The Best Paint for Old Furniture Without Sanding 

Discover the best paint for furniture without sanding for your next wood furniture makeover.

Painting wooden furniture doesn’t have to be complicated. In this post, I will share the best furniture paint on the market your next furniture project. I will show you that with a little prep work, you can breathe new life into old furniture and give it a new look.  

You will also learn what paints to avoid on your next furniture makeover. Then we will go over the best paint to use for a furniture makeover. Painting furniture is a fun hobby and can also be a rewarding and profitable side hustle. This post will guide you on your next furniture makeover!

The following post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and then buy something, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you! Thank you for supporting my blog. full disclosure here.

This post is sponsored by Dixie Belle. All opinions are my own!

How to Prep Furniture for Paint Without Sanding

The best way to begin any furniture makeover is the prep work. The key to good paint adhesion is a clean surface. It’s a misconception that prep isn’t necessary when using furniture paint. The last thing you want to do is slap a couple of coats of paint onto a dirty surface! 

clean the old wood furniture

Once the surfaces are clean, be sure to wipe them down with a clean cloth and clean water to remove any soap residue. I like to use a TSP alternative to clean the furniture.

Mix the TSP powder in a bucket of water and wipe down the piece with a microfiber cloth. If the day is sunny, give the piece a quick rinse with the outdoor hose and allow it to dry thoroughly in the sun. If you are working indoors, wipe the piece down with a clean microfiber cloth and clean water.

Now it’s time to look at the wood surface of the furniture piece. More times than not, old furniture has lost its shiny surface from its original finish. Sanding is not necessary if you use the right kind of paint. We will talk more about that later in this post.

use liquid sandpaper to remove the shine

If your old piece of furniture has a glossy finish intact, then you should use a liquid sandpaper product. This can replace the sanding process. You may have to repeat the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle a couple of times depending on the shiny finish of your piece. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle.

apply a bonding primer

The next step is to apply a good primer made specifically for shiny surfaces. These bonding primers come in gray, white, and clear. Use gray for dark paint colors and white for light colors of paint. I used the clear bonding primer on my furniture pieces because I wanted to create a chippy paint finish.

Apply two coats of primer for best results. Allow at least one hour of drying time between the first two coats and overnight drying after the second coat.

This step doesn’t take a long time but the bonding agent in the primer will ensure a professional finish.

The Right Paint for Painting Furniture

I realize we may all have a different opinion about the best brand of paint to use on furniture but there are certainly some types of paint that should not be used on furniture! We will take a closer look at some of those paints as well as a look at paints that can be used for furniture makeovers.

paints to avoid for a furniture makeover

Here is a list of paints to avoid when painting furniture. Each of these paints has its purpose in the DIY world of projects but furniture painting is not among them. Each paint has its own set of properties for the intended application.

  • latex paint
  • acrylic paint for crafts
  • spray paint in a can
  • wall paint
close up of color chart for Dixie Belle paint ideas

the right type of paint to paint furniture

Here is a comprehensive list of paints that are perfect for furniture painting. I have used each of them except the enamel paint. From my research, enamel paint holds up well under wear and tear but it is not low in VOCs and needs paint thinner for clean-up. I prefer water-based paint mostly because of the easy soap and water clean-up.

chalk paint

Chalk paint is water-based, has no VOCs, is easy to apply, and has amazing adhesion. It comes in many colors to go with decor trends as well as neutral tones. There are many brands of chalk paint but I prefer Dixie Belle which offers chalk paint with a built-in primer and top coat as well as regular chalk paint like I used on these two pieces of furniture. Chalk paint needs to be sealed. I used a furniture salve called Big Mama’s Butta that has natural oils and waxes built in.

mineral paint

Water-based mineral paint has a thinner consistency than chalk paint, has amazing adhesion, and is easy to use. It is self-leveling making it easy to avoid brush strokes. Dixie Belle Mineral Paint has a built-in primer and sealer due to its higher level of resins.

milk paint

Milk paint is an old-fashioned style of paint is easy to use and creates a gorgeous authentic aged finish. The first coat of paint can look pretty bad but the second coat of paint brings a drastic improvement. Milk paint needs to be sealed with a clear water-based topcoat or a paste furniture wax.

oil-based paint

Oil-based paints have been used for years for furniture painting. Although it has great adhesion, clean-up is difficult. Dangerous solvents need to be used to clean the paint brush, not to mention the high VOCs. Ventilation is a must when using oil paints products. I avoid these paints at all costs.

acrylic based milk paint

General Finishes Milk Paint is an acrylic based milk paint that is easy to use, creates a beautiful paint job, and cleans up with soap and water. I have used General Finishes Milk Paint for many of my furniture projects and am very pleased with the results.

enamel paints

As I mentioned earlier, I have not used enamel paints on my furniture makeovers. The Creativity Exchange has a good article on using enamel paint on furniture that I am sure you will enjoy reading.

close up of beeswax puck sitting on top of a small table. beeswax has been rubbed onto the table to create a resist for the chalk mineral paint

How to Apply New Paint to Furniture

Now that we have covered the steps to prep the piece and the best paint to use on your old furniture piece, let’s apply the paint!

The steps are outlined in my Complete Guide to Furniture Makeovers but I will briefly go over the steps here as well.

apply the paint

Before painting, use a paint stick to stir the paint well. This ensures all of the adhesion properties are incorporated into the jar of paint.

You can use a paint sprayer, a paintbrush, or a paint roller to apply chalk paint. I like to use a paintbrush. If you want to avoid brush marks while using a paintbrush, use a water-misting bottle to spray a fine mist on the surface of the furniture or directly on the loaded paintbrush. Periodically use the water mist to thin out the paint creating a smooth finish with minimal brush strokes.

Apply two coats of paint for full coverage. Some colors only require one coat.

distress the painted finish

This step is optional. I chose to create a chippy paint finish on the small table I applied the white paint on. I rubbed a piece of beeswax in areas on the table that I wanted the chippy look.

The beeswax creates a resistance and the paint won’t adhere to those areas. If you decide to use this technique, apply the beeswax heavy in those areas. Chalk paint has such an amazing adhesion that it will adhere to the beeswax too!

The other small table has a solid finish without a distressed look. Dixie Belle Chalk paint is versatile so you can easily create either finish. 

top view of table that has been painted in Dixie Belle paint in Cotton and then distressed with a putty knife and a small chef's knife

seal the chalk paint

Chalk paint needs to be sealed since it has a naturally porous finish. I used Big Mama’s Butta to seal the chalk paint. It is made from natural hemp seed oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax. It is also lightly scented.

Applying the salve is as simple as brushing it on, allowing it to soak into the paint, and then wiping off the excess. I recommend you allow it to cure for a minimum of seven days before using the furniture piece.

You can also seal the chalk paint with furniture wax or a water-based top coat. Apply two coats for a durable finish.

Best Paint for Furniture

Now that we have talked about the best paint for furniture without sanding, let’s chat a bit about colors. This can be the fun part and the hardest decision! There are so many colors to choose from.

I recommend you pull colors from the room that your piece will eventually go in. The two pieces I painted today are neutrals, white (Cotton) and black (Midnight Sky), because they would be sold to someone and will go with someone else’s decor. 

If you are painting a piece for your home, take a good look at the existing colors in the room like the area rug or carpet and the drapery. You can even look at the bedspread colors if this piece goes in a bedroom. Find coordinating colors and go for it!

Should I Sand the Furniture?

I thought we should chat about shiny furniture and whether or not it should be sanded before painting it. 

There are many kinds of furniture at the thrift store and you often find laminate furniture in good condition. Most of them only need a fresh coat of paint.  Laminate can be very shiny so I would caution you against skipping the sanding process.

The good news is that these pieces need a healthy scuff sanding over the entire piece and you don’t have to sand it down completely. Instead, you sand enough to remove the shine. You will get better results on shiny furniture if you do this step.

small table painted in Dixie Belle Cotton and staged with small crock and a small wooden box

steps to paint a shiny piece of furniture

  • scrub the piece with a White Lightning/hot water solution
  • rinse the piece well
  • use a fine-grade sanding block to sand off the shine over the whole piece 
  • wipe down with a microfiber cloth to remove dust
  • apply two coats of bonding primer and allow to dry overnight
  • apply two coats of chalk paint allowing it to dry between coats
  • apply one thin coat of Big Mama’s Butta Orange Grove to seal the chalk paint

thanks for being here!

I hope you are enjoying this project! Let me know if you have any questions. Or leave me a comment to tell me about your project and ideas!

thanks, Cindy 😀

Best Paint for Furniture Without Sanding

I mentioned earlier in this post that we might all have different opinions about the best paint to use on furniture without sanding. After 7 years of painting furniture as part of my business, I can say that the best option for this is chalk paint and mineral paints are the best paints to use. 

They both have high adhesion properties, require the basics of prepping furniture for paint, have a beautiful and durable finish, are beginner-friendly products, and don’t require hard work to use. Chalk and mineral paints are great options to use on old and new furniture pieces.

Chalk mineral paint is easy to clean up and has love VOCs so you won’t have to worry about breathing in chemicals while you work on your furniture makeover project.

For these reasons, Chalk and mineral paint is the easiest way and the best way to paint furniture without sanding.

If you have any questions that I haven’t answered in this post, please feel free to ask in the comments. I would love to help you the best way I can with your next furniture makeover project.

side view of small table painted in Dixie Belle Midnight Sky, a rich black, showing Dixie Belle Paint Ideas

one paint, two looks

Isn’t paint amazing? Chalk mineral paint is not only easy to use, you can also get different results to match your style.

close up view of legs on each, a small white table and a small black table, showing ideas for Dixie Belle Paint

chippy finish vs traditional finish

Which do you prefer? The chippy finish of the white table or the traditional finish of the black table?

I definitely lean towards the chippy finish for our home although I really love both looks!

I hope you found this post about the best paint for furniture without sanding. Please feel free to ask any questions that I haven’t answered in the comments at the end of this post.

YouTube Video

I’ve created a YouTube video for you. It’s a quick video taking you through the steps to create the chippy paint finish with the beeswax. I’m sure you will find it helpful. Let me know if you have any questions about the method!

Create a Chippy Paint Finish

Easy way to add texture to your furniture makeover!

two small tables both with a furniture makeover, one in Dixie Belle Cotton, one in Dixie Belle Midnight Sky for Dixie Belle paint ideas and both are staged with home decor including a wreath on the wall, copper pitcher with a plant, vintage books and a vintage dress form

Common Questions about Painting Furniture

What is the best paint for furniture without sanding?

Chalk paint and mineral paint are generally considered the best options for painting furniture without sanding.

Why shouldn’t I use latex paint, acrylic craft paint, spray paint, or wall paint on furniture?

These paints are not designed for furniture and may not adhere well or create a durable finish.

What prep work should I do before painting furniture?

Clean the furniture with a TSP alternative or a mixture of warm water and soap. You can also use a liquid sandpaper product to remove shine from a glossy finish.

Apply a bonding primer if the furniture has a shiny surface.

How many coats of paint should I apply?

Apply two coats of paint for full coverage.

Does chalk paint need to be sealed?

Yes, chalk paint needs to be sealed because it has a naturally porous finish. You can use furniture wax, a water-based top coat, or Big Mama’s Butta, which is made from natural oils and waxes.

Should I sand shiny furniture before painting?

Yes, it is recommended to scuff sand shiny furniture, like laminate, to remove the shine and create a better surface for the paint to adhere to.

What colors should I paint my furniture?

This is a personal preference, but I suggest pulling colors from the room where the furniture will be placed.

Pin the image below to your home decor and furniture boards! Just click the pin button at the top left corner!

Pinterest graphic with text overlay "one paint, two looks' with Dixie Belle logo and an image of two small tables painted in Cotton and Midnight Sky staged with home decor pieces

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Cindy Rust

Cindy has been decorating her home with thrift store finds for 40 years. She is an avid thrift store shopper who loves to makeover the items she finds into vintage-inspired home decor and furniture. When she isn’t thrift shopping or painting a piece of furniture, you can find her making homemade butter, working in her garden, or painting with watercolors.

Paint Furniture Without Sanding

Discover the best paint for furniture without sanding for your next wood furniture makeover.
Prep Time2 hours
Active Time2 hours


  • Thoroughly clean the wood furniture with a solution of TSP cleaner and water with a microfiber cloth. Wipe away residue with a clean microfiber cloth and clean water.
  • Use Krud Kutter Liquid Sandpaper on very shiny surfaces. Apply with a scotch brite pad and rinse when finished.
  • Apply two coats of bonding primer and allow to dry overnight.
  • Apply 2-3 coats of chalk mineral paint to the surfaces.
  • Seal the paint as needed with a water-based clear topcoat.

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  1. I’ve never tried this paint before, Cindy, but I love how both pieces came together. They’re really beautiful! Hugs, CoCo PS: Thanks for the extra tips about creating a chippy finish. I love how natural yours looks!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Using the knife distressing to create the chippy look is so easy and kinda fun! Give it a try sometime and you will be hooked! 😊

  2. Cindy, I love these two tables. They really turned out beautiful. I am liking that Midnight Sky color a lot.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Isn’t Midnight Sky so rich looking? I thought it suited the small table well. Thanks for stopping by Tammy! 😊

  3. Anna Price says:

    I love how both of these tables turned out. It’s such a great idea to show both finishes!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Anna! Dixie Belle is so versatile! Thanks for stopping by 😊

  4. Hi Cindy – You have some great tid bits of information in this post. I never really thought about it – but your summary of paints NOT to use on furniture is really helpful. I don’t think most people realize how paint formulas are so different. Love the little tables you made-over. Wow! What a big difference.

    1. Cindy Rust says:

      You and I both know the importance of using the right paint for furniture makeovers! 😊