Paint or Stain Wooden Furniture Yourself: A 6-Step Guide

Reuse centres, thrift shops, garage sales and online platforms for the sale and exchange of second-hand items: these places are genuine goldmines for antique lovers.

Often, beneath the faded appearance of an old piece of wooden furniture lies enormous potential. You just need to know what to do! Restoring wooden furniture is an economical and rewarding way to give it a new lease on life.

Whether you want to paint it in a vibrant colour or stain it to enhance its natural beauty, we’ve got the advice—and the products—you will need.

Follow this step-by-step guide to transform your wooden furniture into the centrepiece of your interior design.


1. Set up the work area

Before you start working on your furniture, make sure your work area is properly prepared. This way, you will be able to start your project on the right foot.


To do this, we recommend that you:


  • Choose a space where your furniture can rest between steps without the risk of being bumped or moved.
  • Clear the space around the work area so that you can move around freely.
  • Protect the floor with tarpaulins or newspapers to avoid splashes staining the floor or walls.


2. Clean and prepare the surface

When you buy used wooden furniture, it’s rarely clean and ready for priming. So before you even think of putting a paintbrush near your wooden furniture, it’s a must to clean it in order to remove any dirt, dust or residue from previous products.

Use a damp cloth and a mild degreaser to remove dirt and grease from the entire surface. Be sure to dry the furniture thoroughly after cleaning.

At this stage, if you find any unwanted holes or cracks, you can repair these small defects with wood filler or plaster filler. Then sand lightly once the surface is completely dry.

Once the furniture is clean and dry, remove handles, knobs and any other hardware. If you want to reuse them, be sure to keep them in a safe place. If you prefer to use new fittings with fixtures that differ from the original ones, you can patch the holes in the same way as for the cracks.


3. Sanding wooden furniture

Sanding is a crucial step in the process. It ensures a smooth, consistent finish for the best possible results.

We recommend using medium-grain sandpaper (80-120) to sand the entire surface of the wooden furniture. Be sure to follow the grain of the wood and sand in the direction of the grain in order to avoid damaging the surface.

Once you have finished sanding with the medium grain, switch to a finer paper (180-220) to further smooth the surface and remove the scratches left by the medium grain.

Finally, carefully wipe off the sanding dust with a clean, dry cloth. In this way, you will avoid the small bumps in the paint or stain that are otherwise created by such dust.


4. Applying paint or stain

Now that your furniture is clean, dry and sanded, you can start applying the paint or stain of your choice.


Wood paint

If you opt for paint, you will need to apply a primer before going ahead with the paint. Here’s the Benjamin Moore paint and primer we recommend:


  • Fresh Start® Premium Interior Primer
  • ADVANCE® Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint


Benjamin Moore Avant-Première acrylic primer offers excellent coverage. It seals and removes stains and gives wood a moisture-resistant finish.

Benjamin Moore ADVANCE Interior Paint is simple to apply and offers a durable finish that cleans up easily, making it ideal for furniture that will be handled regularly.

Using a paintbrush or roller, first apply a coat of primer. Once this is completely dry, you can proceed in the same way with the paint.

Make sure you apply an even coat of paint, always following the grain of the wood. For a smoother finish, you can apply a second coat once the first is dry.


Wood stain

If you prefer to enhance the natural beauty of the wood, why not opt for stain instead? We recommend Benjamin Moore’s ARBORCOAT® stain. Opaque, semi-opaque, semi-transparent or translucent, this wood stain offers superior protection, while enhancing the texture and grain of your furniture.

But be careful! Stain stains the skin much more than paint. That’s why we recommend you wear gloves when applying it.

Test your stain on an inconspicuous part of the furniture first, to make sure you like the result once it’s dried. If you are satisfied with the result, you can go on to stain the whole piece of furniture.

To do this, use an ordinary paintbrush, a foam brush or a cloth. This will enable you to evenly apply the stain to the wood. Be sure to remove any excess stain before it dries.


5. Allow the paint or stain to dry

Once you have applied the paint or stain, let the furniture dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on recommended drying times. Patience is the key! Also, avoid touching or moving the furniture while it’s drying.

In the case of stain, when the furniture is completely dry, you can apply a second coat if you want to get a darker shade.


6. Apply a protective varnish

To protect the freshly painted or stained surface, we recommend applying a protective varnish.

Benjamin Moore’s Stays Clear® varnish produces a durable clear finish that resists scratches and won’t yellow over time.

Use a clean, dry brush to apply an even coat of varnish over the entire surface of the furniture. Then let the varnish dry completely before using or moving the furniture.


The rest is up to you!

By following these simple steps, you can refurbish your wooden furniture and give it a unique look that will perfectly complement your decor.

The advisors at our four stores are always available to help you choose the best colours and products to carry out your project successfully. We look forward to meeting you!