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How to spray-paint your furniture and totally transform it in minutes

Alicia is a writer and editor who spends entirely too much time on the computer and is convinced that wine makes her more productive. She has a passion for giving back which typically involves weekends spent with sick children or a home...

Give your old furniture new life in the colors you've been dreaming about

Step 4: Prime

Other than sanding, priming is the most important part of your project, and it can even help make up for a poor sanding job. It will ensure even coverage and help the paint stick. There are several varieties of spray paint primer available, including some tinted options that are perfect for projects where you're using a dark color like black or red. Using long, even strokes, cover your piece with primer. Don't spray over areas that don't seem to be covered, as it can lead to dripping. Wait until the first coat dries and then add another coat or touch up if necessary.

It's a good idea at this point to do another brief round of sanding to remove any bubbles or inconsistencies that appear during the priming process. Be sure your piece is completely dry before you move on to color.

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Step 5: Spray-paint it

Begin painting by using long, even strokes. Don't hold the paint too close to the piece or you may get rings or other marks of built-up paint. Much like the primer, don't try to cover it all with the first coat. A second coat is much better than drips that you'll have to sand off. Pay close attention to corners, arms, legs or ornate details, as that's where you are likely to get drips. It may look stripy initially, but those will be covered as you add more paint.

The best thing about spray paint compared to regular paint is that it takes less than 10 minutes to dry between coats, making for a quick job. Darker colors may require more coats than lighter colors. Let each coat dry completely, then assess if you want to add another.

Step 6: Seal it

Not all projects need to be sealed, but if you're spray-painting a high-use piece of furniture like a dining room table, a coat of polyacrylic will keep your furniture looking nice longer. Other projects may include desktops, armchairs and even coffee tables. Feel free to seal any project — it won't hurt it, it's just one more step.

Some other tips

If you make a mistake or have dripping or bubbling, don't panic; you can correct just about any error with another sanding job. Yes, it does take more time and work, but your piece won't be ruined. If you find your paint isn't sticking even after sanding and priming (this is rare) try another coat of primer and sand afterward before applying paint again. Spray paint doesn't work as well on some materials like plastic and some metals, so read the label carefully to be sure the paint will work for your project.

Originally published March 2012. Updated September 2016.

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