Painting furniture black is an excellent way to modernize tired and old furniture. It’s also a perfect option if you’ve just purchased a piece of raw wood furniture and would like to transform it into a contemporary piece.
It can be a time-consuming and complex process, but you’ll likely be delighted with the result once you’ve completed the project.
1. Decide Which Look You Want
Although black paint doesn’t come in a broad range of shades, the type of paint you choose will affect the outcome.
Before commencing your furniture painting project, you’ll need to think about which look you want to achieve.
Do you want a natural and rustic final result, or would your furniture be painted in a solid and glossy color?
If you want your furniture to have a glossy, solid black color, your best bet is to choose a good quality satin paint.
Satin paint comes in a limited range of black shades, so you can choose if you want a deep black finish (such as coal or onyx) or a milder effect with caviar-colored paint.
You can also use spray paint to achieve the same look. Spray paint typically dries very quickly, but it’s not easy to achieve an even finish with this method unless you’re using a professional paint sprayer.
An excellent advantage of choosing chalk-style paint for your furniture is that it’s perfect for writing on with chalk. When you grow tired of your chalk drawings or writing on your furniture, you can simply wipe it away with a soft rag and start again.
This kind of paint is ideal if you’re painting a child’s furniture piece as it introduces an element of fun.
Black stain paint is oil-based, thin, and gives your furniture a slightly sheer look when dry.
Many homeowners find that colored paint (including black) can look too heavy and thick on furniture, and black stain is a beautiful alternative. This type of paint allows the furniture’s natural wood grain to be visible, giving it a rustic look.
Since it’s oil-based, you’ll need to clean your brush promptly and any spillages with mineral spirits.
2. Buy Your Painting Equipment
Now that you know what kind of look you’re going for, you can buy your paint and equipment.
Below is a list of essential items when painting your furniture black:
- Paint of your choice: Whether you need black chalk paint, satin paint, or paint stain, paint is widely available at DIY stores, online, or big box stores.
- Paint applicators. Foam rollers are great for painting large surfaces, while smaller, angled brushes are ideal for crevices and corners. High-quality brushes have softer bristles, making paint application smooth and even. Avoid cheap paint brushes as the bristles tend to fall out and can get embedded in the wet paint.
- Dust sheet: This will protect the underlying floor from paint spills. You could also use a newspaper as a cost-effective alternative.
- Primer: Select a primer suitable for the furniture you’re painting (e.g. wood primer).
- Topcoat: This seals the paint, making it more durable and more resistant to chipping. A topcoat shouldn’t be used with chalk paint as it’ll spoil its functionality and matte look.
- Mineral spirits: This is to help remove any accidental paint spills or smudges.
- Paint tray: For convenient application, decant your paint into the paint tray. You can re-use the paint tray for a future project.
- Sandpaper and/or an electric sander: This is to prepare a smooth surface for subsequent paint coats.
The above painting essentials are widely available at big box stores and DIY stores.
3. Clean the Furniture To Be Painted
Cleaning your furniture before painting is a vital step, especially if the furniture to be painted isn’t new.
While cleaning, you create a fresh canvas for painting, and you’re more likely to notice any damage that needs to be fixed before painting.
Selecting the correct cleaning products is also essential. If the item has no visible dirt at all, a simple dusting with a soft rag will be enough, followed by a thorough wipe with a rag that’s been soaked in tepid water.
Furniture that has visible grime and dirt will need a tougher approach. Using a scrubbing pad, sponge, or rag, you can clean dirty furniture with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.
It’s important not to damage the wood while cleaning, so opt for the gentlest method to remove the dirt.
Even if you aren’t painting the entire surface (for instance, you won’t be painting a drawer’s interior), be sure to clean the furniture everywhere. Any remaining dust or dirt could end up on the wet paint and spoil the entire look.
4. Repair Any Damage
If you noticed any dents, cracks, or damage while cleaning your furniture, now is the time to repair them.
These can be repaired with a bit of wood filler, which is available at most DIY and big box stores.
Soften the wood filler you need with a putty knife in a plastic container and then pack it into the damaged parts with a knife. Smooth it over with the same knife to prevent visible bumps.
Wood filler dries very hard, but you may need to sand it down so that it’s flush with the wood to be painted.
5. Remove Accessories and Hinges
Before sanding down your furniture, you’ll need to remove any accessories and hinges. These could include any ornamental knobs, handles, decorative metal plates, and anything else you don’t want to be painted black.
You can remove your furniture accessories using a screwdriver, but sometimes they’re glued down.
It’s notoriously difficult to remove old paint from furniture accessories and hinges by sanding them down. If you need to remove their paint, soak them in water for 24 hours. The paint should then just lift off.
Remember to keep the accessories and hinges in a safe place if you want to use them once the piece has been painted.
6. Sand Down Your Furniture
Sanding down your furniture before applying paint is another vital step as it helps the paint to adhere to the surface more effectively.
The amount of sanding you need to do depends on the paint you’ll be using. Regular paint (whether water or oil-based) only requires light sanding until the surface feels smooth.
If you’re using black paint stain, the sanding will be more intense as you need to thoroughly remove any old paint or stain so that the new paint stain can sink into the wood effectively.
You can use either an electric sander or sand by hand using sanding paper. Electric sanders are surprisingly inexpensive and can be purchased at most big box and DIY stores.
Either way, you’ll use the same type of sandpaper.
When choosing sandpaper, remember that the lower the number, the coarser it is. 100 grit sandpaper (medium grit) is typically perfect for prepping furniture for painting.
You can check out this Fandeli 100 Grit Multipurpose Sandpaper. It’s highly rated and works on all surfaces, which will be perfect for your project.
It’s best to sand your furniture outdoors as sanding produces a lot of dust. However, if this isn’t possible, be sure to place a dust sheet beneath the furniture and vacuum the area when finished.
When sanding down furniture, your technique should be gentler than you think! It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to sand down a nightstand. Remember that the goal is to scuff the surface lightly and remove any remaining gloss.
Use quick and light movements, and avoid scrubbing the wood too roughly.
After sanding your furniture, gently wipe it down with a damp rag or a baby wipe to remove the residual dust.
7. Prepare Your Painting Area
You’re now almost ready to begin painting your furniture! Before you launch ahead, prepare your painting area to avoid mess and inhaling unhealthy paint fumes.
If possible, work outside or in a well-ventilated room to help the paint fumes escape. You might also use a fan to improve air circulation and increase the paint drying rate.
You should also place a dust sheet or some old newspaper beneath the furniture to be painted to prevent accidental paint spills.
Also, ensure that you have a bottle of mineral spirits and a rag handy should you need to clean up paint spills.
8. Apply a Primer Coat
Now you can apply the primer coat. Primer helps to hide any imperfections and provides an even painting surface.
You should select a primer product that’s suitable for your furniture. Most furniture is made from wood, and, in this case, you would choose a wood primer.
It’s best to apply two light coats instead of one thick coat, which will take longer to dry.
Each primer layer typically takes at least an hour to dry, but test a small, inconspicuous area to see if it’s dry before proceeding to the next step.
9. Apply Paint
Once your primer layer has dried completely, you can start the most exciting step: painting your furniture black!
To achieve a smooth, uniform, and neat finish, make sure to apply your paint in thin layers.
This is always much better than applying fewer, thicker coats. Thick paint layers take longer to dry and, although the surface may seem dry, the underlying paint may still be wet. Additionally, thick paint layers can cause lumpiness, and the project may appear unprofessional and untidy.
If you notice any paint bubbles, puddles, or lumps, wait for the layer to dry and gently sand it down to make the surface uniform. After sanding, gently wipe the surface with a soft rag to remove the dust particles.
Depending on the type of paint used, thin paint layers typically take three to four hours to dry. If the paint feels dry to the touch after this time, it’s safe to apply the next layer.
When applying the black paint, begin with the larger areas first and use long, continuous brush strokes in the same direction as the wood grain.
The crevices, corners, and details can be painted later.
10. Paint Accessories and Hinges
While you’re waiting for your furniture’s final paint layer to dry, you can paint the accessories and hinges you removed earlier.
Many folks leave brass hinges unpainted as they provide an excellent visual contrast after a good polish.
Instead of using the original knobs or handles, you might want to swap them out for modern accessories, such as glass dresser knobs.
Another idea is to paint them in contrasting colors (such as gold) for excellent, esthetic appeal.
Either way, if you’re painting your accessories, use a small angled brush for a professional finish.
11. Apply the Topcoat
When your paint has completely dried, you can apply the topcoat. You’ll typically need to wait at least 24 hours after the last paint layer has been applied before painting on the topcoat.
As with the paint layers, apply the topcoat thinly and evenly.
The topcoat can take 24 hours to a week to dry, depending on the ingredients.
12. Attach Accessories and Hinges
After the topcoat is completely dry, attaching the accessories and hinges is the finishing touch.
This should only take a few minutes, and most accessories and hinges can be reattached using a screwdriver with their original screws.
Before attaching them, ensure that they’re 100% dry, clean, and polished (if necessary).
If your furniture item contains drawers, you can now reinsert them, too.
Painting furniture black involves many steps, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
Once you’ve decided on the look you want, you can buy your painting equipment, clean the furniture, make any necessary repairs, and remove accessories and hinges. After this, you need to sand the furniture down and prepare the painting area before applying the primer coat.
After the primer coat has completely dried, you can apply thin coats of black paint to the furniture and accessories. After applying the topcoat, you can reattach the accessories and hinges. You now have a beautiful, freshly painted furniture piece!