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15 Furniture Painting Tips for Beginners

I cannot tell you how many mistakes I made when I first started painting furniture and I'm sure I can't be the only one.  There was so much conflicting information out there about how to do this technique or another and I'd be so excited to jump straight in and then I wouldn't be happy with the result and so I'd start again.

1. PREP, PREP, PREP!  If you are unsure how to, then read this. 

2. Don’t skip straight to the painting. Yes, it is the fun bit. But if you don’t fill in deep gouges/cracks/peeling veneer, etc. they will be noticeable after painting and potentially impact your profit.

3. Take a before photograph. People love to see a transformation!  I still forget this one 🙈. 

4. Remove the hardware and either bag it up or put it in a plastic container and label. Sometimes I even tape the hardware (in bags) onto the door or drawer it relates to.

5. Always number your drawers on the underside - I use chalk - before you start painting. This saves time when reassembling and vintage drawers are notoriously temperamental.

6. If you are painting with the drawers in - insert long screws from the back of the hole and tape them over so you have 2 little pulls. Once painted, pull drawers out slightly to prevent them from being painted shut. If there are clumps of paint, wipe them off with a baby wipe before they dry. Alternatively, immediately after painting a drawer, you can insert two screw ends into the holes, angle them and gently pull to open.

7. Your first piece of furniture should be small so you don’t get overwhelmed. Mine was a large dresser. I really didn’t enjoy it and didn’t pick up a brush again for a very long time.

8. Learn the basics of furniture painting before you try more advanced techniques.  I didn't do this and wasted so much time and became seriously frustrated.

9. When you do start painting, begin with a small section on the side or back. That way, if you do make a mistake it is less noticeable.

10. It is normal for your furniture to look pretty awful until you’ve nearly finished so don’t give up or panic and try to ‘fix’ whatever you think is wrong. Have faith in the process.

11. I watched so many tutorials/techniques at the beginning of my journey that I'd confuse myself as everyone had a slightly different technique.  For example, some people dampen the brush when blending, others spray the furniture directly, some use a clean damp brush, etc. etc. Basically, what I'm saying is try other people's techniques but it is not the holy grail as we all work in different ways.  Adapt and find what works for you.

12. If you are trying to recreate a paint finish you’ve seen in a tutorial, you DO NOT need to purchase the products used. Even if you do, yours will still look different and that is OK!

13. Want to try a new technique?  Practice on a sample board first; I use old (clean!) kitchen cabinet doors. If you must do it on your furniture, then use one of the drawers before committing to the whole piece.

14. Know when to walk away from your project. You will have days when you are not loving a particular look you are trying to create and it is tempting to keep going.  Don’t. Come back to it the next day or work on something else and let it go.

15. Finally, keep stepping back from your project to see how it looks overall. Sometimes you can be too close and not see the bigger picture.  Remember, anything is fixable.  If you truly hate what you've done then start over! 

Happy painting  x


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