Painting Furniture With Latex Paint (Can You Do it & How To?)

A fresh coat on your furniture will beautify and protect it. But, can you use latex paint on furniture?

You can use latex paint on indoor furniture. However, for outdoor furniture, you must seal latex paint after applying it. That’s because latex isn’t durable enough to withstand outdoor weather elements.

Latex paint is a great choice for indoor furniture because it has a variety of sheens and colors to choose from. You go for a matte, satin, flat, semi-gloss, or eggshell finish. 

But this is just a snippet. This post reveals more about using latex paint on furniture, including the steps involved in carrying out the task. So let’s dive in.

Latex Paint Doesn’t Protect The Furniture

Latex paint isn’t durable and won’t protect your furniture. If you use latex paint on outdoor or high-traffic furniture, the paint will peel off after a few months. To make latex paint for furniture more durable, you must seal it. 

Latex paint is water-based; water-based paints aren’t resistant to UV, water, or moisture. When dry, latex paint forms a textured finish that isn’t durable. In comparison, oil-based paints form a glossy finish that repels water and moisture.

However, you can use latex paint for indoor or decorative furniture. Latex paint dries fast, is easy to apply, and has a colorful finish. Also, since indoor or decorative aren’t exposed to UV rays or weather elements, latex paint doesn’t need to protect them. Latex paint will last a few years on indoor decorative furniture.

You can also use latex paint on outdoor furniture, but you must seal the paint. Sealants, such as polyurethane or varnish, will protect the latex paint from moisture, water, or scratches. 

Related Read: How To Paint Concrete With Latex Paint?

Priming Before Applying Latex Paint

You must always apply a primer before using latex paint for wood furniture. The primer improves paint adhesion and helps the latex to last longer. Also, a prime will cover most imperfections on the furniture surface. 

The primer will serve as a base coat, so latex paint will stick to the primer coat instead of the furniture surface. Also, a primer will leave a smooth and even coat, so the finish will be even too. 

If you don’t prime the furniture before latex paint, the paint won’t stick well, the finish will develop paint cracks and be uneven.

For latex paint, you must use a latex primer. That’s because latex primer and paint both use the same solvent (water), so they are compatible. You can use oil-based primer for latex paint, but the paint adhesion won’t be as good as using a latex primer. That’s because oil-based primer and latex paint have different paint solvents.

How To Apply Latex Paint On Furniture?

Prepping the furniture before applying latex paint is the key to a good finish. That’s because furniture must be smooth and clean before you apply the paint.

Here are the tools you need: 

  1. Foam Paintbrush
  2. Latex Paint
  3. Latex Paint Primer For Furniture
  4. Fine-Grit Sandpaper
  5. Paint Stripper For Wooden Surfaces
  6. Drop Sheets
  7. Painter’s Tape
  8. Wood Filler
  9. A Clear Topcoat
  10. Synthetic Paintbrush.

1. Prep The Wood Furniture

Before you start to paint the furniture, you have to prep it by cleaning it.

First, clean the furniture. Cleaning will remove dirt, grime, and filth from the furniture. 

To clean wood furniture:

  1. Use TSP (Trisodium Phosphate).
  2. Mix 1/3 cup TSP with 2 gallons of water. 
  3. Pour the mixed TSP into a clean rag and use the dampened rag to wipe the furniture. 
  4. Rinse the wood furniture.
  5. Let the furniture dry. 

Also, remove or cover any nearby objects to prevent paint splatter. Open all windows and doors to create a well-ventilated area. 

2. Remove The Previous Finish

Next, you have to remove the previous paint that the wood furniture had.

If the furniture is stained, painted, or sealed, you must remove the previous finish before applying the latex paint. However, if the furniture is painted with latex (or water-based) paint, you don’t have to remove it unless you want to change the paint color.

To know the type of finish the furniture has, use rubbing alcohol:

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into a rag. 
  2. Use the dampened rag to wipe the furniture. 
  3. If the paint comes off, the paint is water-based. 
  4. If the paint doesn’t come off, the paint is oil-based or sealed. 

To remove water-based paints from furniture, use rubbing alcohol, sanding, or water-based paint removal. To remove oil-based paints or sealants from wood furniture, use petroleum-based solvents such as mineral spirits, turpentine, or solvent-based paint remover.

Don’t use vinegar, baking soda, or acetone to remove paint from wood furniture because they will damage the wood. 

3. Sand

Now, sand the furniture

Most old wood furniture have cracks, holes, and imperfections. To remove imperfections from furniture, you must sand it. Sanding removes imperfections and leaves a smooth surface for the paint to stick to.

To sand furniture, use fine-grit sandpaper or a power sander. If the furniture has too many imperfections, use coarse or rough sandpaper, and then finish with fine-grit sandpaper. After sanding, remove the dust, and inspect the surface. 

If the furniture surface has holes, you must fill them with wood filler. If you don’t, these holes will suck the latex paint, and the finish will be uneven. 

To fill holes in wood furniture: 

  1. Apply the wood filler to the wood holes. 
  2. Remove excess wood filler. 
  3. Wait for the wood filler to dry. 
  4. Re-sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. 
  5. Remove the dust. 

Related Read: How To Sand Latex Paint?

4. Prime

Before you apply latex, you have to prime the furniture

Apply two coats of latex primer to the furniture. Priming helps to increase paint adhesion and improves the finish and durability of the paint. 

To apply primer, use a paintbrush. Wait for the first coat of primer to dry before applying the next one. 

5. Apply Latex Paint

Now, apply the latex paint to the furniture. You have to apply a few coats of latex

Once the second coat of primer dries, apply the latex paint. To apply latex paint on furniture, use a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer. If you apply latex paint with a sprayer, you must thin it. However, you don’t have to thin latex paint for a roller and paintbrush. 

Apply 3-4 thin coats of latex paint on furniture. Wait until the previous coat dries before applying the next one. It takes latex paint 3 hours to dry enough for a re-coat. Also, you can sand between coats of latex paint with fine-grit sandpaper to get a better finish quality, you don’t have to sand the last coat. 

Once the final coat of latex paint dries, wait 48 hours for latex paint to cure before sealing it. 

6. Seal The Latex Paint

Seal the latex paint to protect it, and then wait for the sealer to dry before you can use the furniture.

For indoor and decorative furniture, sealing latex paint isn’t mandatory. However, for outdoor and high-traffic furniture, sealing latex paint is necessary. 

To seal latex paint, use polyurethane or varnish. Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane over latex paint. Polyurethane will protect the latex paint (and furniture) from moisture, water, scratches, and other damage. 

More About Sealing Latex Paint

If the furniture won’t be used heavily, sealing is optional. That’s because decorative furniture isn’t exposed to high-usage or weather elements such as rain. 

However, for outdoor furniture, you must seal latex paint. That’s because latex paint isn’t durable nor formulated with additives to make it water-resistant. As a result, unsealed latex paint will last less than 1 year on outdoor furniture. But, if you seal the latex paint, it will last about 3 years.

When dry, sealants produce a glossy finish that repels moisture and protects the surfaces underneath (including paint) from scratches and other damage. So, if you apply a topcoat (sealant), the latex paint underneath will become water-resistant and last longer. The sealant (or topcoat) will serve as a layer of protection for the latex paint.

Also, since most sealants are clear coats, they won’t interfere with or change the latex paint color. But, don’t apply more than 4 coats of sealants because the finish will become dull.

For outdoor furniture, use exterior polyurethane as a sealant. For indoor furniture, use water-based polyurethane. Exterior polyurethane is formulated with additives that make the finish UV, water, and scratch resistant. 

Related Read: Is Latex Paint Good For Metal?

Final Words

Painting furniture with latex paint is easy. But, you must clean, sand, and prime the furniture before applying latex paint. Then, after applying latex paint, you must seal the paint to improve the durability of the finish.

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