Can You Paint Furniture With Wall Paint? (Here’s How)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

You have some leftover wall paint and you are wondering if you can use it on your household furniture. Here’s what you need to know:

You can paint your household furniture with wall paint but you have to sand and prime the wooden surface so it accepts it.

Water-based types, such as latex, acrylic, and emulsion paints, work better on furniture than oil-based paints. They are also more colorful, easier to work with, and can be removed easily if you decide to switch to furniture color later.

What Are The Benefits of Using Wall Paint on Furniture?

If you use wall paint on furniture, the finish will be easier to clean and maintain because it resists washing better. Also, they are usually stain-resistant to prevent greasy fingers and stains from staying on the walls. So, using it on furniture will keep stains away and make it easier to clean.

Wall paints will also give you a more colorful finish because they have more pigments in their formula. They are designed for aesthetics, so using them will make the surface look attractive.

What Are The Drawbacks of Using Wall Paint on Furniture?

If you use wall paint on furniture, there will be a weak adhesion because the paint isn’t designed to stick well on wooden surfaces. Since there’s a weak adhesion, the finish will peel off the surface easier.

You’ll also notice hairline cracks and chipped spots on the finish because the coating will peel off. This will make the finish look amateurish.

To prevent this, you should prime the surface before you apply the paint. Primers are usually oil-based undercoats that improve adhesion between the paint and the surface. In other words, they make your wall paint stick better to the furniture.

Another disadvantage is that the finish won’t last long. That’s because they don’t have additives and plasticizers that furniture paint has, so you aren’t guaranteed maximum durability. To improve durability, you can use a sealant such as polyurethane or varnish.

Also, wall latex paint is likely to raise the grain more because they contain a water-based solvent (water). The furniture will absorb the water causing spikes and raised wood grain that can make your finish look rough.

To avoid it, you must sand the surface and use a primer before you paint it.

Wall paint can also discolor and cause patches on a wooden surface, but it’s unlikely this will happen. Some types of wall paint have additives and irons to prevent rust, these additives can leave iron deposits on the surface, causing dark-brown patches.

How To Use Wall Paint on Furniture?

Doing this is easy, but you need a few tools:

  • Sandpaper of different grits
  • Wall paint
  • Angled paintbrushes
  • Spray gun
  • Paper type and sheets
  • Polyurethane
  • Primer (preferably oil-based)
  • Wood filler
  • Safety Gears

Have you got your tools? Let’s get to work.

1. Fill and Sand the Surface

If you want a good finish, the surface needs to be smooth. So, fill the holes, dents, and spaces in the surface with a wood filler and leave it to dry.

When the filler is dry, sand the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper. You can finish off with ultra-fine sandpaper to make the surface very smooth. Ensure to vacuum the dust off of the wood when you are done.

2. Apply Primer

You only need a coat of primer and you can apply it using a paintbrush. There are also self-leveling primers that dry smoothly on the surface. So, the choice is yours.

Wait for 1-2 hours for the primer to dry.

3. Apply Thin Coats of Wall Paints

When the primer coat is dry, you can apply the wall paint. Ensure to apply light coats only. It’s best to use a spray gun to apply it because spray coats are thinner and you can cover more ground faster.

To use a sprayer, load the paint in the container and prime the pump. After, test out the spray level and apply the paint on the furniture.

You can also use a paintbrush or foam roller if you can control your strokes. Angled paintbrushes can be used to reach corners and crevices in the surface.

4. Seal the Finish (Optional)

Since wall paint isn’t durable, you can seal the finish with a sealant when it’s dry to improve its durability and wear resistance. A suitable sealer is polyurethane and you need just 2-3 coats of it on the finish.

Furniture Paint vs Wall Paint

The main difference between furniture and wall paint is in their distinct formula.

Wall paints contain synthetic resins and additives that make them stick well to walls, concrete, and stone surfaces. On the other hand, furniture paints contain copolyesters (or unsaturated polyester) and binders to allow it to stay on wooden surfaces.

So, if you use wall paint on furniture, the coating will not adhere properly because it is not designed to do so. You’ll have to use a primer first to allow it to stick.

Another difference between these two paints is their designed purpose or features.

Wall paints contain a high level of pigments (or colors) because it is designed to make your walls look attractive and inviting. Its main purpose is to add color to your walls and beautify your home. For instance, acrylic wall paint is used for murals and wall art.

On the other hand, furniture paint contains plasticizers, such as polyurethane, because its main purpose is to protect the surface. Also, it doesn’t penetrate the surface. Instead, it forms a top layer over it where it absorbs stains, scratches, and dents.

If you want to color your wood, a professional painter will tell you to get wood stain, not furniture paint. That’s because furniture paint is more of a protective finish than a colorful one.

This is why if you use wall paint on furniture, it will not offer as much protection and will not last long on the wood.

Can You Use Furniture Paint on Walls?

You can use furniture paint on walls but you won’t get a good or durable finish because it isn’t designed for walls.

Furniture paint doesn’t have the synthetic resins that help it to stick to concrete, masonry, plaster, and brick surfaces. As such, it will not stick well to the wall. After some time, the finish will start to crack and peel off the wall.

You can apply a primer coat before applying it. You should also apply light coats to prevent the finish from running off the wall. But, even doing this won’t guarantee a good or durable finish.

Pro Tip: Though you can alternate wall and furniture paint in their uses, it’s best not to do so until it’s a last resort or if you want to avoid wastage. It’s better to use a type designed for the surface you are working on for better results.

Final Words

In summary, wall and furniture paint are two different types of paint. They have different formulas and are designed for different purposes. However, you can use wall paint on furniture if you sand and prime the wooden surface before you apply it.

You can also apply a sealant on the finish to protect it. That said, you should only use wall paint on furniture if you have leftover wall paint or have no other option.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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