The Easiest Way to Paint Furniture

I found this 1940s sideboard (credenza, buffet?) on FB marketplace. I love the shape and character, but not the orange-y finish. With all the crevices in this piece, stripping would be really time consuming. I love my sanding tools, but me and the orange spray stuff do NOT get along. This time I used a shortcut – spray chalked paint! This is definitely the easiest way to paint furniture!

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Why Spray Chalked Paint?

Chalked paint (also referred to as chalk paint, which is trademarked by Annie Sloane) has grown in popularity in recent years due to its reputation for going over “any surface” with little to no prep work. It also has a matte finish that gives furniture that vintage look.

I’ve used this type of paint on a few furniture projects, but one day, walking through the aisles of my home improvement store, a spray paint version caught my eye. I had to try it.

Now, if it’s in the middle of winter and you don’t have a spray paint shelter tent, then this method isn’t ideal. I painted this piece in the summer, no tent, but good weather. It was so fast and easy, I had to share the results with you.

easiest way to paint furniture chalked spray paint

Here is what you’ll need

  • 120 grit sanding block (or mouse sander)
  • 220 grit sanding block (or mouse sander)
  • Tack cloth
  • Spray chalked paint (I used this Charcoal color by Rustoleum)
  • Drop cloth, plastic cloth or large cardboard piece
  • New cabinet knobs or rings (unless the old ones are ok?)
  • Gloves + eye protection
  • Liquid sandpaper (optional)
  • Satin polycrylic (optional)

And that’s it! This is a seriously quick project as far as furniture flipping is concerned. Spray chalked paint to the rescue!

How to Paint Your Furniture

Step 1: Clean surface. This is where you can use liquid sandpaper if you have it. Using a rag, wipe down the piece in a circular motion. Or you can give it a scrub with soap and water if needed.

Step 2: So in this case the sanding is just so the paint has better adhesion. I know an appeal of chalked paint is its ability to go on over “any” surface, but I always opt for a quick rough-up. Use a medium grit such as 120 to go over the entire surface, then go over again with fine grit like 220. Wipe with tack cloth as you go.

Step 3: Ready to paint. Spray paint is easy, but since you probably want to go outside, you have to hope for no wind or rain. Lay your drop cloth, or whatever you’re using to protect your grass or patio and spray 12 inches (sometimes less) from the wood.

Step 4: Dry time between coats with the Rustoleum brand is 1 hour. But each brand is different. Go in for a second coat. This step is really just intuitive. You’ll know how thick to spray based on how it’s looking. You may need a third coat. Sanding with 220 grit between coats is a good idea if you’ve go too much texture going on.

Tip: If you’re in the grass, you won’t be able to get to the bottom of the legs. These pieces usually just have particle board in the back, which you won’t be painting, so you can lay the table on its back to get the very bottom.

Step 6: Install your new hardware. I found these ring pulls in antique brass. Amazon and Etsy both have plenty of affordable vintage-look options!

Step 7 (optional): If you like the chalky paint finish, you can be done! Or you can seal with chalk paint finishing wax. If you prefer a slightly polished look, I recommend finishing with a coat of polycrylic. Its a water-based topcoat and is less toxic than polyurethane. It also dries quick. I like the look of chalked paint, but I did a topcoat to the tabletop to protect the surface from all the random stuff that will be thrown on here as time goes on.

Black vintage sideboard  / credenza against a white wall with art on top
Placed in our family room for now!

Technically this is a credenza/buffet, and I assume was originally made to go in a dining room, but its the right size for an entry or console table, and works for either. It is perfect for our blank living room wall, but I’m sure it will move around the house for years to come!