The lazy person's guide to painting furniture

November 10, 2016

Hey there! I've been thinking a lot about projects I want to finish up before the end of the year -- especially those that I promised myself I would finish up. One is our guest room and I only have a couple more projects to do that I've put off for months! 

I finally bit the bullet on a bigger one the other day. I decided I was going do it in the quickest and easiest way possible because sometimes you just want to get it done. This is a tutorial on the fastest way to paint furniture for when you're feeling the same. :) 

I told you about these inexpensive IKEA dresser/night stands a few months ago: 
Rast dresser transformation

I also shared some of the many ways you can dress them up. The possibilities are endless with these unfinished pieces! For now I didn't have any grand plans in mind -- I just wanted to get them painted. I may add to them later but I actually a little in love with how they turned out. 

In general I'm not one to say you need to do things perfectly when it comes to DIY projects. I think it discourages people from trying to do things themselves when people like me say it needs to be perfectly done. YOU will be the main person seeing what you do in your house. As I've said many, many times -- if someone notices that something isn't perfect then they get a cookie cause that means they are super observant. But really, it better be your mate, sister or best friend who would actually tell you it isn't perfect because anyone else saying it is just mean. Ha! ;) 

I will tell you -- this job would be much easier if I had done it before I built the dressers. Keep that in mind if you purchase these. I could have just painted the frame and the drawer fronts. But because these are made to "catch" and don't slide out all the way (unless you remove some stuff), I just taped them off and covered them with paper: 
Prepping dresser for paint

Usually I paint furniture with a brush and roller, but we're talking fast this time. These dressers are so small I knew spray paint would make much quicker work of it. 

I've tried two primers in the spray paint version -- BIN and Kilz. I prefer BIN out of the can but their spray drives me nutty. It has never sprayed well for me. This time I used the Kilz spray and it performed MUCH better: 
Kilz spray primer

I will be using this brand from now on when I need to spray prime. 

This furniture is super inexpensive because it's made from cheaper pine and it has knots in it. If you want to paint these a lighter color you'll need to prime well -- those knots will bleed through if you don't. Sometimes it takes a while but they always will (with white). Even sometimes with great primer they'll come through white paint -- I've touched up many spots over the years. 

Because of this I did a few coats where there were knots:
Covering knots in pine

It's important when spray painting to use short, quick bursts instead of long ones. Don't hold the nozzle down and just spray. Numerous lighter coats will work much better than one heavy one. 

I used this light gray color to paint the dressers: 
Pewter gray krylon

Here's a video to show how you should spray: 

I always do a light sanding between coats, whether I'm using rollers or a spray. You'll want do a sanding after the primer as well:
Sanding between coats furniture

It doesn't have to be intense -- a quick sanding is fine! 

I picked this color for the night stands because I wanted to pull in the light blue/gray I'm using in this room:
Light gray night stands

Then it was time to decide on the knobs! I really didn't want to go buy something new right now -- even at the cheapest place I've found they probably would have been three bucks each. I knew I could make the wood knobs that came with it work: 
Finishing wood IKEA knobs

I sprayed them with the same primer and then white paint and started on my little crafting project. I thought it would be pretty to add a little design to them and knew the perfect item to do that -- paper napkins!:
Decoupaging with napkins

I had these already and the color worked perfectly! (I've used napkins on a few projects but these coasters are a favorite gift idea.) I used the cap to my decoupage glue to trace the size I needed.

I cut them out and then put a layer of the glue on the knob:
Making plain knobs pretty with glue and napkins

I flattened out the napkin: 
Using napkins to decoupage knobs

And then put another coat on top immediately: 
Decoupaging knobs

Then you can use your finger to smooth everything out. I made sure the napkin was flat during this part. After they dried for about 20 minutes I did another coat. When these dry they are hard and cleanable! 

I had Mod Podge but chose to use some Decoart stuff I had in my craft stash because it dries in a glossy finish. These glues come in both matte and glossy and either work fine! 

This seriously turned out so cute. I'm a little obsessed with these pretty knobs! I've walked into the room a few times just to look at them: 
DIY custom knobs

This isn't a dramatic makeover by any means but goodness, I really like it. It's simple and pretty and perfect for this room! 

If something strikes me eventually I may add more detail someday but I'm really happy with them: 
IKEA Rast dresser makeover

The color is so nice and soothing, just like the rest of the room. They work so well with the gray/blue colors in the bedding. And those knobs are a sweet little detail that goes well with the nod to farmhouse style in this room. 

Spray painting furniture is quicker for sure! I was able to prep and paint both of these in less than two hours (including dry time). Sometimes you just want to get it done! Remember you can also use a paint sprayer to do a custom color if you don't like your spray paint options:
IKEA Rast dresser

The only caveat with using spray paint is it can get expensive if you're using it on larger pieces. I used nearly a can on each dresser (two coats each). You just have two weigh the convenience with the cost. 

Now, just one more project in here and I'll be sharing this whole before and after transformation! I'm determined to finish this one up before the end of the year. 

Here's a quick in progress shot I took for Instagram that you can pin if you'd like to try this technique on knobs: 
adding detail to knobs with napkins

And here's a quick list of the items I used again for easy reference: 

Have you tried this technique on knobs? Paper works too but it will not conform to the round edges like napkins will. Do you have any furniture pieces that you've spray painted? Another bonus to spray painting furniture is that it's oil based paint and gives you a great, tough finish once it cures. 

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  1. Try painting over the knots with a thin coat of wood glue before priming and painting. I've done this trick several times and so far no bleeds, even with white paint.

  2. Napkins, so clever and it all looks great!

  3. OMG, I didn't know that it is that easy to do it.
    I wanted to paint my wardrobe for a little while now, but always thought it is hard till I saw this article. So thankful for it.

  4. It makes me so sad that Ikea discontinued those dressers...

  5. Where did you get the bed? Looking for a rod iron queen bed!!

    1. Here's where I wrote about it with a link!:

  6. Now tell me how to paint horrible, dark, cherrywood furniture!

    1. Same process whether you use a roller or spray paint -- you just need a REALLY good primer. If not the tannins of the wood can turn the white pink. :)

  7. Can you tell me where your lamp is from. Love this look!

    1. It's from Walmart! :)

  8. Those knobs...such a great way to make them interesting!

  9. Oh, I thought it was just me, I've tried two cans of the Zinsser BIN stuff and both were a hopeless splattery mess.
    In general I find Rustoleum cans somewhat incontinent although their metallic colours are so gorgeous I still buy them anyway.

    1. Yes! I am able to use maybe a third of the can and then it's worthless. Drives me crazy.

  10. Replies
    1. Walmart!

  11. Yes, it seems like you did a post about the lamp years ago. Can you refresh our memory?

    1. It's from Walmart!


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