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How do you paint pine furniture?

Listed under abranet, Annie Sloan, Blog, Fluxaf, Fox, hand-painted furniture, Little Greene Posted May 05 2014

This is a long indepth article on how to paint pine furniture. It is written by professional furniture painters, and aimed at DIY who want to successfully prepare and paint waxed pine, varnished pine, bare or painted, laminate effect.

hand painted pine dresser

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

We have you covered.

You will learn about:

– The abrasives, cleaners and tools you need to effectively and efficiently prepare pine of all descriptions.

– Best brushes and best paint to use

– The steps to take for tackling various furniture painting projects using waterbased eggshell, oil based eggshell or chalk paint

Take notes

The article starts from the beginning with pre-planning right through to the end. There is a lot to digest if you want to do this properly. There is no single magic bullet that suits all pieces of furniture.

By all means browse through to the end sections on step-by-step painting with oil paint, water-based paint or chalk paint. Take notes. You are welcome to print off or bookmark the full story for future reference.

The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to avoid wasting your money on unsuitable paint and kit.

Hopefully the advice will help DIYers finish a project efficiently to a high standard, so you can stand back and think, wow, that was worth the time and effort!

From one of many readers who has taken the time to read through our info

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

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

Aim high: A professional approach is the quickest way to work

aim high

Photo by Juhasz Imre

I don’t subscribe to the idea that there is one standard for DIY and another for trade. Just because you aren’t a professional painter, doesn’t mean you can’t do a good painting job.

On the flipside, I have the experience to get over most problems, but I would struggle to use some of the cheapest brushes, DIY fillers and dodgy rollers on sale in big DIY sheds.

For best results, tackle furniture painting like the pros:

Plan, line up your pro quality tools, paint and sundry materials ready. Aim to be conscientious.

– If you have patience and determination and a somewhat arty touch, you can do it!

– The more you do, the easier it becomes.

– So often on forums I see DIYers who have lost their enthusiasm for a painting project, hit by the realisation that painting well requires some level of commitment.

– Often, those who think there is nothing to painting, (you just slap it on) are the ones who end up making mistake after mistake.

– Forget assumptions.

– Don’t follow partially correct tips and don’t take your lead from makeover TV shows, where best trade practice died long ago.

To get started, make sure you have time to finish!

Before you start the work, make sure you have set aside enough free time to complete this project. There is nothing more demoralising than completely underestimating how long a job will take.

The obvious question: how long to allow for painting furniture?

I can only give guidelines, but to give you at least some frame of reference, allow about an hour to paint one coat on a small bedside cabinet, 2 to 3 hours to paint a coat on a 2 door wardrobe, a good hour to paint a spindle backed chair. It could take 4 – 8 hours for each coat of paint on a pine dresser with drawers. On top of that is preparation and some filling and sanding between coats.

Don’t forget drying times

If you are a fast painter, obviously you will get through a lot of work, but you still need to allow for the drying times. Say you are painting one small wardrobe:

– if using oil paint (topcoats or primers) you will need to allow 2 to 3 days from start to finish, obviously only doing a bit of work each day

– acrylic eggshell you need to allow up to 2 days for drying times

– chalk paint projects can be completed in 1 day.

If it seems like an awful lot of work, obviously you can call in a professional furniture painter We can 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.

Main points to consider before starting

1 – Find a piece of furniture to upcycle

Look through your house, there is bound to be some piece of wooden furniture to revive. Or go to the local second hand store. Or to the local emporium.

This client’s pine table had turned orange and was generally unremarkable. But it was paint-able.

painted pine table

The top was sanded backed and I applied 2 thin coats of the Patina product mentioned above. The legs and base frame were cleaned, and sanded lightly. In this instance I used an oil based primer, basecoat and Little Greene oil eggshell.

Any piece of old pine furniture that has gone orange or seems a little out of touch with current tastes is a good candidate for painting! With correct preparation and a few coats of paint, wax or varnish, you can update a grim 80’s fashion statement into a contemporary feature piece.

2 – Sort out some decent tools

tools Get the best you can afford. Best tools aren’t always dear.

I really don’t understand why anyone spends the money on rubbish tools from big DIY stores (or poor quality kit from trade merchants for that matter). For the same money or even less, you can find professional quality products that will make the job easier.

If the reason for DIY hell on earth is, “I don’t know what tools I need” or “I am not in the trade so I have no option but to go to B&Q”, then you came to the right site. We can show you how to invest wisely in some great kit and paints.

A good workman should blame their tools if the end result is affected by the poor quality of one of their tools!

3 – Correct sundries for the job

Mirka tools sanding You will need sundry materials to prepare the work area, clean the surface, do same sanding, and some filling, before painting. I will go into detail further down for best masking kit, decorators’ cleaning products, abrasives and fillers.

If you haven’t followed this site before, I doubt you will have any, or many of the products we recommend. It may be tempting to use old paint, old filler, old masking tape, but, please resist.

It would be better overall to load up on the kit that gets the job done easiest and with best results.

4 – Correct paint for the job

opaque linseed paintAll paint can be used with varying degrees of success on furniture.

I know of a furniture company that waxes the primed timber – that’s it, that’s the finish. Anything is possible, but each type of paint requires a different approach to preparation, and some paint is easier to apply than others. Some systems work better than others.

Even in the trade, it is not unusual for painters to gravitate towards the paint type they feel most comfortable applying. A lot of painters won’t touch oil-based paint or chalk paint on principle, or avoid brand X, Y or Z because of one bad experience.

As a rule, if you are inexperienced and looking for a line of least resistance, go for premium “posh” water-based paints.

The above check list applies to any painting project.

Shabby chic or not shabby chic?

chalk paint but not shabby chic

Chalk paint but not shabby chic

Let’s take a quick look at shabby chic, which was really the trend that put furniture upcycling on the map.

Shabby chic is basically emulating the natural process of wear and tear on paintwork. It is the term “paint distressing” reworked.

There are a few misconceptions to clear up:

a – shabby chic means rubbish quality

You are trying to emulate wear and tear. It is way off base to assume that all old furniture and woodwork was painted to a rubbish standard before it started to wear off! Back in the day, furniture would have been painted by professionals and DIY, just like nowadays, and there would have been good and bad workmanship.

coach painting Coach painters are probably the ultimate hand painted furniture specialists. Not a bad finish is it!

If you go round any stately home or museum, there are endless examples of fantastic painted furniture from yesteryear. The paint used by pros may not have flowed out as well as modern paint, but they would have had their tricks to achieve very smooth finishes. Eventually their paintwork would have worn off through wear and tear and looked distressed. It is a challenge to try to emulate good paintwork gone old!

In contrast, every homeowner had access to paint and a brush, and could be dangerous let loose on furniture!

poor old paint“Just freshen it up for us with a quick coat”, isn’t a modern day invention! No doubt furniture was whitewashed by grandma, or odd ends of distemper wall paint were used by homeowners to tidy up old tables, none of which would have looked that great under any sort of scrutiny.

We can emulate the colour ways and the overall effect of old, badly painted furniture, but we aren’t here to show you how to work to the lowest common denominator. Aim for attention to detail, not the cheap and cheerful (long term expensive) approach.

If you want shabby chic, you have to use chalk paint.

Annie Sloan chalk paintAny paint can easily be shabby chic-ed ie distressed with a judicious use of the sanding block, layers of colour, wax, dust, bits of string…

Chalk paint has become synonymous with shabby chic. Chalk paint is definitely a very convenient and adaptable paint that lends itself perfectly to distressing. Because of its ease of use, it has made its mark in the home painting enthusiast market.

The reality though is that any paint (chalk paint, milk paint, egg paint, through to acrylic or oil paint) can be applied flat and even, in a block colour and then distressed.

This wooden headboard was painted with a conventional water based acrylic eggshell and distressed.

headboard painted and distressed

They could have used chalk paint, roughed up the edges to imitate wear and tear, and protected it with wax, to achieve the same effect. Or used oil paint and different tinted polyurethane varnishes or glazes.

The point is, if you want a distressed finish, you are not limited to only chalk paint. And if you paint furniture, you are not obliged to distress it.

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

Don’t underestimate the power of colour. The right colour combination can elevate a really naff piece of furniture into a stunning feature.

Paint options

There are many furniture paint options, but the basic starting point for non professionals to make a decision, I think, is one of three:

Annie Sloan chalk paint

annie sloan chalk paint and waxPROS: Water based, no petro-chemical odours. Pure colour mixing. Fast drying. Apply straight on practically any surface, no prep required.

Very flexible: It can be thinned down to act like a tinted lacquer, or be slightly thinned and applied for a beautifully smooth solid coat. It can be left smooth, or the smooth finish can be distressed. Alternatively you can leave the lid off till the paint thickens and then lash it on thick with a spatula or a brush, and leave it textured, or distress it, or wax it or everything in between.

Either way, you have options and chalk paint is forgiving. Skilled painters can work really fast with it, and those who have never painted before will achieve reasonable results in a short time!

chalk paint options

CONS: Once painted, you HAVE to protect the chalk paint, usually with wax. Wax has to be applied in thin coats and takes a long time to reach full hardness. The coating is as durable as wax, which for some is not durable enough.

Case studies for chalk paint

Acrylic eggshell.

little greene acrylic eggshell PROS – Modern waterbased paints for woodwork are low odour, quick drying, easy to clean up afterwards, and tough. They can be tinted to almost any colour. Once applied you can leave the solid colour, or you can distress it and seal it with a lacquer or wax.

CONS – Needs a solid clean base. Thorough PREPARATION is required. The surface has to be cleaned, prepared and primed, before the pleasurable part of painting can be done.

Water based paints for woodwork have quirks, and the biggest mistake is not applying it thick enough or playing with it too long, resulting in brush marks that will not flow out.

Oil eggshell

Hand-painted in oil eggshell, colour selection to match chair

Eggshell is traditionally a wall paint, but a long time ago, painters picked up on its durability and it was adopted for using on woodwork. And for painting furniture.

PROS: It is mid sheen, self-undercoating, excellent coverage and durable. The finished paint can be left flat or rubbed back in places and varnished if required.

CONS: It only works well over a thoroughly cleaned, prepared and primed surface.

I like oil eggshell, but if you aren’t confident in your painting abilities, it may be best advice to use a modern low odour water-based paint – acrylic eggshell or chalk paint. Generally the water based approach is favourite for paint effects.

(Almost everything you need to know about Oil v acrylic eggshell)

Best paint sheen and brand furniture paint

This is a much asked question with no silver bullet answer. One paint that does it all on furniture doesn’t exist.

Dealing with variables is the number one issue when painting anything. There are endless paint choices. It is part of the furniture painter’s skill to specify the right paint for the job.

But to keep it simple.

Go for an eggshell finish

Eggshell is mid sheen, and generally a durable finish. Traditionally it is self undercoating. So if you have bare timber, you only need a solid primer plus a few coats of eggshell, and you are good to go.

You can go round and round with this brand is better than that brand, and who would pay £x for that posh paint when the trade equivalent is less 40%.

Which brand of eggshell paint is toughest? Just assume for argument’s sake that most trade eggshell paints are of decent durability, and a handful of premium eggshell paint brands are a bit more durable than most.

In other words, every brand of eggshell you can think of is likely going to be suitable for your furniture. If you apply them right, you will get a good end result.

For that extra few percent reliability, pro furniture painters tend to turn to Scandinavian trade brands like Tikkurila, Alcro or increasingly Benjamin Moore from USA. But as I say, it is so easy to go round and round in one-upmanship. There are always pros and cons. eg Tikkurila enamel isn’t so easy to apply well if you haven’t grasped the basic principle of these enamel finishes, that a solid basecoat is paramount to achieve a solid topcoat.

What sheen is eggshell?

Think 20 – 45% shine (emulsion is about 7% and gloss is 80% or thereabouts)

– trade brand eggshell paints tend to be closer to 30-40% sheen

– posh / designer eggshell paints tend to be flatter and closer to 20-25% sheen.

– Matt furniture paint is about 10%. That level of sheen provides the lowest durability for one pack furniture paints.

– Chalk paint finish is the sheen of the wax you apply over it.


– There really isn’t that much of a price difference between any of them. Costings are a moot point really, when you only need small quantities of paint for the odd piece of furniture.

– It is a fool’s errand me listing prices of paint and trying to say what is best value. Merchants change their prices with their socks and offer so many discounts and terms it is impossible to stay current.

Paint choice is not a perfect science for upcycling furniture

There is no definitive choice.

In my own place I have furniture painted with oil eggshell and acrylic eggshell and chalk paint. The Little Greene oil eggshell is super matt and distressed from excessive use; the Annie Sloan chalk paint is solid; the Fired Earth acrylic eggshell on a dresser is solid but to my eye looks a bit too perfect and plastic in certain light.

I could have gone with Tikkurila Empire satin oil paint instead of Little Greene, and maybe achieved a more durable finish on the cabinet, but I wanted a flatter finish so went with Little Greene. I could have gone with Tikkurila Helmi 30 on the dresser and it would have been even more “perfect” than the Fired Earth finish. I could have distressed the life out the chalk paint but I liked the understated character of a solid finish with a wax coating.

In other words, furniture paint choice can be distilled down to technical performance, but furniture painting veers more towards art. So take your pick and experience will make your future paint choices easier!

Later on, I have provided specific processes for each type of paint.

Here are some of these paint suitable for furniture . And

The overall work plan

Don’t be intimidated by preparation, it can be done quickly and effectively. If you know what you are doing, you can enjoy the whole painting process, knowing you have got off to a good start.

The basic principle is:

a) protect the work area, so your prized flooring and possessions are not damaged while you work on the furniture painting project.

b) clean the surfaces to be painted.

c) Sand to provide a key for painting.

d) Paint the furniture with glee

a – Protect the work area

Floor protection to keep the paint on the furniture not on the floor.

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.

Masking tape
There are plenty of painting 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.

Masking tape is generally graded by how long it can be left on a surface before it creates any damage on removal. 7 – 14 day tapes is plenty good enough for most situations if painting furniture over a weekend.

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. A trip to a Motor Factor will also throw up some good and cheap masking tape, if you are in the market. Tesa have a very good range of tapes for all occasions.

scotch blue 2090 tape and dispenser work well together

Don’t pay more than £3-£4 for a roll of tape.

Shop for tapes on-line for reasonable prices.

Don’t use old tape on delicate surfaces.

If masking tape doesn’t come off the roll easily, it is probably damaged and definitely should not be used on delicate surfaces.

If you use masking tape on floors, it is good to get in the habit of trying not to walk on it, as that seems increase the bond to the floor.

b) Preparation 101 – Cleaning pine furniture

If you are going to use chalk paint you won’t need any cleaning products. Just dust the surface down.

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

To remove grease, don’t use sugar soap. Try a modern eco decorator’s cleaner that doesn’t hurt or burn you or leave horrible scuzz on the surface.

Krudkutter Original is a good option.

We have successfully used Fluxaf Pro Clean too, it works very well.

Fluxaf Pro Clean

It is biodegradable, a fraction of the price of KrudKutter, and most importantly is readily available.

To remove wax with Pro Clean, Fluxaf Pro Clean will serve you well. Mix it 1:1 with warm water, apply it through the spritzer, leave to soak and it will probably dry to look like tea leaves. This is the wax broken down. Go at it with a good kitchen scourer till the surface is clean.

Do wear gloves when using any degreaser. Even natural degreasing products are unable to differentiate between wax and your skin!

I cover abrasives next.

Good sandpaper

Sandpaper used to be sand bonded to paper. We tend to think of abrasives now, not sand paper! The options available ot you have come a long way since Oakey sandpaper, the stuff that used to disintegrate and stink to high heaven when it got damp!

Mirka 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, wipe down with a tack rag and your finish will likely be nice and smooth.

On profiles like mouldings, 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 have applied the first coat of wax. That is the Annie Sloan way and it really is much cleaner that way if you have no dust extraction equipment.

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 would use it most days.

The system is a sanding block with a hose and a conical bung at the end of the tube 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 brands of 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. )

Adhesion primers

The primary job of an adhesion primer is to adhere to the substrate AND to the subsequent layer of paint, be that an undercoat or eggshell.

Therefore ensure the surface to be primed has a key ie make sure the timber or previous coat of paint is sanded so that under a microscope, there are hooks and nooks and crannies for the primer to soak into and cling to.

There is usually no problem doing the minimum sanding of clean bare timber. It is a good substrate for primer. Old previously painted surfaces usually need between 180 and 80 grade abrasives to be prepared sufficiently well.

Make sure the primer, when dry, is then sanded sufficiently to remove any nibs and imperfections, but without sanding so much that the primer is polished. Try and visualise the primer coat has hooks and you don’t want to sand off all the hooks that are in place to maximise the adhesion and grip onto the next coat.

Some adhesion primers also resist stains from knots and resin from oak. Stain blocker primers have really taken a hold! The industry favourites tend to be shellac based, but there are water-based and oil-based alternatives that will work well if used with a certain level of understanding, else they tend to fail miserably.

I would advise having the primer tinted to match the top coat. It helps on several levels: no white scratch lines if the finish paintwork is damaged down to the primer; matched colours throughout the paint layers improves the density of the top colour.

Oil based AND shellac based primers are very high in VOC content. No difference in fact. So when you see waterbased finishes and low odour, just bear in mind the path to the topcoat may be a smelly one. Keep windows open, wear a respirator ideally. Really, why not! I would keep a nice through draft going when using waterborne paints too, just to get them out the way as quickly as possible. They may not smell but they are still chemical products.

If possible always try to stick to one brand of primer, basecoat and topcoat. In the event of a problem, you are more likely to have the ear of the paint rep. The minute you say you used paints from 2 or more different companies, the buck passing will likely start.

Popular shellac based primer

Zinsser BIN is found in most decorator vans, in a tin or an aerosol can. Two thin coats seems to hold back most known stains. It can be tinted to match most light and mid tone colours.

Mathys Isofix This is a Belgian brand found in the UK. It can be tinted to match most light and mid tone colours.

These primers clean up and can be diluted with meths, so not a great aroma and not really good to be around if the room is poorly ventilated. On the upside they dry really quickly. For large panels, dilute the primer 50-5-ith meths and apply fast and even with a mini microfibre roller. The paint will level out surprisingly well on its own. Apply second coat for solid coverage and after about an hour of drying, you can lightly scuff sand the surface to achieve a nice flat solid base.

Popular oil based primers

Tikkurila Otex – Sold as a stain blocker primer. Not sure about that. I would have a pot of shellac based primer on hand to double coat obvious knots before priming overall.

It flows out to a superb finish, so definitely do not polish this primer when sanding it ready for the next coats. A light and thorough scuff with 180 grade abrasive (or Mirka Mirlon or Goldflex) should be enough to create a key. It can be tinted to match any colour topcoat.

Zinsser Coverstain – tends to sand down very easily to a glassy smooth finish, creates a lot of dust, so best to use dust extraction sanding. Can be tinted to match most light and mid tones.

Tikkurila Unica varnish – this is a long standing product, but I wager very few have ever known about its stain blocker abilities on oak. We certainly didn’t know that a thorough coat once dried is going to hold back tannin. Second coat would be Otex and away you go.

Popular water based primers

Classidur Extrem Swiss firm Classidur were ahead of the game for decades with stain blocking paints. Extrem is their 21st century water based stain blocker primer.

Tikkurila Otex Akva is the waterbased version of Otex. It has a full body and offers high adhesion on prepared surfaces. Definitely do not rely on it to hold back any stains though.

Dulux QD primer The chances are this is a re-branded Sikkens primer, so it will work well. Not a stain blocker though.

Zinsser Bullseye 123…It always gets a mention, personally I avoid it, it is a bit too hit an miss for my liking.

In general, staining is caused by a reaction between the pigment in a waterbased paint and an oily or alkaline substrate. Therefore to hold back a stain, a) let the first coat absorb the oil or resin b) let the first coat dry thoroughly c) apply the second waterbased stainblocker coat without fear of reactivating the stain. That is the theory, and it can be hard to implement in practice on small projects where time is of the essence. If you can wait a day between coats you are probably safe, but 4-8 hours (same day recoating) is pushing it and you may be lucky, you may not. Hence why the trade tend towards shellac quick drying stain blockers.

Types of filler

Fill any obvious holes with a Toupret TX110 or 2-pack filler or wood stopper, but not a DIY “poly” filler which is generally too soft.

If using oil based paints, and you want to stick to old school, you could stop nail heads with 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 often it is pointless going that far and a perfect glassy smooth finish may detract from the fact it is a piece of 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.


Get a decent brush – Why use a decent paint brush?

Your surfaces are prepared, it is getting close to painting time. How are your brushes looking?

When I once asked about the point of buying a bike that fits, the reply was “Would you buy a pair of running shoes that are 2 sizes too small?” Point taken. And the same applies to the logic of buying a cruddy brush! Better brushes hold their shape, hold lots of paint without running, release paint evenly and are well balanced to hold. This combination makes for productive painting and increases the chances of a fine end result.

American paint brushes

Synthetic bristle brushes are the way to go for oil or water-borne paint.

Before painting with waterbased paint, always dunk your brush into water so the bristles are wet. Shake it out so there is no water left dribbling down the handle! Wrap in a paper towel if it is too wet.

This pre-priming of the filaments will help the paint flow better and will make it easier to clean out the brush afterwards.

What is the best paint brush?

Just as with “best paint” there isn’t a single brush that does everything 100% well.

There are different paints with different amounts of drag, so a soft bristle brush will leave few marks but may not be strong enough to push paint around.

Sometimes you need finesse on mouldings, sometimes you need to get maximum paint on, so a thinner stock v thicker stock brush comes into play.

And everyone has different size hands, so one handle style won’t suit everyone.

In other words, there are certain brushes that do certain tasks better than others. Every painter has their favourites.

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.

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

That would be the phenomenonal 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. 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 produced and tested 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 anyone 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

Annie Sloan sells nice round chalk paint brushes and waxing brushes.

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

I have updated this section, there is too much water pollution for the good of our long term health, and even occasional cleaning out of water based paint under running taps is not helping.

To minimise washing brushes, and reducing waste and dirty tap water

Treat yourself to a Brush Vest to keep the brush safe and protected overnight

Brush Vest

Pros use them to keep their brushes 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.

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 pro painters 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 the old generations think it goes on stringy and you can’t get rid of brushmarks. That applied perhaps, back in the early days, but paint technology has come a long way and nowadays, that criticism isn’t true. Acrylic eggshell can be applied to a perfectly flat finish!

Conditioner for acrylic eggshell paint. Try tap water first. If that isn’t working for you, you can add up to 10% Floetrol, 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 4 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.

XIM Latex Xtender is / was a marmite product. This is an alternative conditioner which some decorators are getting quite attached to. A few drops, keep topping up, turns the paint slippy and improves flow nicely. 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 technically is anathema to the durability of acrylic resin! It can be made at home, but that’s beyond the brief of this article

Paint conditioner in oil based paints

If you use oil paint, you can 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 there are a couple of observations here:

Little Greene oil eggshell dries quickly anyway, so extended drying is not a problem.

UK trade oil paints seem to be relatively slow drying, so the root of the criticism about Floetrol retarding drying excessively may well come from the trade.

Come on, come on, how do I 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, it is not something any kid could do without thinking. However this isnt rocket science either, and with a few thoughts in the forefront of your mind, any keen DIY painter can achieve excellent painting results.

Paint a pine table with Little Greene eggshell paint

Below is an article I wrote that outlines the fundamental principles for painting pine furniture:

Paint a pine table with Little Greene paint & Mirka CEROS

When you have read the article, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of the practical steps and the principles behind painting any pine furniture.

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 pine furniture, paint waxed furniture etc


Alternative specifications for painting pine furniture the professional way

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).

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

Paint pine furniture with an oil based eggshell finish

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, get your rubber gloves on and wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!)

When the cleaner has evaporated off, sand with 120 or 180 grade Abranet abrasive paper, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.

– 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.

Prime pine – Prime with Classidur Extrem which historically adhered to any surface better than any other primer available to the decorating trade.

A similar proven high adhesion water-based primer is Tikkurila Akva. It has a lot of body too.

Mythic Universal primer is on a par with the above, 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, you can use a Fox, Wooster Silver Tip, Proform Picasso, Rembrandt or Corona Knight brush to give yourself the best chance of a nice finish.

Is any staining coming through?

Pine has knots and may exude resin and react with the pigment in the waterbased primer and leave a brown stain. If so, touch in the stains with 2 thin coats of clear shellac or Zinsser Aerosol.

Continue with the next stage of basecoats and undercoats after about an hour.

Undercoat – If using Little Greene oil eggshell topcoats, stick with Little Greene and apply a coat of oil-based Little Greene oil undercoat tinted to the colour of the top coat. It has body and dries as expected.

If using Tikkurila Unica eggsell as a topcoat, use Tikkurila Otex oil based base coat that can be tinted to any colour.

Fill – When the u/c has dried overnight ideally, do any filling of dents over the undercoat; sand smooth. 2-pack filler or Toupret TX110 “polyfilla” are sensible choices that sand well and dry strong.

Eggshell finish – Apply 2 coats of Little Greene Oil Eggshell or Tikkurila Unica, 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″ Fox brush, for the whole job. Clean it out after priming in water-based so it is ready for oil painting.

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.

When you are not using the brush between coats of oil paint, place it in the Store n Go gel pot. There’s no need to clean the brush out.

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.

Paint pine furniture with Water-based finish

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 online, US painter, Jack Pauhl.

When starting from bare pine, please bear in mind that a complete water-based system of water-based primer and water-based topcoats has little body and will do little to disguise the grain of the wood. The finish will be tough, it is low odour and nice to apply, but you will see the grain, big time. That may be acceptable.

If you want to reduce the grain, start with 2 coats of a quick-drying oil-based primer like Tikkurila Otex or 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, Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quick and clean 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 or Otex (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 or Toupret TX110 are good bet.)

Re-prime Apply second coat of Zinsser Cover Stain or Otex.

Prepare for Acrylic eggshell finish Here is where you will see the difference between Coverstain and Otex.

Coverstain, will sand down easily to a glassy finish with 180 abranet. It creates dust.

Otex only needs a light rub over with 180 abranet. You do not want to make it glassy smooth as this affects the adhesion of the topcoats!

When prepared, 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 Coverstain or Otex, then a coat of F&B primer-undercoat over the first coat of coverstain or Otex!

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, such as slow drying, no drying, flaking, to name but 3 potential issues from incompatability.

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. Of course the acrylic topcoats are nice to use!

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.

Paint pine furniture with 100% water-based products

100% acrylic water-based primer, brushing filler and water-based eggshell With patience you can 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, and 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 Classidur Extrem Primer or 1 coat of Tikkurila Akva or 2 coats Mythic Universal primer to seal surface.

Check for any stains from knots etc.

Apply 2 heavy coats of artists Acrylic Gesso, leave 24 hours and sand smooth with 180 grade Abranet.

Apply 1 acrylic primer undercoat, and 2 topcoats of acrylic eggshell – keep to one brand for the basecoat and topcoats

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 waterbased primer and water based topcoat.

The reasoning is that all the hard work for preparing a solid surface has already been done by the old oil paint. As long as the paintwork 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.

Chalk paint for painting waxy pine furniture with minimal preparation

Try Annie Sloan chalk paint on 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 clear shellac primer.

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. If the interior of a pine cupboard has an easy wipe finish but you want to paint it, you need to know how! Here is how to paint a laminate finish.

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. 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, don’t skimp on prep, as all your good work could be for nought. 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.

As an alternative cleaning agent to white spirit or meths, or Langlow Wood Reviver or Liberon Wax Remover, which are all very high in VOC and noxious fumes, 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! Abranet does it all.

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 works best for sealing knots under chalk paint, but it is a very old hat approach for sealing surfaces prior to applying conventional oil or water-based paints. There are alternatives.

Classidur Extrem, or Mythic Universal Primer or shellac based Zinnser BIN or Mathys Isofix

These are high adhesion water-based primers that prime AND seal knots and stains. If a stain comes through the first coat, leave it 4 hours for the paint to dry and then recoat. If you touch in the stain too quickly, the wet coat will draw the stain through again!

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 to seal a knot, there isn’t much left to do except drill out the knot and fill it

Tikkurila Unica varnish is another option being recommended for sealing resinous, knotty surfaces, followed by Tikkurila Otex basecoat.

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.

If you are priming over clear factory lacquered pine, don’t sand it down till you break through to the timber. The lacquer coating should have had a stain blocker added to it, so knots should have been sealed in for good. So lightly sand to provide a key.

If you are not confident about the knots being held back, spot spray 2 coats of Zinsser BIN over visible knots.

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

Stopper, Filler »

[spoiler show=”Painting over primer “]

Looking for an oil-based eggshell finish? Eggshell is self-undercoating so after priming, you have an option – either undercoat once or apply first of 3 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 another topcoat of oil eggshell

Leave to dry overnight, sanding between coats with 320 grade abrasive, cleaning with vacuum and tack rag, repeat. Done.

I am a big fan of tinting the undercoat as close to the top coat colour as possible. Buy the undercoat and topcoat in same brand. (Mark at Broken Cross Decorators Merchants in Macclesfield or Holmans in Swindon, or other merchants heavily invested in tinting machines should be able to tint primers and undercoats to match whatever you need for topcoats.

Beware painting furniture in white oil paint

The 2010 VOC regulations threw most of the UK paint industry into a tizz and they are still having real trouble formulating white eggshell and gloss. White oil paint always yellowed but gradually. There is lots of evidence that white oil paint is prematurely yellowing. Drying times have also extended.

To be safe, go for acrylic paints if you want a bright white finish.

I hope that has helped.

We appreciate you taking the time to read this.

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135 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! https://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… https://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?) https://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. Avatar photo 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.

  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. Avatar photo 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://forum.traditionalpainter.com

  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. Avatar photo 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. https://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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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 https://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 https://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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. Avatar photo 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. 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

  79. Avatar photo 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).

  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. Avatar photo 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.

  82. 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

  83. Avatar photo 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).

  84. 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

  85. Avatar photo 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 🙂

  86. 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?

  87. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

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

  88. 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

  89. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    done, thanks for the heads up.

  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. Avatar photo 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

  92. 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!

  93. Avatar photo 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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..

  96. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Your best bet might be to spot prime any knots with aerosol Zinsser BIN primer or clear shellac knotting, then paint with Tikkurila Otex primer (tinted to the top coat colour); leave overnight to cure and finish in 2 coats of Tikkurila Feelings Furniture paint. We see some great results painting the table base and using clear wood finishes on the table top. Unless you plan on using a cloth, this gives you a more practical result if the table os going to be well used.

  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.

  98. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi, the same specification as the last comment would work. If the grain is interesting have you considered using a white tinted Kiva lacquer? Check out Holmans for that approach.

  99. Claire

    I want to paint my wardrobe white. It was waxed a very very long time ago. Do you you think that I still need to treat it as it it was waxed recently? Many thanks

  100. Lynne Bruce

    Hi Andy,

    I have purchased a G-Plan cabinet from a local charity shop which is in fantastic condition. I’m hoping to paint & distress it, but am completely new to this. Can you please advise on whether I need to sand/prime it first, or if I can simply crack on with the chalk paint? Thanks!

  101. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Make sure it is dusted down and remove any old chewing gum! otherwise, it is ready to chalk paint away. I see no adhesion difference between applying to unsanded or sanded surfaces. It all comes off very easily until it is waxed, and then the coating is as durable as the wax.

  102. Val

    Hi Andy

    A fascinating website but I am wondering what to do with a brand new pine table from Ikea before I treat it (probably with boiled linseed oil rather than paint). The knots are resinous (I have knotting to apply to them) but the whole surface feels slightly sticky so I’m thinking I need to weather or season the wood before attempting to put anything on it. The wood appear so new that I am afraid it might warp as it dries out, since the table is in our conservatory, which can get quite hot.

    I hope you can advise, and thanks in anticipation.

  103. Angela

    What would I need to do with a pine fire surround to get it painted white. i.e. what do I do to prepare for painting and what type of primer and paint do I use. The Fire place surrounds an open fire? Please help, I would love to do this project myself but have received no help or advise from HomeBase when I asked..

  104. Twetty

    What a great article! You obviously have a passion for your craft. OK, here’s my question. I have a wooden MDF bench stained dark brown. The brown stain is coming off with scrapes and dings, revealing the light wood underneath. I want to use pain instead of stain and make the bench as rock hard durable as possible so as to avoid easy scratches and dings. I’m planning to (1) sand it down lightly; (2) Apply 2 coats of primer being sure to dry between each coat (Zinsser, should I use shellac or non-shellac and do you recommend another primer?) and (3) paint the primed benches using an oil based paint. Is this a guaranteed approach to ensure a hard surface that is virtually scratch resistant, or do you recommend another approach? Thank you! Twetty

  105. allie

    Hi, I love the pine table you’ve used as an example above and have one just like it that I want to up-cycle. Can you tell me how you achieved the finish on the table top. Thx

  106. Samantha

    Hi Andy,
    Your expert assistance would be appreciated.
    I am looking to freshing up my spare room which I use as a study, there is a staircase in there leading up to the attic, which has a false wall instead of spindles.
    This false wall is made out of pine tongue and grove that has been varnished. However, the varnish is about 20 years old and the T&G feels quite rough when you run your hands over it.
    I am rather lazy and have never done diy before, so I can’t honestly see myself preparing the surface (e.g. sanding it down).
    I was considering the Annie Sloan chalk paint as I have read several reviews about how easy it is, but I’m looking for your expert direction – all I want to achieve is freshening it up in a white or an off white-shade.
    Also would I then wax or put clear varnish over it to finish it off?
    Thanks in advance for any pointers you can give.

  107. Louise

    Thank you for a very helpful article.I am about to embark on painting our 20 year old pine bedroom furniture……
    Just a couple of questions. I am finding it very hard to purchase Krudkutter Original within the uk (on line and in shops). Can you recommend an alternative? Little Greene Eggshell do a combined primer and undercoat. If I use this could I forgo the Blackfriars primer?
    Many thanks.

  108. Anonymous

    Too much information!

  109. Priscilla

    Hi, thank you very much for a very detailed article. I’ve been reading about renovating furniture in an attempt to renovate for the first time. I’d like to know if instead of painting, could I just sand back and stain pine furniture?
    Thanks in advance.

  110. Colak

    Thank you for this article, very helpful.

  111. Helen McP

    Great article. Thankyou.
    I am set on LG paint and will invest in a new brush or two.
    However I am still unsure how to treat and prepare waxed pine.
    I do not want to use Annie Sloan chalk paint as my husband painted a varnished pine table with and it is now disgusting – full of paint lines and he said it went on like gravel. Shocking awful stuff.
    My idea was to prep the waxed piece, undercoat or prime it and then 2 top cots, sanding between them.
    Having read this, I am fairly sure of using LG acrylic eggshell.
    But how to treat it first?
    And what primer/undercoat?
    thank oyou

  112. imogenrue Adele southwick

    Can I please sign up to your site thankoyu

  113. Anonymous

    Great article. Thanks

  114. Cherry

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on painting pine furniture, admiring your methodical approach and meticulous attention to detail. It is really helpful to have the list of tools needed, types of paint and how to tackle the projects.

    However, before I jump in on my own upcycling project on my orange pine dresser, I wondered about painting the inside of the furniture. Is the approach just the same, is absolutely everything painted inside, just parts of it or even none of it? I particularly had in mind the sides of drawers that surely would scrape if painted? I can see that inside doors and shelves should be done, but what about the back, sides and under the top? As you might suspect from my question, I am a novice at this, but a plucky one with an arty touch and meticulous attention to detail! Any advice welcome, thank you.

  115. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Before painting an unpainted wooden dresser or kitchen, it is always best to think of the thickness of paint to be applied and make sure there isn’t too tight a fit for doors and drawers. ie ease any close fittng doors or drawer edges.

    One compromise for sides of drawers that aren’t on runners is to paint a straight line say 2″ wide that covers the joints. So if the drawer isn’t fully pushed in, it all looks painted, but the main sides won’t mark.

    Painting insides of cupboards – we tend not to do that very often. If you can, avoid painting insides. The time required to paint inside a cupboard is usually the same time needed to paint the doors. ie it doubles the cost near enough. Also in kitchen environments, expect wear and tear if putting crockery, pans etc on standard high quality paint finishes without any sort of protective (plastic). There are photos on the website of painted front lip of shelves for a bit of creative painting, and /or oil the interiors of cupboards, or a tinted lacquer would be more forgiving and less hassle to apply.

  116. Donna

    Hi Andy
    What a brilliant article which I have spent far too long reading, that said I am still don’t have the confidence to go start the job…please can you can help?
    I want to paint an oiled oak sideboard and a stained/lacquered Acacia wood console in the same colour. Can I treat them the same with same primer and top coat? I want a durable eggshell finish ( not sure oil or water based) as I have 2 young children who love to ram pram’s/ ride-on’s into every piece of furniture!Many thanks

  117. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Shellac based ZInsser BIN is a suitable primer for the wood console. It also comes in an aerosol, which depending on the size of the piece, would sidestep a few application problems you might encounter when applying this product by brush and roller.

    The oiled piece, without seeing it, the safe primer is Zinsser BIN.

    Topcoats, we use Tikkurila Helmi on furniture, a waterbased product that comes in matt or satin finish.

    Tell the kids to be more careful in future. Good luck on all fronts.

  118. Liz

    Hi. I’ve just purchased a secondhand coated extending pine dining table with 4 chairs that I would like to paint. I’m not after a shabby-chic finish, just a clean nice chalky off white colour that I can coat to protect afterwards.
    Do I need to sand down first or is there a pain I can put straight on? Also, if I wanted to keep the top as pine but stain darker, is there a good way of doing this? Thanks, Liz

  119. Bobby

    Hi, I am painting a pine kitchen with Little Greene traditional oil eggshell, using the Fox brushes. I did all the cleaning, primer and undercoat and applied two coats of top coat (although I did forget to sand between the two top coats). The dried finish from some angles reflects light in stripes and is uneven, not the flat eggshell finish I wanted. What am I doing wrong, please? Many thanks.

  120. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    It is likely an uneven application. You could apply liberally with a mini roller (dense black foam) which will give you more control of the paint evenness, and lay off lightly with your brush, making sure not to put more paint on. Also make sure you have thoroughly stirred the paint and give it an occasional stir during use. You would be best advised to sand the last coat and clean off with a vacuum and tack rags. Good luck.

  121. Ben Collingwood

    Hi, I have a farmhouse table exactly the same as the one at the start of this guide which nearly ended up at my local tip until I seen your picture. Please can you advise how you achieve those results with paint finish legs and frame and also stained top. It has been suggested to me that I take the table to a local business who will strip back to bare wood by dipping, is this recommended? Thankyou

  122. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Dipping can destroy glue, so you may have a kit table to put back together. Thiss hould help with the process https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-paint-table-tops

  123. Ellen

    Great article! I’m currently trying to do my homework on giving my table and chairs a freshening up. Mainly the table top. When I bought it I’m guessing it just had a wax on as it came off on to the children’s sleeves (oops) is there anything you could recommended for me to use where this wouldn’t happen, yet achieve a lovely colour like the table top in your picture and still be used daily? I’m so confused with everything available I wouldn’t know where to start, I just don’t want to spend a fortune and ruin it. Please help

  124. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Remove the wax with an eco cleaner like Krudkutter Original or Fluxaf Pro Clean. Sand it well so it as smooth as you want it. Vacuum off sust, wipe with tack rag.

    The finish on the table is Langlow Patina, apply several very thin coats allowing 4-8 hours to dry between coats. Or Tikkurila Kiva is a clear lacquer with no colour, it can be tinted though.

  125. Sally

    I am trying to shabby chic a pine chest of draws to match another unit which I bought already done. I have used white eggshell but I am stumped as to what kind of wax to use. The other unit seems to have a golden sheen in places but maybe thats is because it is made from a darker wood. I would appreciate it if you can advise what I should use. Clear? Dark? something else? Thanks a lot

  126. Debbie

    I recently painted our wooden bar at work in satin wood paint…for weeks it has been great till a party that trashed the place and kicked scratched the bar and peeled off the paint.. now I have to redo it…I was wondering if a varnish or something would pretext it or make it a little tougher.

  127. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    You could remove the paint to bare wood and tint a Kiva clear lacquer to a colour, or Osmo oil, for a tougher finish

  128. Annie

    I’m considering painting a low solid pine cupboard/dressing table, but just the top (leaving the body, doors and drawers natural)
    The top is marked from contact lens solution, hair products etc so painting it then adding a glass top would solve the problem.
    However, all the photos I’ve seen are the other way round with the top left natural. I’m unsure how the end product will look. Has anyone done this before? Or seen any photos?
    Thank you

  129. Roberta Montgomery

    I have a Mexican Pine chest of drawers that I would like to stain dark Acacia. Could you recommend a brand please? x

  130. Nadine

    Thanks so much for this great article

  131. Jo Bryan


    I am hoping you may answer as it is a few years since the article was written. I have solid wood wardrobe but it has been spray painted and I want to use chalk paint. Can I use ESP on it if you know?

  132. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    ESP is a cleaner and adhesion enhancer. Help with adhesion isn’t really needed in this case. I would clean thoroughly with a standard eco cleaner and apply the chalk paint system.

  133. Esther

    Hi Andy! I’ve found your article very helpful! Following your advice, I’ve tackled the painting of two very large wardrobes. They were a very orangey pine with a lot of knots. I’ve used the approach you’ve described of zinsser BIN for the knots and two coats of Zinsser cover stain as a primer (I’ve diluted the zinsser very slightly because it was so thick it was hard to apply). Now I’m painting it with white diamond eggshell from Dulux trade, but… It’s my fourth coat (yes four!!!) and I can see the white stains from where I’ve treated the knots with Zinsser BIN (albeit more faintly than after the third coat). Do you know what could have gone wrong for the paint to have such little coverage? I’ve used floetrol with it and a little bit of water to thin it slightly after it had dried out between coats. I need to move on so won’t do an other coat but I’m very disappointed… I’d really appreciate your advice for future projects! Thanks very much in advance for your help!

  134. Louise Berry

    Hi, I’ve just come across your very interesting page and am really hoping you might be able to give me some advice.
    I have a pine dining table and it has 6 chairs which I’m told are actually veneer. I’ve had it for 4 years and after having our kitchen done we wanted to have the table painted something like a farm house style. I wasn’t brave enough to do it myself so used what seemed to be a professional local buisness.
    I’ve recently got my table back and within 2 days paint on the pine draw has peeled off and a number of other areas have started peeling both on the table and chairs. It’s sadly staring to look a mess already.
    I know the paint used on it was a deluxe vesper range (wet pebble colour) the pine top feels rough to tough (I expected a smooth, shiny, waxy finish) and to be honest the chairs also feel quite rough even after she said its had lots of coats of paint and varnish.
    within less than 2 weeks of taking it to be done she said it was ready to collect but as we were having our kitchen painted she offered to keep it for us a few days longer. When my husband went to collect it it was stored in her disused shop which he said was very cold I wondered if it had been painted in cold conditions then come into our warm house and this has effected the paint work? He also said it felt tacky to touch when he had to remove it from the shop. I’ve also read that any pine furniture painted shouldn’t really be used for 2 to 3 weeks after the works been done is this another factor?
    It just doesn’t seem like its been done correctly for the paint to be peeling and for it to feel rough to the touch.
    Please could you offer any advice why this severe peeling might be happening? I am at a loss of what to do.
    Really appreciate your blog and any advice you can give.
    Many thanks Louise

  135. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Valspar paint, not aware of anyone in the industry using that as their best shot at a finish. If applied in damp conditions, the drying process is delayed and will be tacky after the usual drying time window. If the surface was incorrectly prepared (eg left oily) or the surface was dusty, the paint may well not adhere as much as hoped.

    To try rectify it, take one of the chairs and give it a really good sand to a solid base and apply something more proven – Tikkurila Otex primer undercaot and Tikkurila Empire (oil) or Tikkurila Helmi 30 (waterbased). If that works for you, carry on with the rest.

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