Furniture painting and refinishing can be quite intimidating when you’re first getting into it. The key though is to the right tools in order to get the best possible furniture makeover. I’ve painted countless pieces of furniture and this is my list of the best painting tools for furniture refinishing.
Last week, I got an email from a reader.
I just love those. 🙂
They asked if I could do a post on what kinds of tools and supplies I use when I’m stripping, painting or refinishing furniture.
And I thought to myself, “Duh. Why haven’t you done that before, Jenna?!”
So here it is. These are my must have products, tools and supplies for all your furniture makeovers. I’ve used these over and over again and they have continually proved their worth.
*Affiliate links may be contained in this post.
Best Painting Tools for Furniture Refinishing
A Good Respirator Mask
Safety first, y’all. Anytime I have to strip, sand or spray paint anything, I always wear a mask. While you probably won’t die from a few spray paint fumes, they certainly don’t help. I typically use this kind of respirator (pictured above). Once you start painting a piece, you can usually take the mask off as long as you aren’t using spray paint. Masks do wear out over time. Once I see mine getting pretty dirty, I switch it out.
If you’re dealing with an old piece of furniture, check to make sure it doesn’t contain lead. You can do this with a lead test. If it does contain lead, do not sand it. Either paint directly over it or get rid of the piece of furniture.
Heat Gun & Scraper
If you have to remove paint or want to strip a piece down to the bare wood, I suggest using a heat gun. Using a heat gun to strip furniture is by far much less messier than using a liquid stripper. Here’s a tutorial on how I stripped and re-stained my buffet. I personally use and love my HomeRight Heat Gun. It also came with a good scraper and other shaped scrapers to get in nooks and crannies.
Sandpaper and/or Power Sander
If you do strip furniture, you are going to have to sand it lightly before painting or staining it to give it a smooth surface. You can do this with plain old sandpaper or a sanding block or with a power sander. I usually use my power sander for this task. I have a DeWalt sander and it hasn’t failed me yet. In my opinion, it’s the best sander for refinishing furniture. Some people prefer a pointed sander, but I really love this one. Here’s a tutorial on how to use a power sander and what kind of sandpaper to use when. If you aren’t putting any kind of primer on your piece before painting it, its a good idea to give it a light sanding first to rough up the finish. This helps the paint better adhere to the piece.
If you need to cover up old hardware holes, dings or scratches in your furniture, you are going to need wood filler. My personal favorite is Elmer’s Wood Filler. There is a full tutorial here on how to cover old hardware holes.
I could sing the praises of tack cloths for days. Tack cloths are sticky pieces of cheesecloth that pick up any dust or dirt on the furniture before painting. Before painting, always, always, always wipe down your piece with a tack cloth. This keeps any dust and dirt from messing up your finish.
Tarp, Old Blankets or Sheets
If you are painting something inside on floors that you care about, put a tarp or old blanket or sheet under the piece. While it is pretty easy to scrape paint specks off hardwood or tile floors, it does take time. If you are painting on top of carpet, please don’t skip this step.
A Good Primer
If you are using a regular latex based paint and don’t want to sand your furniture beforehand, I highly suggest using a good primer before applying your paint. Using a good primer will allow your paint to get good adherence to your furniture. My picks for the best primers for furniture are Zinnser and Ready. Anytime you are painting over a piece of furniture that has a glossy sheen, use a primer. Painting directly over a glossy sheen can cause your paint to adhere improperly. If you have more questions about primers, then read this post about priming and prepping furniture.
If you plan to make any sort of pattern, design, or want to avoid getting paint on certain parts of the piece you are painting, be sure to use a good painter’s tape to block off that area. It’s no secret that FrogTape is my go-to painter’s tape. Its never failed me once. They also have a delicate surface version that can be used on freshly painted surfaces, a tape for painting textured surfaces, and patterned tapes in chevron, wave, and scallop.
High Quality Paint Roller, Paint Brush, or Paint Sprayer
Your paint rollers and brushes can make or break your paint job. If you don’t invest in good, high quality rollers and brushes, you can be left with a finish that is full of fibers from the roller and hairs from the brush. My pick for best paint brush for furniture are Purdy brushes and my go-to rollers are these Purdy ones as well. A high quality paint brush will also minimize the brush strokes in your paint finish. If you want to decrease all chances of roller marks and brush strokes, go with a paint sprayer, which is what I usually do. My personal favorite is the HomeRight Finish Max. It’s easy to use and give a fine, professional finish. In you’re interested in learning more about the paint sprayer, read this post about how it works and how to use it.
If you don’t have a paint sprayer or can’t use one for your project, you can add Floetrol to the paint to dramatically reduce brushstrokes. I had to do this when I painted my bathroom vanity since I couldn’t move it and I can barely see any brushstrokes. You just add a little to your paint and mix it in. (Directions are on the bottle.)
Obviously when painting a piece of furniture, you need paint. This is not the place to skimp. Always invest in a good quality paint for your projects. It will save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. My personal picks for the best furniture paints are Velvet Finishes and Behr. If you have more questions about specific types of paint and what kind to use on certain surfaces, read this post.
After spending all that time prepping and painting a piece, it’s not a bad idea to protect it with a topcoat. My usual topcoats are Minwax Polycrylic or Velvet Finishes Protect. Topcoats are not always necessary on some pieces and with some paints. I’ve got a whole list here of different kinds of topcoats and when to use them.
Do you have any favorite furniture refinishing tools?
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