Happy Friday, friends! 

It’s almost the weekend and you know what that means for this gal….home projects and furniture painting days are near!

I became obsessed with painting furniture back in 2015 when my side hussle was flipping painted furniture pieces on Etsy.  

This was also around the time I learned how to paint furniture WITHOUT sanding before hand.  Hallelujah! 

Painted furniture continues to hold steady in popularity and doing it yourself can be incredibly rewarding…not to mention the money saved by DIYing this project. 

Allow me to share the steps on how to paint furniture without sanding beforehand.

It’s easier than you may think…so come with me on this journey as we explore the wonderful world of furniture painting.

Purple Painted Kids Dresser

What you’ll need for this project:

NOTE: If you want to read the abbreviated process, check out the easy to follow steps on our sister site, Vintage And Restore By K

The number one question I hear when I say you can paint furniture without sanding is, “How is it possible to paint a finished surface without sanding?” 

The answer is simple: Chalky Finish Furniture Paint 

Simply put, Chalky Finish Furniture Paint has been formulated with the necessary ingredients that allow the product to be applied directly on a finished surface.  

Varnish, polycrylic, you name it, Chalky Finish Furniture Paint work on darn near all surfaces and pre-existing finishes. 

Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Thoroughly clean the surface with soap and water 

Use a mixture of warm water and non-lotion based soap (I’m a fan of Dawn soap) and vigorously clean off any grit, grease, grime and dirt from the surface. 

Use Goo Gone for sticky stuff (ie: leftover debris from an old sticker that was slapped on the top)

Note: if you use Goo Gone, be sure to scrub off the oily residue it leaves to ensure proper adhesion for the paint

Proceed to step 2 once the surface is completely dry 

Step 2: Apply the first coat of Furniture Paint 

Using your synthetic bristle paint brush, apply the first coat of chalky finish Furniture Paint.

Don’t worry about being perfect here.  I recommend you apply the paint with the grain (assuming there is a grain).

Keep the brush strokes long and going the same direction, when possible. 

Do NOT (I repeat, NOT) worry about coverage at this point.  

Apply Furniture Paint is similar to applying nail polish…you want the first coat to be thin as it is more about getting the ‘base’ on the surface, and not about perfect coverage. 

And again, do not worry about perfection on the first coat.

Here is a picture of the first coat of Cast Iron Furniture Paint on our kitchen island cabinets.  

See how thin and not perfect it is?  That is a-ok in the world of Furniture Paint. 

Paint Furniture without Sanding

Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely before moving to the next step.

Dry time is anywhere from 20 minutes (warm, dry climates) to 45 minutes (cool, damp climates) 

You will know its dry once the paint has ‘flat’ or ‘matte’ look (ie: not shiny)

Step 3: Apply the second coat of Furniture Paint 

The second coat is where the magic happens. 

There have been times where readers worry like crazy that the first coat was way too thin and there is no way that the second coat will ‘fix’ the uneven tone and wonky look…have no fear, my friends, trust the process and all will be well, I promise.

The second coat of Furniture Paint should be applied more liberally.  

Make sure your paint brush is alway wet with paint and apply in the same direction as much as possible. 

Just make sure to catch any paint drips (and try to avoid them when possible). 

Fixing dried up drips can be challenging, so it’s always best to correct them while they are wet.  

Paint drips commonly happen in the corners and details of furniture pieces so keep your eyes peeled! 

See what I mean?  The picture below is a comparison of the first coat versus the second coat.  The second coat went on like magic, even though the first coat was looking pretty rough. 

First coat and second coat comp furniture paint

Allow the second coat to dry.  

Typically two coats of Furniture Paint does the trick.  But if you find you need a third coat, just repeat the application steps.   

If your piece just has little areas here and there that need a touch up, and you’re going for a super sleek modern look, only focus on the areas that need a touch up (rather than painting an all around coat) to minimize wasted paint.

Oh, and if you’re going to distress the piece to give it that ever so loved antique look, don’t worry if there are little areas here and there that need touching up.  You will not be able to tell once you’ve distressed the surface. 

I won’t get into the details of distressing furniture in this post, but if you’d like to learn how to distress your piece, click here to read about the various ways to distress your furniture. 

Step 4: Protect your newly painted surface 

Using the same analogy as before, applying a top coat to your fresh finger nail polish ensures a longer lasting result.

Same goes for painted furniture. 

Do you HAVE to protect your painted furniture in every scenario? No.

But if you do, your hard work will last longer. 

You don’t need to wait any longer than the final coat being totally dry to protect your piece.  

Some people wait overnight before protecting the finish, and that is totally fine too.

You have 2 protection options: All Natural Furniture Wax or Protective Finish Clear Top Coat 

Protect Painted Furniture

To read in detail when to use which product, check out our post How to Protect Painted Furniture 

Use Protective Finish on high traffic surfaces (think tables, kitchen cabinets, etc..)

Use All Natural Furniture Wax on low traffic surfaces (think wall decor, guest bedroom furniture, etc..)

When deciding which protectant to use, select Furniture Wax OR Protective Finish, not both.  

The ingredients are not compatible with each other, but choosing either one will protect your newly painted piece beautifully! 

For wax application, you can use a lint free cloth (old clean t-shirt or equivalent) or cheese cloth 

Protective Finish works best when brushed or sprayed on.  If you have a paint sprayer, like this one (LOVE HomeRight products!) this will be the quickest method.

If you’re not into spraying (eh-hem, like your’s truly) the most common Protective Finish application is to simply brush it on with the same Synthetic Bristle Paint Brush used to apply the paint (ensure it is clean and dry before use).

Or, if you want a super smooth application and finish (without using a sprayer), use a foam roller like this one on flat surfaces and an applicator sponge like this one for surfaces with depth or texture.  

General Furniture Painting Tips and Tricks

Cure Time

You may have heard of a thing called ‘cure time’.  If you’re not familiar with the term, simply put, it the time paint needs to get to its strongest point.

It is different from dry time and the average cure time is 2-4 weeks. All this means is you should treat your newly painted piece with care and caution.

Cure time also applies to the top coat and wax.

Brush Storage

You may be working on a BIG project that you’ll be taking a break from for a few hours or even overnight.

In times like these, you do not need to completely wash out your brush.

You can simply wrap the wet bristles in thick Kraft paper and place the entire brush in a ziplock bag.  Then, place it in the fridge and it will stay wet for several hours (the max I’ve lft mine is about 12 hours and it was fine).


There you have it!  The step by step process to paint furniture without sanding beforehand.


How to Paint Furniture without Sanding