How to Paint Furniture (without sanding)

A little birdie told us that we can refinish furniture without sanding, just the right primer!  That little birdie is Just A Girl and she shows us just how easy it can be in her post on How to Paint Furniture.


Longing to spice up our homes, we were excited to dive in!


Please click here to visit Just A Girl and see the instructions that we followed! 

Also, be sure to click on our photos for a more detailed look!



Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: To give my old bedroom set a bit of pizazz!



Headed to the local hardware store to get the paint, I opted for:

I was really nervous the paint, I wanted a shine but not super glossy…the guy was very helpful and said the one I bought would be perfect! You just never know until you use it but I over think everything and stress out too much about color!

  • Also picked up Liquid TSP Degreaser, along with the gloves…this sounded scary, I didn’t want to mess up this mixture. Don’t forget to use the gloves and just follow the directions. I used an old rag to apply before applying primer.
  • I primed using my handy dandy sponge brushes that worked perfect for the small curves in the night stand.
  • For the large spaces I used the Mini Foam Rollers that stated it was best for smooth surfaces.

Next was the painting, now this was tough for me.  I drove Mike crazy because I could not get the top surface smooth enough for my liking.  The other sides came out good but the top just drove me crazy.  So instead of using the Liquid TSP Degreaser again and mess up the already painted sides, Mike had the idea to just sand the top.  He saved my sanity with this suggestion! We lightly sanded then three coats later it came out better.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Let the coats dry, it doesn’t have to be for days…even just an hour because doubling up too soon will mess up the smooth finish.

Be careful while spreading the paint, the best tip would be to have a light touch with the roller…it gave the best finish.

Don’t forget to watch for drippings, you don’t want to have to redo this for drips.

Kristy - Furniture 1


Honestly, I stressed out about the finish but I LOVE, LOVE the finished product!!

It’s pretty inexpensive as well – just time consuming.


I could not get the finish absolutely perfect, it drove me NUTS!!!!

Mike thought it looked fine but I am certain that’s b/c he didn’t want to have to help paint it again.

 Kristy - Furniture 2


Going into this project, I was nervous I was going to mess up my furniture but instead I learned it is such a great way to revamp old furniture and give it some pizazz! This is a perfect project for my job as well, for staging homes, this allows me to redo on furniture I have on hand to give life to a vacant home or to transform a feel of a room. I am already looking for my next project!



Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: If furniture can be painted and look great without even sanding it, I want to know how to do it. The hard part was picking which piece of furniture to paint. I decided to give my mom’s little kitchen table an upgrade. The thing is ancient.



There is a process, and you need to follow the process.

  • I was introduced to a fabulous product that I am now completely in love with. KRUD KUTTER. I was going to use the TSP Degreaser as recommended, but this was more earth friendly and I figured any super power degreaser would do. This stuff was amazing. It took the years of grime right off the legs of the table with very little elbow grease.
  • I headed back to mom’s another day to prime using Kilz Latex Primer & Sealer. It’s important to use a primer that blocks stains.

Mom wanted the table done in a flat black. I was a little nervous that I would have to do a ton of coats seeing the primer was white.

  • I used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover. I must say it’s the best paint ever! It covered great. Just two coats and it looked great.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Those little sponge tip brushes work fantastic for the little nooks. Especially if you’re working on something with detailing.

Sheri - Furniture 1


I didn’t have to sand anything.


None really. We’ll see how well the furniture holds up to dings!

 Sheri - Furniture 2


I’m overall pleased with this project. The table came out great and I didn’t have to sand anything!

I’m just hoping that it stands up to everyday wear and tear and doesn’t chip. That’s the real test.



Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: To turn a tired, poorly painted dresser into a new dress up closet for my kiddos. Yet another Pinterest-inspired project!



While I didn’t use the same paint I did stick with the suggested:

My paint choice may have actually caused the lack of coverage and streaks I experienced. My paint choice was suggested to me by a lovely and terribly incorrect hardware store sales associate who shall remain nameless.

Because I started with a four-drawer dresser and turned it into a one drawer dresser with an opening for hooks or a hanging rack my project required some additional materials.

  • I used some left over particle board from another project that my hubby kindly cut down to size for me to frame out the inside of the dresser where the drawers no longer are.
  • I tacked them in with finishing nails.
  • I also needed to use some Elmer’s Wood Filler to make the new wood look like part of the old wood. It is easy to use and you can sand and paint it so ideal for a project like this.
  • I also added some chic and bold patterned paper to the inside of the dresser before installing hooks and a hanging rack!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Choose a GOOD and reliable paint not one you have never worked with. Have a fresh Foam Roller. Mine was a little mangled due to the texture of the particle board I used on the inside of the dresser.

Amanda - Furniture 1


Not a ton of prep with this method. The Zinsser primer definitely helped with the texture of the wood and evening things out.


Not so much a con but I really would have loved to have seen a before of the piece that Just a Girl used in her original post.

I feel like I may have had expectations that were not realistic.

Amanda - Furniture 2


Stick with what you know! Use a good paint if you are starting with a darker piece that you plan to paint lighter.

I will definitely try this method again and may even venture into our local paint store to pick up the Benjamin Moore that was used in the original post. It sure looks great on her piece!



Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To give my kiddos’ dresser a new life so it looks new again.




Before my oldest child was born, my sister gifted me one of her old dressers to use in his room. It was a worn in piece of furniture, but I always loved it for its character and had dressed it up with some cute knobs from Anthropologie. It had lived up to its duty as a holder of clothes, though it was time for an overhaul on this lovely piece.

  • When I started this project, I broke the rule of following directions right off the bat. I decided to go forward with using our hand sander vs. buying the degreaser that was noted. I wanted to save some money on this project (as I overspent on it later) and honestly didn’t want to make another stop at yet another store with my three children…the taking them in and out of their car seats gets tiring!
  • I picked out a gray Benjamin Moore paint color at my local paint store and they tinted the Zinsser Cover-Stain Primer for me, as well as the Benjamin Moore Low Lustre metal and wood paint. I accidentally asked for the oil based paint though, which I highly regretted later!

While painting the dresser, I ended up doing three coats of paint total. The first was the tinted primer, the second and third were the topcoat. After the first topcoat layer dried, I could see areas where the primer was showing through, so that third coat was a must!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a paint roller and a small one at that! It was so easy to use, for both my son and I, and it really did a great finishing job. Also have some small sponge brushes handy for detailed areas.

If you are refinishing a piece of furniture that requires knobs, have some fun with finding the perfect ones! I went the route of Anthropologie – one of my favorite retailers – and found some great knobs that are darling and work well in my kiddos’s room.

Sarah - Furniture 1


A fantastic finish – it honestly made this dresser look like new again and like it is worth some bucks!

Refinishing my kiddos’ dresser also motivated me to work with my very talented mother to design new quilts for my kid’s beds. We went with a gray, orange and teal color palette. I’ll share a photo of the finished update when we are all wrapped up!


DO NOT use an oil based paint…unless you want to clean brushes over and over in paint thinner. I was cursing myself for doing that the entire project!

Sarah - Furniture 2


I absolutely LOVE the end result and am inspired to do this on my dresser as it also needs a facelift!



Reviewer #5 – Maren

Mission: Learn how to revive an old piece without the pain in the tuchus of having to sand it down first!



Since we are currently “displaced,” I didn’t have the space to refinish a large piece of furniture… and just about everything we own is in storage, I decided to try Just a Girl’s technique on a vintage shelf that I grabbed at an antique store.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Those little sponge brushes were not working for me.  I used my favorite nylon craft brushes instead.

On a super old piece like the one I had, be prepared to apply extra coats of primer.  The wood just sucked it up, leaving little brown pits that I knew would show through the top coat.  I ended up applying over 2 coats of primer in some places.  Yuck.

Speaking of primer, if you push too hard with the roller, you will remove it.  Oy!

P.S.  Before getting fancy and painting the sides of a drawer, make sure that the drawer has some wiggle room.  I did not follow this advice and ended up having to sand my pretty purple paint off the sides of the drawer when it couldn’t fit back into the shelf, aka “total waste of time.”

I got little bubbles!  I think that this may be from my foam roller not being 100% dry from washing it. Or maybe because the wood was so old?  I was freaking out.  Everyone else seems to think that it looks perfectly fine, but the OCD weirdo in me just can’t get over the fact that it doesn’t have that “factory finish.”  I’m not entirely positive that this is even possible, but I won’t stop until I find out!

Maren - Furniture 1


It really looks great and was relatively inexpensive to do!

I am really glad that I tested the technique out on a smaller scale first; I now feel confident diving into one of our bigger pieces!


Frustrating.  Why can’t I do things perfectly on the first try?

Maren - Furniture 2


This was a great, simple tutorial that was a great first lesson on painting furniture.  I am anxious to try it again with the things that I learned the first time around.

I also imagine that a piece with a nicer starting finish would be helpful (or even a very light amount of sanding), so that makes me feel excited about the to-be painted furniture that I have around our home!



Furniture Conclusion


The lovely Painted Furniture and it’s photo by Just A Girl


Check out our latest attempt at painting furniture by clicking here!


  1. Kaye Fournet

    Kristy….that looks just like the nightstands I paid a lot for! Good job!

  2. WOW! Those furniture looks expensive! Thumbs up you guys!

  3. deserei

    Did you ever need 2 coats of primer? Or just do one coat primer, 2 coats paint?

    • Hi Deserei, I had to apply 2+ coats of primer on my super old piece, but the other girls only needed one coat. I think that it depends on the age and quality of the wood that you are covering. For the regular paint, we all used about 2 coats. ~Maren

  4. Question, I want to paint my dinning table, but it looks like its sealed with something to make it shiny. Do you recommend me. Priming and then painting? I’m nervous that it won’t work and turn out funky.

    Thanks Kelli

    • Hi Kelli! The magic of primer is that you can apply it right over the finish that is on the piece that you plan to paint! From my experience, I do recommend thoroughly washing the surface first though. The various cleaners that we used in this project all did a great job. When in doubt, washing with blue Dawn soap followed by a little diluted vinegar usually does the trick!
      We would love to see your finished table! Post a photo to our Facebook page when you’re done! XO, Maren

  5. Did you use any kind of sealant?

  6. S. Escobar

    I love using spray paint but my finger/ thumb gets awfully tired holding the sprayer down, wish there was an easier way. Oh, and those handle inventions are tiring too. Help, someone, invent something, you’d make a million. S.

  7. S. Escobar

    Trust me, I’ll shout it from the rooftops! Bet the “Sharks” would be interested too !

  8. Impatient

    Did you use the Greased Lightening? I just used it to clean up a very old, unattractive, wood chair. The directions say to wash it off with water. I don’t really want to do that because it will take longer to try before using the primer. Did you use it and wash it off? Thanks so much….

    • Hi there!
      Yes, I used Greased Lightening on my antique piece. I did rinse it afterwards with warm water and a sponge, which then required me to wait about a week before I was able to start priming. It was hard to be patient, but I felt that it was worth it in the end since it removed all that grease and grime from the piece that is only acquired with such age.
      I have since used it on super old pieces and feel like it’s totally worth the wait every time!
      Best of luck! We’d love to see your finished piece on our Facebook page!
      xo, Maren

  9. Impatient

    Thanks so much for the advice! I will take before and after pics!

  10. Hello.
    I’m painting a wooden entertainment center that has old dark-brown paint. I primed it with a water-based (Killz), even though I’ve read that a oil-based primer is much better since I prefer not to sand as much. For the topcoat, what works better oil-based enamel or water-based/latex paint? Kind of brushes or rollers preferred? Please help!! I want my DIY job to look like a pro job.

    Got to get the job right,

    Sandi Y.

    • Hi Sandi,
      Sarah used an oil based paint and didn’t have the best luck. We suggest sticking with the Latex paint that was recommended by Just A Girl.
      We liked the smooth, foam rollers since they leave such a nice finish. We also did little touch-ups with small, craft brushes.
      You might like to take a peek at how each of us gave this project a try above, since we all did it just a little bit differently.
      Good Luck! We’d love to see your finished piece on our Facebook page!

  11. Hi there! I love to paint furniture. I want to paint two wooden chairs I have for a dining area. I would like to avoid the task of sanding them since they are slatted and it would take forever!!!
    How do you think it would hold up on chairs, using your method?
    How has your project stood up?

    • Hi Molly,
      Our painted items have held up great! Everyone reports that their pieces still look fab.
      We also tried spray painting furniture (with very light sanding) and had great results – you can see that review by clicking here. With the spraying method, three of us did chairs and aside from a small chip (my fault) all of the chairs are still looking great and are not showing any signs of wear in the seat. I think that often you don’t need to sand as much as you think, but rather to just lightly rough up the surface.
      Thanks for the note – hope I was able to help out. We would love to see your finished piece on our Facebook page!

  12. Hello .. I am looking to paint two nightstands made from particle board furniture. I’m trying to figure out if its a good idea and worth the time and effort. what are your thoughts?
    The nightstands are black in color and I’d like to paint them distressed white/ celery to match with the new green painted in the room .

    • Hi Tapsie,
      Thank you for the note!
      While none of us painted over particle board for this review, Kristy did try this method later on with a piece that was more of a composite material and it worked out pretty well.
      If the surface is super smooth or slippery though, you may just want to lightly go over it with a fine grit sandpaper and light touch just enough to rough up the texture so the primer will stick.
      Hope this helps! Please let us see the final results! You can share pics on our Facebook page – we would love to see the finished piece, and the paint color sounds really fun!

  13. Ashley T

    Any recommendations on painting over a black dresser? There is no way I’d be able to sand it off. I currently have a 1 year old that has to be attached to me all of a sudden. I’m hoping for a way I could prime and paint during naptime! Prime and paint or use chalk paint?

    • Hi Ashley, the method used above worked great on furniture that was already painted. You may need to lightly sand areas that are scuffed or damaged, but using the primer that was recommended did a great job covering flaws and adhering to painted surfaces.


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