How To Easily Paint Furniture {NO Sanding!}

March 14, 2024

How to paint furniture the easy sanding needed! 

You do not have to sand furniture before painting. If your piece is in good condition, this method will save you a ton of time and mess. 

For the past few weeks, I've been working on a makeover in our bedroom that has completely transformed the space! I can't wait to show you the whole room. 

The last big project in here was painting this dresser, and it turned out so beautifully! 

I've had this lovely vintage Henredon dresser for years. I love the quality (dovetail drawers!), pretty trim details on the fronts and the ornate brass hardware. 

The finish has never been my favorite had an orange tone to it that seemed to get more orange with time. Also, it had an odd splatter kind of finish that I didn't love: 
vintage dresser splotchy finish

I've toyed around with painting it for a long time, but didn't want to rush into a color. 

But I finally made a decision! I shared how I installed vertical tongue and groove planks on the walls in our room a few weeks ago. The bright white on the walls has made such a difference!

I've painted a TON of cabinets and furniture over the years, and have tried many ways along the way. 

Typically, sanding or priming are options to prep furniture for paint, but I have found that cleaning the pieces well before painting is the most important. 

Cleaning furniture thoroughly works as well as sanding before painting in many instances. 
My favorite product for doing this is TSP, or trisodium phosphate.  This product, also known as liquid sandpaper, is what I've used for years. But phosphate free options are now available. (Phosphate is not good for the environment and can be very irritating to skin.)

This M-1 TSP substitute spray is what I picked up for this project: 
TSP substitute cleaning spray

Before I could start, I needed to remove all of the brass hardware. This hardware is so old, there are little nails on a few of the pieces. I very gently pried those off with a flat 5-in-1 tool:
removing vintage dresser hardware

The cleaning spray was so easy to use! I grabbed a microfiber cloth, sprayed the deglosser generously onto the cloth and got to work wiping down the dresser. 

I paid a lot of attention to the grooves along the drawer fronts: 
cleaning grooves on dresser

I used my finger nails with the cloth to really get into those spots. There were many years of grime hiding in there!

I couldn't believe how much of the finish came off on the cloth!:
dirty rag deglosser

It was absolutely filthy! (And yes, I have cleaned this dresser many times.) 

After cleaning, I made sure to get all of the TSP substitute off with a wet rag, then let it dry completely before painting. 

With the dark gray walls gone, I have more options for accent colors. I've been working off the colors in our rug and adding a lot of green tones in the room. 

I had plenty of green paint (called Jasper from Sherwin-Williams) leftover from our basement fireplace project, so that's the color I went with. 

Because this cleaner works so well to prep for paint, I didn't even use primer! If your furniture will get heavy use, it never hurts to do a coat of BIN primer before starting.

When I paint furniture or doors, I always start with a brush on the grooves and smaller details first: 
painting furniture with brush

Then I immediately follow up with a foam roller on the flat parts: 
painting with foam roller

Other than prepping well, the other key to a durable paint job is letting each coat cure (dry) long enough before adding another. 

I did three coats of paint total, letting each coat dry overnight. 

OK, OK...there is a little bit of sanding involved, but nothing crazy! I highly recommend doing a very light, very quick sanding in between each coat of paint. This ensures you'll have a super smooth surface. 

While I waited on the paint to dry, I worked on cleaning the brass hardware. I've shared the various ways to clean brass and this one is by far the best!:
cleaning brass on stove

I can't believe how great the hardware turned out! Just gorgeous!!:
jasper green with brass hardware

I don't usually add a protective coat to my furniture projects, but since I was using paint I had on hand, (and it wasn't a glossy finish like I'd normally use) I will be doing a coat or two on the top of the dresser. 

This room is a breath of fresh air now, I don't think I could love it more! I'll share the full tour very soon, but here's a look at this spot before: 
dark gray walls with grasscloth

And now after, with the pretty wall paneling, new drapes and the painted dresser: 
dark dresser grasscloth walls

This is turning out to be one of my favorite transformations yet! I still have a few little projects to do, including figuring out the art in the frames: 
dark green dresser brass hardware

But it is well on the way! :) 

I love a great wood finish, but sometimes it's just not quite right. This rich, dark green is so beautiful, and really lets the brass hardware shine. 

Have you tried this easy method for painting furniture? It doesn't get much easier! This painting method is how I paint our interior doors as well. 

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  1. Stunning color and great job! That looks like a $1000 sideboard now!

  2. I have black interior doors that were here when we moved in. They don't seem to be ideal because they get chipped or hit and the under coated white door shows thru. What can I do?

    1. You'll need to give them a good sanding, and then I'd recommend a coat of BIN primer before painting them again. The doors either weren't prepped well or they were painted with latex over oil-based.

  3. Beautiful!!!! What is the paint and the color? I need that for my laundry room makeover.

    1. Thank you! It's called Jasper from Sherwin-Williams. :)

  4. Great article! Thank you

  5. Looks great! Did you use a oil based or latex based paint?

  6. Amazing - i cannot tell you how much time we wasted sanding down our furniture! Thanks for the tips xxx

  7. Beautiful thanks for posting

  8. That looks so lovely. Goes so much better and love your kitty. Two questions: what grit sandpaper between coats and what protective coat will you recommend using.

    1. Great questions! A very fine grit is perfect (just a light sanding is fine) and I used a polyurethane for this dresser top.

  9. I want to do something very similar on my 80s dressers and nightstands. What if I had already painted the brass hardware with spray paint? Any tips on removing that? Or should I just re-spray with a brass color for even coverage?

    1. A paint remover like Citristrip should work to get that off!

  10. Beautiful! I need sources for this whole corner - the lamp, drapes, pillow, chair, items on top of dresser, etc! You have true talent!

    1. Thank you!! The lamp was from Target I believe, the chair was HomeGoods. The drapes were from Amazon -- 'll try to find links to everything!

  11. I have a orange-ish hutch that I have been thinking about painting with a sprayer, is that advisable over a brush?

    1. Either one will work! If you have a lot of detail it will be easier with a sprayer.

  12. Thanks for the reply! Looking forward to the source links! Also need to know details on the cute little light projector/night light on the dresser!

  13. TSP is great in your laundry and dishwasher. I use it for that.

  14. Beautiful!! Which paint finish did you use for this project? Satin?

    1. I believe this one was satin, but I would highly recommend a semi-gloss instead.


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THANKS so much for reading!