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How to Spray Paint Furniture: the Complete Beginner’s Guide

Do you have furniture that could really use a facelift, but you just don’t know where to start? Trying to paint furniture can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before.

This article is for you if you think spray paint is only for graffiti. As it turns out, you can spray paint furniture for a budget and beginner-friendly upgrade that looks anything but. It’s easy and looks amazing!

If you’re ready to try something new, use this guide to learn how to spray paint furniture plus great products and techniques to try.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Why You Should Spray Paint Furniture

Spray painting furniture is a great method to use for several reasons.

It’s a really inexpensive way to change up your decor, and it’s a simple and quick process.

You also need very limited materials. No brushes, no paint pans, no tape. Your main material is cans of spray paint, which are easy to get locally or online in just about any color and finish.

There are no special skills or experience required to spray paint furniture. The prep work before you spray paint your furniture is minimal. And if you make mistakes along the way, fixing them is no big deal. You can keep trying until it looks just right.

Factors to Consider

Before you get started, think about the end result you’re going for.

Make sure you choose the right paint for your project. This will depend on what your piece is made of, as some paint works better for wood, plastic, or metal.

Are you painting indoor or outdoor furniture? Your paint should be able to withstand whatever conditions your piece will be in.

Finally, the aesthetic is also important. You can go with matte, glossy, or somewhere in between.

Once you’ve picked your paint, take a minute to test it out and get a feel for it before you apply it to your final piece. Grab a piece of scrap wood and try spraying so you know what to expect, how close to hold the can, and how to evenly cover everything while reaching each corner.

It’s also a good idea to pick something simple for your first project. That way, you’ll be more confident when you get around to more complicated pieces.

Getting Set Up to Spray Paint Furniture

The best part about learning how to spray paint furniture is that you don’t need any special skills or equipment, and the setup is simple.

There are products out there to help you achieve any look you want.


1. Paint and primer

The most important thing you need, of course, is spray paint. Ideally, you’ll use a bonding primer spray before applying the color of your choice so it adheres smoothly.

Plastic may not need a primer unless the current color is very dark and you’re going with a lighter color.

This is a great multi-use primer that will work on almost any project.

There are so many different options for spray paint. If you prefer a matte finish, this chalk-style paint is perfect. For more shine, go with a glossy finish paint.

You want to protect your paint once it’s to your liking with a protective finish spray. These also come in different finishes so you can get just the right look. For a flat finish, this paint will work great. For a lasting gloss finish, opt for this spray paint instead.

2. Drop cloth or plastic sheeting

Wherever you decide to paint furniture, make sure you protect the area.

Drop Cloths for Spray Painting Furniture

This drop cloth is a great way to cover the floor, or you can go with plastic sheeting instead.

3. Face mask

Spray paint isn’t something you want to breathe in. Protect yourself with a face mask to avoid inhaling any dangerous fumes.

4. Sandpaper or sanding blocks

Sanding the surface of your furniture will make sure it looks just right when you’re done painting.
You can go with sandpaper if you need a bit of flexibility, or sanding blocks for quick and easy sanding on flatter surfaces.

5. Microfiber cloth

After sanding you’ll need to clean the surface of your piece. These microfiber cloths will do the trick.

6. Optional supplies

If you have a shop vac handy, it can make cleanup a little bit easier. You can also use a household or handheld vacuum.

Preparing to Spray Paint Furniture

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to get set up and prepare to spray paint furniture.

1. Start in an open and well-ventilated space or go outside

Spray paint has a lot of fumes that you don’t want to breathe in, even with a mask on. An enclosed space like a garage is best, as long as you have windows or doors you can leave open for airflow.

If you decide to spray paint furniture outside, be aware of the weather. Wind will carry paint as your spray, and you obviously don’t want it to get rained on. Bugs and dust or dirt can also stick to wet paint.

2. Lay down your plastic or drop cloth

Now that you’ve picked a workspace, give yourself a clean surface. No matter where you’re painting, using a dropcloth or plastic keeps both your workspace and furniture clean.

3. Remove any hardware and clean your furniture

Take off anything like drawer pulls, hinges, or cabinet knobs. If you’re working with a piece that has cabinet doors and drawers, separate each part as best you can so it’s easier to paint.

Quickly wipe down the entire surface with a damp cloth so it’s clean. Plastic furniture might need a more thorough cleaning, especially if it’s been outside, and any rust on metal furniture should be removed before painting.

4. Scuff up the surface of the furniture with sandpaper or blocks

This is an important step in ensuring your paint adheres completely. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just want the entire surface to be roughed up enough for the paint to grab onto it.

Sanding Furniture

If you’re going over an old paint job, make sure you sand any flakes or chunks smooth or your final product will also flake. This mainly applies to wood and plastic furniture.

5. Clean off the dust

If you have one, use a shop vac to clean up any dust from sanding. If you don’t have one, you can either use a regular household vacuum or shake out your cloth or plastic before you start to paint furniture.

Finish up your prep work by wiping down your sanded piece with a damp cloth. You’re ready to go!

Tips to Perfect Spray Painted Furniture

There are a few little tips and tricks to know about before you spray paint furniture that will make the process easier and more successful.

Work Smart

Start by painting the underside of the piece first. That way, you can turn it over and stand it up to cover the rest of the piece, and you won’t have to balance it at an odd angle while it dries.

Primer Technique

Check your primer before you move on to paint. You should be able to scratch it with your nail without it coming off so you know it will last. If it does, you should try a different kind of primer until you find one that works.

If the primer isn’t smooth after the first coat, make sure you sand, vacuum, and wipe it down. Then apply a second coat. This also applies to your spray paint. Lumps and bumps will show even if you paint over them.

You can skip primer if you want, but it definitely creates a more even and polished look and helps the paint stick better.

Perfect Paint

Let each coat dry completely before applying the next coat. Don’t be impatient!

Always shake the paint can thoroughly and hold it about a foot away. Every few minutes as you paint, give the can another good shake to keep the paint mixed. Spray in wide sweeping motions. Paint coats should be light and even.

Spray Painting Furniture With Side-to-Side Motions

Don’t start and stop the spray on the furniture to avoid drips and splotches. Continue the sweeping motion on either side of the piece to keep coats even, starting before you touch the piece and finishing after you’ve passed it.

Getting the Look Just Right

The best thing about learning how to spray paint furniture is that you can apply as many coats as you need to.

If the color comes out blotchy and uneven, try again and paint right over it. Keep going until you achieve the color and finish you want.

Finishing Touches

Once you’re happy with your piece of furniture and it’s completely dry, spray on your top clear coat using the same technique as the paint. This will help seal it off, protecting the color and also making it easier for you to wipe down whenever you need to clean it.

Project Ideas to Spray Paint Furniture

You can really go in any direction you want and choose any piece of furniture.

Learning how to spray paint furniture is a fabulous way to give so many pieces a whole new look. If you have something in your home that just looks cheap, dress it up with a chic new color.

Spray Painting a Cabinet

Old, peeling paint jobs are the perfect opportunity to spray paint furniture. If you want something to work on but don’t have any furniture handy, stop by yard sales or second-hand stores to find something you can make your own.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even build something for yourself and finish it off with a beautiful paint job.


Benches are a great project for spray paint because they tend to be simpler structures with less detail.

This could be an outdoor bench or picnic table, or a bench that you use as dining room seating.

Side Table

A side table, or even a coffee table, is perfect for spray painting.

They’re small so you don’t need much paint or time, and it’s good practice. These pieces are also the perfect opportunity to test your skills and get creative.

Stool or Chair

Chairs and stools are fun pieces to spray paint because you can take it in so many directions. Sleek, stylish black or grey can elevate your decor, or paint them all in fun and funky colors.

Spray Painting Furniture Such as a Chair

Do you have old and weathered plastic lawn furniture lying around? You have the ideal canvas to spray paint furniture! A fresh coat of paint can make even the grungiest plastic lawn chair look brand new again.


With so many people working from home, it might be time to give your workspace a refresh.

It’s a bigger project, so you might want to try something smaller and simpler first. Once you have some confidence, spray painting your work desk can bring you a whole new sense of motivation and renewal.


Give your bedroom a brand new look and feel by spray painting your dresser.

Complete the look with new hardware to match the color and finish you chose. This is also a more intensive project, but the results will make it worth the effort.

Get as Creative as You Want

Don’t limit yourself to a single color!

Use painter’s tape to use more than one color or a design. You can even use stencils to make patterns. Metallic spray paint or bright colors add fun accents that don’t require special skills, but look a step above.

If you like working with paintbrushes, you can make the base color with spray paint and brush on details afterward. Gold or silver highlights look luxe and expensive on any piece of furniture.

Upgrade Your Furniture With Spray Paint

Learning how to spray paint furniture can give you a beautiful new piece to appreciate.

No one will believe you used spray paint on your furniture because it looks so good. There are so many creative choices you can make between the color and texture of your piece, and there’s a can of spray paint for every look.

Don’t stop at spray painting furniture. Get more furniture painting tips and inspiration for other fun DIY projects!


Friday 26th of July 2019

Thank you! I bought the sprayer months ago and haven’t used it cause I was afraid to thin the paint. After watching I think I’m ready to try it now. Thanks for all the tips.

Phyllis M

Friday 31st of August 2018

I love your method, do you spray primer as well!

Thea Osborne

Monday 3rd of September 2018

I don't! I use oil and shellac based primers and don't prefer to use oil based products in my sprayer. <3 Thank you!!

Thea Osborne

Tuesday 20th of February 2018

I would imagine you could complete the entire thing with one container! (Although I do fill mine a wee more than Im suppose too.. :-)


Tuesday 20th of February 2018

How far does one container of spray go? I'm doing a large cabinet.