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Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, projects are popular not only for the budget-savvy but also for those who enjoy putting a personalised touch on their homes, inside and out. When 38% of Americans complete DIY projects, you’re not alone if you want to delve into the DIY world.

Painting on wood furniture is a great DIY project because you can take items you already own (you save money!), and with paint, you can refresh and personalize.

Just because you want to paint your furniture with a DIY project, doesn’t mean you want it to take days. Handheld paint sprayers can help speed your project along.

painting on wood

Once you’ve got the right paint sprayer for your DIY job, you’ll want to follow these five steps to make the most of your project:

  1. Prep your painting space
  2. Protect and preserve hardware
  3. Sand until your furniture is smooth
  4. Prime and sand some more
  5. Spray your paint

That list might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back! Keep reading to learn how following these steps for painting on wood can yield great results.

Painting on wood, like most DIY projects, can be done the right way or the wrong way. Let’s get started the right way!

Prep the Area for Painting on Wood

There’s one question you need to answer before you even get started painting on wood:
Where do you plan to paint?

If you’re going to paint outdoors, there are some things to consider. Are you painting on a drop cloth or driveway?

A plastic or canvas drop cloth can keep your landscaping paint-free. After all, you want to paint your furniture, not your shrubbery.

If you’re planning to paint indoors, a drop cloth is a great place to start but it might not be enough.

The good news is that you can construct a paint spraying booth with some simple materials.

There’s no need to construct a whole building. With some PVC pipes, plastic sheeting, and tape, you can build a custom spray booth (and it’s like a bonus DIY project!).

Handle the Hardware

When you’re ready to paint, you want the paint to go on the wood–not on handles, hinges, drawer pulls or knobs.

There are two ways you can handle the hardware to protect it from paint:

  1. Remove the hardware
  2. Cover the hardware

The choice is yours–keep reading to figure out which is right for you and your specific piece of furniture.

Remove It


Removing hardware is the best way to ensure it doesn’t get so much as a drop of paint on it, but there is the risk that you might lose a piece and be unable to replace it.

That’s why you’ll want to make sure to put the hardware and any screws or nails in a safe place.

A jar, an ice cube tray, and a bowl all make great temporary storage containers that you probably have lying around the house.

Cover It


There are a few reasons to cover hardware on furniture before painting. If the hardware is rare and you don’t want to worry about losing it, covering it can be a great alternative. Sometimes you just can’t get hardware off of a piece of furniture.

Maybe a screw is stripped. Maybe you can’t easily reach it.

Either way, you can cover the hardware so that it doesn’t get painted. You can use painter’s tape or saran wrap – or a combination of both – to protect your furniture’s hardware.

Sand, Repair, and Sand Again

Once you have your painting area ready, and your hardware protected, it’s time to move on to the sanding stage.

Sanding can be tedious but it’s important because it will create a surface that the new paint can cling to. Start by sanding off any existing paint that might have chipped or cracked.

Don’t sand too hard! You don’t want to sand away more than you need to.

After you’ve sanded your furniture until it’s smooth, make any repairs you need to. Plastic wood is great for gaps, dings, and holes, and now is the time to use it.

sanding furniture

Sand one more time, with light pressure. When you’ve finished, clean your furniture with a soft, dry cloth.

If there’s sawdust lying around, make sure to vacuum it up or lay a new drop cloth. This will prevent it getting stuck in your new layer of paint.

Prime and Sand Again

With all the prep work done, it’s time to use some actual paint.

You’ll want to start with primer. The primer layer is important because even with paint sprayers, you want to make sure that you get a nice, even coat that covers.

Whether you’re trying to cover older, darker paint or you want to get a smooth finish, primer is your go to.

Sure, it’s an extra step before you get to the fun of using the paint sprayer, but you get out of any DIY project exactly what you put into it.

Before you choose your primer, you need to decide whether you’re going to paint it on with a brush or with a paint sprayer.

Painting with a brush will afford you better control. If there are intricate details on your piece of furniture, then this may be the best option.

Spraying primer on your piece will take less time, so if efficiency is a concern, then you might want to use your paint sprayer for this step.

Either way, after your primer coat has dried, you’ll want to sand your furniture one more time. This ensures that you have an even surface that will hold onto the top coat of paint.

Spray on New Paint

You’ve made it to the last and let’s face it, most exciting step! Give yourself a pat on the back, and then keep reading for helpful advice before you spray on your new coat of paint.

Before you begin painting on wood, you need to choose your paint. The right paint can make the difference between results that make you happy and results that make you wish you’d just gone out to buy new furniture.

Once you have the right paint for the job, it’s time to get to know your paint sprayer.

You can start by asking what its favorite color is!

We’re just kidding about that step, but you will want to know the different types of controls you have.

Power Dial


There’s a difference between a garden hose and a fire hose – power.

You’ll want to make sure that you have the right power setting. The right setting is the one you’re comfortable with.

To find that setting, we suggest practicing on a spare piece of wood. If you don’t have that lying around, most lumber yards will sell you some plywood for little cost.

Material Flow


When we mentioned the fire hose before, we were talking about power. There’s another difference though – between a fire hydrant and a garden spigot.

How much water comes out of a hose depends on the job. The same goes for how much paint comes out of the sprayer.

The bottom line?

Test it out on your practice plywood until you’re satisfied that enough paint will come out to cover, without dripping.

Adjustment Ring


You’ve set the power. You’ve set the material flow. There’s one more setting you need to get to know: the adjustment ring.

The adjustment ring determines the direction of the paint stream. Will you need a horizontal stream or a vertical stream?

That depends entirely on your project.

The adjustment ring also sets the width of the paint stream. If you’re painting something small, you’ll want to reduce this. If you’re painting a large area, a wider stream will cover more efficiently.

Once you know the paint sprayer, it’s time to get to the actual painting! If you’ve never used one before, we can show you how to use a paint sprayer.

wooden furniture painting

Bonus Tip

Don’t spray into the wind.

That is unless you want a face full of paint. If you’re painting outdoors, you might need to turn your piece of furniture to accommodate the wind.

If you’re painting indoors with a spray booth, the wind won’t be much of a concern.

Try it Out

After reading our 5 steps to painting on wood with a paint sprayer, you’re ready to get to your own DIY painting projects!

The only remaining step is to decide what you’re going to paint if you haven’t decided already.

Then let the fun begin!

We’re sure that if you follow this guide, your furniture will look refreshed and renewed.

Remember, if you’ve never done this before, you always practice on that piece of plywood we mentioned earlier. That way, your technique will match your knowledge so that you can get the most out of your DIY project.

Still have questions?

That’s okay! We’re here to help.

Contact us or leave a comment with your question.

5 Steps To Painting On Wood Furniture with a Paint Sprayer

by Tyler Saunders time to read: 14 min
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