How-to: Paint Furniture

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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.



  1. Hi Again..your latest post has again inspired me to try different things that can enhance the beauty of my surroundings :) I have a question too : We are buying a house which has a living cum dining room ( there is no wall in between ) hence we are planning to separate the area by using some kind of divider/ screen which will divide the area and provide much needed privacy. To give a better idea, the dimension- living room is 13*13 and the dining area is 11*13. Can you suggest different options please?

  2. laksh

    Preeti: Congratulations on your new acquisition. Dividers that obstruct the dining area in entirety are not so much in vogue. Due to the modest sizes of living and dining areas in apartments these days, people prefer the space to flow into each other. This gives the illusion of space. I don’t mean to discourage you as you can retain the roomy feeling by using dividers made of glass instead of wood.

    Also, by using a short glass of say 5 (or less) feet height, you can maintain privacy and not have a cluttered feeling. The options for glass are plenty these days and it may cost you anywhere between Rs.7,000 and Rs.12,000 for the a 3 feet by 5 feet divider, I guess. Glass is fitted with two brackets on the adjacent sides.

    If you are not so concerned about space, then you can go in for movable wood dividers. Hope this helps.

  3. Hi, I am really not happy about dividing the small place, but my husband thinks the dining room needs some privacy.. also I feel that it will block the airflow coming from dining room which has got huge windows..its actually a sin to block that view.. :(
    glass seems a better idea as it does not block light..he was thinking about wall, but i am totally against it..another issue is that it has to be in L shape..that adds to further chaos..Thank you for the suggestion, my 1st preference will be glass, if at all I’m forced to go for divider :)

  4. Hi,
    Our hall is a big living+dinning room(13*30) which has a french window adn 4 door for all bedroom.I recently got a blur curtains for the hall.Hall has pineapple colour paint.I have a brown sofa want to know can the sofa have blue cushions.will ble cushions look good on brown sof.what all i can add to this room to make it look blue but pleasant

  5. Excellent tutorial! I get those ‘The painter will know’ answers coupled with the occasional roll-of-the-eyes when too many questions are asked. Quite annoying at times!

  6. interior designer

    Hi, Chryselle. Instead of going full blue of same shades, go for 2 shades of blue – dark and light. It will look more good. Do some dark and light shade(both in blue) stencil painting on one of the bigger wall,

  7. Ashutosh


    I am Ashutosh, a resident of New Delhi. I have a house in Karol Bagh. My house has a lot of wood work which includes furniture as well. I wanted to do something nice with it paint/polish/design. Whatever looks beautiful. I am not sure what to do. Can someone who has already been through the process help me with it?
    An elaborate explanation of the entire process would be very helpful for me. Thanks in Advance.

  8. laksh

    Hi Ashutosh,

    Depends on what type of wood work you have – if it is teak or ay solid wood work, then you can polish it again to restore the sheen. If it is laminate, then your options are limited as it will involve a lot of work to peel it away; you are better off redoing it.
    For furniture, if it is solid wood again, just repolish it. Paint only if you want to give it a weathered look.

  9. Hi… this is such an interesting post.
    I’m living I. A rented space since I just moved cities. Until I buy my own place, I wanted to spruce up some furniture in my daughter’s bedroom.
    That got me thinking if I could do a DIY. I have these multiple side tables which I’ve joined together to make a long table. I keep the toys on top, and use the drawers for books etc. These sidetables are made of regular MDF wood with sunmica all over.
    I am clueless about which paint to use. Or whether I can paint them at all.
    Would you know what paint to buy? Is it available online as hardware shops don’t have many colour options?

  10. laksh

    Hi Stuti,

    You would need wood stains often available as enamels. Earlier enamels were used, but now most companies have a different range for wood (I know Asian Paints has one). So do not go to a smaller paint store but one of the main dealers of any of the bigger brands, they would have the entire range.Ask to see the shade card and choose a color. You may check this earlier post of mine for exact specs as well –

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