How to Prepare Furniture Before Painting

Many people say that you can just begin painting furniture with no prep. That is true for some pieces. But you will get better results if you take a bit of care before you start. Here is how to prepare furniture before painting using a chalk and clay paint.

Prepping Furniture to Paint

What Can You Paint Using Chalk and Clay Paint?

There are many items that can be painted with chalk type paints.  You can paint stained furniture, laminated surfaces, ceramic, metal as well as previously painted pieces.  This paint bonds well on almost any surface and for the most part, sanding or priming will not be necessary. However, there may be times when taking the time to prep your item properly will give you a better result in the end.  And isn’t that what you are looking for, a beautifully hand painted item to proudly display in your home?

Do I Need to Clean My Piece Before Painting?

Any water-based paint will not block grease, grime or dark stains from bleeding through.  The first step to combating any bleed that may occur is to give items you are planning to paint a good scrub down.  A natural cleaner such as Simple Green has been designed to do just that.  Simply mix a small amount with water and using a sponge or cloth, wash your entire piece thoroughly.  This will help eliminate any grease or grime that may be lingering on your item.  Generally, this will be all that is needed before you begin painting. But as we all know, there are always exceptions to every rule.

Various kinds of items that can be painted

For instance—what if you are painting over a dark stain or an item that you have already painted and waxed? But now you’ve decided that you simply don’t like that color anymore?  What about painting a ceramic lamp or shiny latex paint?  How about metal or even a laminated top?  As always, the first step is to wash it. There are also some other products that are available to help you achieve that beautiful finish that you really want.  For instance, the following items are examples of other steps/products that you may want to take/use when prepping your furniture.

Additional Prepping Items and Suggestions

  1. Use a great degreasing cleaning product. ALWAYS clean your items before painting.
  2. If you would like to paint over a dark or cherry stain (especially with a white or light color) priming it as well as cleaning will be helpful to combat against any bleed through that may occur.
  3. When repainting an item that has already been painted and waxed with a chalk type paint product, use Denatured Alcohol or a Sander Deglosser to remove the wax before painting.  This will give you a better surface to paint over allowing your new paint color to adhere better to the first.
  4. If you are painting a particularly shiny surface, such as a laminate top, an oil based latex paint or a heavily urethaned item, using a sander, sand paper or sanding block just to scuff the surface will provide you with a surface that has more of a ‘tooth’ for your paint to grab hold of.  A Sander Deglosser will also help with cutting the shine.
  5. Metal is another item where you may want to scuff the surface slightly before you begin painting.

As we said before, typically all you will need to do before painting is clean your item and you’ll be ready to go. No sanding, no priming required.  But as we all know, we are (usually) painting used and previously ‘loved’ items and with these items there can be a whole host of trouble spots that can go along with them.  We will cover how to work with those spots and the history of a piece in future posts. The important thing to remember here is to have your finished project in mind.  If you are looking for great results with your hand painted piece of furniture, the steps you take to prep your piece can help you achieve that look.

For tips on painting finishes, read this. For inspiration on decor and painting furniture, check out our Pinterest boards. 

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. Bungalow 47 says:

    Stephanie, come on down! We love to help so please, stop by in the store anytime!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I am looking to paint my kitchen cabinets. They are home-made, probably from the 40’s or 50’s… And are heavily polyurethaned. I’m going for the vintage/industrial farmhouse look. I’ve decided to do an off white/white on my uppers and a black on my lowers.
    AND I’m totally giving you entirely to ouch information! Lol!
    Can you make any recommendations to me? Or, can I bring in one of my cabinet doors to have you advise me?

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