f How do you paint pine furniture? Hand-painted kitchens, furniture and period property

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    How do you paint pine furniture?

    hand painted pine dresser

    This dresser started life as all pine and with care has been transformed into a hand painted feature.

    This is a long indepth article on painting pine furniture. It is written by professional furniture painters, and aimed at plucky DIY who want to have a go at doing this properly.

    If you have patience and determination and a somewhat arty touch, you can do it! But so often on forums I see the life and the fun factor drain out of DIYers as their enthusiasm is hit by mistake after mistake, usually based on assumptions and tips from horrible TV shows, where best trade practice died long ago.

    The basic error I think is getting stocked up with kit and kaboodle from a DIY shed and jumping straight in. Don’t do it! Don’t be one of the many who go with the crowd, only to see their investment in time and money turn to pooh.

    The information here is read on average 8000 12000 times a month, and is regularly updated, to ensure it remains the most relevant information online on this topic.

    There is a lot to digest, because there is no single magic bullet that suits all cases, so you are welcome to print it off or bookmark the full story:

    Before you start, decide what end result you are after.

    – Get the products and tools you need to effectively and efficiently prepare pine – waxed, varnished, bare or painted – laminate effect… you can prepare them all for painting.

    – Best brushes, sandpaper, paint to use

    – The why, what, where, how…!

    Most of the answers are here!

    Send in a before and after photo of your latest furniture painting project. Every month, best one will win a decorator kit box worth over £100!

    DIY or call a pro? We have you covered.

    This article is aimed at plucky homeowners wanting to have a go, and also willing to have a bit of a read first, to get a fuller picture. Prepared, you can avoid wasting your time and money on basic (easily avoided) errors.

    If time is against you, obviously you can call in a professional furniture painter They will give you a fixed price, and at the end of the job, present you with a finished piece of hand-painted furniture that makes you smile.

    but if you want to do it yourself, this is where I hope I can make a bit of a difference

    Thanks so much for recommending Langlows Patina. What a lovely finish. After using so many different products and being totally unsatisfied with the results, I won’t use anything else from now on. I also bought an orbital sander as a result of reading the info on your site. Am now researching eggshell finishes on painted furniture – am certain you will have something sensible to say !! More feedback from readers

    Why paint pine furniture? Why not go and buy it ready painted?

    It was a trip round John Lewis, that confirmed to me that furniture painting was going to keep a lot of people busy over the next few years! Consider that dresser above, well, I saw a shadow of that quality, factory sprayed, for over £1100. If you have one like that in pine, already, you can get it in showroom painted condition in a few days yourself.

    Apart from the financials, if you are environmentally responsible,

    chalk painted pine furnitureone of the smartest things you can do these days is to paint pine furniture from a second hand store, or give a new lease of life to a piece you have had in the family for a while.

    Upcycling rules! Re-working furniture is like recycling paint, use existing resources before creating any “new” alternative.

    Older furniture is usually quite well constructed too, and deserves some love, especially those that were made with love! (The same applies to second hand kitchens!)

    Even if a piece of pine furniture is a little out of touch with current tastes, and gone orange on you! for the sake of a few coats of paint or wax or varnish, a grim fashion statement can be updated and put back in the fashion game.

    This pine table was all bare, orange and dull. But paintable.

    painted pine table

    Adopt a professional approach for a pro finish

    If you aren’t happy with the end result, you aren’t alone.

    The main mistake is usually buying the wrong products.

    Just because you aren’t a professional, doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job. Pros use pro quality tools and paint, and being DIY doesn’t preclude you from buying and using trade quality products. So stock up with worthy kit!

    In all honestly, I really don’t understand why anyone spends the money on rubbish in big DIY stores (or trade merchants for that matter) when for the same money or even less, you can use the right professional quality product.

    If the reason for DIY hell on earth is, I don’t know what is available outside of B&Q, then you came to the right site to see how to invest financially, and wisely in some great tools and paints.

    Coming up – which paints and then which tools and finally the good stuff, the painting process.

    Correct paint for the finish or effect you are after

    Before you think about shabby chic or distressing or conventional block colour, think about which type of paint you want to use, because all paint can be shabby chic-ed!

    There are many furniture paint options, but the basic starting point for non professionals, I think, is either

    Chalk paint – Water based, no petro-chemical odours. Apply straight on any surface, no prep required. It can be painted beautifully smooth (and left smooth, or it can be distressed), or it can be lashed on (and left nasty, or be distressed). Either way, once painted (and distressed , or not), you HAVE to protect the chalk paint, usually with wax.

    Acrylic eggshell. The surface has to be cleaned, prepared and primed, but the actual top coats should be pleasant to apply, be low odour and easy to clean up afterwards. (Again, you can attack, I mean, distress a nicely painted surface. It can be sealed with a lacquer, or left, more to follow on protecting a finish.)

    Oil eggshell over a thoroughly cleaned, prepared and primed surface. I like oil eggshell, but if you aren’t confident in your abilities, go acrylic eggshell. (Everything worth knowing about Oil v acrylic eggshell) Oil paint can be rubbed back and varnished if required. Generally though, the water based approach is favourite for paint effects.

    Best paint for furniture

    This is a much asked question. Give me a silver bullet answer, one paint that does it all. Oil based eggshell enamel! There you go, that is my answer. It has no context, best for what? etc.

    There are choices, it is part of the furniture painter skill to specify the right paint for the job. But to keep it simple.

    You can go round and round with this brand is better than that brand, and who would pay £x for that posh paint when you can get that high street brand paint for £x less 40%.

    To save yourself headache and heartache, just think:

    – the high street eggshell paints are shiny

    – the posh eggshell paints are flatter

    – chalk paint is different, quirky, and very cool, if the French look is your thing. 

    – all work well, all have limitations

    – there really isn’t that much of a price difference between any of them, when you are talking small quantities of paint for the odd piece of furniture.

    With that simplified view of the paint world you should find it easier to take your pick of some of these paint suitable for furniture .

    Shabby chic or not shabby chic?

    Before we go on to tools, a quick side turn down chalk paint lane.

    As I said earlier, whatever paint you choose, you can either apply it conventionally, that is to say flat and even, in a block colour and leave it that way, or you shabby chic your beautiful paintwork with a judicious sanding. This wooden headboard was painted with a water based eggshell, I believe, and distressed.

    headboard painted and distressed

    It could have been painted conventionally, and over time, (a long time, hopefully) wear and tear would have shabby chic-ed it naturally. Or they could have used chalk paint from the outset, roughed up the edges to imitate wear and tear, and protected with wax.

    To see what a professional can do, Lee Simone gives some brilliant advice on distressed paint finishes for furniture.

    Regardless of skill level, it is purely a case of taste how you go about painting furniture and distressing it, or not. (And don’t underestimate the power of colour. The right colour can elevate a really naff piece of furniture into quite a nice feature.)

    Painting 101 – Tools and products for preparing pine furniture

    If you have been here before, the following offer may be relevant for you. If you are still feeling your way, though, keep on reading till you have a better idea of what is involved.

    link to 5% offer

    If you use chalk paint you won’t need any cleaning products. Just dust it down.

    If you use conventional oil or acrylic or waterborne paints, you will need to make sure the surface is thoroughly degreased, clean and keyed/sanded.

    Fluxaf Pro Clean Krudkutter is a citrus based degreaser and cleaner

    To remove grease, try a cleaner that doesn’t gas or burn you. Krudkutter Original is a good option. We are moving over to * Fluxaf Pro Clean, it works very well, is biodegradable, a fraction of the price of Krud Kutter, and most importantly is readily available. The tech support is straight from the chemists’ mouth too.

    Here is how to use Fluxaf Pro Clean to clean previously painted doors.

    To remove wax, Krud Kutter Original or Pro Clean will serve you well. Apply neat, leave to soak, and before the cleaner dries off (dependant on ambient temperature it could be a few minutes) go at it with a good kitchen scourer. Do wear gloves, even natural degreasing products are unable to differentiate between wax and your skin!

    I cover abrasives further down.

    Brushes – Why use a decent paint brush?

    Would you buy a pair of running shoes that are 2 sizes too small? Equally, why would you buy a cruddy brush for your expensive paint? The better a brush holds its shape, the more paint it holds without running, the better balanced it is, then the more productive you will be – and the better the end result.

    American paint brushes

    What is the best paint brush?

    There isn’t a single brush that does everything 100% well, but there are certain brushes that do certain tasks better than others.

    Best brush for acrylic eggshell

    The American brushes pictured above are very popular, found in many a pro painter’s brush box, all tried and tested by contributors to this site, and will do you proud in acrylic eggshell.

    -* 2.5″ angled sash marvel for emulsion & trim! .

    Looking for a brilliant all round brush, made in the UK, that is a good price?

    That would be the new phenomenon in brushes – the Fox.

    The Fox Paint brush, Developed and Used by Traditional Painters

    Traditional Painter and our Trade Corner associates know a bit about brushes.

    damp Fox

    Birth of a world beating British brush »

    MyPaintBrush commissioned a traditional paint brush for modern paints, and Martin Guest our trusty kitchen and furniture painter in the W Midlands worked with a local brush-maker to develop what are now known as the Fox brushes. In a year, the group have produced, tested and released a revolutionary paint brush range that ticks many many boxes.

    The bristles are super fine. The shape has been formed using literally new technology. Other brush makers can achieve the same shape, but with chemicals, which cause bristles to wear out prematurely. The Fox bristles are very robust and also seem to hold a fantastic amount of paint, but still cut a sharp straight line.

    Although they are fine and soft, the bristles hold their shape and work in water-based, oil based and heavy shellac based paint. That is phenomenal. Full story on the Fox paint brush here.

    As a range, they are genuinely a superlative all-round brush for everyone into painting – suitable for highest quality kitchen painting, furniture painting, super fast emulsioning, and they keep on working well in oil based eggshell, gloss… in chalk paint they are a 9/10.

    Can you tell, we are proud of the Fox!And being made in the UK, they are very reasonable prices too. especially in bundles.

    Best brush for chalk paint

    I think the Wooster FTP is one the best conventional brushes for chalk paint. 2.5″ straight cut.

    FTP bosses sticky paint

    And this a * pure bristle brush for chalk paint AND wax.

    Paint brush care

    Taking care of brushes used in water-based paints can be as simple as washing out under a tap every couple of hours, before the paint goes off.

    For a deeper clean, leave the brush in a pot of Krud kutter for an hour, or soak overnight if needed, and then wash out under a cool running tap. This will get most brushes perfectly clean.

    When clean, flick the bristles out as dry as you can, shape the bristes with your fingers and lay it down somewhere safe on a piece of kitchen paper.

    To minimise washing and waste and dirty tap water

    Treat yourself to a * Brush Vest.
    Brush Vest

    to keep the brush safe while in transit.

    Or use the * Paint Brush Cover

    Don’t clean your brush every day. Instead, at break times or overnight, place your brush in the cover.

    It is designed for protecting bristles and keeping water based paint soft for a few days. It works well, designed for skinny brushes though. That is a Rembrandt, the stockier 2.5″ Fox won’t fit currently.

    Store and Go! gel

    Store and go

    This pot of gel will keep your water based AND oil based brushes in perfect condition for months. When you want a break or at the end of the day or at the end of a job, literally wipe off excess paint and dunk the brush into the gel. You can leave it an hour for lunch or with the lid on, 6 – 12 months, and when you come back, scrape gel off bristles into a scrap pot and carry on painting.

    Paint doesn’t leach, it can’t.

    Under £20, so much hassle saved, very eco friendly, the water savings are massive. What’s not to like! Read more here

    Here is a series of videos showing the clever Dutch cleaning systems.

    Simple cleaning ensures a really nice synthetic paint brush will last you a long time and it will be a joy to use, and there should be some sense of peace of mind too, knowing that you are using the same kit that painters like me are using, rather than using cheapo brushes from B&Q that pros wouldn’t have much luck with either!

    Paint conditioner in water based paints

    Acrylic paint on woodwork gets a bad rap because people say it goes on stringy and you can’t get rid of brushmarks. That isn’t true.

    IN CONVENTIONAL ACRYLIC PAINT, add Floetrol, up to 10%, instead of water. It is a colourless pure acrylic fluid, so does not diminish the qualities of conventional acrylic paints. ALso use a best brush!

    conditioner for ALL water based paints


    IF USING COMPLEX WATER BORNE PAINTS JUST ADD WATER. If you are using a HI TECH PAINT, such as water-borne acrylates, please ask if it has been tested by the manufacturer before adding anything other than water.

    Paint chemists will tell you that the Floetrol does extend the drying time of paint, which extends the curing time. This is sort of a moot point. New paint even if dry, needs to be left for about 2 weeks or so before it reaches full hardness. The small margin of extra time to be touch dry / cure overall, because of a conditioner, shouldn’t be cause for concern, just allow a bit longer.

    Some decorators will tell you all conditioners are a waste of money! Thinking it through, at worst, if you add 10% Floetrol to most water based paint, you create 10% more usable paint. At best it will give you time to work the paint. And it will help the paint to lie flat with fewer / negligible brushmarks.

    Where waste of time may apply, or rather, waste of a lot of time and money, is using XIM Latex Xtender. This is an alternative conditioner which some decorators are getting quite attached to. A few drops, keep topping up, turns the paint slippy and flows nicely. Be very careful in pure acrylic paint! It has been shown to discolour white Eico Alterior 100% acrylic paint. Floetrol has been proven not to do the same to the same paint.

    XIM also contains an alcohol, which is sort of anathema to the durability of acrylic resin!

    Paint conditioner in oil based paints

    If you use oil paint, add Owatrol oil, up to 10%.

    owatrol oil paint conditionerAgain, with a bit of technique, the conditioner will help brushmarks flow out nicely. It does extend drying time, but having used a lot of it in Little Greene oil eggshell, this is not a problem.

    A problem is extending the drying time of oil paints from the big trade players whose paint already takes much too long to dry anyway.

    Good sandpaper

    Abrasives have come a long way since Oakey sandpaper, the stuff that used to disintegrate and stink to high heaven when it got damp! Abranet is the way ahead, especially as it comes with such a simple starter kit that attaches to your Henry for instant professional dustless sanding!

    Use 80 or 120 grade for rougher sanding.

    abranet abrasive

    Sanding between coats

    If you use acrylic eggshell, on flat surfaces, sand between coats with 240 or 320 grade abranet, and your finish will be immaculate. On profiles use a spongy sanding pad, or if you have a lot to do, consider Mirka Gold Flex, which is a bit of a revelation for sanding edges without removing too much paint. (Mirka do provide many of the best sanding solutions on the market.)

    Chalk paint can be sanded super glassy smooth, but really, there is no need to sand till you get to the first wax stage. It’s the Annie Sloan way and it really is much cleaner that way.

    Abranet is the abrasive of choice »

    Across the range, Abranet is used on the roughest woodwork to the highest class autos. It is part of a dustless sanding system. I got started for with an Abranet starter kit which back in 2009 was between £25-£40. I have adopted the whole power sanding system too, but I still have this starter kit, and use it most days.

    The system is a sanding block that plugs into your vacuum cleaner, plus some abrasives. Without seeing it, I know its a weird concept, but honestly, it has revolutionised decorating across the board. And this is what the basic kit looks like.

    So you use the sanding block for flat areas, the dust goes straight down the tube into your vacuum. For fiddly bits, there are a variety of specialist sponges and blocks available, but for DIY to get the feel for it, the simplest option is an interface pad.

    A starter kit comes with an interface pad, which is about 1/2″ thick foam with velcro. I take this pad off the sanding block and use it for sanding profiles.

    detaches and can be used to sand profiles

    Don’t bother cutting corners with other sandpaper, you will miss the whole point of Abranet and dustless sanding. (Dustless to the point that 90% + of dust should be captured at source. )

    Exclusive Mirka offer

    Traditional Painters work with Mirka, who we think are out-and-out fantastic company with a great ethos. They seem to like us too, and their distributors have put together an offer.

    Readers of the Traditional Painter site can enjoy a tasty price on the Abranet Starter Kit – £33.07 delivered to your door

    Also the Handy Kit for under £40 delivered. It is a great price, really.

    Masking tape

    So often I see demos on Youtube where a few pieces of masking tape in the right place would have raised the standard from sloppy DIY to thoughtful professional. 3M Scotch Blue 2090 is reliable and easy to get hold of. *Dolphin is also a reliable blue tape used by Traditional Painters and about half the price of the 3M range.

    scotch blue 2090 tape and dispenser work well together

    Don’t buy from a Dulux Decorator merchant though, price ways, they will pull your pants down, so to speak. Shop for tapes on-line for a much more reasonable price.

    Floor protection

    No point painting furniture and flooring.

    A roll of lining paper works well, or a sheet of One Tuff if you like your floor protection tuff and fluff free. Cotton dust sheets or newspaper, nooooooooooo – that is making life hard for yourself.

    Make time
    You are also committing your free time to this project, because even with the best will in the world, no plug-and-play-and-leave machine can do the work for you. I don’t know about you, but there are only so many hours in a day, definitely not unlimited spare time.

    link to 5% offer

    I hope this run down of equipment will help you make your next purchases count and maximise the return on your money and time!

    That is the kit, how do I actually paint pine furniture?

    There are thousands of blogs and forums that talk about painting pine and painting pine furniture. I see a lot of misconceptions floating around, and home DIY painters especially, are getting in trouble, unnecessarily, following duff advice, or not understanding a few simple principles.

    Painting pine properly is not super easy, but with a few thoughts in the forefront of your mind, any keen painter can achieve excellent results.

    Rather than me talking in abstracts this links to an article I wrote that uses the exact same principles outlined above:

    Paint a pine table with Little Greene paint & Mirka CEROS

    When you have read that, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of the practical steps and the principles. However, there are lots of combinations of primers and paints for different surfaces, so by all means come back here, and below is a series of step by steps to paint varnished furniture, paint waxed furniture etc


    Painting pine furniture the professional ways

    When it comes to preparing pine furniture for painting, if you want a professional looking finish, there is no choice: it should be done to the best of your ability. When deciding which primers and finish paint to use on pine furniture, there is choice. Oil based or water based, or a combination of the two.

    All the paints and products mentioned, I use them and stand by them (unless I say otherwise). Some suppliers are listed in the lower information section of the page.

    Armed with a good paint brush, abranet abrasives, vacuum cleaner with brush attachment, decent paint, a few bits and bobs, and the tips and tricks below, you are good to go!

    Any questions this weekend, just ask them via Twitter. I am @acmasterpainter

    Oil based finish on pine furniture

    I think the combination of water-based primer, oil based undercoat, oil-based eggshell is the solution numero uno that ticks all the boxes for the most durable and, in my opinion, the most beautiful traditional paint finish possible on timber:

    Step-by-step way to an oil paint finish on pine »

    Clean the pine- If woodwork is fairly clean, wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!) When it has evaporated off, sand with 120 or 180 grade Abranet abrasive paper, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.


    Or, if the woodwork is waxy or filthy, I degrease and de-wax with Liberon Wax Cleaner and steel wool. Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quicker and cleaner end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above. (See Annie Sloan chalk paint below if you cannot stand the prospect of too much preparation of waxy pine.)


    Prime pine – Prime with Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer, which is water-based low VOC low odour. (The contents of the Blackfriars tin are in fact re-branded Classidur Universal Primer which historically adheres to any surface better than any other primer available to the decorating trade. It has a lot of body too.) Mythic Universal primer is on a par with the Blackfriars paint for this scenario. It is fantastic to apply, but because of its consistency, I would specify 2 coats of Mythic primer on new timber versus one of the Blackfriars.


    For water based primer, use a Wooster Silver Tip, Proform Picasso, Rembrandt or Corona Knight brush to give yourself the best chance of a nice finish.


    Undercoat – apply a coat of oil-based undercoat tinted to the colour of the top coat. (I use Little Greene oil undercoat, as it has body and dries as expected. I used to favour Dulux Trade undercoat for this sort of work, but I’m not confident with Dulux formulas these days.)


    Fill – When the u/c has dried overnight ideally, do any filling of dents over the undercoat; sand smooth. 2-pack filler is most sensible choice.


    Eggshell finish – Apply 2 coats of Little Greene Oil Eggshell, sanding between coats and cleaning with a tack rag. Prior to last coat, sand with 240 or 320 grade for a lovely finish.


    Brush tip! If this is a one-off project, just buy one 2″ Wooster Alpha, for the whole job. Clean it out after priming in water-based. When you have finished with the oil u/c, if you have a little Brushmate vapour box, there’s no need to clean the brush out.


    Finish with the undercoating, then use a scraper and piece of lining paper to get out as much paint as you can, then work the brush in to the eggshell. By the time you are onto the second coat of eggshell, the brush will be perfect.


    If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.

    Water-based finish on pine furniture

    On unpainted timber, a combination of oil based primer, and water-based eggshell will get you very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine. It is based on what I have picked up from the most knowledgeable residential painter I have ever encountered, US painter, Jack Pauhl.

    When starting from bare pine, please bear in mind that water-based primer and water-based topcoats will do little to disguise the grain of the wood. The finish will be tough, it is low odour and nice to apply, but 2 coats of a quick-drying oil-based primer like Zinsser Coverstain, although rather smelly, is the best start to a more solid water-based finish.

    Step-by-step way to an acrylic eggshell paint finish on pine »

    Prepare pine- Preparation is same as above ie If woodwork is fairly clean, wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with Krudkutter Original or white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!) Sand with 120 or 180 grade abranet, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.


    Or, if the woodwork is waxy or filthy, I degrease and de-wax with Liberon Wax Cleaner and steel wool. Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quicker and cleaner end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above. (See Annie Sloan chalk paint below if you cannot stand the prospect of too much preparation of waxy pine.)


    Knot and prime pine For a belt and braces approach, use Zinsser Aerosol to seal knots and then prime with Zinsser Cover Stain (oil-based paint) These are superb trade products that dry quickly. On small projects, you can have the surface sealed and primed twice in a day, ready for finishing the next day.


    Fill over first coat of primer Now you can see the blemishes, do any filling, and sand smooth. (2 pack fillers are good bet.)


    Re-prime Apply second coat of Zinsser Cover Stain.


    Acrylic eggshell finish Sand the coverstain smooth with 180 abranet. It will sand down easily to a glassy finish. and apply 2 coats of acrylic eggshell, sanding with 240 or finer Abranet between coats.


    If using Farrow and Ball Estate eggshell, which is an oil-water-borne hybrid, the correct approach is to apply one coat of F&B primer -undercoat over the coverstain! If you paint F&B eggshell straight over Coverstain, or any primer other than Farrow and Ball’s, they will not entertain your complaint if there are any issues. Slow drying, no drying, flaking, to name but 3 issues I have encountered or heard about.


    As you can see, this approach with oil primer plus acrylic topcoats is a bit more thorough than the slap-it-on-quick technique that many people are lead to believe is the advantage of using water-based eggshell.


    You need a really good technique to avoid brush marks in acrylic eggshell. I cover this elsewhere on the site under Brushes.


    If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.

    100% water-based products for painting pine furniture

    100% acrylic water-based primer, brushing filler and water-based eggshell plus patience will achieve very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine using water-based products only! I developed this system on a 2011 project where absolutely no oil paint was allowed on site, but the finish on the woodwork had to be 5 star.

    Step-by-step way to an acrylic eggshell paint finish on pine »

    Prepare surface
    Apply one coat Blackfriars Problem-Solving Primer or 2 coats Mythic Universal primer to seal surface and block stains from knots etc.
    Apply 2 heavy coats of Acrylic Gesso, leave 24 hours and sand smooth with 180 grade Abranet.
    Apply 1 primer undercoat, and 2 topcoats of acrylic eggshell.


    That works!


    The acrylic gesso is used by artists who prime canvas to create a super smooth substrate before painting. It is water-based and the consistency is like a cross between liquid filler and oil-based undercoat. ie it has body and builds up the surface to give a nice hard base for the rest of the water-based paints. It involves more work than priming with just an oil primer, (2 extra coats, extra sanding, extra time) but where customers with high expectations for quality require zero/low VOC, no/low odour paints, this is the way ahead.

    If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.

    Painting over previously painted furniture

    Repainting over old oil paint, I would have no hesitation in recommending an all water-based approach ie 2 coats of Mythic Universal primer plus 2 coats of acrylic finish (Mythic semi gloss, or Little Greene acrylic eggshell, Sikkens BL Satura, to name but 3 that come with glowing references.)

    The hard work for preparing a solid surface has already been done by the old oil paint, so as long as it is solid, you can achieve a really solid and durable finish, slightly more plastic sheeny than oil eggshell, but very acceptable in 95% of cases.

    Painting waxy pine furniture with minimal preparation

    Try Annie Sloan chalk paint for a real country look to your pine furniture. This is a very clever product that thrives on wax and grease. Minimal preparation required except on knots, which you need to seal with a couple of coats of aerosol Zinssser BIN.

    Then apply 2 coats of chalk paint and seal with clear wax or varnish. This is how boy decorators use Annie Sloan Chalk paint.

    You can tint the wax, or wipe on / rub off to reveal the backing colours, distress, age, or keep it conventional. See Cait at Carte Blanche for the full inside story and Annie Sloan supplies.

    Painting laminate

    Sometimes furniture is made up of different materials. The interior of a pine cupboard may have an easy wipe finish? Here is how to paint a laminate finish.

    link to 5% offer

    Furniture painter specialists to do the painting for you

    If you would rather have a professional furniture painter transform a piece of furniture for you, contact one of these specialist furniture painters in your area. Trustworthy and switched on, they have their own slightly different approach to their work, but fundamentally, we all sing off the same hymn sheet. Correct material choice and thorough workmanship is the way to go.

    For ready-reckoner budgeting, think in terms of £150 for a chest of drawers to £250 for a good size wardrobe for a flat paint finish. Nicky Hancock of HK Art or Martin Dunn are 2 craftsmen on the list who also offer fine-artistic additions, and most offer decorative paint finishes. If you have a suite of good quality furniture, it usually makes sense on every level to employ a pro, as you would be hard-pushed to replace one piece for the cost of the painting of the suite. If you have a one-off not-so-special piece of furniture, then experience says that it is probably a DIY project.

    Extra tips

    How much cleaning, how much sanding? »

    The ideal surface is new, unpainted timber. However, unpainted second-hand pieces will accumulate dirt and layers of wax etc which can fatally affect the adhesion of most paint. As a rule of thumb, with poor prep, all your good work could be for nought, so even though the primers available nowadays are really high performance, I don’t skimp on prep, and regardless of the primers I use, I try go the extra mile to get timber surfaces clean. Therefore,


    As an alternative cleaning agent to white spirit or meths, or Langlow Wood Reviver or Liberon Wax Remover, try Krudkutter Original, which is an eco friendly biodegradable cleaner which decorators use to clean really dirty or waxy surfaces quicky. Wipe on with a scourer, leave for a few minutes, and while still damp, scrub down. Wipe with a lint free cloth like a Mirka microfibre. Repeat if necessary.)


    Once cleaned down, the surface is ready for sanding. The aim of sanding is to provide a key for the paint, so 180 is minimum grade roughness you should use to prepare with. At the other extreme, don’t use coarse 60 grade – you don’t want to create ugly gouges and scratches. That doesn’t add character, that screams poor workmanship! I am practically down to only one type of abrasive, Abranet.


    The conventional decorating specification for woodwork always starts, with kps – knot, prime stop.

    Knot and prime »

    If you have knots, (which can continue to exude resin for years afterwards) the text decorating books say to “knot” them ie traditionally you would seal the knots with shellac knotting (brown) or clear styptic knotting.


    That is very old hat, and there are alternatives, which I now prefer.


    Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer or Mythic Universal Primer These are high adhesion water-based primers that prime AND seal knots and stains. One coat Blackfriars or 2 coats of Mythic Universal Primer. (Be aware that if surfaces are in direct sunlight, knots can leak through any sealer).If in doubt, Zinsser BIN is about the last resort and if that fails ot seal a knot, there isn’t much left to do except drill out the knot and fill it


    Zinsser Bullseye or other quick drying primers are user-friendly and have good stain-blocking abilities, just not as good as the 2 above options. However one option that has worked for me is to prepare and paint the whole surface first with a water-based primer. The dark shadow of knots will show through the white primer, and you seal those with a couple of sprays with aerosol Zinsser BIN.


    Bear in mind that some knots will weep beyond the capabilities of any paint coating, and will literally lift the paint and break through it. The ultimate solution is to drill the knot out and fill it. Or view it as character!


    If you are priming over factory lacquered pine, the lacquer coating should have had a stain blocker added to it, so knots should have been sealed in for good. However if you are priming with anything other than Blackfriars or Mythic primers, it might be a good idea to spot spray Zinsser BIN over visible knots.


    All the above primers dry within minutes and can be overpainted the same day.

    Stopper, Filler »

    Types of filler
    Fill any obvious holes with a 2-pack filler or wood stopper, but not a standard “poly” filler which is too soft.


    You could use linseed oil putty or a plastic wood – . Wipe any excess putty or plastic wood off the surface with a rag. Putty skins over sufficiently overnight for painting. Use a chisel to level off plastic wood.


    For cracked joints, I use acrylic caulk sparingly before the first top coat.


    The extent of your filling is very subjective. I could skim and fill the grain of old pine furniture with Toupret Gras a Lacquer till it had a porcelain blemish free finish, but I think it is pointless and detracts from the fact it is pine. I fill obvious nail holes, and then make a judgement on where I stop. Judging by customers’ responses to the quality of my paintwork, so far, so good! Fillers and primers are getting quite complex bedfellows these days.

    If this has been of use, why not keep informed with updates by email. I don’t spam, just send out more tips and ideas that you can use yourself.

    Painting over primer »

    For an oil finish, after priming, you should either undercoat once, topcoat twice, 3 x topcoats. I am a big fan of tinting the undercoat as close to the top coat colour as possible. Dulux oil undercoat was as good as any under Little Greene or other oil eggshell finishes but I tend ot stick with LG now. (Mark at Broken Cross Decorators Merchants in Macclesfield or any merchant with a machine should be able to tint primers and undercoats to match whatever you need for topcoats.)


    Next day, sand down well with 220 grade abrasive, clean off with vacuum/tack rag; apply acrylic caulk to joints, let it dry (2 hours is enough) then apply first topcoat of oil eggshell paint, dry overnight, sanding between coats with 320 grade abrasive, cleaning with vacuum and tack rag, repeat. Done

    I now use Little Greene Paint Company exterior / interior oil based eggshell on furniture and kitchen units.

    In general terms, water based eggshell paint still doesn’t do it for me when a 5 star finish is required on furniture that has never been painted before – UNLESS it is premium grade joinery. There is always a balance with “perfect” because, you have to decide, do you want this laminate-looking finish on a characterful piece of reclaimed pine? I know I don’t, but the laminate look is growing in popularity, so maybe I am out of touch!

    Beware painting furniture in white oil paint The 2010 VOC regulations have thrown most of the paint industry into a tizz and they are having real trouble formulating white eggshell and gloss. Lots of evidence that it is prematurely yellowing, Dulux especially, as the highest profile manufacturer. Drying times have also extended.

    Thus far, Little Greene oil eggshell still performs as expected, and in normal conditions, I have had no problems sanding down first coats of eggshell the following day.


    Remember, this technique is great for reviving pine and oak furniture, a truly eco recycling strategy, but think long and hard before applying a hand-painted finish to an inlaid, veneered table and / or antique item. Better to sell them and buy a more modestly constructed piece for painting.

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    97 comments to “How do you paint pine furniture?”

    1. Andy Crichton Traditional Painter

      We are happy to freely share our knowledge gleaned from many years in the kitchen and furniture painting business. And happy to answer any questions.

      In general, if you find the tips useful, if you get the chance, could you just mention our site to the people you get your paint and kit from, or tell your friends, and help spread the word to others struggling to paint right. Thanks.

    2. tv units - cabinets

      If you want to give a room in your home a new look, painting a pine furniture piece is a simple way to freshen up a tired piece of furniture and an easy way to perk up a room. Whether it’s an old bookshelf, a dresser, armoire, kitchen table or coffee table, a new coat of paint can do the trick.

    3. Andy

      Hi, do you have much call for painting your furniture? I envisage that the economic times will make people think increasingly hard about just throwing stuff out. A facelift with paint is a good option.

    4. sarah bakewell

      I have a 1930’s oak dresser that I would like to paint, but it has a light coating of wax all over and I am unsure how to go about getting it off, could you advise?

      many thanks sarah

    5. Traditional Painter

      Either chalk paint straight over wax, or I would suggest cleaning the surface with Krudkutter Original Apply liberally, just before it dries scrub off with a kitchen scourer. No neutralising required, very eco citrus based product. Liberon Wax and polish removerpour into a metal pot, apply with fine steel wool, leave for a couple of minutes (but dont let it dry off) then wipe it clean with more steel wool and a cloth rag. Repeat as necessary. Leave to dry off overnight.

      Then you prime it with Zinsser BIN (shellac based), or Blackfriars Problem-Solving Primer (water based) and carry on with your finishing coats. The wax cleaner is pretty potent so make sure the room is well ventilated, and to be safe, leave rags to dry laying flat, outside. Don’t want to risk any combustion problems

    6. acmasterpainter

      Blatant broadcast of blog post How to Paint Pine Furniture! http://traditionalpainter.com/how-do-you… in my defence, it is getting definitive – almost!

    7. heatherdesign

      I wish painter & decorater @acmasterpainter was based in London – he’s a master tradesman; read his blog… http://traditionalpainter.com/

    8. Julie

      Could you advise me please how I can revamp a laminate vanity unit? I would like to make it look older and more in keeping with our Victorian house and was hoping for a Farrow & Ball painted finish but I am not sure whether I should prepare it any differently to wooden furniture. Many thanks.

    9. Traditional Painter

      Hi Julie

      You do have to prepare it differently form pine. To make a key, wet sand the laminate with an oakey sanding pad (medium), then wipe off the residue with a rag, then prime with Zinsser BIN (shellac and hard to apply) or acrylic Blackfriars Problem Solving primer (easier to apply). Finish with 2 top coats of F&B.

      Alternatively, use ESP from Owatrol a clear liquid that wipes on,wipes off and will clean and prime laminate

      I prefer an oil based finish. I have had great success with preparing as above, then prime with water based Dulux SuperGrip. Then an undercoat and 2 topcoats of oil eggshell / or 3 x oil eggshell, no undercoat. Little Greene can be mixed in Farrow and Ball colours, ask for the Fred and Brenda equivalent. Hope that helps. if you have any other questions, just ask

    10. Karen

      I have imitation pine wardrobes with a tree carved in. My bedroom is black and white I cant afford new and would like to paint them can you advise please?.Quick and easy as I am not good at this. Also should I paint white or cream? Walls are black and white embossed and I dont want to redecorate.

    11. Traditional Painter

      Hi Karen

      look at he section on painting laminate (I assume laminate is what you mean by imitation?) http://traditionalpainter.com/how-do-i-paint-a-laminate-kitchen

      In a nutshell, wet sand, prime with Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer, leave a day to cure off and finish with acrylic eggshell.

      I can’t advise on colour, except that in a black and white room, you have a background for a multitude of colour options for your furniture. Hope that helps.

    12. Katie

      So can I double check something…..if using Annie Sloan paints then you don’t need to prep waxed furniture before using? But if not using Annie Sloan paints, then need to use the Liberon wax remover & Dulux super grip before painting?
      I’ve already sorted out my paint colours for my piece of furniture, so on one hand it would be easier not to have to choose the colours again (in Annie Sloan), but I notice the primers are all white, and I don’t want any white to show when I distress & sand them back/distress to show the wood, are there any clear primers??

    13. Traditional Painter

      Correct with Annie Sloan.

      Stripping back option, I have moved on to Krudkutter Original as it is less noxious than the Wax remover.

      When the wood is bare, prime with 2 coats Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer (you don’t need a knotting sealer) and finish in oil or acrylic paint. If you choose to prime with Supergrip which is for an oil paint finish only, you also need to seal any knots.

      I dont know a clear primer. You can tint primer to the topcoat colour.

      It just sounds much easier to use Annie Sloan paint. If you buy Annie Sloan paint from Carte Blanche, Cait can tell you the paint plus sample pots so you can mix to approximate the colours you have chosen.

    14. Sue Carr

      I have a victorian dark oak side board I want to paint. What is the procedure? It has a very dark stain/varnish to it.

    15. Traditional Painter

      Hi one option is to clean it with white spirit Krudkutter Original, sand it, prime with 2 coats Zinsser BIN (shellac) or Blackfiars problem Solving primer (water based) and finish with acrylic eggshell or oil eggshell.

      Or you can dust it down and paint 2 coats Annie Sloan Chalk paint and wax it for protection.

      If the top gets a lot of use, you could sand the top and leave it natural timber protected with a couple of coats of Patina woodcare or 3 coats of Polyvine wood varnish or 2 coats Osmo Hardwax oil.

    16. Sonya Marquis

      Hi there. I have a pine ducal dresser but hate pine furniture. Thought I might paint it but think it is varnished. What prep work would you suggest I do to prepare it for painting. I have a small pine bedside cabinet which is also varnished – thought I might try painting this first as a practice project. Many thanks in advance for any advice you have. Sonya

    17. Traditional Painter

      Sonya, thanks for your question. The simplest approach is to use Anne Sloan chalk paint – 2 coats straight onto clean varnish, protected by a couple of coats of clear soft wax. It does have a very neat finish, and is durable.

      To paint with conventional satin /eggshell paint, sand the varnish (I use wet n dry, grade 120, wet) to provide a key. Apply thin coat of Zinsser BIN – it is smelly but does stick the best. Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer is water based alternative, and in the same league as BIN. Over the primer, apply 2 coats of acrylic or oil eggshell, depending on your comfort level. Sand between coats with a 220 or smoother, vacuum clean, wipe with tack rag…

      Mythic now do a self priming satin latex. It is getting good reports. Comes in several sheen levels, any colour. So that requires a good sand and 2 coats. Its an option, one I will be looking into at the first opportunity for sure, as Mythic in general is non toxic, almost no odour, comes in several interesting sheen levels, and variuls products have delivered on practically every count for me so far this past 12-18 months.

    18. acmasterpainter

      Been asked to advise on painting g-plan dressing table. Would like to see other G-plan furniture painting projects.

    19. Pauline

      I found your tips and expert advice very helpful and interesting. but I’m in need of some advice, I’m working on a very old and very tatty chest of draws, I was told that using a oil based primer uber WB eggshell was okay…..nope, the WB eggshell isn’t adhearing and is also seperating, will sanding the OB primer before applying the eggshell sort the problem? I’m at a loss:(

    20. acmasterpainter

      HiPauline, did you use Zinsser Coverstain oil primer? http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGProduct.asp?pid=222 This is very very reliable, it sands easily to a super smooth finish.

      I don’t recommend any oil primer for w/b except Coverstain which is formulated for w/b. I wouldnt think to use conventional oil primers with acrylic topcoats and hope you didnt read contrary on this site?!!!.

      Now, if the w/b eggshell you are using is farrow and Ball, they specify their own primer basecoat only, and will not entertain any issues if you have not followed their routine.

      If you say the w/b eggshell is separating, that sounds like sanding (and removing all dust) may help, but as this is not really expected behaviour with Coverstain, if I were you, to put an end to it, I would get the specific brand accompanying primer undercoat for the w/b topcoat you are using. This will act as a bridge over oil and the topcoat will go on nicely. Let me know how you get on.

    21. Pauline

      Thanks for getting back ot me, I didn’t use converstain, but today I did as you suggested and I sanded it and I got the specific brand WB primer, it solved the problem! the top coat went on really well, thank you so much for your help. x

    22. Traditional Painter

      Phew :)

    23. Luke

      Hi, I have newly fitted bare pine on a campervan wall I am converting and wished to keep the new light bare wood shade, but the sun/heat and also beeswax that I applied has turned it orangey. Can I restore the lighter colour by sanding and varnishing? Will I need a wax remover to varnish? Many thanks for your advice.

    24. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi, the beeswax has turned orange, so first task is to remove it. KrudKutter Original plus a green kitchen scourer will do the trick fairly painlessly. Apply, leave a few minutes for the wax to soften and remove with the scourer. Repeat if necessary. The trick is not to let it dry off.

      Once cleaned down it should be lighter pine underneath? If so, a clear varnish that will stay clear is Polyvine Decorators Varnish comes in matt, satin or gloss depending on your taste.

      If the pine is too dark, you can sand it, which will help somewhat.

      Final option you could use oxalic acid which is a wood bleach. As with all bleach, dilute as per the instructions, you can always go stronger! And do a test area first to see what it does. Ask over at the forum if you want any more tips. Russ Pike is the wood care restoration guru, he has a few more poultices up his sleeve than me.

    25. chris leggatt

      I have had a carpenter build a large bookcase with cupboards below and also other cupboard units with shelving inside and a desk unit. They have all been built in brown MDF with the exception of the work tops which is a solid beech (kitchen style worktop which does not need to be painted)Please advise what type of paint (paint brand will also help) and undercoat should be used on the MDF and how many coats are required. I am also thinking of painting the cupboard doors a gloss red and the rest a non gloss grey colour to add a bit of colour.

    26. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Thanks for the question Chris, I would suggest Mythic Universal Primer and topcoats, using Floetrol to reduce brushmarks and improve flow, and being very low odour and easy to use. It is a good user friendly system for home painters. I have posted it over on the forum for the other Traditional Painters ideas. http://traditionalpainter.com/forum/furniture-painting-group2/painted-furniture-tips-tricks-best-paint-forum6/how-to-paint-bare-mdf-furniture-thread49#postid-176

    27. Sally Bradley

      Hi, i want to paint a pine chest of drawers that has previously been varnished, where do i start.

    28. Mickey Gobes

      Thanks for sharing this information. Nice post.

    29. vicky

      Thank you for the quick response, really appreciate it as I’m chopping on the bit, it’s a case of “now I’ve started”….I think I want to go with your suggestion to use the Dulux water base clear coat ! But but I’ve gone into another sphere, ie want to have the look of shabby or distress am I to late? or can I use wire woollen on my chosen areas and then apply the water base clear coat?

    30. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Shabby chic is achievable any time, sometimes whether you like it or not! Lee Simone wrote a good explanation of the distressing theory, so you can make an authentic attempt.

      When you have aged it, wipe the furniture with a tack rag and start sealing it up. http://traditionalpainter.com/distressed-finishes

      (Obviously you can’t do the wax trick, but the rest you can do, to your piece

    31. vicky

      Thanks again for your advice it’s much appreciated, yes shabby can hide a multitude of sins ( excuses) I will take a look at Lee Simones advise as you suggested.
      I will let you know the end result. Fingers crossed.

    32. Charles Budd

      This is such a useful blog! Having painted a few pieces, I know the advice here is brilliant from a first hand perspective. If I had the time and a bit more space, I’d paint much more furniture!

    33. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Thanks Charlie for the thumbs up. I know from the feedback and questions I receive that a lot of furniture is being painted along the lines of the info in this post. That is very gratifying, being able to share with people who want to do their painting right, what works, no strings attached (unless the strings are attached to an outstanding product!)

      One aspect that I would like to be better though is the “upcycling of information”. Everyone at TP is just as anxious to learn new tricks as share what we already know, so if there is a better way, please chip in folks :)

    34. Fi

      Hi, I am half way through a project and have made a complete mess of it – please help!
      I bought a dark wooden cupboard (c.1940s or 50s) which I wanted to paint a light colour. I fell for the whole ‘Annie Sloan lazy-person-paint’ thing – cleaned the surfaces and tried a test area with AS’s white paint. A yellowy-brown stain bled through straight away.
      I then bought Rustins Sanding Sealer and painted the whole cupboard with it. Once it had dried I started painting.

      I am now looking at a very distressed (not in a good way) cupboard. One half is painted in an Annie Sloan white paint with a yellowy-brown colour bleeding through all over the place. The other half is painted blue in a different brand of paint to see what it would look like. I didn’t like it so painted over it with the AS white paint. As I painted over the same place twice the AS paint seemed to go into chalky chunks and in some places strip the paint back to the wood. Where the white paint did stick, the yellowy-brown bleeding is showing through. Eek.

      What do I do? Can I just paint over everything with another dose of shellac and then paint using the AS white paint over the top? Or do I need to somehow strip everything back and start again?

      Thanks for your help – I don’t want to give up but I’m not far from it!

    35. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hello Fi, first off don’t panic, the chalk paint is very forgiving. If you have the Abranet sanding block attached to a vacuum, just sand out the offending lumpy bits with say 180 grade abrasive, it won’t take much working at all. (I highly recommend this kit, especially chalk paint is very dusty, just warning you before you sand yourself into a dustman.)

      Not sure where Rustins Sanding Sealer comes into the equation? You want clear shellac knotting. (Apologies crossed wires, the sanding sealer is shellac based. It does ned to be left a few hours to cure even though it dries quickly.) Apply knotting over the offending areas. It will dry very quickly so don’t fuss with it. As they say, “get it on there”. The brush is best disposed of unless you ae geared up for cleaning with meths. Leave a couple of hours to cure, then try a sample of chalk paint as before. I reckon you are sorted. Carry on painting, waxing or varnishing to your hearts content.

      I think trying too hard when applying, probably lifted the chalk paint in the first place.
      Let us know how you get on.

    36. TDP Painters Decorators

      Nice Post. Informative. Thanks for sharing

    37. Chris

      I came across your site a while ago when I purchased some raw pine bedroom furniture which I wanted to paint myself. I followed your instructions and used egg shell paint in chalked lime from the Little Green Paint Company and am extremely pleased with the overall finish – it is very hard wearing. I couldn’t have done it without your advice!

      I have now ordered some pine purniture for the kitchen – a table and sideboard. Once again, it will arrive as raw pine as I want to stain it to match my kitchen units which are a medium oak colour. Please could you advise me on how to go about this? I have been told not to use knotting solution as this is already in the stain – is this correct? Also,I want a matt finish clear varnish. Therefore, any tips and product recommendations would be much appreciated.

      Thank you.

    38. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Chris, thats a good ending, pleased to hear it worked out well for you.

      Your next project, http://www.osmouk.com/previewpage.cfm?bookid=book001&chapter=5&page=108

      best read up on this post by Martin Dunn, explaining the application of the clear version of the tinted product hat you are looking for http://traditionalpainter.com/the-joy-of-osmo-oil-lets-do-wood-some-good

      This follow up posts gives you some insights if you want to alter the tint to suit http://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-treat-wooden-worktop-osmo

      As always with staining timber, do a sample to achieve the tint as you want it, on a piece of timber out the way, before tackling the main body of work, and you will be fine. Let us know how you get on.

    39. John Atkins

      I have a project to “upcycle” a G-plan teak dining table and six chairs as engagement present for our son. The G-Plan furniture is very old (c 1980’s) and well dried out – no evidence of oils and resins. It’s in reasonable condition. He is wanting quite a bright vibrant colour finish. Can you recommend the best preparation and primer/paint combination and any other tips. Many thanks. (BTW found My Paintbrush a great source of equipment).

    40. Eleanor Davidson

      Please help. I’ve painted all my furniture – mostly with Dulux Quickdry Satinwood. I think it might now be a good idea to varnish it all. What should I use please, so that it won’t go yellowy – or should I use something like liquid wax? Thanks very much, Eleanor

    41. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Shouldn’t really be any need to varnish it but if you do want a little extra protection it could be over coated with acrylic varnish. Johnstone’s Trade QD Varnish is reasonably cheap and does a good job.

    42. Maggie

      I love this guide and I really like how you finished this pine table, the painted legs and bare tops on the tables and cabinets look really attractive, mix of modern & classic. I do like painting furniture, although cannot agree that chalk paint can stick to anything – I mean it will – but without appropriate preparation process / basis it can chip off throughout the years. I still think you need to apply the primer first (even without sanding down) under the paint. I know that sanding down is an arduous process, but it will pay off if you want to have good use of the furniture and have it looking good with the years to come. I cannot stress enough how important is using beeswax (3 layers) as a finish, it makes huge difference for painted furniture, and natural beeswax polish is the best protection against the water, damp and other disasters likely to affect the wooden furniture. Sorry to be lenghty though :)

    43. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Thanks for your input, good points.

      To clarify the idea that chalk paint sticks to any surface – compared to all conventional paints, you can paint it on any “n0o-no” surfaces, seal it with wax and it won’t peel and the coating will be as durable as the wax coating. Wax is obviously not the worlds toughest protector, but as you know is used throughout on table tops, and furniture. And 3 coats is better than 2 especially around wet areas.

      As a means to upcycle furniture in a non-destructive way, chalk paint and wax is a pretty compelling choice. And if it does need reviving, it is a very simple touch up process.

      On the other side of the furniture painting fence, where we live predominantly, if you go the conventional painting route and remove all problem coatings first, and then use high adhesion stain blocker primers, yes the durability will be greatly improved. But it’s horses for courses, and at least for the millions of home decorators who hate prep, and won’t do it regardless of what I tell them!, chalk paint is at least going to give a pleasing result that will endure if used within the boundaries of the toughness of wax.

      As a bit of food for thought for sanding options (once the surface has been cleaned of wax or grease). Manual sanding provides a key. Also you can provide a key by applying a deglosser coating like ESP or Gloss Off

    44. barry keenan

      I plan to paint the bed, wardrobe, two chests of drawers in my bedroom. All the furniture is pine

      I would be pleased if you would summarise for me the type of primer, undercoat, eggshell you suggest I should use and whether each of the different paints I need should be water or oiled based

      many thanks

      Barry Keenan

    45. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi can you tell me if the pine is bare or clear lacquered?

    46. Dene Tholet

      I’m undertaking a bunk bed challenge, but have decided I want to keep the pine colour. What products could you recommend for clear primer and clear varnish.
      Many Thanks

    47. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Dene

      what is the pine coated with or is it bare?


    48. Oliver

      Firstly, what an excellent resource this site is! A real gem. Thanks. It’s really made me stop and think about the approach I will take to the furniture that I’m planning on painting.

      Looking at a couple of the most recent questions and having read this article several times over I think there is a little clarity needed over the types of pine that people may end up painting. The article talks about bare pine, waxed pine, and previously painted pine but a lot of furniture available on the second hand marked is factory varnished/lacquered. I assume that I would treat this as painted pine? And in this case after well keying the surface a 100% water based approach would be acceptable? Thanks in advance.

    49. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Thanks, yes, lacquered pine is most common, it is usually sprayed with a sanding sealer prior to lacquering. Sanding sealer is a shellac based product so will hold back staining. Ordinarily you would therefore sand the surface to scuff it up and prime with an adhesion primer and then finish with a water based system. I will check the article reflects that, cheers

    50. Allison

      My husband made a pine bed for our toddler which we plan to paint white. I prefer to use non-toxic products (paint/primer/etc). I’ve looked at the Mythic all-purpose primer and paints but was told by my local paint store that the interior Mythic paint are not a good choice. Which products to you recommend?

    51. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Not sure why they would say they are not suitable? Colours are a bit hit and miss from Mythic, so generally prefer to look elsewhere but white should be easy enough. The primer, apply first coat and leave to dry at least 4 hours before second coat. The semi gloss, two coats, that is a tough finish when cured.

    52. Louise

      Can you tell me if there is another top coat I can use over chalk paint? I have heard wax is hard to work with and was looking for an easier solution. Also do I need to use a primer with it if painting a pine beadstead that is factory lacquered?

    53. Karla

      Am reading about painting pine furniture AFTER trying to paint and getting poor results. Painted raw pine piece with water based primer. Have put 2-3 coats of eggshell finish paint on and can see brush marks, rough areas, etc. pretty depressing after all of this work. Any solution at this point in the game to give it a smoother finish or will I have to sand everything off and start over???

    54. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Karla

      sorry we failed to find you before you got started! As long as the paint is stuck, you are good to go on a rescue mission.

      I wrote this last week on the forum for a homeowner in a similar position, so you arent alone.

      To check adhesion, get a screw driver and in an out the way spot, see if you can use the tip on the angle to get back to the bare wood. If it is a struggle to remove the paint,, good, you will be OK to sand everything flat (no need to go right back to the bare) just get rid of the brush marks and leave the surface nice and finger tip smooth, and then take a second run at it.

      Or if it comes off easily with a screwdriver, it may be easy to remove the whole lot in sheets too, using a 4″ razor scraper.

      If you look at the section in the article on the Mirka sanding block, really, that attached to your vacuum with 120 grade abrasive will get the paint smooth.

      Also I presume you have some areas of raised grain, where the wood itself is pronounced and quite rough? The abrasive will smooth that grain too, but instead of sanding those rough sections right back to the bare wood, which might be a bit of a task manually, go so far to get a key and then try smoothing it off with a couple of layers of fine surface tub filler. Sand that flat when dry with 180 grade abrasive.

      Once sanded smooth, clean the surface with a tack rag.

      Then you want to make sure that a) your eggshell is flowing well. You dont say what sort of eggshell you are using. If it is water-based, this is where Floetrol will help. It is a conditioner that extends drying time and helps paint lay flat. And then make sure your brush is up to snuff. A nice synthetic.

      If it is oil based eggshell, use Owatrol oil as the conditioner, and a synthetic brush. Any of those brushes in the article will serve you well. (although we think the Fox will serve you best!)

      Eggshell is self undercoating, so 2 coats evenly applied over a well sanded, fine surface filled piece of furniture should look very nice when completed. Any other questions or clarification, please ask.

    55. Craig


      One of the best websites around/articles.
      Though it ended up getting my wife move the 2 year old dining table to one of the back rooms to be replaced by a pine table.
      Legs and chair painted, and worktop sanded back.
      Trying to keep the worktop as clear as possible, what would be the best protection for the stripped back worktop? Would it be wax? and if so, any recommendations?

      Thanks Again


    56. jolene

      Hi just wondered how you got the lovely finish on the table in the pic. Was it a case of a good sand then waxing? I have a dining table with a good scratch along half of it. I am a true layman and hater of diy but have acquired what will be a beautiful table if it is dealt with properly. It is very orange at the moment though and missing the bolts to attach the legs! I’ve been quoted £220 to get the table and chairs done. Does this sound like a decent price?

    57. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      The top was sanded back to bare timber and 2 thin coats of Patina gel applied.

      I don’t know what work is involved with the chairs, but at that price, it sounds like very little work is required to get them looking how you want them?



    58. lardidar

      Do you seal with a varnish after painting?

      Also can you recommend a UK bought poly that would work with chalk paint, I am having a nightmare with wax.

      Very new, sorry if these are dumb questions.

      Thank you.

    59. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Ordinarily a clear acrylic varnish is not any tougher than acrylic eggshell. Manufacturers will tell you that their acrylic eggshell product applied in the correct number of coats is sufficient.

      You could apply a varnish over a weaker finish for an improved result. So an eggshell poly over emulsion for instance would give improved durability and is a solution for heavy traffic areas in kitchens or hallway walls.

      In a very specific case I did specify acrylic varnish over Ultimatt when used on a wooden loom, for belt and braces, but thats not an everyday scenario!

      Over chalk paint, I know Lee has had success with Tikkurila Kiva lacquer. Wax is the natural bedfellow of chalk paint though.

    60. Maxine Robinson

      I want to paint 2 bedside cabinets, a bed head and a small bookcase in a light coloured acrylic eggshell paint. At the moment they are pine coloured. Would I need to rub the items down first then apply a coat of eggshell, rub down again and apply a second coat. Would the items then need a clear varnish finish? I’m not looking for a distressed finish, just something achievable with the minimum of fuss.

    61. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi, recommended practice is to degrease first, when dry, abrade to provide a key (the Abranet saterter kit with 180 grade abrasive is a good bet) Then apply a high adhesion primer. If it is lacquered pine or pine effect, a primer like Tikkurila Otex or Zinsser BIN or Classidur Extrem (water based) are good. If you have bare pine and knots, either seal the knots with knotting first (or spray Zinsser BIN) and then apply the above primers, for belt and braces to avoid belledthrough. And then continue as you have said with the eggshell. Denib between coats, keep your brush clean and the paint flowing. An extra eggshell is better than a coat of acrylic varnish. Varnish wont be any tougher and may be problematic with adhesion.

      If you take a before and after shot and send the photos here you can go into the DIY Decorator of the Month and the best entry will win over £100 worth of paint and accessories for your next project :)

    62. Rachel Scott

      Hi, first of all superb article, thank you! Just a quick question regarding chalk paint. I’ve finished painting what will be a painted pine chest of drawers & just wondering do I now need to wax over the paint job before assembling the unit? Thank you :-)

    63. Thomas


      I’m in the UK, I’ve used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to great success with wax and the distressing on our pine bed, I’ve now started the dressing table and no matter how many coats of white I apply the wax seems to be turning white paint cream. Move now scraped the table top with a Stanley blade and gently rubbed with wire wool and white spirit, I will try again but there is still wax residue of I scrape again – Any pointers I want a real white finish to match the bed.



    64. Thomas

      Apologies for the poor post above, can I add I am talking about the existing wax on the original pine not the Annie Sloane post painting soft wax.

    65. Val Lang

      Hi, have enjoyed reading everyone’s queries, there was one lady who wanted to paint a Ducal Pine piece of furniture and seems to have had problems with Anne Sloane chalk paint which is what I had decided to use for the headboard of our bed, which is also Ducal Pine, did she just have bad luck or is there anything else you would recommend for a headboard. Thanks

    66. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      I remember my first use I was thinking too hard. It is straightforward and a good product for what it does, and once you get your head around the idea that there isn’t too much to go wrong with using chalk paint, you are over half way there. There is the chance of bleed through, and we have covered how to deal with that.

      Any other suggestions do require a thoroughly degreased, de-waxed, de-polished surface i.e. a more “pro” approach. One example is Tikkurila Otex oil primer in any colour, finished off with wax. You can get that from Holmans and if the order is over £100 you will get a Free Fox paint brush included to help you on your way. (Paint for one head board won’t need more than 1 litre, so well short of £100! )

    67. Di

      Hello, please can you tell me if it’s possible to paint teak? I’ve found a little cabintet in a charity shop that I’d like to paint but I think it’s teak which I read can be difficult to paint? Thank you – your site is very helpful!

    68. Jennie


      I’ve purchased an old solid pine cabin bed for my son and want to paint it for him. I’ve sanded it back to bare pine, no varnish left on there at all…but now I’m not sure what paint to go with. It needs to be something quite robust as will have a toddler climbing all over it, someone suggested just waxing it, I wondered about just a colour wash but really am stuck…advice please! Thanks!

    69. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      You could contact Holmans Paints and ask them about tinting Kiva Lacquer. It is tough commercial grade translucent coating, water borne. That could be your answer for a “colour wash” that is very tough. It will reflect the bare timber condition.

    70. jean rudge

      Hi I have been researching how to paint pine furniture and have found this site really informative. I have taken on board most of your advice re: tools to use etc and have purchased recommended brushes and abrasive to mention a few. I have decided to go for The Little Greene eggshell finish (water based).
      I was going for Little Greene acrylic primer undercoat but this primer is recommended for bare wood.
      Now I have a problem because I do not know what primer to use. The furniture I aim to paint (wardrobes) is already painted in a eggshell finish which is amazingly smooth.
      Please can you tell me what would be an appropriate primer to use on the pre-painted

    71. jean rudge

      surface that will be suited to Little Green paint. Also would I have to sand the pre-existing smooth surface to form a key for the primer?

      thanks for your help

      kind regards

    72. jean rudge

      Sorry missed the word NOT out of above paragraph. Recap: Little Greene acrylic primer undercoat is only recommended for bare wood.

      thanks again…..gone now

    73. Oscar

      Hi, I’m planning to make a DIY play kitchen for my daughter out of an old wooden unit. I’ve noted your advice on what primers and paints to use, however I’m keen to use non toxic paint – are you able to recommend a combination of primer & acrylic paint that will not only be child toy safe but will actually work? Thanks.

    74. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Little Greene acrylic paints are labelled Toy Safe I believe. I’m not sure what primer you will need as “old wooden unit” could encompass a lot of different scenarios :) Where you need knots and resins holding back, instead of shellac primer, I would say 2 x Classidur Extrem which is water borne, but I wouldn’t like to say its Toy Safe credentials

    75. dizzyd

      Hi Andy can you please advise . I am planning to paint some distressed pine furniture that is factory finished in eggshell (sprayed).The finish is extremely smooth. Want to use Mythic Black Label as it is a self primer.Two questions for you: 1 Would this paint be suitable to use over the pre_existing eggshell finish? If is is suitable. 2nd question:Would I need to sand the pre_existing smooth eggshell finish down to form a key before I apply the Mythic Black Label as the topmost?
      All the above on how to paint pine furniture as given me sound advise on what materials to use etc, and I have purchased what I need to do best job possible. However The questions posed above are stopping me from moving on with the project. Please help if you have the time. Much appreciate this brilliant site.

      Kind regards

    76. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      The short answer is Yes, the surface needs to be keyed to help with the chances of survival. You could use Gloss Off from KrudKutter or ESP from Owatrol. These are wipe on cleaners that leave a surface toothed and keyed up. Carry on from there. Good luck.

    77. Maria

      Hi Andy

      Your site is a Godsend!

      I want to paint a highly varnished yew dining table and chairs but am a little afraid of getting the painting method wrong, especially as I don’t know if the table top is veneered or not. Could you please tell me how to go about it and what products to use? I am after a lovely, smooth, professional finish. Thank you so much!

    78. Anonymous

      Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

    79. lisa will

      can i lightly sand antique pine furniture then apply just a couple ofcoats of dulux trade vinyl silk? i read somewhere that its great for this but cant find where i read it now. i dont want to go and buy it only to find its no good

    80. Alison Bell

      Hi Andy

      Great website! I want to paint a varnished pine bed and 2 waxed pine bedside units. Am I right in thinking AS paint the best way to go as no rubbing down? Also as two different finishes, if I paint the sane colour will I get the same finish? Can you spray paint with AS or is it only brushes? Can you tell I’m a little worried about stroke marks!!! Would appreciate your help. TY x

    81. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Lisa, you didn’t read that advice on here, for sure! If you are looking for a straight 2 coat wonder and the furniture isn’t going to be used and abused, consider 2 coats of Tikkurila Otex oil based primer. I have been assured that this has been specified successfully as a finish by a bespoke kitchen company, with a coat of wax for good measure (wax for the “look” not added durability).

    82. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Chalk paint will adhere to both surfaces and dry the same, unless there is a different texture, which might make a visual difference. If you have an airless spray rig, you can spray chalk paint, otherwise a firm synthetic brush is your friend. Wooster FTP or the Fox have performed very well. Thin the paint so it flows nicely. Chalk paint sands down to glass smooth finish (use a dust extraction sander and 240 grade paper or abranet) and then wax it, of course, to protect it. That should give you what you seem to be after.

    83. Mike Donhou

      Hi Andy, just read your artical on hand painting furniture, thanks
      I am painting a stained and varnished chest of drawers(commercial painted) I do not know what wood it is made of but it is good condition and the surface is perfect.I do not want to have to much sanding,so I am thinking of using Zinsser Bin acrylic primer and a Little Green oil eggshell top coat .Can I use oil paint over the Bin Primer?,or could you suggest an alternative. Many thanks mike

    84. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Mike
      If you prepare the surface with ESP http://www.owatrol.com/pdf/technical-en-esp.pdf or KrudKutter Gloss Off, (wipe on wipe off cleaner products) you will have a key, to which you can apply 2 or 3 coats of oil eggshell. The alternative is to use BIN and then topcoat with oil eggshell, but you will create sanding if you brush apply BIN, (not if you spray BIN).

    85. Ilaria

      Hello Andy,
      Thank you again for this post which is useful beyond words! I have a question since the finish I am after is I think different from the one you are aiming for in your instructions. I am planning to paint a new pine bed frame which I have purchased “untreated” , as I wanted the colour to match the colour scheme I have planned for the bedroom. I want to use the Polyvine metallic shimmer and mix it with the acrylic colour I have chosen, to get a shimmering effect. I am not trying to make the bed look like a car though, so I’d like the surface that I am painting not to be too smoth and if at all possible to show some grain, although of course not really the knots, and I’d like to neutralise any sap coming through or altering the colour.
      What would be the appropriate ‘layering’ of products, and if at all possible, which ones would you recommend? The ability to ensure colour stays on and doesn’t turn is key, but I don’t need a super smooth surface and finish as I definitely don’t want a gloss/lacquered finish! Thank you in advance for your reply, and for any advice or suggestions you may have

    86. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      My first thought is to apply a sanding sealer which is a standard “clear” shellac based quick-dry coating that will hold back stains. From there, you have the surface protected, grain unaffected. Then paint an acrylic base coat in the overall colour you are after. Create your shimmery mix, by adding an acrylic colorant to a pot of metallic shimmer “paint” and paint that on till you get the look you are after. That’s got to be oath an “after” photo :)

    87. Ilaria

      Thank you!! I’ll prob experiment with some sample planks to make sure I have nailed the process and the finish, and hopefully the “after” photo will be worth all the effort. Is there any brand that I should look for for the sanding sealer, or anything goes?

    88. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Google is your friend to source shellac sanding sealer. Good luck.

    89. Ross

      Hi, great website, Thanks so much. However, the link to “Paint a pine table with Little Greene paint & Mirka CEROS” is not working. I’d be most grateful if you could please either repair the link or state another way to access the information. Thanks

    90. P

      Hi I usually use undercoat/primer then eggshell or satin for pieces of furniture but wanted to try chalk paint for a change on a wardrobe – I have two coats on but don’t like it prefer satin/eggshell can I repaint over this chalk paint with eggshell directly or do I undercoat/prime over chalk paint first or it this possible. Am regretting not doing it my normal way as I don’t like. Please help as I don’t want to make a mess it this as I’ve two wardrobes to do. Many thanks

    91. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      done, thanks for the heads up.

    92. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi I would always recommend trying a sample before embarking on a critical project like this, just to make sure you know where it is heading.

      I can’t speak from personal experience on this, i.e. chalk paint as a primer for eggshells paints, but there is info in this thread to refer to. http://forum.traditionalpainter.com/t/can-you-use-chalk-paint-as-a-primer-for-conventional-topcoats/117/5

    93. Dee

      Great informative site so I am hoping you will have the answer I hope for?
      I have started to paint nursery furniture, the cot I have painted with a safe nursery suitable water based paint. This was easy to do as the cot was stained and this sanded off relatively easily. The other pieces are heavily waxed and, because I have painful arthritis in my hands, I am finding it too difficult to remove so much wax. Is it therefore possible to put a coat of AS paint over the waxed pieces and then apply the nursery paint over this. I eagerly await your reply!

    94. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      Hi Dee
      how are you trying to remove the wax? If you check out this article you will see that Traditional Painter martin was struggling with a heavy build up of wax and used ProClean from Fluxaf in warm water.

      I would suggest that route, and use a conventional paint system. Chalk paint as a primer, I have heard it mentioned, does it work, maybe on a cot isn’t the way to find out.

    95. Kathryn Manson

      I came across your website today and it’s fantastic. I have 2 wooden tea trays that I have painted in Annie Sloan and they have a lovely smooth finish. What should I finish them with for a tough finish that will resist hot mugs and spilt juice/water. One is pine and the other is birch. I don’t want to spoil them by actually using them but they are pretty useless if I don’t.

    96. Stacey

      I have an old pine farmhouse table and chairs, are currently just plain pine, have been sanded and cleaned. What would you suggest would be the best to turn them cream?? First time DIYer, usually call my dad in for everything but this isn’t his sort of thing to do..

    97. Zsanna

      Hi Andy
      Hope your well?!
      I’m upcycling pallets, making a sofa from it. Have already sanded it down with a 40 grid then a 180 grid. (Hope that’s enough?)
      So my question to you would be, what’s the best paint to use on it, also if I should use a primer/undercoat first. And if yes should it be a primer or an undercoat? At the moment I’m thinking I would like a white finish on my pallets, but that might change :-)
      So please let me know the steps I need to take and the brand’s to use if that’s possible?!
      Thank you.

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