How to Paint FAQ’s Answered

As I DIY home decorating blogger, I often get asked many questions about paint, including… Can I paint wood?  How Do I Paint Metal?  What kind of paint should I use on plastic?

These are the most frequently asked question I get asked about decorating a home, but the number one question I receive about painting is…  Can you paint over varnished or sealed wood without sanding?

I have written and shared Paint Tutorials & Tips that will help anyone become a better painter. This guide is a quick overview of what surface can be painted and how to go about the application of the paint.

paint brushes on a table

These are the most frequently asked how to paint questions I receive in my inbox daily. My answer is  – Yes! anything can be painted when you know how and what paint and products to use.

With technology and paint formula improvements that have been introduced in the past decade – you can paint just about any surface so that it has a long lasting finish.

Your Paint Questions Answered – How to Paint Any Surface

Here is a painting guide that will explain the steps on how to paint the most common surfaces and some not so common questions that readers have asked me.  I also included the products that I use and that can be easily found at your local hardware, paint, or home improvement store.   You can also paint anything using DIY chalk paint.

Browse here to learn more about making and painting with DIY chalk paint.

The most important thing to know about painting any surface – it is not just about the paint!

Kilz Latex primer

The most successful paint finishes are those where the surface was prepped correctly, manufacturers directions followed, and the paint applied under the right temperature and conditions.

The only way paint should be applied is in light coats. It is better to have more light coats than fewer thicker ones.  This has to do with the chemistry of paint, thin coats wear much slower than thick coats, because they dry harder.

a pile of used paint brushes on a table

Before you paint anything. Keep these three things in mind: 

1. Prep correctly and take the time to sand. No need to sand it to the bare wood with an electric sander. A 5 – 10 minute going over with medium grit sandpaper on a sanding block will do the trick. It can never hurt and will only help with adhesion.  Sanding briefly over the surface before will save you hours of frustration later when you find the paint has not adhered.   Sanding in between coats with a fine grit paper and cleaning the surface off with a tack cloth before applying the next coat will ensure a smooth finish.  

2. Only apply paint and primers in thin coats and let each one dry before applying the next coat. Use high quality brushes  they may cost a bit more, but you will be rewarded with a smoother finish, plus if you take care of them, they can last for years. 

3. Be gentle with your painted piece the first few weeks.  Paint takes time to cure.  Curing brings the paint to its maximum hardness and durability. Depending on the weather, temps, and thickness of the coats – it could take up to 3 weeks.    

Following these steps will ensure beautiful painted surfaces that will last a life time.

What is the Best Way to To Get a Smooth Painted Finish?

If you want a smooth, sleek finish but don’t want to use spray equipment, buy mohair rollers. Unlike standard rollers, mohair rollers don’t lift the wet paint and create a bumpy texture as it is rolled on. Use mohair rollers to paint doors or anything where you want a very smooth finish. You can find mohair rollers at paint and home improvement stores.

How to Paint Wood Furniture that has Paint, Stain, or Polyurethane on It?

I have painted quite a lot of furniture and there are three methods to use. I would suggest reading a few of my furniture makeover posts first.

I recommend one of these 3 furniture painting methods:

No matter which you choose, sanding is key to make sure the paint will adhere to the surface and also give you a very smooth finish for the paint. Start with 100 grit sandpaper and then finish off with 220. You do not have to go to the bare wood, just sand enough to knock down the sheen and rough up the surface a little to provide some tooth. Clean off the grit well and then begin to paint using your choice of paint.

Option 1. Prime and paint using traditional paint products.  I would use KILZ primer or Glidden Gripper first – 2 light coats, letting the first coat dry completely before adding the second light coat. then paint. Two light coats, again letting the first one dry completely. Sand in between coats to smooth brush strokes. 

Products I Use:  Glidden Gripper Primer for bonding over slick or shiny surfaces. Kilz Original or Kilx Maxx for bare wood or when wood knots are present. Any brand of latex paint in the sheen you desire. To protect – Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in 3 sheens.

Products Needed to paint wood furniture

Rough the surface with 60-100 grit sandpaper on a sanding block.  Clean off with a tack cloth.  Go over piece with a damp rag or if it is very dirty, clean with dish soap and  or TSP,  rinse well. Let dry and go over with a tack cloth again. Roll or brush on two light coats of a bonding or stain blocking primer.

(Stain blocking for bare, dark, or old wood.  Gripping primer for glossy surfaces.) Let each coat dry before applying the next.

Then roll or brush on two coats of latex paint. Thin coats. Let each coat dry before applying the next.  If the piece is going to see some action or for table tops – protect the finish with non- yellowing polyurethane – 1 – 2 light coats.   I painted the dresser in my guest room following these steps.

Option 2. Chalk paint and poly. In this post, I distressed the finish and used wax, but you don’t have to distress and can use high gloss urethane or poly. How to Paint a Piece of Furniture With Chalk Paint 

I like using chalk paint as the dried surface can be sanded really smooth very easily before you add a wax, poly or urethane finish. Chalk paint is not only for making furniture look old. It can be used as a modern finish when it is not distressed to expose bare wood in the finish.

For a modern look, simply sand the dried surface of the paint to smooth the painted surface to remove any brush strokes. It will give you a factory like finish. To create the glossy finish, apply high gloss urethane or poly over it or apply wax and buff it with a soft cloth to produce a sheen.

Products I Use:  You can make your own DIY Chalk Paint using any latex paint. This is my go to since I usually can’t find the color I want in most chalk paint lines. Find out how to make chalk paint in this post: DIY Chalk Paint Recipes

If going with the chalk paint method to paint a piece of furniture, the most budget friendly would be to use Waverly Chalk paint sold in the craft aisle at Walmart.  It comes in a few colors. Next would be the KILZ brand of chalk paint sold at Target with the Joanna Gaines Fixer Upper line. 

Option 3: Black Stain and Poly  – Read how to do this in this post. How to Stain Furniture Black  Instead of Using Paint

The last option using black stain looks really nice, but a few readers have told me that the formula of the black stain I used has changed since I painted wood furniture a glossy black a few years ago. I would test the product out first to decide if it still works the same way and provides the right sheen. 

Option 4: If you don’t want to use sandpaper to prep your piece of furniture, you can use liquid sander deglosser.  To get paint to adhere to wood, you usually have to sand it to provide some “tooth” for the paint to adhere, especially with anything that’s varnished or has a clear shiny finish.  Liquid sander deglosser removes the finish, giving it a rough texture without the effort.  You can find it in the paint aisle.  One to try is made by Klean-Strip.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture and Cabinets?

Sand with 180-grit or fine sandpaper.  Sand it gently to rough up the surface, but don’t gouge it.  Clean the surface with a cotton rag, water, and mild detergent such as dish soap.  Let dry.  Apply a  bonding primer suitable for laminate surfaces to increase paint’s adhesion.

Let dry according to the manufacturer’s directions. It may take up to a week to cure.  Let it cure before rolling or spraying paint on -you will be rewarded with a lasting finish for your patience.

Apply light coats of paint, let each one dry before applying the next. To ensure a very smooth finish – sand in between coats with very fine grit sandpaper and clean the grit off with a tack cloth. Protect it with a coat or two of non-yellowing water based polyurethane.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

How to Paint Cardboard Backdrops in Inexpensive Furniture?

If your furniture has cardboard or even foam boards as backdrops you can paint them,  but you need to make sure they are secure or else they will curl up when paint is applied.

It is best to make sure all the staples/nails are being held holding in place and then paint. If you removed the backing board to paint – you need to tape it down flat with low tack painter’s tape so it does not curl.

Use a paint and primer in one formula or one coat of primer and one coat of paint.  Don’t remove the tape until it is dry.  Either a brush or roller will work.

Products to use to paint foam core and cardboard in furntiure

How to Paint Upholstered Furniture Fabric?

Mix 2 parts acrylic paint with 2 parts fabric medium with 1 part water. Mix well. Fill a spray bottle with water and saturate the upholstery, this will make painting easier.

Use a stiff paint brush to paint the paint mixture on the fabric.   You will need at least 3 coats for good coverage.  Let each coat dry before applying the next.  You can buy fabric medium at the crafts store.

How to paint upholstered furniture fabric and products to use

How to Paint Fabric?

Tape preshrunk fabric to plastic covered cardboard. Place cardboard inside a pillow cover so paint doesn’t soak through. Use fabric paint or an acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.

Apply the paint in several thin coats to work it into the fibers with a stiff paint brush.  Heat-set if required according to paint manufacturer instructions.  Your piece can be laundered with mild detergent after 10-14 days.

How to paint fabric

How to Paint Drywall?

Remove dust from walls and wash over them with a rag dampened with a  TSP and water mix. Scrap off loose paint and fill any holes with surfacing compound. For new drywall, apply wallboard sealer.

For existing drywall, use a stain-blocking primer to help hide water stains. Apply two coats of latex paint, let dry between coats.

How to paint drywall

How to Paint Faux Wood Paneling?

Paneling usually has a sheen that needs to be scuffed to prepare it for paint. Use a pole sander with 80 grit sandpaper followed by a good cleaning with TSP or detergent, rinse well.

When dry, roll on two light coats of bonding primer – let the first coat dry before applying the second.  Then roll on your paint.  2 light coats should give good coverage.  Use a good quality 1 -2  inch wide angled brush to paint the vertical grooves in the paneling.

How to paint paneling

How to Paint Brick and Brick Fireplaces?

Scrub bricks with a stiff brush, water, and mild detergent, and then rinse well. For tough grime, use muriatic acid and rinse with 2 tablespoons baking soda per gallon of water.

Apply masonry sealer and then use a long nap roller to apply paint.  Use a good quality 1 -2 inch angled brush to get paint into the grout lines and crevices. If you have newly installed brick, wait 30 days before painting it.

Before I added AirStone to my fireplace, I painted the bricks white.

How to paint Brick

How to Paint Ceramics and Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic is not porous and to paint it right so that it lasts for a long time you  need to use a paint  that has epoxy in it or primer/paint that are specially formulated for tile.

When working with these paints – you must make sure to get adequate ventilation in the room and wear a mask as the chemicals have a very strong smell.  You need to sand the surface with 120 – 150 grit sandpaper.

Clean with water, let dry. Sand again. Clean.  Taking the time to prep the surface is what will make the paint adhere for a long time without scratching off.    Apply two coats of  primer with a high density foam roller, then two light coats of paint.

Allow paint to dry for several days or cure according to the manufacturer’s directions.

How to paint tile

How to Paint Concrete?

To paint a concrete surface like a porch floor, first scrub it clean with TSP, then bleach and water solution.  Degrease oily spots using a concrete degreaser, and repair cracks with concrete filler.

Etch the surface with a 10 percent solution of muriatic acid and water. Apply a concrete sealer and two to three coats of paint designed for concrete surfaces.

How to paint concrete

How to Paint Metal?

Clean the surface with a stiff wire brush, or steel wool to remove flaking paint or rust.  Run fine to medium grit sandpaper over the surface to rough it up just a bit.  Rinse well with  a damp rag and let dry.

Prime with metal primer and let dry. If metal is rusted, use  spray paint with rust inhibitors. Let dry. Apply several thin coats of paint. Let each coat dry before applying the next coat.

I like to use spray paint on pieces that have rounded metal parts. See the bed frame I painted for my daughter.  If using spray paint, hold the can 1—12 inches from the surface as you spray.

Shake the can during the application to keep the color mixed. Spray lightly to avoid paint runs.  Let each coat dry for about 30 minutes or until it is dry to the touch before applying the next coat.

How to paint metal

How To Paint Outdoor Light Fixture?

It is best to paint exterior fixtures when they are not in direct sunlight, if you are not removing the fixture, wait until a cloudy day or paint when the fixture is in the shade.

Scour the surface with steel wool and detergent to clean off rust and peeling paint. Rinse and let dry.

Use a stiff paint brush to apply an exterior oil-based metallic paint. Apply light coats and work fast. Let each coat dry before applying the next coat.  See how I transformed my outdoor light fixtures with a hammered paint finish.

How to paint an exterior metal light fixture

How to Paint Glass?

Start with a clean, dry surface. If you use a pattern, tape it to the outside of clear glass. With an artist’s brush, apply a thin layer of glass paint.  For a more opaque finish, apply an additional coat after the first is dry. Paint slowly to avoid bubbles.

If you want the look of frosted glass or mirrored glass use a specialty paint made to achieve the look.  I used Looking Glass Mirror paint on the back of my fireplace screen.

How to paint glass

How To Paint a Mirror or a Mirrored Wall?

To paint mirror successfully you need to use a good “Bonding Primer”. One that I like is called,  Stix. It is in a blue can. It will do the trick.

Follow the directions on the can, but basically you will want to clean the surface well and let it dry, then roll it on.  After it is dry, paint over it. I would use a high quality roller that has rounded edges so you do not see roller lines in the finish when it is dry.  

Stix bonding Primer

How To Paint China?

Wash item well with detergent and let dry.  Use craft paints made for ceramic and china painting or paint pens. Use a foam brush to apply.  Paint pens are super easy to use when you want to only paint on parts of a piece or paint a design.  Let each coat dry before adding the next coat.

Do not use before the piece until it has time to cure and  follow paint manufacturers directions that may include sealing it with a clear non- yellowing sealer or baking it in the oven to set the finish.

How to paint china

How to Paint Plastic?

Sand the surfaced lightly to increase adhesion. Wash with TSP and then rinse well with water.  Be careful not to touch the clean surface, leaving oil behind.

Apply spray primer and then spray paint, both designed for plastic.  Apply multiple thin coats according to the manufactures direction and let dry between coats.

I painted my desk chair from basic office black to bright and cheery white using this method.

How to paint plastic

How to Paint a Wood Floor?

Scour the surface with 150-grit sandpaper, then wash the floor with TSP to remove dirt and dust.

Allow floor to completely dry – it may take a few hours to a day.  When the floor is dry, apply oil based primer and let it dry overnight.  Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Wipe the floor clean with mineral spirits using a tack cloth.  Apply the first, thin coat of paint with a natural-bristle brush ( this will create a smoother finish as nap from a roller can create a stippled finish).  Allow paint to dry 24 hours.

Apply two more thin coats, allowing 24 hours in between coats.

After the final coat of paint, only walk on the surface with socks on. If you want the finish to last – don’t put the furniture back on right away.

Oil based paint dries overnight, but takes 28 days to cure to maximum hardness.  If you must put the furniture back in, do not drag it in, pick it up and carefully place back down.

How to paint a wood floor

How to Paint a Vinyl Floor?

You can paint vinyl, but it may not last forever, that is why I put this last.  Sand the vinyl with 220-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface and dull the shine.  Wipe it clean with a liquid de-glosser. This will improve bonding.  Let it dry. Prime the floor with a gripping primer. Let dry. Roll or brush on one or two coats of porch and floor enamel, let each coat dry overnight before applying the next.How-to-Paint-Anything!-Step-by-step-instructions-with-photos-of-the-products-to-use

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  1. I caulked a crack in the exterior trim of my garage door with Master Seal polyurethane NP-1 and allowed it to cure for 7 days, what type of white spray paint will cover the polyurethane smoothly? Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carla – Since most caulks dry to a rubber-like finish, you need to be sure that the Master Seal Poly caulk you used says paintable on the label. Most caulks these days are paintable once the caulk is fully dry and cured. This process can take up to a few days to a week or longer depending on the air temps/humidity.

      Most spray paints are oil-based and they may not stick or adhere well to a smooth caulk. You may need to go over the caulked area with 100 grit sandpaper to rough it up a bit so the spray paint you want to use adheres well. Spray paints also have propellent and other chemicals in them that may eat away at the caulk. Brush on latex or acrylic paint will not do this. Since you are using white paint, you may want to look into a spray paint for plastic or hard to paint surfaces Rustoleum makes one, as does Krylon:

      If you want to be sure the spray paint will not mess up the caulk, add the caulk to a scrap board, let dry and then paint it. See what happens. If nothing you are good to go.

  2. Doing a cherry Queen Anne  over.  Painted top a dark semi-gloss brown. Every coat showed imperfections (looked like dust particles) even though I sanded (220), wiped down with damp paper towel, and tack clothed each layer. Have put on 2-3 coats on with a brush, two coats using a roller, last coat tried paint blending.  I even strained the paint.  I’m at my whits end.  Is there a way of salvaging this project without machine sanding it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your furniture painting makeover. What type of paint and sheen are you using? Is it hot where you are painting? Are you painting the piece inside or outside? Let me know and I will better be able to help you figure out what is going wrong.

  3. Judy David says:

    Working on painting older china cabinet base that has drawers and doors. Should I paint the inside area of the drawers? Has 1 shelf, and bottom area. Thank you for any advise.

  4. Hi. I enjoyed reading your website. You are indeed a very knowledgeable woman. Can you please guide me on how do I stop the side of melamine wood to stop absorbing wood stain? I am trying to get a consistent color but the inside of the melamine does not reflect the consistent color of the coated melamine despite the numerous coats of wood stain and vanish. How can I stop the side/inside of the melamine to reflect the same quality of the coated finish melamine wood? Please help :(

  5. John from Belfast says:

    I have bought a roller type pull up banner it is made of Latex Vinyl I am wanting to have a mirror type surface on it but the manufacturer says that silver or similar is a colour they do not make.
    I know there are mirror type paints out there which are for glass but I am uncertain what to use for this pull up mirror idea. Even if I could get a mirror finish of some sort would it start to flake off when rolled up and down?
    I think the answer will be a big No yet you say anything is possible
    Can you advise me?
    John from Belfast

  6. Thank you for all the great information. I have 1940’s plastic tile and grout on my kitchen walls. I was originally going to remove it until we realized it is mounted to a strange cork type board that is cut into the wall. I was thinking of using tile paint but I’m afraid the tile paint will eat thru the plastic.
    Do you think chalk paint would work to paint over the tile and grout if I sand it first?

  7. Lauren Watson says:

    Hi Diane. I have a pair of ceramic lampshade bases with a bumpy finish. It is a speckled bumpy finish. I Would like to repainte them, and maybe make them a bit smoother. Can I just use ordinary sandpaper and what grade? Would you then put an undercoat on? Or is Their a paint you can use which will smooth them out? Thanks for your thoughts. Lauren

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lauren – Yes you can paint the lamp base. I wish there was a paint that would smooth rough spots out. Maybe someday :-) Is the surface of your lamp shiny glazed ceramic? If so it may be hard to sand totally smooth. If it is not glazed it will be easier. I would use 100 grit sandpaper. If that doesn’t work, try 60, then follow with 100 and then 220 to smooth out any sandpaper marks. Clean the surface well, let dry, then use a bonding primer first. Valspar and Glidden both make one. 2 light coats, then two light coats of paint. You can also use spray paint. Look for a brand name the makes a paint and primer in one. Spray only light coats until you get coverage you desire. The directions on the can will tell you exactly how long to wait in between coats.

  8. I have a kitchen table that has tile on the top and trimmed by wood. This is a heavy table I got free and I’m redoing it for resale. Will chalk paint adhere to the tile? Is there any special prep I should do?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barbara – Tile can be chalk painted, but it does need to be prepped and even primed. I would sand with rough sandpaper – 60 grit to knock down the sheen. Clean off the tile well with detergent, followed by a few rinses with clear water. Let dry. Prime with a tile primer or a gripping primer, like Glidden Gripper. Apply light coats, letting the first coat dry before applying the second. Then apply 2 light coats of chalk paint, letting the first coat dry before applying the second.

  9. sharon peters says:

    I am trying to paint a family emblem on float glass, I have used a oil based sharpie, but it comes out streakie when you hold it up to the light…… do you have any help for me…?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – Your project sounds very unique. You may want to try two different types of products. If you want a translucent paint, try DecoArt Glass Markers. If you want opaque paint, try UniPaint Paint markers. You can find them here: Marvy brand also makes a fine-tipped paint marker that is opaque. You can see that here:

  10. Pamela Watson says:

    First of all, very informative post and I commend you. Perhaps you can help me with my dilemma. I am weather protecting my outdoor Christmas decor. Not a problem except for one. It is a large mirrored ornament just like a disco ball. Any ideas on how I might protect it? It seems to have a foam core and I fear it will get water logged becoming useless. Also, I want it to keep it’s mirrored appearance. I am stumped. I would greatly appreciate any ideas you may have.

  11. I am an oil painter…..painting large picture of poppies. What can I use to give some of the petals a high gloss porcelain finish? I have seen paintings where this is done but don,t know the product used? Do you?
    Thanks, sue

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – I am not sure how they do it, but have you ever tried one of these varnishes?:

      Could you add white oil paint to one to get the look of porcelain? If not… maybe a product like this:

  12. Hi! I stumbled upon this post while researching my current project and you seem extremely knowledgeable :)

    I have an old kitchen table with major stains on the top. I was thinking about sanding the top to remove the stains then pouring an epoxy on top to get that durable waterproof protection. Am I going in the right direction?

    Thanks so much!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Courtney – Sanding is key to prepare the surface. Are you going to repaint or stain the table first before putting on the epoxy? You will need to sand the whole table surface to get a nice even finish and to provide tooth for the paint and epoxy to grab onto.

      Using epoxy can be tricky. If you have never used it before, you might want to do a small project with it first. It is an amazing finish, but is not easy to work with especially on a large table top. It also must cure for a few days in a dust free room. If any hair, spec of dirt or dust gets into the epoxy while it dries, it is there for life. :-(

      Another option: You may want to just add paste wax over the finish. This is so easy to do and keep up. Once your stain or paint is dry, rub Johnson’s Paste Wax over the surface, let sit for about 5 – 10 mins and them buff it with a soft rag until the rags slips over the surface easily when rubbing. Repeat the process 2 more times. This will create quite a durable shiny finish that will repel water. It will wear away gradually, but you can simply re-wax and rebuff. If a stain or water ring gets on the table, you can simply sand it with fine grit sandpaper and re-wax right over the spot. It will blend right in with the existing wax. If you get stains or rings on the epoxy or polyurethane finish, you can’t spot fix. You would see the repair. That is the beauty of a wax finish.

  13. edie Gardner says:

    can you paint over bathroom wall grout using crafters acrylic paint

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Edie – Do you know if the grout is sanded or unsanded? You can use acrylic craft paint on sanded grout. Sanded grout has the look of sand when dried. It absorbs the paint well. Unsanded grout is smooth and the paint may or may not adhere. If you want to use the craft paint on this type of grout, I would first run sandpaper over the grout lines and then paint.

      If you are not set on a certain color, tile stores sell grout paint. It works extremely well and is easy to use. You may want to check into it. I did this using white grout paint to whiten my grout in my previous house, but it comes in many colors. You can read about it here:

  14. edie Gardner says:

    can you paint over bathroom wall grout using acyric crafters paint

  15. Hi!
    I am a teacher and just acquired an old table for my classroom. It looks like faux marble. I think it was made by painting a wood surface and covering that with a thick clear smooth and shiny surface (maybe an epoxy resin).
    I would love this table to have a durable black finish. Is there any way to paint over epoxy? And if so, what’s the most durable paint?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Becky – You can successfully paint over an epoxy finish. I would sand the surface with 100 grit sandpaper to remove some of the shine and create some tooth for the paint to adhere. Then use Behr Multi-Purpose Primer or Glidden Gripper primer. Use two light coats, letting the first one dry before adding the second. Once the primer is dry, add two light coats of paint. There are many paint brands that are durable. I like Sherwin Williams Water Based Acrylic Alkyd the best for a super durable finish. It comes in semi-gloss and gloss and leaves a very smooth and durable finish.

      I would use a small mohair roller to paint the table top and a 1″ – 2″ angles brush to paint any recessed areas.

  16. Hi Diane, Came across your website when I was searching whether wood sealant can cause fabric to yellow on the Internet. I realize this isn’t a paint question, but we’re desperate and you seem to know so much about how wood reacts. We recently bought two vintage club chairs we adore (circa 1970s/80s) and had them reupholstered in an oyster white synthetic outdoor fabric (100% polyolefine) that our cats won’t butcher. A month after we brought home the newly upholstered chairs, they started yellowing in different parts. We immediately sent the chairs back to the upholsterer who redid the chairs: they sealed the wood with a water-based sealant again, lined it with cotton this time, and then put the fabric on top. Once again, the chairs have yellowed after 6 weeks. We can’t figure out if it’s a chemical reaction b/c of the synthetic fabric, if something is coming up from the wood, or what the deal is. No one seems to have any clue. What we can tell is that the yellowing is coming through and radiating on the fabric where the wood seems to be. We are sending the chairs to a woodworker who is going to sand them down and put a strong oil-based sealant on them. We will likely try a new fabric this time, but wondering if you have any recommendations based on your experience, or have ever heard of this happening, so three times will hopefully be a charm for us in this endeavor. Thank you so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Miri –

      How did the new fabric and sealer work on your chairs? It sounds like the tannins in the wood are very strong. If the wood is sealed with clear shellac or a shellac based stain blocker, the tannins should be finally sealed so they won’t go through the fabric. It could also be the fabric has something in it that is causing such a fast reaction to the wood tannins.

      I hope you finally got it figured out.

  17. Im trying to paint on my back pack with paint markers & I’m pretty sure that before you paint you’re supposed to add something on the backpack so that the paint just doesn’t go through the fabric, can anyone tell me what’s it called please , thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alex – If you are using markers that already states they are for fabric, then I think they already have fabric medium in them. They should also be “waterproof” and say “permanent” on the label. When you are using paint – craft or paint in a can to paint on fabric, you need to add fabric or textile medium to the paint. For your project, I would wash the back pack and let it dry well before painting or at least clean the area you want to paint on. Place a piece of cardboard on the opposite site of the fabric you are going to paint to catch any bleed through.

  18. I want to make a yard size jenga game and will be using sanded 2x4s and want to paint them. If using spray enamel and sealing in polycrylic will I have to wax the boards or do you recommend some other way. Thanks

    1. I need them to slide easily.

  19. Hi there! I read somewhere that you cannot use polycrylic over a red or purple tinted latex enamel paint is this true?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tori –

      I have never heard about this happening and have been using it over many colors of paint for years. All of them may not have been enamel though. I have a few cans of it and read the label to see if Minwax mentions this. They only mention that it should not be put on over Red Mahogany stains, nothing about red/purple latex enamel. Sorry that I can’t help you with a definite answer.

      1. Thank you for your quick response! Yes I have read that it should not be used on red/mahogany stains as well. I just wasn’t sure if the crossed over to paint as well. I appreciate your help! I don’t have much experience using Polycrylic. I have always used Helmsman.

  20. Hi there! I have read that you cannot use polycrylic over a red or purple tinted latex enamel based paint. Is this true?

  21. I have a question, I am building a farm house table and am curious if stained wood (that I’ve stained) needs a protective coating applied prior to the chalk paint coat? The only chalk painting I’ve done is on pre-finished wood, which would already have a final finish on it. I would appreciate your advice.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tierney –

      Stained wood has tannins in it that will seep through the paint and discolor it. Even with chalk paint, you need to seal the stain. If you are going to distress the piece so some of the wood tone shows in areas, use basic clear shellac to seal the piece first. When dry then you can use chalk paint. If you are not going to distress and no wood will show through the paint, you can use a stain-blocking primer. It is white and will seal in the tannins. Then you can paint over it. Remember- If you plan to distress the pieces, you do not want to primer since it is white. White will show up as a layer. Clear shellac is the way to go if distressing. Here is a post I did where I used shellac:

  22. Help! I am stripping down and repainting those cheap bifold closet doors. Goo gone and scrubbies and a scraper are doing pretty well and I have taken off about 4 layers of paint. Once I am done stripping and cleaning them, how do i proceed and with what kind of primer and paint?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – Once they are stripped you should wipe the surface down with mineral spirits to get all the stripper residue off. Clean the surface with detergent and water, let dry. Go over the surface with 100 grit sandpaper using a hand sanding block. A quick 5 minute going over is all that is needed. Enough to rough up the surface to provide some tooth to help the paint adhere. Clean off the sanding grit. Use a quality paint brush and or a foam roller to apply the paint and primer. 2 light coats of primer, let the first one dry before applying the second. Then 2 light coats of paint letting the first coat dry. For the primer, I would use Glidden Gripper or Behr Multi-Surface primer (Both are sold at Home Depot). For the paint I would use Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint in the sheen you want. It self levels so brush strokes won’t show up.

  23. Henry Samayawardana says:


    I wanted to know the following.
    1. Can glass paint be used on Formica sheets?
    I wanted a artwork on Formica sheet. i am thinking of using glass paint.
    Therefore [please let me know how to do it.
    Many Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Henry – If the glass paint you are using is oil-based then yes it will work on the smooth surface of Formica. If it is water-based it may not adhere well. You could also use model airplane paint. It is sold in little bottles at craft and hobby stores. To help with adhesion, rip up a small piece of 100 grit sandpaper and roll it into a cone shape so you have a small tip. Use the tip to sand the Formica in the areas that will be painted. This will help with adhesion. Use light coats of paint. It is better to use light coats to build the color. One thick coat of paint will be easy to peel off.

  24. I need to paint a logo on the wooden stock of a firearm that has been painted with Durocoat. Any suggestions? Thanks, Patty

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patty – I would use model airplane paint. It comes in little jars in many different colors. It can be purchased at craft and hobby stores. It is oil-based and glossy. If you used glossy Duracoat, then I would first rub a tiny piece of 100-grit sandpaper over the area where the logo is going to go. Remove the sanding grit with a damp cloth, let dry and then paint the logo. Apply paint thin, let dry, then apply more to build the color. This will lessen chipping.

  25. Thoughts on mixing Annie sloan with something else for color variation? Any latex? any other chalk paint? I drove a couple hours away to buy and thought if I have left over and want to do a different color if I will have to go get it at the original store. Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ann – I have not done it myself, but you may want to try to add some colorant. Most paint stores sell tubes of this in basic colors. It is very inexpensive. Pro painters keep it on their trucks to tweak paint color. It would not change the chemical component of the paint, just the color.

      If you can’t find colorant, you may want to try adding some flat latex in a color you like to change the color. If making a lot you may need to add some Calcium Carbonate Powder and water to keep the chalk paint component to the paint. Mix the CCP and water together first, then add to the mix. For a cup of paint, add up to one tablespoon of CCP. When I make a quart of DIY chalk paint, I use 8 Tablespoons of CCP. I would use this as your guide as how much to add depending on how much paint you want to make. You may not need too much since you are mixing it with Annie Sloan. I have some leftover AS also. I don’t like the color, so I will try this soon and post about the outcome. I would do it this week, but I am in the middle of moving and the paint is packed away. :-)

  26. I came across this post while searching for advice about frosting windows. We’re trying to accomplish this on a bathroom window, for privacy. We used the krylon glass frosting spray, but it did not hold up at all to the moisture from the shower, I’m talking 3 days of dry time, and it was still breaking down within 3 days of indirect exposure to moderate amounts of steam afterwards. My question is, would it work to roll on a polyurethane varnish after letting the spray dry, or do you think it would smear the frosting coat in the process?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melissa –

      I think if you spray poly over it, it will eat the frosted finish.

      I used this product in the bath window in one of my daughter’s apartments. It works very well, even in the high moisture environment: GILA White Frosted Privacy/Decorative Adhesive Window Film. It is sold at Lowes or at lowes online site.

      1. Thank you for responding so quickly! I am in South America, so unfortunately I doubt I will be able to find the product you recommended. I will do my best to find out what such a thing would be called (in local spanish) and see if I can’t find something similar. Cheers!

  27. I just bought a really nice motorcycle helmet, but i can’t find a jacket that matches it. I was thinking i could paint it, but I can’t find anything on the internet about how to paint Tri-Tex fabric on motorcycle jackets. I would need it to be able to withstand constant barrage of wind/rain/dust and be able to last in extreme Texas heat. Do you have any idea how I would go about painting the jacket?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alan – Painting the whole jacket with fabric paint or paint that you add a fabric medium to to give it flexibility may look OK right after you paint it, but I do not think it would work out in the long run. With all the movement and wear it will undergo, it would eventually end up cracking under that plus the heat and wet conditions. Paint is amazing and can successfully change almost anything, but I think in this case I think you will be disappointed in how it would look and end up wasting your time and money to change the color.

  28. susan davy says:

    I am painting my 1930 Kitchen table, I have been told I should use Emulsion paint is this correct? I am only painting the legs!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan – Are you from the UK? Here in the US we call it Latex. :-) It is a water based paint. What I would need to know is if the legs are wood or metal?

  29. Painterman UK says:

    Hi this post is an excellent guide to paint and preparation. Some of those more unusual surfaces can be really tricky for people doing DIY. A lot of the products featured are only available in the USA, in the UK we have similar products one of which is Hammerite which I don’t think is available in the US, it’s a really wonderful product and has a range of finishes from a hammered effect to gloss.

    We have just recently started to see Rustoleum in the shops and have a range called Plasticote too, so anyone reading this in the UK check out your local DIY shed and ask we do have some great paint products too.

  30. I would like to paint photographs into my patio floor. There is only limited wall space, so we want to take all the fishing photographs and place them on the floor and clear coat over. Any suggestions?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Wendy – You will need to clean the floor well to make sure there is no dirt or grease on it. Mark off where each photo will be and use a gripping primer in those areas. Two thin coats, let the first one dry before applying the second. After the primer is dry, then I would use craft paint to paint the photos. Once the paint is dry, seal the floor with water-based poly. If you use oil-based the colors will darken and turn orange over time. Look for an outdoor water-based sealer.

  31. Hi Diane,
    I chanced upon your site and enjoy your step-by-step instructions. They seem simple, though i have yet to apply them. I do have a question though. I have small picture frames (2″ x 2.5″, 4″ x 6″…) that were hand-crafted out of malachite stone. They have ‘openings’ in the front of course, where a little photo could be slipped in. However, i would like to have a mirror fit inside instead. That being said, custom-made small mirrors for several frames would be costly. I went to a hardware store today and asked for other alternatives in lieu of a mirror, but something that would have the same/similar effect. The salesperson mentioned Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect spray. I don’t know the next step to take. Ideally, i’d like to spray paint onto an inexpensive material that i could cut by myself with a scissor and then insert into the open ‘window’ of frame, perhaps glue it inside the frame, so it would be a recessed mirror. Is this possible? If yes, what inexpensive material could i use? (i think paper/cardboard would be too porous for spray paint).

    Any other solution comes to mind?

    Forgive me for lengthy description, but i felt it best to give you as clear an idea as possible :).

    Thank you in advance for your time and input.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi JP – For the mirror paint to work, it needs to be used on glass since you spray it on the back so the front looks and feels like a mirror. For an inexpensive alternative, cut up a sheet of clear acetate. You can buy acetate sheets at the office supply or printing store. You can also cut flat pieces from packaging and the clear lids that Christmas cards come in and many other boxed items. If you look around your home, you may already have something like this sitting in a drawer. Spray the back of the aceate with the mirror paint and then cut to size to fit into your frames.

  32. First I tried a small cheap bristle brush. Last I tried the foam no bristle brushes

  33. What type is sealer should I be using for furniture that is painted matte black? I want it to stay matte.
    How do I not get brush stroke marks when sealing?

    I’ve tried to seal my pieces three different times and it’s turned out terrible every time.
    First I tried using a matte finish polyurethane. It dried white and left brush strokes. Second I tried a matte finish spray can sealer. It dried white and left spray marks. This last time I used satin finish polycrylic. It dried clear but turned my furniture shiny and left bad brush strokes. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valerie – What type and brand of brush are you using?

  34. I want to paint the inside of a kitchen sink. I have in mind something similar to the Talevera hand painted bathroom sinks. I was thinking about a plain white porcelain sink using Porcelaine and heat setting it,, but am open to any suggestions. I understand that once complete any surface cleaning would likely need to be light and non-abrasive. Really appreciate your thoughts on this.

  35. Hi, apologies, I wasn’t clear in my previous message!

    I’m actually still debating whether to go for transparency or not, so would be useful to know what I could use to create either a transparent effect or thick glossy, 3d paint effect – if you have any ideas that would be great.

  36. Hi Diane

    What a wonderful site, so much useful info on here which I’ll be referring to for future projects – I normally take the short-cut with a lot of my painting, hence why I don’t always get the desired results!

    Just a quick bit of advice please – I’m making a modern piece of art for our kitchen using aluminium foils and possibly other types of metal. I would like to paint some of the metals in order to get a ‘stain glass effect’ or even a ‘thick glossy’ effect on them without the transparency would be preferable.. is this possible using the type of paint used for glass? If not would you have any idea what I can use for this project?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  37. Karina Villarreal says:

    Hi Diane,

    Wow you definitely know your stuff!
    I want to paint my kids toddler beds from IKEA to change things up a bit. It’s made out of fiberboard, particleboard with an acrylic paint. Here is the link to the exact beds.
    Which one of the above processes should I take? The fake wood paneling directions?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karina – Yes I would use the directions for painting wood paneling or painting over laminate. The prep is key. Sanding and gripping primer and light coats.

  38. Hello and thank you for this fabulous info!!

    Not too unlike the above question – but perhaps not similar enough: I’m having an artist friend paint a white spare tire cover (a flat vinyl I believe, though I also can buy a more supple “pleather” material as well though that’s probably also vinyl). She asked me to do the research as she’s never done this before. It will be watercolor style though not necessarily watercolor. It will have a realistic face painted on it (haha don’t ask). I live in a rainy climate so obviously it goes without saying that I’d like it to be protected from the weather as much as possible.

    I’ll be sure to either paint it with the cover already on the tire for accuracy or else use some method so it doesn’t change its shape too much if that makes sense. I thought of using alcohol or TSP first to prep it though I could sand a bit first (or both?) and I assume I should paint or spray paint on a gripping primer first, based on your other comments?

    I also seem to be seeing to use lighter multiple layers rather than fewer thick layers though this might be tricky when it’s essentially a portrait (?). What about spraying it with something afterward – like a day later or so?

    Any specific paints re. any of this that you’d recommend – or methods?!

    Thank you so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marya – Painting on vinyl is tricky since it moves and the paint can crack off. Being that is for a car even makes it harder since it will be subject to the elements.

      Using the gripper primer may help the paint adhere, but only apply a thin coat of it. Using acrylic crafts paints for your design you may not even need the primer. You could use a spray vinyl primer from Rustoleum to fill in a large area, say a circle. Once this is dry, paint your design on the primed circle. Try to use thin coats of paint.

      Once the design is how you like it, it will need to be protected from the elements with a brand name clear spray protective finish. You can spray this on or use a brush-on formula. Rustoleum makes one for vinyl as do a few other brands. You would need one for exterior application that is also for vinyl. Read the labels to find which one says vinyl. When using spray sealer, make sure you wait whatever time it says on the paint label and the sealer before using over your painted design. If you spray over it too early you may cause the paint to wrinkle.

  39. Betty Jernigan says:

    I would like to use artist acrylic paint to paint a scene on a vinyl chair that possible ? if so please tell me what to do.thanks for your help

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Betty – To successfully paint on the vinyl you would first need to prepare the vinyl for paint. You would need to rough up the area where the paint is going to go so that it has something to adhere to, then use a spray primer for vinyl or plastic. Rustoleum 2X is a good one. The vinyl is too smooth and the paint would chip off if you did not sand/prime first. Once the the primer is dry, you can use the acrylic paint to add a design.

      It might be hard to sand and prime just that area where the design is going to go if it is detailed. If your design would look OK with a solid color background behind it, then I would suggest you tape off a shape that will accentuate your design. Paint it the same color as the chair vinyl or a color that goes with your design first. This will give you a canvas on the chair to paint on. Sort of a frame for your design.

  40. Sandy Stimers says:

    Would like to chalk paint some furniture and then paint designs to personalize the piece. Would I use acrylic paint for the design work? Can I wax over the design too? Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sandy – You can use the acrylic paint to make chalk paint if you used the Calcium Carbonate recipe. It may bind with the other chalk paint recipes. After the paint is dry, you can definitely use plain acrylic paint to paint your design. Let it dry well before applying wax over it. Don’t use Briwax, that will remove the paint. Fiddes and Sons and Miss Mustard Seed clear waxes are two that I have used that will not take the painted designs off.

  41. I cannot find anything online that answers my question, hopefully you can. I have an upholstered chair that i don’t want to take apart but I want to paint the frame. How do I protect the fabric while painting ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shil – I would use painter’s tape to protect the frame. Clean the fabric as well as you can before placing the tape over it. Tape won’t stick to dust or oily spot. You can buy Painter’s tape at any paint or home improvement store. It comes in different widths. I would get a wider width. When placing the tape over the fabric you want to protect, make sure it runs right along the edge of the wood. You may need to cut the tape into little pieces to cover any tight or intricate areas. Smooth the tape down. I would use a small paint brush to apply the paint right where the paint will meet the fabric. This will allow a more concise application. A larger angled brush for the rest.

  42. Hi,
    I am in Australia so a lot of the brands you talk about are not available.
    What I want to know, is whether I can paint Polycarbonate suitcases. I am wanting to put logos (Cars, Batman etc) on them for my kids.
    Thank you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carolyn – to paint the polycarbonate (mostly acrylic plastic) you need to prime them first with a good gripping style primer and then paint. Ask at your paint store for a “bonding or gripping primer”. Let it cure for a few days before brushing on paint. Light coats are better than one or two thicker ones. You can also use chalk paint. It grips to just about any surface.

  43. Julie Orchard says:

    Please can you help me. I have a black granite sink which has been covered with white gloss paint by a decorator. The white paint has now entered the grains and we have tried everything to remove the white paint. Is it possible to paint the black sink back to its original colour (black matt?)

    Thank you.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julie – You could use epoxy paint to do this. It is rather smelly as it dries, but once it is, it provides a very shiny and durable surface that can get wet. I know Rustoleum makes one as does a brand called Homex. If you do a search on Google for “Bathroom tile and or shower paint” – the brands and images will come up in the search. Home Depot and Lowes sells a few of the brands.

  44. Thanks for the information. Great post. I am wondering…I have a rocking chair that I purchased at an Estate sale. Someone painted it white over the stain/lacquered original finish. The white paint is just peeling off and the original finish is still shiny underneath. Do I need to sand and prime the piece? Strip it with stripper? I am so confused but it cant be left like it is.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Brenda –

      If you want the chair to last for a long time, then yes you need to sand and prime it. I would use 100 grit sandpaper to loosen any peeling paint and to rough up the shiny surface so the paint has something to adhere to. If the paint has peeled off in some places and not other and the finish is uneven, I would strip the chair so the entire surface is even and smooth.

      I would use a gripping primer. Glidden Gripper is one that I use. You can get it at Home Depot. Two light coats, letting the first one dry before applying the second. Once that is dry you can paint. Apply thin coats. If you want extra protection, you can seal the paint with a water-based polyurethane like Polycrylic.

  45. I have a bathroom pedestal sink with painting in the bowl. A cleaning person put Clorox in the bowl and part of the paint faded. Can t be repainted??

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bobbe – I know you can change the color of a sink with epoxy paint that comes in neutral colors, but it sounds like you want to use colors to paint over a design to bring it back. I think I would try using model airplane paint that you can buy at the crafts store. I would sand over the areas with a little piece of sandpaper first, then paint. Light coats only. More lighter coats of paint are better than one or two thick ones. Once it is painted, I would let it cure for a week before using the sink.

  46. Randy Cain says:

    Good morning Diane,
    your step by step information process on painting a stained chair will be followed as I have a few to finish.

    Thank you very much in sharing your process and explanations.


  47. Hi! I recently purchased a display shelf from Hallmark. I am not sure what the surface is but it is smooth and light in color. I am hoping to paint it in a fun whimsical pattern. I was thinking I could use the little acrylic paint bottles sine I am am probably going to have 8-10 different colors. Would I need to use a primer for acrylic paint? Also, should I seal it with something when I am finished? Thank you!

  48. margote olson says:

    Hi Di, I have a couple of vintage ugly brass hurricane lamps which i’d like to paint. Do I use your method above on “How to paint metal” or is there a special paint to use for brass. Also, do you have any ingenuous ideas for painting lamps like the hurricane ones that don’t have a lamp shade per se. Can i use the chalk paint recipe that i made from you with calcium carbonate? But i need some ideas on colours. Thank you in advance.

  49. Betty Lustila says:


    I love your creativity, I’m in the process of finding and/or creating a stencil to make a painted rug design on my deck. Have you used stencils? If so, what did you create and how did it work for you?

    Have a Blessed Day!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Betty – I have used stencils many times. I have made my own as well as used purchased ones. It is very easy to stencil a floor, just make sure you start at the center and work out to the sides so your pattern will be center and even on all sides of the floor. Two companies to check out areL Royal Designs Stencils and Cutting Edge Stencils.

      Here are a few links to some posts showing what I have done.

      In this home tour is a photo of my foyer that I did using a Royal Design Studios stencil:

      Fun way to use a stencil:

  50. Hollie Williams says:

    I’ve been thinking of painting an old metal filing cabinet which just NEVER gets used. I’m unsure whether to use spray paint, metal paint or chalk paint! I’m looking for a vintage type look so would want to distress & think chalk paint might be the best to achieve this – however I have not used chalk paint on mental before!
    Thank you x

  51. I want to know if I can use artist’a acrylic paint for some small work on a porcelain sink?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shelley- Is is for decoration on the outside of the sink or to fix a flaw in the sink itself?

  52. Hello Diane, Thank you for sharing! What brought me to this page was the caption “how to paint ANYTHING” since I have been struggling with painting dried pandan leaves (close to plam tree leaves). I know… wrong deparment. But given your knowledge and experience I was hoping you could have tips. The leaves are dried and the surface looks and feels like laminated bamboo with a thin layer of resin on it so you can feel the parallel fibers under your fingers and a waxy surface. Except that dried pandan is supple. I tried to clean the leaves with acetone, let dry, applied a primer (acrylic resin), let dry 3 hours, applied an acrylic paint, let dry 18 hours. A gentle scratching will rub off the paint and the primer underneath. Intuitively, what would you try? Thank you again.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ida – You may just have to wait a few weeks for the paint to cure. In paint drying land – paint may feel dry to the touch after 18 hours, but it has not cured. That could take a few weeks depending on the dryness of the air.

      You could try a water-based gripping primer. Glidden makes one called Gripper and Benjamin Moore’s is called AquaGrip. You may also want to look into a Melamine paint. They are a bit pricey, but it is made to adhere to shiny smooth surfaces. Chalk paint may work very well also. It is a flat finish, but you could add soft wax over it once it is dry and buff the leaves with a soft cloth to bring up the shine. Once you paint the leaves – you may simply just have to wait for the paint to cure so it won’t scratch off. It could take up to a month on a slick surface.

  53. I’m painting a metal plant stand, using Clark + Kensington Paint & Primer in One and I’ve made chalk paint using this paint plus calcium carbonate. (2 Parts Paint and 1 Part Cal. Carbon.)

    I’ve read I can do this, rather than using the more expensive brand of all-ready prepared Chalk Paint. (done that). Everything I’ve read indicates that home-made chalk paint can work on any surface.

    I’ve tested my HMCP on a small picture frame. It hasn’t dried yet and it looks alright. Doesn’t seem as chalky as projects I’ve made with expensive Chalk Paint but I’m trying to conserve.

    My questions to you are:

    Am I throwing away good money by trying to make my own chalk paint? Would you use a paint with a primer such as the one in the above-described application? Should I use a non-acrylic latex flat paint? Is there one paint brand you prefer to others?

    Would really appreciate your comments.

    Love what you’ve done with many projects, and I’m inspired by your talent and tenacity.

    Thank you for giving this query your attention.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Toni – I make all my own chalk paint and will never ever paint a piece of furniture with any other formula. I love how the pieces come out, so much better than just painting it with latex that leaves a rubbery sticky feel to the finish as well as cost saving. The Calcium Carbonate Powder with a little Plaster of Paris makes up one very durable painted finish. You can always add more for a more chalky finish. Just mix it in water first to dissolve, then add to the paint.

      I like a little distressing, but not too much aging. I like my pieces to look bright. Any time you use a paint and primer in one paint formula you run the risk of the paint turning to sludge. That is when you waste money. I always use plain ole latex.

      My go to when painting furniture is to use Glidden Premium in a satin finish. It mixes up into a great consistency every time I make it. You can use any finish as it will all go flat once you add the CCP and PoP. I just like the way the satin looks when mixed. Just make sure the paint label does not say Paint + Primer in one formula.(They have updated a few labels recently) I stay away from any paint with a primer or acrylic in it when making chalk paint. Some brands don’t mark it and use words like “Plus”. When you see this it usually means it has a primer or acrylic in it.

  54. What an amazing, awesome, hilarious post!

    Thank youuuu!

  55. Angel Hatfield says:

    I need to paint my foam inserts, for my jewelry trays. I am a jewelry vendor, at festivals, and the sun is a killer on my white, foam inserts. I have researched, and the only thing I come up with is, use a water based paint or spray paint. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Angel – Spray paint will eat the foam. I would use water based acrylic craft paint. Brush or roll on light coats letting each one dry before applying the next. To seal the paint, you could use a decoupage medium. I like Martha Stewart Durable Matte Decoupage medium – it is not as thick as Mod Podge. I used it over these cardboard box organizers.

  56. Hi – great info !!
    I bought a stainless steel light base from Ikea but
    sadly it doesn’t look right with the decor. Can I transform
    it so it looks like dull brass ?!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Suzy – Look for spray paint that say antique brass or gold, not Brite Brass. Some brands are naturally more brown than yellow. Rustolem makes one in their metallic line. I believe it has a primer already in it. Just clean the base well and lightly go over it with 220 grit sandpaper. Clean off the grit and spray one very light coat on. Keeping the can about 10- 12 inches away from the base. Wait about 5 minutes and repeat. Continue painting with 5 mins in between each coat. Then let it dry in a dust free area for a few days.

  57. Hello Diane – Question re “How to Paint Wood Furniture that has Paint, Stain, or Polyurethane on It.” I’m going to repurpose my old office furniture (the same polyurethane type finish as found on basic big box oak kitchen cabinets – but more unique and in very good condition). I essentially plan to tear it down and strategically place pieces as wainscoting at various spots in a retirement cottage (just can’t let go completely). I intend to use one of your DIY chalk paint recipes. My question is whether it’s preferable to “Roll or brush on two light coats of a bonding or stain blocking primer. (Stain blocking for bare, dark, or old wood. Gripping primer for glossy surfaces.) … as you suggest on this page re how to paint anything? Or, should I just follow your chalk paint instructions (i.e. sand, clean, thin coats, etc.)? I have the time and desire to do whatever will get the best results, but don’t want to waste effort or overdo the process, as there are a lot of pieces.

    BTW – I’ve read a lot of blogs and website articles on chalk painting. Despite what my question might suggest, I find yours is by far the most thorough and easy to understand. You’ve made me anxious to get started. Thanks. Joe

  58. jan gartside says:

    I have a beautiful step ladder in bare wood. I would like to give at as a wedding present, to be used as a pot stand for the garden. I would like to decorate this with details of the wedding, date. venue. flowers worn etc etc….I do not want to paint the whole steps just decorate them . How do I go about this. Do I seal the bare wood first and then paint on the decoration and then polyurethane. I would like it to be weatherproof. Help please????

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jan –

      You do not have to seal the bare wood first. I would lightly sand the areas where you want the decorations and then paint them on – make sure not to apply the paint too thick. Apply a second coat if needed. Let the paint dry for about 24 hours and then use a water based poly for exteriors. Minwax Helmsman Urethane- the water based one would be good to use. It should not yellow the paint. Any poly or sealer that is not water based will yellow the paint colors.

  59. I am using chalk paint for the first time on a wood bookcase. I used your ‘favorite’ chalk recipe (plaster of paris and calcium carbonate). Paint goes on nice and smooth, but thickens rapidily as I paint. Do I just keep adding water to maintain the consistency?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol – The CCP/POP mixture should not get thick to the point you can’t paint with it. What brand and type of paint are you using?

  60. My daughter wants to use a wood bench as her guest book for her wedding. Can you tell me what type of paint pens I should use and a sealant that will not smear the paint pens. I have read that many people did not use the right products together and ended up with a smeared mess on what should have been a wonderful memory piece. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  61. How do I paint over concrete sealer (walls are painted with it) and how do I paint over concrete sealer that has been previously painted (on the floors)? Thanks! Love your blog!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valerie –

      It can be painted over successfully with an epoxy paint, but that is pretty toxic and the smell overpowering especially if you have a large area to paint over. I know that paint companies come up with many new innovative products every year that I am sure would do the job for you in a less toxic way. Most floor and porch paints on the market now may do the job. I think no matter what type of paint you use, you will have to sand and/or prime the surface so the paint really sticks.

      I would go to a brand name paint store in your area like a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. They will know exactly what products to use and how to do it since they specialize in all things paint. Home Improvement stores may sell a non-epoxy product for painting over sealed concrete too, but I find not all the workers in the paint department are as knowledgeable as the people that work at stand alone brand paint stores are.

  62. Luz Andrade says:

    I love your website!
    What about painting my marble batrhoom countertop?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Luz-

      It can be painted… anything can if you prep correctly and use the right products. There are a few Tub and Tile types of paint products out on the market that will do the trick. All paint stores carry them -Homex, Tub and Tile, Rustoleum for countertops are a few that I know of. They smell awful so be prepared to ventilate well when painting. You could also rough up the surface well with a medium grit sandpaper, clean it well and let dry, then roll on a thin coat of oil-based primer like Kilz Original or Zinseer 123. Let it dry well and then roll or brush on another light coat. Let it dry. Then use a high quality paint made for high water areas like Advance by Benjamin Moore in a high gloss or semi-gloss. It does not need any poly over it. It is highly durable alone.

  63. Hi, Love your site,very in depth…I was wondering if I could chalk paint my stainless steel fridge,I can`t take the finger print marks any longer.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Krista – Chalk paint would work well on metal. It can be painted on any surface, even glass.

  64. I appreciate your website so much. I was hoping to find an instance of applying some sort of plaster finish over a wooden coffee table top to mimic stone. Have you done this?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nan – I have not done it, but it could probably be done with one of the stone making forms they use to make concrete walkways. I think Quickcrete or one of the big cement companies makes the plastic 16 – 18″ square forms. Ed and I used a brick pattern for a base under our deck to store outdoor items when we first moved into our house. Home Depot and Lowes sell them. It may not work on a tabletop, but could give you an idea of how to do something similar with plaster to look like stone. I would also look in the crafts store in the tile aisle. There are many cool new products that mimic the look of stone.

  65. Can terrazzo floors be painted? Our 1930s cottage has badly damaged terrazzo flooring and the cost to remove would be prohibitive. We do not want to make any major decisions about what to cover it with so I would like to paint it for the time being. Can it be done, and if so, what should we do?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Anne –

      You can paint it, but it will require a few steps. Floors in general are the hardest to paint since everything has to be removed from the room and you have to get down on your hands and knees to do most of the work. I just started repainting a wood floor in my mudroom and it is hard to keep everyone out while I paint and allow the paint to dry. I would try painting the floor in one small room first and see how it adheres and holds up – then proceed to another room.

      The prep work is crucial and is where you need to put the most effort. Is the terrazzo sealed or waxed? You would need to strip this first or sand it off. Once the finish is removed and it is bare floor, sand it well to rough up the surface. There are stone etching products and garage floor paints made for painting over stone, but they are for exteriors, not for indoors since the fumes would be toxic.

      I would try making DIY chalk paint with Plaster of Paris and Calcium Carbonate powder. This makes into a very hard and durable paint finish. If I were painting a stone or tile floor, this is what I would use.

      Once the floor is sanded and roughed up, roll or brush on one very light coat of gripping primer (Glidden and Benjamin Moore both make one)-let it dry, then apply one more very light coat. Let dry. Then apply one to two coats of paint, but again – light coats only and let each coat dry at least for 8-12 hours, before applying the next. This will help with adhesion. Once the paint is dry, you can seal it with a non-yellowing polyurethane. I like water based poly. Zinsser Ultimate Polyurethane is a good one for floors. I used it on my wood staircase steps – over 2 years ago and it has held up wonderfully.

      The key to making the project a success is the making sure the surface is free of a wax top layer and sanded well so the paint has something to adhere to. In high traffic areas, you may want to place a throw rug or runner down to help protect the finish even more.

      You can find the DIY Chalk Paint recipe in this post:

  66. Thanks so much for taking the time to create this amazing guide. It’s so informative, I’m going to print & laminate it to keep with my painting supplies!

  67. Just discovered your site–LOVE it! I’d like to paint some white-washed wicker furniture to look more like pecan or natural. Any suggestions?

  68. Dear Diane – I would love to know how to do art on ceramic tiles that will stand up to heat. Is there a type of paint and sealer I could use? I love to do art projects and think that using tiles could be a form of art for the kitchen, but if I set something hot on them, I don’t want them to become scratched. What about epoxying them? Would that work? And what type of paint will adhere to ceramic tiles without sanding them? I would like them to remain shiny. – Helen

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Helen – The only product that I know of is the tile paint I wrote about in the post. Rustoleum and Homax each make one as well as a few other companies. They make specialty paint made just for tiles. It is epoxy paint. Look in the paint aisle at your local home improvement store to find it.

  69. Hi Diane,I would like to know if you could help me out with painting on top of wallpaper I cant remove it as the underneath is really in bad shape,I removed it in my bathroom and it cost me more than I care to share I had to get a professional in, now 3yrs later I’m in the same boat again. I would appreciate any help or suggestions u could help me with.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy –

      I will have to add how to do this to the post. You can paint over your wallpaper as long as it is adhered well. If it is, make sure all the seams are glued down. If the seams are raised you can sand them a bit before painting. Clean the walls with TSP or detergent and water. Rinse and let dry. So that the paper does not raise as you paint – use oil-based primer. Latex is water based and water can wrinkle paper. I would use Kilz Original. It dries in 30 minutes. If you apply two coats, letting the first dry before you apply the second you should create a good seal and be able to use a latex paint over it. It used to be that you always used all oil-based products over wallpaper, but as long as the paper is sealed well with the Kilz, it should be fine. If you don’t mind painting with oil-based paint – then it is best to use that.

  70. Patricia Flournoy says:

    I am having white oak countertops put on a vanity. They will have an undermount sink. if I want to give them a faux marble finish what process should I use to protect them from future water damage?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patricia –
      I used Fiddes and Sons paste wax to protect the faux marble that I painted on the top of a sideboard and it looks great. It would look good and protect at the same time. I would use a few coats. Wax then buff, then repeat to build up the layers. The downside -you will have to add more wax over time as it wears.

      You could also use Minwax Polycylic. It is a non-yellowing water based poly. It comes in both satin and gloss finishes. 2 – 3 coats light coats (let each one dry before applying the next) would give you a nice layer of protection. Either way, you will still need to make sure water that gets on it is wiped up right away.

  71. Jackie Sorich says:

    Ok, this is BRILLIANT too. Great job!

  72. Hi I wanted to paint pandas on a rice cooker either on a already painted.metal on or plastic. What paints do I buy for painting a bunch pandas on it and for it to not chip off

  73. Hi Diane,
    We have a wonderful landlord that doesn’t mind our upgrading & spiffing up. The master bath was our latest project. Charcoal grey & silver were the color choices along with a fabulous damask wallpaper accent on one wall. Sadly, the old bathroom counter top is a marbly-brown (like melted rocky road ice cream) & now stands out like a sore thumb. Could you offer some advice regarding old bathroom laminate counter tops? At least, I believe it’s a laminate. Is this surface paintable & if so….How?
    Oh! Also, thanks for your chalk paint information. I made all the necessary purchases & will be attacking our curio cabinet this weekend!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Laminate is paintable, but even if its done the right way – you may have a problem with it getting wet everyday. I think I would use the Rustoleum Countertop Transformations paint. I am not sure of the colors it comes in but check them out you might find one you like. It is made to stand up to water and abuse, unlike regular paint which if applied even with a good bonding primer would start to peel in a short time. The paint is sold at home improvement stores. You could also look into using paint that is made to paint over tile. It is called Homex Tub and Tile paint.I have never used it, but have heard from others that it really smells while you apply it, but once it is dry – the smell goes away and the paint works well. There is also a new product from Rustoleumn that you brush over a surface to repel water. I forget what it is called, but is brand new. You could paint the lamintate – sand, well – gripping primer, and then paint and then used this product. The sanding and gripping primer are the most important steps to make sure you get good adhesion. If you sand the surface extremely well, chalk paint might hold up longer than regular paint and the protective wax coat would repel the water.

  74. Hi Diane,

    I made some storage bins for our nursery. They are made out of basic cardboard and held together with duct tape (classy, huh?). We do not have the budget for fabric since I’m due any day now, and I was hoping to paint them.

    I saw that you said to use the primer and paint, but I’m wondering if spray paint is possible, and if so, what kind? The boxes are already assembled, so should I take them back apart, spray them, and then reassemble?

    Please save me. We have less than a week and I’d really hate to blow $100 for our “perfect” bins.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi August – How about wrapping them with colorful gift wrap. I did that to cardboard file boxes. You can see how I did it in this post:

      Spray paint would work OK, but it may not adhere on the duct tape. There is no need to have to take them apart to spray. Much easier to spray as they are. Any brand of spray paint will work fine.

      Congrats on the upcoming addition to your family.

  75. Hello,
    First of all – this is an awesome resource for someone starting up with refinishing and painting furniture. I really appreciated your posts.

    I have a question about painting a laminate piece – a chest similar to Ikea MALM – particle board wrapped in melamine. Is Gripper really a necessity? I planned on roughing up the surface, priming, and painting with home made chalk paint. Then – buffing with wax, and maybe covering the top with glass, just to make sure toddlers roughing up the alarm clock don’t rip the layers of paint off. Should I really go with Gripper, or is Killz enough on a nightstand/chest?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Martyna –

      Gripper is a primer. It is better for using on Laminate then Kilz is. Kilz is better for dark and old pieces of wood furniture that have tannins that will bleed through and change the color of your paint. Laminate is smooth and has no tannins. Gripper is made especially for smooth slick surfaces. To make sure your painted finish lasts a long time. I would sand the laminate to rough it up. Clean off the grit and apply one coat of Gripper, let dry. Sand lightly with fine sandpaper just to level any primer ridges or drips. Then use chalk paint and wax. It may take up to 30 days for the paint to cure, so if you do a scratch test the day after you paint and paint comes off, don’t think you failed. Give it time to cure.

      1. Thank you for your reply. I just checked my paint shelf, and it’s actually Zinsser 1-2-3, which is supposed to be a slick surface primer, too, but I was no impressed by it’s performance over wood paneling. I was advised I did not need the sanding part, and now, months after, I can scratch the paint off with my fingernail. I’ll try Gripper, and maybe scrape a panel, or two, to check, if it gives any better results.

        As my panels are probably 1/3 of the room’s height (under the chair rail), would waxing them improve the durability of the finish? I read latex will buff a bit with wax, and that chalk paint is a no-no for walls, but I see new scuff and scratch marks weekly, as my two kids push furniture around, ride tiny bikes, and so on.

      2. Is laminate the same thing as veneer on a wood table?

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Cathleen – Not exactly – Laminate is a man made product – a composite of wood and plastic and other stuff. It comes in matte and shiny and all colors and even can look like wood. I call it plastic wood. Veneer however is made of wood – very thin sheets that are adhered to the surface of cheaper wood to make it look like it is a higher quality. You can usually tell if something has veneer on if it peels up or you see a hole in the surface that looks layered around the edges. Laminate would just wear away smooth.

  76. Thanks Diane! I will reread this post many times as I tackle my painting projects.

  77. Dear Diane,

    I have looked at your work and I have to say it looks magnificent!

    On that basis, I painted a dark wood chest of drawers with waterbased paint. It went off so quickly I found it very difficult. So I added an agent that slowed the drying time down.

    The huge problem I have is that the drawers do not close. I have only painted the edges as you have suggested. If I rub down, the dark wood will show when the drawers are closed.

    What would you do?



    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Helen – Have you tried rubbing candle wax all over the sides of the drawers? If that doesn’t work, I would probably sand the edges to the bare wood until the drawers close perfectly, then sand them down even more so that when you add a few light coats of paint, they still close. If this won’t help, let me know or send me a photo.

  78. Hi Diane,
    Thank you for this great tutorial. I want to paint the ceramic tile upper accent pieces in my guest shower. They are dark forest green. Does the post on painting ceramic tile include shower tile where it will get wet and possibly be scrubbed on occasion?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donna – You can paint tiles in a shower, but it many not last forever. The fact that they are high accent tiles and won’t get as much water on them, is a plus. The prep is crucial. Make sure to scour the tiles with medium grit sandpaper. Follow the directions on the box. Try not to use the shower for a few days to a week to let the paint really dry. When it is cured, it can be cleaned, I would just be careful not to scrub it too hard.

      1. Thank you Diane. After my guests leave, I will tackle that!

  79. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Thank you Diane for all the great information. You are my ‘go to’ for anything I want to try to do.

    I thought I would add my experience with a recently tried ‘weathering new pine wood’ thingy. Do NOT use steel wool and vinegar, cause it turns Pine wood ORANGE…….. it was horrible.

    Also, the Dollar Tree has a 12 pack of sand paper for ONE dollar(and there are graduated grits)! As opposed to my home store that I paid $5 for a 4 pack of all one course grit. I have been sanding my life away lately, so I have gone through a lot and I definitely needed more than just ONE grit… I don’t have $20 for just sand paper!!!! Ya know?

    I hope to get to try painting fabric in the near future, so this information is so very valuable to me. Thank you again.

  80. Diane, I love your site and pin my favorites like this one and give you credit, of course. Have you ever tried to remove popcorn from the ceiling? I have read tutorials on this, but I love how you take a complex task and make it sound so easy that it makes me want to drop everything and try it. I would love your take on this task.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – I have never removed a popcorn ceiling. I don’t even like painting ceilings. Removing the texture looks like a hard messy job. Sorry that I don’t have any advice for you. Best of luck with it.

    2. margote olson says:

      Hi Mary, I know this is a year-post, but regarding the popcorn ceiling. First, even before you try to remove it you have to find out when the popcorn ceiling was applied because in the 70s formaldehyde was used as a mixture in the PC and if you disturb it when removing it you can inhale toxic fumes which can attack your lungs and you become very ill, especially if you wet it down and then scrape. We redid our home and it had popcorn ceilings which were blown on we think from the 80s, so we just used 1/4 inch drywall and just re dry-walled the ceiling.

      1. Margote, Thank you for your kind reply. I really need to try it.

        1. margote olson says:

          Not a problem Mary. I know 40-50 years ago the industry mixed all kinds of terrible things in ceilings, floor tiles, back splashes, even claw tubs and the worst combos were asbestos and formaldehyde. I think us baby-boomers are suffering because of that now, but at least our kids and grand kids won’t have to deal with it.

  81. Thank you for a wonderful, informative post!

  82. OK, here’s a “How to paint anything” challenge. Bathroom floor tiles.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan – You can successfully paint bathroom floor tiles using oil based primer and paint or epoxy paint. You need to thoroughly clean and if they are glossy – sand them. There are a few companies that sell kits especially made for floor tiles. I think Rust-oleum makes one. Do a Google search for Bathroom Floor Tile paint. I think they are kind of pricey, but cheaper then replacing tiles.

  83. Oh my gosh……I’ve been on your site for over an hour. You are amazing! I’m sitting in my kitchen thinking about how badly I would LOVE to paint my “oak” cabinets! Have you always been so brave? I’m so scared to start! You have inspired me tonight…..

  84. prarthana says:

    i really liked everything u made… actually i wanted 2 decorate my room in artistic way.. i want 2 make it as vintage room bt i dnt knw excatly how 2 start… so pls help me if u can… :D

  85. I really enjoyed finding your website I too am a do it yourself paint sew garden etc. I am redoing a large secretary for my daughter who has contemporary taste and grappling with going white or off white loved loved your white desk redo thanks so much for sharing!

  86. Hi, I want to brighten up my new apartment with paint, but have no idea how to get started! I would love to hear your experiences with painting! What was your process of deciding on a color? Did you try lots of samples or just match something in the room? Where do you buy paint? How long do you think it will take an inexperienced painter like me to do each room? Thank you for your help!