The Best Paint for Furniture and Tips on Different Painting Effects

Paint for FurnitureFinding the best paint for furniture can transform tired looking pieces into design statements, with just a few flicks of paint (and plenty of sanding)! Painted furniture is making a comeback in the world of interiors, this shabby chic look is a great way to update your furniture and give your house a new feel.

The Best Paint for Furniture

Determining the best paint for furniture generally comes down to what sort of finish you want. For a hard-wearing finish it is best to opt for an oil-based or water-based gloss or eggshell paint. This is the optimal type of paint for wooden furniture and metal furniture, provided they have both been prepared and primed correctly.


Another option is to go for a specialist metallic paint. Eggshell or gloss paint requires at least two coats and will need sufficient time to dry before use. Generally 48 hours will be enough for the painted furniture to be touch dry, but for objects such as chairs, tables and shelves you should wait a week before using them.

Another sort of furniture paint to consider is emulsion paint, whilst it is not quite as hard-wearing as eggshell and gloss, it is still surprisingly enduring. This method would require two coats, time to dry and then a coat of liquid wax to ensure it lasts.

Paint for Garden Furniture

Due to exposure to the elements, garden furniture will require a different sort of paint to indoor furniture. You will need to purchase and use exterior primer and exterior paint to ensure that it can withstand the outdoors.

Traditionally, oil-based paints were the top choice for painting garden furniture, but with new developments in latex and acrylic based paints this is no longer the case. Latex and acrylic-based paints are preferable as they don’t have the tendency to split and crack when exposed to harsh weather like oil-based paints do.

Painting Leather Furniture

Leather paint for furniture now exists! Using this subtle paint you can change the colour of your leather furniture and update your home with a funky new look. Before you select which leather paint to use, you need to work out what type of leather you have.

If your leather furniture is made from aniline, nubuck or suede leather then you will need a semi-transparent dye. This is because you will still want to show off the natural markings through the leather dye.

For protected and pigmented leather furniture, leather paint is used. For sauvage leather you will need to apply the lighter tone first and then the darker one.

Different Paint Effects for Furniture

There are several types of paint effects for furniture you can try out depending on your timeframe and skill level, but some popular paint effects for furniture include:

Distressing: This will give furniture a shabby chic feel and help it from looking too prim and proper. It involves lightly sanding off patches of your painted finish on raised areas or edges of your piece. Opt for areas on the furniture that would naturally become distressed over time due to wear and tear, this will give it a more authentic feel. Do this before adding your final wax or glaze finish.

Sponging: You will need a 100% natural sponge as imitation sponges don’t work as well. First off apply your basecoat and wait for it to dry. Then wet your sponge and allow it to swell to full size before wringing it out. Dip your slightly damp sponge into a glaze and lightly dab at the furniture to create a mottled effect. You can do several layers of this in various colours to build up an interesting effect. Don’t forget to regularly clean your sponge to ensure a clean imprint rather than a big blob of clogged paint!

Stenciling: To really make the piece of furniture your own you might want to consider stenciling. First of all you need to decide on a design, you can buy premade stencils or you can cut your own, depending on how original you want the piece to look. Once you have painted the piece of furniture the colour you like, let it dry and then it is time to get stenciling. Use a small bit of masking tape to hold the stencil in place, then simply paint in the stencil with a brush and allow to dry.

Splattering: This is a pretty basic effect that most toddlers would be more than capable of doing! Despite it easiness the results can be stunning, so it’s well worth considering. The best way to achieve this look is to use a short stick held in the hand and to knock a paintbrush loaded with paint against it so that it splatters paint droplets over your furniture and onto a basecoat. To control this method ensure that your brush isn’t too wet, do this by removing excess paint into a tray before you start splattering!

How Much Does Furniture Paint Cost?

The cost of furniture paint depends on what sort of paint you opt for, below are some approximate estimates:

  • Eggshell furniture paint costs £20 per 2.5 litre
  • Gloss furniture paint costs £25 per 2.5 litre
  • Garden furniture paint costs  £15.00 per 2.5 litre
  • Leather furniture paint costs £25.00 per pint

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