Furniture Painting Advice Needed!

Calling all furniture painting experts!

Yes, you know who you are…the ones who manage to transform a piece of furniture practically instantaneously all while making it look easy – and even pleasurable.

Well, let me start out by saying that I am not that person.

The thoughts of repainting furniture terrifies me.

Sure, I have done it once or twice but a third time?

Can I really do it?

Let me explain my dilemma…

Lets’ just say a “certain person” decided to buy a bookcase unit for her office.  She scoured the internet for the best price and then one day while visiting a friend, she discovered that friend had the exact same bookcase the “certain person” was looking at online…and had purchased it at a local furniture store for a better price.  Well, the “certain person” was thrilled to be able to see the unit in person before ordering it.  Her friend did point out that the bookcases were not pure white but the “certain person” could barely tell and knew that these shelves would be perfect for her office.  So days later, the bookcases were on order and the office plan was falling into place.

Then the other day, the bookcases arrived.  The center shelves were so huge that the delivery guys needed to remove the bathroom door across the hall AND the pantry doors diagonal to that, just so they could maneuver the unit into the office.  After some struggles, an almost knocked out hall light and some attempts by a golden retriever to be the center of attention, the bookshelves were now standing in the office!



they were definitely more cream than white and looked horrible against the bone white walls!  What a nightmare!  I, (yes, “surprise!” I am that “certain person”) wasn’t about to have those guys take them back after the fiasco of wedging those things into my house, plus I didn’t want to have to pay a restocking fee for returning the ridiculous things AND I wasn’t even sure if I hated them or if I was having a major attack of buyers remorse/panic!  I do love the size and they seem to be pretty good quality so my next idea is to paint them the exact color that I want…which is white…just plain bright white to match the trim in my room.

So here is where you come in… you painting experts out there!

Can I paint new off white wood furniture without having to sand it first?  Because let me tell you, these things are not moving out to the garage to be painted.  In fact, these things aren’t moving anywhere.  If we ever sell this house, they are staying with it.  And since my office was just recently painted and had fresh, new hardwood floors installed, I am NOT blanketing the room with sanding dust!

I have done a little research and apparently there are some ways to approach this.  

My question to you is:

Can I make this turn out professional looking…

without sanding,

just using a water based primer (I can’t deal with oil)

and just painting with

latex paint (preferably no VOC)?


I should also mention that these shelves are slightly distressed, as you might have noticed in the picture (if that helps any)…but I don’t know if I want a real distressed look in the end.  

Please tell me it is not impossible because my heart would just be broken if I wrecked these new shelves!

Thanks for the advice!

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  1. I fear that if you don't sand well the paint will not "stick". Could you try living with the book cases for a month or two before you paint?

  2. Absolutely…I would paint them with chalk paint. Love that paint! You'll love how easy it goes on and covers a piece.

  3. This is not a problem at all, you can paint Annie Sloan Pure White and then use her Clear Wax. You might become addicted once you use it. Just start painting. I have painted some factory powder coated pieces in my daughter's room and we prefer the chalk painted finish, has a softness to it, both visual and tactile. On the shelves that will be getting a lot of use, put two coats of wax after giving a few days in between to let the first coat cure. Not dry but cure. Her paint dries in 30 min. or so and wax allows immediate use once buffed. Hope you try it, I have used her products on many things in our home and had never been a furniture diyer before. Good luck!

  4. Shelly, I would not go the chalk paint route on these. I know you are wanting a clean new look. You can either lightly sand off the top finish or use a liquid deglosser. Then get you a quart of Benjamin Moore paint in the advantage line. I think that is what it is called or advanced. This is what we used on our bathroom cabinets. The paint is wonderful and it levels out so there aren't bad brush marks. You can brush or roll or both. Ours still look new 10 months later.

  5. You ladies are the best! Thanks for the advice and I will let you know what I end up doing!-Shelley

  6. interesting advice. I'm a user of chalk paint just because I hate to sand and prime. I guess it depends on how you view this piece of furniture. In the bathroom I'd definitely use the BM paint line because it takes such wear and tear. But heck. I painted my bricks with chalk paint and they look great. I'll be curious to see what you do.xoLeslie

  7. I am certainly not the one to ask about painting furniture, Shelly. LOL!!!! I do like it but believe most people will be stripping furniture years from now. Good Luck. Can't wait to see the outcome. Visit Uptown Acorn for my latest giveaway! xo

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