How-to: Paint Furniture

In continuation of yesterday’s post, I’ll describe the process that you can apply to paint any wooden furniture. So, if you’re game for some hard work, let’s get started.


1. Identify the piece of furniture you want to paint. And, be convinced why you want to paint. Some pieces of furniture look best in their natural form. For instance, you don’t want a yellow paint over a beautifully carved teak wood cabinet, right?

2. Come up with a color scheme. Do a bit of research and use your design gut to finalize colors. To add zing to bare white walls, brightly painted furniture is a good idea. But if you have a thematic wall, already, adding more color wouldn’t bring the object to focus. In this case, a neutral color would work well.

Things you’ll need:

Now that we’ve settled on the colors, let’s go do some shopping.  I used the Royale Emulsion (yea, the Saif Ali Khan series) range from Asian Paints for this project. Not that I’m a big fan of Saif, but since Asian Paints were the pioneer in the Indian market to have introduced odorless, water-based enamel.

1. Sand Paper – 6 to 7 sheets. You’ll need many sheets for the sanding process. Don’t go by what’s written on the paint tin. The highest grade you can get for sanding wooden furniture is 120. Keep a few sheets extra as it is costs only Rs. 4 per sheet and you don’t want to be running like me to the hardware shop every other day.

2.Dirty clothes.

3. Newspapers

4. Old paint tin for mixing colors.

5. Two brushes. A wide one and a narrow one. Don’t buy a very wide brush for furniture.

6. 1 liter of Royal Enamel (water-thinnable) – Mango Mood (Orange)

7. 1 liter of Royal Enamel (water-thinnable) – Red.

8. Primer from Asian Paints (again water thinnable).

9. Safety glasses

The total cost for these items was Rs.950. Paint is the most expensive part in this. If you choose a medium range that is solvent-thinnable, then the cost of the project will come down by about Rs.200. I personally find using thinner as a solvent very cumbersome. Cleaning the brushes and the floor is a lot more hard work. And you can’t afford to be negligent as with a water-based one.

Steps for Painting:

1. Spread newspapers on the floor. Wear old clothes. Put of your safety glasses.

2. Sand the surface well using emery sheets. If you are dust-allergic, then be sure to cover your face, or hire someone for an hour or two to sand.This is the most important step and every nook and corner should be sanded well. If not, when you start painting, you’ll find the paint flaking off.

3. Once sanding is done, shake the primer tin and open it. Pour a small quantity of primer in the empty paint bucket. Add little water to this so that it is neither too thick nor too flowy.

3. Start applying the primer using a brush. If you’ve never painted before, this is a good time to get used to feeling the brush in your hands. The strokes don’t matter much now. Ensure the entire surface is covered with primer.

4. Let it dry for 3-4 hours.

5. Sand the primed surface again.

6. Apply one more coat of primer. If you had mixed more primer the first time, take care to cover the leftover until next usage.

7. Let the second coat dry for 3-4 hours. Sand the surface again.

8. Empty the primer bucket. Wash it clean.

9. Mix a little quantity of orange paint in water in the empty paint bucket. Paint the desired area. Don’t take too much paint on the brush. Apply evenly for a smooth finish.

10. Let it dry after the first coat for 6 hours.

11. Follow up with a second coat and if needed, third coat. The cot took 3 coats, something typical of Asian Paints.

12. Once you’re done with orange, move over to red, or whatever color you choose.

It took me about a week and a total of 6 hours to finish painting as I did it in parts. There were times when my husband and my son helped me with a stroke or two. When it started getting messy, I gave them some assorted piece of furniture to try their skills on :)

Painting is still not viewed as a DIY activity in India. So, yes, you may get a few raised eyebrows every time you go  shopping.  A few months back, when I asked how much water I would need to mix for primer, the vendor replied, “Don’t worry ma’am. The painter will know.” The I’m-the-painter response from me caught him unawares.

I had a lot of fun painting this bed. I hope you’ll be inspired to paint some thing in your home as well. Don’t forget to share pictures when you do.