great and I was one happy homeowner.  Fast forward to a week later and it was no longer white – it was pink – Egads!   Back to the paint store I went and learned that stain bleeds through paint.  I needed a stain blocking primer and Kilz Original formula was what they gave me.

Kilz comes in many different formulas. I have tried them all and the Original is the best – two light coats and everything is sealed and bonded to the surface.   Don’t let the oil formula scare you. It smells just a little, but unlike most oil-based paints – it dries in 30 minutes.  You will have to clean your brush out with mineral spirits or use a disposable one if you don’t want to clean it.

I used the spray Kilz for the first time on a lamp a few years ago and was not expecting the same results – but I was pleasantly surprised with smooth excellent adhesion – which is the most important factor when painting over furniture.

What I Use It On:  I use Kilz Original when I am painting over a piece of furniture that has a stained or polyurethane finish.  It will block any stain, resin, or oil from knots in the wood from bleeding through.  It can be tinted if you are going to use a mid-tone or dark paint color.

I have used one of these products on every piece of furniture I have ever painted since.

Sneak peek of the daybed frame After

See the nice smooth finish on the wood and metal parts.   That is the result of Kilz Original spray primer and Rustoleum semi-gloss white. I only had to lightly sand over the wood posts with a piece of medium grit sandpaper to rough up the surface just a bit. Not even 5 minutes of sanding.  The primer does the rest.  Bonds and allows the paint to adhere better so that 10 years from now – the finish looks just as good as the day you painted it.  The smooth finish is also the result of patience – light coats only and letting each coat dry before applying the next.   I have been rewarded with a factory-like finish and a big hug from my daughter for my efforts.

Spray painted furniture tips


When using the spray formula of any primer or paint wear a paint mask and/or respirator and do it outside or in an open area with lots of ventilation. I use plastic sheeting to place large objects on so the overspray doesn’t get on everything.

Best Spray paint primers for furniture

I will show you the finished bed and the rest of the furniture I am working next week when it is all set up in my daughter’s apartment.

Click here to find:  The steps on how to paint anything.

How to paint any surface






  1. says

    What great tips! I didn’t realize stain would bleed through. Glad you told me! I shared this post on Facebook (such good advice)! I look forward to your “how to paint anything” page!

  2. Becki says

    Thanks for the wonderful tips – very timely as I am hoping to paint our dining room table soon!

  3. Loa says

    These are great tips! I have an old dresser (it looks a lot like your giftwrap and Mod Podge dresser) that I want to update for my tween daughter but it has a formica looking top with a high polish. Do I just sand and use the gripping primer on that?

    • says

      Hi Loa – Formica can be painted. :) Sand it first with a fine grit sandpaper – you don’t want to leave scratch marks in it. Clean it with TSP (sold in the paint aisle) or detergent and rinse well. Let dry. Roll or spray on 1 light coat of the bonding or gripping primer. I use Glidden – but any “bonding primer” will work. Let dry. If you see any dust or paint lines – gently go over with the fine grit sandpaper and then use a tack cloth to clean the surface before applying another light coat of the bonding primer.
      (Tack cloths are sold in the paint dept. It is cheesecloth with a sticky finish that picks up dirt and dust from a surface.)
      Once that is dry, apply 2 -3 light coats of your paint – let each one dry before applying the next and check in between each coat that nothing is sticking in the paint – like a bug or piece of hair. Just go over gently with the sandpaper to remove it, clean with the tack cloth and then apply the next coat. Let dry and cure for a few days before using the dresser. If the dresser has any angled areas and you are rolling and brushing the paint on – get the best paint rollers/brushes. Purdy makes the best. A low nap or foam roller and a 1 – 2 inch angled Purdy paint brush. I think the green label is for ultra smooth surfaces. It will say right on the label. Wooster makes good brushes, too. :)

      • Loa says

        Thanks, Diane! This is just the extra bit of information that I needed to take on this project. I knew it could be done, but I was hoping to get it right the first time since it will be in my 11 year old’s room. Now I need to go shopping and get my supplies!

  4. Glinda Fox says

    I have that same bed and love what you did with it! I’ll be moving soon so this is a great idea to change the look! Thanks for the perfect paint job tip!

  5. Sandra says

    Great tips, I am looking forward to seeing you daughter’s new place. She sounds like a wonderful young woman. I am sure you are extremely proud of her, and so glad to have her close by!

  6. says

    I learned a long time ago that Gripper is the KEY TO LIFE! I had never heard of it until my very non-DIY sister (truly NON) told me about it! Now I laugh because she of all people gave me the best hint! I go through gallons of this stuff and I even have them tint it darker when I need to! Same as you, in my eyes – anything can be painted!

    I have never tried spray painting primer though but I have happen to have a day bed just like yours (must be popular) that I want to paint for the grandkids room so I’ll be trying it. I wish Gripper came in a spray paint!

    Great information!

  7. melinda ke says

    I’m so excited to see this post! I just bought a fabulous used dresser that I plan on painting and this will be my first time painting any furniture! I would love to hear if you seal your furniture after painting? This is something I don’t know much about and I’m not sure if it’s necessary? I have heard some sealants cause the finish to yellow over time and I would hate to have that happen after putting so much time and work into it. I love your blog and I can’t wait to see the new page you are working on for how to paint! :)

    • says

      Hi Melinda –

      I do not put sealer on. Paint formulas today are very durable and I do not feel it is needed. The only time I seal the surface is if I did decorative painting on top of rolled on paint. For instance- drew a monogram or stenciled a design on the front of drawers. I use non-yellowing water-based polyurethane for that.

  8. Judy says

    Paint intimidates me-your step by step instructions have given me the confidence to start some long delayed projects!

  9. says

    Amazing work!! I used your method at my house and i really got perfect paint finish. I enjoyed reading you blog and all the links i found is very useful for me.

  10. Vada Shields says

    Absolutely love all your helpful step by step directions! When painting a plastic deck box, do I need to sand & use a base paint? I’m using a spray paint that is supposed to adhere to plastic & does not state these are needed (& I do not want to scratch the plastic). It needs to be durable as it will need to be able to withstand some sun!

    • says

      Hi Vada – I have used the plastic spray paint on my office chair. It has held up great. I am not sure about outside wear. Just know that anything that sits in the sun all day will wear much faster than anything interior. The way to make it really adhere is to spray on only very light coats. Thick coats will end up just peeling off. Better to spray very light coats every hour or until the previous coat is dry and not tacky. Don’t spray over drying spray paint or it will blister right before your eyes. It might take lots of light coats until it is evenly covered, but is worth the time in the long run. It will never hurt to rough up the surface with some fine grit sandpaper first. You don’t want to scratch the plastic, but it can only help the paint adhere. Between every coat you can run the sandpaper over it and clean off with a tack cloth before applying the next coat. When you are all done you will be rewarded with a nice smooth finish. If it is really hot and humid where you live you may want to wait for it to cool off if you are painting outside. It really does make a difference. Each can should state what the ideal temp should be when using the paint.

  11. kat says

    Let me start by saying, I did not use a primer. I painted my shower curtain rod. Did 3 thin layers. Let it dry for 24 hrs. The curtain rings are scratching up the paint. Is it because I didn’t use primer? enough coats? let it cure long enough? does it need some kind of clear sealer? Hoping you can advise.

    • says

      Hi Kat – If the paint is just scratching up the surface of the rod and not peeling or chipping the paint, then I think it is just the surface of the rings that is scratching the paint. They probably scratched the bare metal rod before, but you just didn’t see it as much. You can seal the paint with a non-yellowing polyurethane which should help in not only protecting the paint, but helping the rings glide across the rod. If the paint is chipping and peeling then it is because the surface was not prepared or primed correctly.

  12. Athena says

    The article is great. My grandma gave me some furniture for the new house but the color is too dark and i wan to paint them white. I will try to find the materials that you suggested, and start working…

  13. Becky says

    We are about to tackle our son’s kitchen. The cabinets are dark stained wood with the old hardware from an old 1950’s home. The countertops are well-worn formica. I LOVED your paint re-do of your kitchen, but do you have any DIY ideas to replace the countertops and sink?

    • says

      Hi Becky – Rustoleum makes a paint kit that is made just for counter tops. I have seen it used by many blogger’s. It comes in many different colors and is not hard to use. It is sold at most home improvement stores. Here is a link to the site where you can see the colors and read a little bit more about it.

      As far as the sink – that is a little harder to do anything about, except replace if it is a color that is dated or won’t go with the new color scheme. You could try cleaning, polishing, or touching up the finish if it is porcelain, but in the long run since it gets wet all the time, your time and money is better spent installing a new one. If you want to save money check out a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore or a local thrift or salvage yard to find a nice used one.

    • says

      Hi Cindy – I have used Primer/Paint in 1. They do what they say – so you do not have to prime, but they are a different consistency than paint by itself and you do have to let them cure a few days before you see good adhesion. They are a thinner consistency – at least the ones I used – Behr and Glidden and in my projects they did not produce a creamy lustrous finish that I like to see on the objects I paint. I much prefer the look of paint by itself under a separate primer – especially when you see the object – say a door at an angle when the light hits it. I don’t think I would ever use one again for this reason, not because they don’t work.

      • Annabel says

        Thank you so much Diane, I have a question though, When painting over particle board what do you recommend. I plan on transforming my desk to a vanity and i don’t know how tough the sanding grit should be and what type of paint to purchase that will give me great lasting coverage without peeling or chipping. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

  14. Jane says

    What a wonderful common sense guide. I have learned so much! I’m trying to put together a game plan for painting the entire 1st level of my home, including baseboards, window frames and doors. So what’s the problem??? I have a dog that occasionally likes to scratch at the door when we get home – poor little guy gets so excited! Any new paint job could be ruined in a matter of days. So, I’m thinking I need to use a couple coats of gripper primer, a good satin paint, then perhaps a couple coats of poly to protect the doors from his nails. Do you think the poly will stand the test of time and the excitement of a crazed schnauzer?

    • says

      Thnanks Jane –
      I have the same problem in my house. A have two dogs – one little, one bigger and they both scratch at the door :) Using the gripper primer and high quality paint will help along with the poly, but the door will show signs of scratching eventually. There is no way to prevent it that I know of that will keep it looking good for the long run. I have not tried them myself, but they do make clear door shields that go on doors to protect them. If you do a Google search for “Door Shields” you will find a few types.

  15. molly says

    do you need to sand the metal part of the daybed as well? the daybed i plan on painting is all metal. also, i have rambunctious kids in the house, should i plan on spraying on a coat of polyeurothane? thanks

    • says

      HI Molly – I would – just a light going over with a sanding block with medium grit sandpaper on it. It is worth the extra step to ensure you get perfect adhesion. Spray poly is fine to use – just make sure it says – “non-yellowing” on the label. If not it will change your paint color to one with an orange cast. I think Rustoleum makes one. Blue can with a photo of a piece of furniture on the label.

  16. Kay says

    I have a dresser that I sanded, primed and painted black with Behr satin paint. Can I apply a clear poly to help protect the finish? This dresser is for my grandkids.

  17. phyllis says

    Hey Diane i have a wooden chest that has been painted a glossy dark green.I would like paint it a black antique look. How would I go about this process. I have never painted any furniture. Hoping to be a success! Anxious to hear from you. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Phyllis – If you are new to painting and aging furniture the easiest way would be to paint the chest black with black chalk paint. Run sandpaper over the entire surface to rough up the glossy finish a bit so that the paint has something to stick to. If you want to distress the edges to further the antique look, also make sure to sand a few edges and places where natural wear and tear would occur (edges, drawer fronts by pulls, etc) to the bare wood before painting to remove the green color. Remember where these areas are so after you paint the piece black you can go back over the areas to age the piece without the green paint showing. Paint over the whole piece with black chalk paint. Sand over the areas where the green was previously removed. Once that is done, I would add some Rub and Buff (craft stores or online) in Antique Gold over some of the areas and then a coat or two of clear paste wax. Apply the wax, let dry for about 20 minutes and then buff with a soft cloth to bring out the shine. Repeat until you get the shine you desire.

  18. Tiphanie says

    I am doing my first project, a metal loft bed. I was told to sand. I’m going on 4 hours of sanding now. : / It was in really bad shape so i guess its good that i did, but ugh if the primer would have just worked would have saved a lot of time. I’m still going to prime it with rust-oleum painters touch primer. And then paint with rust-oleums wildflower blue. Spray painting. My only question is do i clean it after i sand it? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Tiphanie – That’s a lot of sanding, must have been a real mess. Yes, clean off all the sanding girt with water. Rinse the rag and go over a few times to make sure all the grit is off. Use a tack cloth if possible and use it in between coats, too to clean off any dust, dirt, bugs, hair, etc that may have landed on your drying paint. If you don’t, your painted coat will have teenie bumps of grit in it. Rustoleum primers are great – just remember- light coats, not heavy ones or you will be back to square one.

  19. Sheryll & Critters. says

    I just found a blog on Hometalk where the gal mention Diane did a blog and I immediately knew she meant you…… cause you are so good.

  20. says

    I have a pine dining chest with glass doors that I would like to paint black to match an Arhaus buffet. The dining chest has a laquer or some other factory finish over it, but the pine itself is a light, more natural looking color. How should I proceed? Do I need to sand the entire piece or just use the Glidden gripper alone? What paint would you recommend I use to get a nice satiny black finish? Any help you can give will be much appreciated!

  21. Rhonda says

    How long, after you prime with Glidden Gripper, do you have to wait before you can do a light sand to smooth out the brush marks?

    • says

      It dries to the touch in about 30 minutes, but I would wait 2 hours at least – more if you are working in a humid environment. You don’t want to rush it, better to make sure it is completely dry so you won’t end up sanding any still damp spots and creating a mess.

  22. Katie says

    So, this may be a dumb question – but if I use a gripper primer or kilz on a stained wood bunk bed before painting, (it’s not glossy, it looks like it just soaked right in) do I still need to lightly sand it? I hate sanding with a passion and thought Kilz was the answer to avoid it. Lol! Thanks.

  23. Karina says

    Your tips are so much better than what I have read on other sites! I would like to try to paint a shiny white daybed with immaculate paint and no rust so that it looks like it has a dark gray/black slightly textured non-glossy finish. How should I go about doing this? Do I need to strip off the paint first or would simply giving it a good sanding work? Will the kilz spray primer work on this with or without sanding? What type of gray/black paint might give me the finish I am looking for? I am a beginner so please don’t skip any steps in the explanation or I won’t know to do them. Please help!

    • says

      Hi Karina – You can paint the bed – you do not need to strip it. it will look great. You first have to knock down the shine or the paint will have nothing to grab onto. You can go over all the shiny surfaces with a sanding block with medium grit sandpaper to rough it up. You want to do enough to remove the shine so it becomes dull. Clean all the grit off with a damp rag and let it dry.

      Use spray Kilz over the the entire surface. Two light coats -let the first one dry before applying the next. Keep the spray can8-12 inches away from the surface as you spray to create a nice even coat. Let that dry well.

      If you want a slightly grey textured look – I would look into “textured or hammered spray paint” . All hardware and home improvement stores carry them. I know Rustoleum makes textured and hammered finishes. If you like the look of the hammered, but it is too glossy for the look you want – run very fine sandpaper over the surface after it is dry to dull it. Flat or satin black spray paint may give you the look you are after also – it won’t be textured but will have no gloss.

      • Karina says

        Thank you so much for your advice! I very quickly sanded everything down and used a Rustoleum paint/primer combo “oil rubbed bronzed” color and it turned out amazing! Any tips on painting built in shelves with crown moulding, baseboards, and trim attached?

  24. Jackie says

    Thank you for the advice on gripping primers- I’be tried and you are so right! I am experiencing a bit of a rough feeling finish on a piece that is new and had a very smooth, factory finish. I’m using glidden gripper and hope the rough surface that I’ve got now after the primer will be smooth when the top coat goes on. Thanks again.

  25. Jennifer says

    Thank you for the advice on painting metal! I have a small metal shelf that I purchased and have hopes of painting it black. I thought I could just paint it and all would be good.. I was wrong! I have ended up with a sticky gooey uneven mess. What do you recommend to remove the paint so I can properly primer and repaint?

    • says

      Hi Jennifer – the best and easiest way to remove the paint is to use a spray can of paint stripper. It will allow you to get all the sides, edges of the shelf in one full swoop. It is sold at most home improvement stores in the paint section. I bought my can at Lowes. It is made by EZKleen I think. It is a gold can. Once the paint is removed – I would go over the surface lightly with fine grit sandpaper. Just a quick going over will help with paint adhesion. I would use spray primer and spray paint to paint, so the painted finish shows no brush marks. It will look like a factory finish – like you bought it that way.

  26. says

    Diane, could you please tell me, if I use a primer on a wooden table top, do I have to use brush on paint, or will spray on Rustoleum work? (black)
    Thank You Sue

  27. says

    Well I just learned not to spray primer outside in the humidity and I didn’t use Gripper bc they didn’t have it. :( and I sprayed a whole can and a half on when i realized i was suppose to let dry. Now…. It looks like little pelts on top of table and if i brush my hand over it, it comes off. I hate spray should of used brush on. Is there anything I need to do now, or can I put paint on now? and is it better to brush on or spray on table top? I am worried I just ruined this table :(

    • says

      Hi Sue – You didn’t ruin your table, you just took a few steps back. I would sand the finish to get it smooth and remove the uneven surface or as you said – pelts. Once it is smooth – clean it well and let it dry, then repaint. If most of the spray paint is still on the table after sanding, you can brush over it with paint. If most of it came off – use a primer – one light coat, let dry – one more light coat – let it dry – it does not have to be Gripper, but a good brand name primer – Zinseer, BINZ, etc. When painting – either with a brush or spray paint – ALWAYS apply light coats, let each coat dry before applying the next. When using spray paint – use long sweeping motions across the surface to get an even finish. It is the gradual build up of paint that will give you a smooth and lasting finish.

  28. Ms Tee says

    Hello I recently spray painted an accent table with Rustoleum 2x bright Orange and hours later sprayed a one light coat of clear gloss sealant. To my dismay, after I sprayed the clear coat, I got this dusty film on the pie. How did this happen and how can I fix it?

    • says

      Ms. Tee – I am not sure what you are referring to – the pie? If what you sprayed is not glossy – gloss sealant usually needs a few light coats until you get an all-over gloss finish. Up until then – it may look dusty. Did you shake the can well before spraying it on?

  29. Kelly says

    I have a question for you. I spray painted some vintage metal interior mail boxes. I used Painter’s Touch white primer then Painter’s Touch paprika in satin. The finish ended up smooth on the lids but rough on the body, and not as shiny as it should be. I wouldn’t really say it “bubbled” but just kind of rough like sandpaper. (I don’t like the color and want to redo it.) So I actually have a few questions. #1)Why did it end up rough….don’t want that to happen again. A couple of thoughts…maybe the weather was too hot, maybe coats were too close together, maybe paint got damaged from being left outside? #2) Should I use “Oops” or some type of paint stripper and get the boxes down to the bare metal before I try again? #3) What products should I use next time? I think I actually want a glossy finish and bright orange. Thanks!! (This is SO NOT what I should be spending my morning on. But keeps seeming to “jump” to the top of my “to-do” list.) ;) I really appreciate your time!!

    • says

      Hi Kelly – So many things could have happened with the paint drying rough on the body of the mailboxes. It could have been the angle you sprayed it on, the overspray when you were painting the other mailbox got on it, it wasn’t shaken enough, the temp, or the paint itself. Painters Touch is a good brand so I am more prone to think it was overspray or the temp. If it is too hot out, the paint will dry way too fast and could cause it to bubble up. I sometimes like the cheaper spray paints better. Valspar makes a nice gloss, but I have never used a spray paint that I did not like.

      I would remove the paint with paint stripper, and then clean it well. Apply the metal primer and then the paint. Use long sweeping strokes – more light coats – let dry about 30 minutes in between each. You can even sand them in between coats with very fine sandpaper and then clean off the grit with a tack cloth before the next coat. Place them far apart when spraying so no overspray gets on them. Place them in a dust free and shady place, too.

  30. Cathy says

    Hey Diane, love your blog!
    I have a question. I found a 60’s bedroom suit at a thrift store. It has yellowed somewhat from off white. And that ugly gold trim. The front of the drawers are plastic. I was planning on painting it. Now the plastic drawer fronts have scared me on painting.
    Please what is your advice? And, do you think it would be a color for my 11 year old granddaughter? Blessings!

    • says

      Hi Cathy – No need to fear the plastic drawer fronts. I have painted furniture exactly like it. I would sand the piece down with medium grit sandpaper ( a hand sanding block will do – you just want to rough up the surface a bit) – be careful not to sand too hard on the plastic – you want to evenly rough it up, but not make deep gouges, then clean it off with a damp rag. Let it dry. Apply two light coats of a “Gripping” primer with a foam roller. Use an angled brush to paint the beveled edges and sections. Glidden Gripper primer is the one I have always used. It is sold at the Home Depot. If you are going to use a dark color paint – get the grey formula instead of the white. It will bring out deep colors more. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Once that is dry, go over it very lightly with a fine grit sandpaper and then clean it off with a tack cloth. Then roll on two light coats of your paint. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Apply more coats as needed, but I have found 2 will do it.

      Your granddaughter will love any color you choose, but I would go with a fun bold color that will coordinate with her room. :) If you want a hip modern look -use gloss or semi gloss. For a more traditional look – a satin finish always looks nice. If you need to protect the satin finish – Apply 2 light coats of non yellowing Polyurethane over the piece. Minwax polycrylic is a good one to use.

      • Cathy says

        Hey Diane!
        Thank you so much for your quick response! You have really given me hope! I do agree with you on the fun color. The curtains are a apple green. Some things in her room are pink, and black. I am really at a loss for the color. Three walls in the room is white with one wall a lipstick color. She has a zebra comforter. I am sorry on all the questions . Would you choose a different color than black? You are just wonderful to help!

        • Cathy says

          Sorry one more thing. After the primer coats what kind of paint do I purchase? Thank you so much!

          • says

            HI Cathy – I would go with the apple green. Use any brand of latex paint. Get semi-gloss or gloss finish if you want it to be shiny. Satin – would be a more subtle sheen.

          • Cathy says

            Hey Diane!

            Hope you are doing well.

            I went to Home Depot and the guy talked me into a primer and paint all in one. A latex paint. I sanded the furniture. It has been about three weeks. It looked great, but now the paint is pulling right off the top of the furniture. I am not sure what to do now. Do you have any advice? Thank you for helping me. I must have done something terribly wrong.

          • says

            Hi Cathy –

            Sorry to hear you paint job didn’t turn out. I am not a fan of paint and primers in one. In fact – I will admit I do not like them at all! Until the technology of the formulas gets better, I will stick to a separate primer and paint.

            On your piece, it sounds like the paint did not adhere which means that something went wrong in the prep stage. After 3 weeks the paint should be cured so I don’t think that is the problem. I think the primer in the paint and primer in one – may be good for drywall priming, but not on furniture that already has a finish on it. That is why I always use a gripping primer. Glidden Gripper is inexpensive and sold at Home Depot. It is the best stuff. I used it on my kitchen cabinets 12 years ago and they are still perfect.

            I think what you need to do, is sand the surface to get it as smooth as possible, if it looks uneven – you can strip it, but that is a messy outside job. Once you get the surface smooth – apply 2 light coats of gripping primer,let each one dry before applying the next. Lightly sand and clean dried coats before applying the next. Then roll or brush on 1 -2 very light coats of your paint, letting each dry. Let it cure for a few days and then do a scratch test. Depending on the temps in the room, it may even take longer to cure, especially if it is humid.

  31. Charlotte says

    Diane, I love your site just found it. I had an old gold chandalier that we want to paint for our grand child’s room. I primed it with Zinseer primer spray 2 or 3 coats it looked fine. Then I used rust oleum satin white and like the post above I have tiny grit- looking places on the curves where the
    arms go up toward the light part. This has a scroll design on it too. Help!
    This is my first time painting this kind of project. Usually paint baskets.

    • says

      Hi Charlotte – What I believe happened is the over spray reached the other parts of the chandelier. When spray painting the over spray gets everywhere. I it was hot out, the droplets of paint dry faster and don’t have time to flatten. I think if you smooth the piece down with fine grit sandpaper you will be able to smooth it out. Wait to respray when the temperature is a bit cooler and then apply only light coats. When each coats is dry, go over the surface with 220 -320 fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spot or drips. Clean it off with a tack cloth and then add the next coat of paint. If you are still getting rough spots, you may need to use a piece of cardboard to block part of the chandelier while you spray it a section at a time. Another tip, shake the can frequently while spraying. You can never over shake, more shaking is better :)

  32. Angela says

    hi I have a question I have an antique table its painted but the top is getting scratched and I need to give it another coat do I need to send the top lightly and do I need to use primer before I put another coat of paint on

    • says

      Hi Angela – You do not have to add primer, but I would use very fine sandpaper over the scratched areas. Clean any dirt off and then apply a light coat of paint over the table. 2 light coats should be enough. Lightly sand in between dried coats to ensure a smooth finish

    • says

      Hi Alice – you can paint it when it is dry to the touch. I usually wait a few hours just to make sure it is dry, especially in hot and humid weather.

  33. Kathy says

    What about the primer that rust oleum makes? I just used that on a wood make up table, then used the glossy white spray paint. Will their primer work as well as the kiltz?

    • says

      Hi Kathy – Rustoleum makes a great product and will work on metal, but if you were going to spray paint or brush paint on wood, you are better off using Kilz spray or brush-on because it will block the tannins in the wood from changing the color of the paint. Rustoleum may not do that – it is made for priming metal and rust.

  34. Ronda says

    Diane, I found your work while searching which type of paint to use on a furniture project I just started. Thanks for all the detail info and photos. Your work is great! Because of you I now want to try everything!
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent. Ronda

  35. Cinda says

    Been delaying a huge painting project on an old hutch that has been lightly sanded and also some veneer stripped off down to the bare wood. I would like to paint this antique white but don’t know if the whole project should be painted with primer and then paint. Will the stripped wood have the same finish if it is all done the same way. It was in rough shape when found and is a treasure to try to salvage. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Cinda – Use a primer – a must when you are painting over bare wood. If you don’t use a primer – the paint will suck right into the bare wood and you won’t like how it looks. Primer will also block any wood tannins from coming through the paint and changing your paint color. Once the primer is on, the finish will all look the same. You may see a ridge or two if the veneer is still on it in areas, but the color will be the same. I did this on the mantel in my dining room. It came out perfectly even though I could not get all the veneer off it spots. You can see it in this post:

  36. Kaneez says

    I have an old table that is stained and has a polyurethane coat on it. I want to paint it antique white. Should I sand the whole thing, then put the Gripper on, then paint? I’m new to this, so if you can give me step by step, I’d appreciate it!

  37. Lynn says

    Help, I have a very old buffet that I am refinishing. I stripped it with citristrip. Sanded it with a hand sander. Cleaned it with tsp. then I used a primer zinsser bulls eye 123. I sprayed 2 coats letting each dry over an hr between. After several weeks, I finally found the rust oleum painters touch in heirloom white. I sprayed a coat and let it dry about an hr. then sprayed another. The paint is rough in many areas, like rough sand paper. I live in dry colorado so I don’t think the drying step is the problem. What do I do to fix the problem? Can I just lightly sand down the rough spots and paint another coat?

    • says

      Hi Lynn – The problem you have run into is quite common among spray painters. What is happening is the air is hot and dry and the droplets of spray paint are drying before they hit the surface. It can also happen when you are painting one area and the overspray gets on another section of the piece and that overspray being that it is light and airy dries too fast giving you a sandy feel.

      What you need to do is sand the piece smooth and wait until the air is cooler and is not so dry. Late at night or early in the morning may be a better time to recoat if you live in hot and or dry environment.

  38. Sarah says

    Help! I am painting a buffet. I was going to buy the Zinsser cover-all primer but just went with a multi-purpose latex primer from Sherwin Williams so I wouldn’t have to make another stop after I picked up my paint. Yesterday I put two coats of primer on the piece. I am able to scrape it off with my fingernail. I would have expected it to have hardened and not be so easy to scrape off. I am afraid of painting the whole piece & having it peel off after all that work. I really just want to go with the oil based Zinsser primer since I have had good success with it in the past. Can I add a coat of it on top of the latex primer? Or do I have to scrape the latex primer off first? I appreciate any advice you have for me! I am just not sure if this is normal that I would be able to scrape off the latex primer at this stage.

    • says

      Hi Sarah –

      I am not of fan of all purpose primers, even brand name ones. I like Kilz, Zinseer, and Glidden Gripper. They are the best to use. The primer may just need time to cure. Another reason – Did you sand the buffet before applying the primer? Was the can shaken at the store to mix it up? If it was not mixed up enough, it may not perform well.

      To remedy the situation. I would let it sit another day to see if it can still be scratched off. If it does, then I would sand it – not to the bare wood, but enough to rough up the primed surface. Clean it off and then roll on 1 very light coat of Kilz or Zinseer primer. Let it dry and roll on one more very light coat. I prefer the oil based Kilz. It dries in 30 minutes. It is not like a slow drying oil paint. When it is dry, then proceed with the paint. Light thin coats are best. Don’t think you have failed – all is not lost – you just took a little detour :)

      • Sarah says

        Thank you so much for responding so quickly. It did my heart a lot of good :) I will give it another day and hope it doesn’t scrape off easily.

  39. Victoria says

    I made the mistake of buying a dresser that is particle board and a thin paper finish. I want to paint it but I am afraid that sanding it will make a mess. When I paint it will the paper bubble up if I use latex paint.

    • says

      Hi Victoria – I think you will be able to paint your dresser with success. You can sand it lightly to rough it up so the paint has something to adhere to. After sanding – use a good primer/sealer. I would use Kilz Original. It is an oil based, but dries to re-coat in 30 minutes. This will seal the surface so when you paint, the paper will not bubble. Use very light coats of each the primer and paint and after each coat is dry, make sure everything is not bubbling, shrinking, etc. If it is – sand to smooth and then apply the next coat of paint.

  40. says

    I just found your website today via the BHG Makeover Madness site (I don’t know who won and I’m too late to vote but I love how you combined two separate pieces of furniture into one gorgeous piece) and I’m thrilled! Your projects are beautiful and you seem to be a fountain of knowledge about painted pieces. I recently bought a dresser and china cabinet off of Craig’s List to paint and they will be my first painted furniture pieces (my painting experience is limited to walls).

    Anyway, after reading your posts, I’m beginning to think I really can paint my Formica kitchen cabinets! I read your comment above to another reader about painting Formica so I know to use a gripping primer. For the paint itself, should I used oil-based or latex? Or would your chalk paint recipe (the CCP one) be best?

    I hesitate to ask because I know that you get so many requests for additional information but I read as many posts as I could and I couldn’t find that info. I read your post about your kitchen cabinets, too (gorgeous makeover by the way) but didn’t see that mentioned. Any additional advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

  41. Mary says

    Hi Diane,

    I have a question…My brother gave me a somewhat ornate buffet that was painted with either an off-white flat or chalk paint. The surface, particularly around the areas of detail, were almost “lumpy”. My husband hated it so i told him that I had a plan to paint it. In an effort to “help” me he powerwashed (!!) the old paint off. We have found that the cabinet itself is solid and wood composite but the detailed panels are some kind of composite material. They are in fact bumpy. I tried to sand the surfaces as best I could, but they are still bumpy. I now accept that the surface will not be as smooth as I had originally hoped, but I still think we can work with it. I was going to paint it a mossy green and then paint a slightly lighter green on top and distress the edges a bit. I wanted to add some type of highlighting or wax rub, but I am afraid that all the irregularities will show up. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!!!

  42. Nazira says

    Hi. I have a diy disaster. I bought a trunk from the thrift store and some painted it red (it was black). It has paint drips that have dried. I want to spray paint it and even tried sanding it but the drips won’t go away. Do I use paint remover? What do I do? Please help! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Nazira – What grit of sandpaper are you using? It sounds like it may not be coarse enough. Try 60 grit and then 100 after that, and then use 220 to smooth the paint in the area were the paint drips are. Try rolling a small piece of the sandpaper into a pointed roll to get into detailed and tight areas.

      I would not put paint stripper just on the area where the drip is, it will only make matters worse in getting a smooth finish. If the sandpaper does not remove the drip to your liking, then you will have to strip all the red paint off the truck to get a smooth finish all over. If you need to do this, use spray on Citra-Strip. It is easy to use and does not smell. Let it sit for at least 24 hours and it will be easy to remove all the red paint. You can buy it at Walmart and home improvement stores.

  43. Carmen says

    Hi Diane,

    Thanks so much fro the great post! Ive had some issues after spray painting a drawer is the Rustoleum Ultra Cover x2 Glosss spray. I’m trying to get a high gloss effect but after a couple of coats its turned out to be completely matt with a rough texture, there is no gloss effect at all. :( Do you have any recommendation for a product i can use over this to make it glossy? What should my next step be to correct this?


    • says

      Hi Carmen – This is a common when using gloss spray paint. I think it has to do with either 3 things. One – the can has to be shaken quite a lot and even shake it while spraying if you can. 2 -It could have been to warm when you sprayed and the paint dried a tiny bit before hitting the surface, the perfect temp for spray painting is around 75 degrees. 3 – You sprayed with the can too far away from the surface. Try holding the can at an angle and about 6-8 inches over the surface as you spray. To fix your piece, lightly sand the surface with fine 220 grit sandpaper to smooth any roughness, clean off the grit and them respray during the time of the day when the temp is closet to 75, shake, and hold the can closer to the surface as you spray. Also don’t sweep the spray can across the surface too fast. Slower, but even sweeps should help.

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