A freshly painted finish can rejuvenate the appearance of distressed wood shelves and completely transform the look of ordinary metal tables and chairs. Unfortunately, most amateurs donít know how to paint furniture, and their best efforts often generate unattractive finishes that chip and peel. Before you try to apply a new colorful finish, learn how to prepare the item to ensure long-term adhesion.


A new finish won't adhere well to dusty wood or metal. Before you try painting furniture, thoroughly wash the item to ensure that nothing will prevent the paint from sticking. This means removing any dirt and and oils. Failure to perform this step may ultimately lead to flaking and peeling.


You cannot paint furniture unless it is primed. It doesnít matter if you are working on shelves or tables, dressers or desks; no type of furniture will accept a finish coat unless it is treated with a base primer. Certain surfaces require different kinds of primer. Before trying to paint metal items, apply an etching primer. If you are working with bare wood items, add a latex or acrylic primer. If the wood is stained, use a stain-blocking shellac primer. If you are working on a plastic chair or table, learn how to prime and paint plastic using the proper steps, or you will have no chance at achieving adequate adhesion.


Once the wood or metal is primed, you may add the finish coat. Donít try to paint furniture, using the same type of latex finishes manufactured for ceilings and walls. Instead, opt for a strong acrylic enamel that wonít chip and peel. For a smooth finish, use a soft paintbrush equipped with polyester bristles.