How To Paint Wood Furniture with a Glossy Finish

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Painting over your wood furniture is one way of giving another lease on life to otherwise old furniture. Depending on the style of your home, you might want to have your furniture varnished, with the wood grain being pronounced. Or, you might want painted furniture, which comes in different textures—matte and glossy.

Painting wood furniture with a glossy finish is a mostly straightforward affair if the surface is not glossy in the first place. However, if the furniture is varnished or glossy, half of the job would involve prepping the surface for painting and glossing.

What you need:

  • Primer
  • Paints
  • Varnish
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Sandpaper
  • Cleaning materials
  • Work clothes
  • Newspaper, plastic sheets, masking tape

Prepping and cleaning the furniture. The first task is preparing the surface to accept the new paint job. Use a medium-grade sandpaper (60 to 100 grit will do) on the surface of the furniture, to roughen the surface. If there is existing paint or varnish, you might have to strip this off for better adherence. Fill in any nail holes or dents with wood putty.

Then, clean the surface of the furniture using a soft rag, making sure you’ve removed all the dust from sanding.

Apply primer. With a paint brush or paint sprayer, apply the first coat of primer, using long, quick strokes for a thin layer. Let the primer dry for about four hours (or depending on manufacturer specification). Apply a second coat of primer. You will have to leave this overnight to dry completely.

If you will be using the same sprayer for the paint, rinse it out and dry completely right after priming.

Apply the paint. Using the paint brush or paint sprayer, apply the first layer of color paint. Use long, quick strokes, for a thin, smooth layer. Let the color coat dry for about four hours. Apply a second coating, and let this dry overnight. For best results, you might have to leave each layer to dry overnight.

Apply sealer or varnish. You have two ways of turning your finish into a glossy one. First, you can apply varnish over the layers of paint. Apply the first coat using paintbrush or paint spray, and leave to dry from four to 24 hours. You will then need to sand this first layer with a smooth sandpaper (over 200 grit), for a smooth surface. Then, clean up the furniture, and apply another layer of varnish.

Alternatively, you can use polyurethane sealer. Spray or paint this on using long, quick strokes. Let the first coat dry, and apply a second layer.

Some safety notes
. Remember to use safety precautions when working with paints, varnish and polyurethane sealant. Work in a room with adequate ventilation and wear a mask. You will also need to wear protective clothing, such as overalls and a hat, so you won’t ruin your hair and clothes. If you are working indoors, and if your furniture has upholstered portions, you will need to cover these with plastic sheets or newspaper held firmly by masking tape.

Painting furniture with a glossy finish is one way to add some style to your interior. Done right, this will turn your furniture into accent pieces. Not only that—sealing paint with varnish or polyurethane sealer will protect the finish and make it last longer.


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