DIY: How-To-Paint Furniture

I am very new to painting furniture, there’s so much to learn, but that wouldn’t stop me from sharing with you what I know so far. I am also a believer that you learn best while doing it and by getting hints and tips from others.  You’ll also find details on the basic tools, products I used plus where to purchase them. I am so excited.

About a year ago, I suffered from depression. It was a very dark and gloomy,  I lacked the will to do anything.

I guess, it’s quite challenging to make people understand unless they, too, have experienced such at some point in their lives. If I were to look back, I, too, would never be able to fully grasp how it feels like. That makes me very grateful to the people who understood, those who tried to understand and to those who never gave up on me.  Empathy is a gift and love wins, all the time. And as life is full of mysteries, little did I know that it will lead me to my “love affair’ with paint.

In the earlier phase of my recovery, I spent months inside my room and never exited my “safe place”  unless I had to see my doctor or therapist. It was also during that time when I frequented our bathroom and poured out all negative emotions – crying.  I hid because I never wanted my family to see me in such a helpless state (though there would be moments when I couldn’t help but burst into tears). Sounds like an exaggeration? Well, that went on for months.

There are no views in our bathroom other than walls and cabinets (If you have an amazing view – lucky you!) and I would frequently gaze at the wall or our bathroom vanity. The wooden cabinets in our bathroom are in classic oak, made of veneer, sealed with varnish. The tiles, on the other hand,  are made out of granite and marble tiles in emerald green and dirty white color. I thought of neutralizing the color of my “safe place” and paint the cabinets and mirror frame in white.

After a “thorough” research with my phone and tablet (these 2 gadgets were very helpful haha), I found my way to Dunn-Edwards Paints located at MC home depot in BGC of what seem to suit my needs e.g. easy application, odorless, best for laminates/veneers/lacquered.

By the way, I noticed that most of the furnitures, cabinetry here in the Philippines are made of either a laminate or a veneer finish maybe because a solid wooden piece is costly and rare to find.

For those who are not so familiar, a laminate is a hard plastic resin that looks like wood on the surface and a veneer is a piece of wood that is placed on top of a much inferior quality of wood underneath. Both finishes may be coated with a lacquer or a varnish and such case makes it more challenging for paint to adhere to.

Now, let’s get to work.

I. Preparation

a. Clean-up

Please do not skip this step. It is crucial that the furniture you are painting on is neat and free from dust, cobwebs, dirt, etc. Never apply paint on a dirty surface. Just don’t.

I used a damp cloth to take away dust for about 2 times, then a last wiping with a dry cloth.

b. Mask/Protect the area


I masked the edges of the frame and cabinets, the entire knobs and towel holders with painter’s tape and a plastic drop cloth I bought from True Value. You’ll find the list of basic tools I used further below.

c. Sanding (optional)

If you are painting on a real wood or a veneer surface, you may want to sand the surface with a fine grit (P120/P150) to even out the wood. It is a different case if you wish to remove the coat or when the surface has turned bad, e.g. paint is peeling off or some areas of the wood has slight damage on it. If that’s the case, you may want to use a medium grit (P40 or P50) and apply a wood putty to fill in the holes or receded area.

By the way, you may also sand a laminate surface using a very fine sandpaper. I’ve done this on several occasions. I’ve had cases when the laminate of my furnitures formed some bubbles or holes or even peeled off. I’ve decoupaged my vanity dresser because of this. That’s for another topic. 😉

For this particular project, I didn’t sand the cabinets because the surface was still good, it just needed a bit of cleaning. I also do not want to spend so much effort that’s why I looked for a really good primer. Yes, you could skip the sanding process so long as you have a reliable primer.

After cleaning, and making sure there are no holes, dents on the surface, you are ready to paint.

II. Priming

My used and abused Primer 🙂

I applied the first coat of Dunn-Edwards Ultra-Grip Premium Multi-Surface Primer and I was in-love with it right the first time. It has an ultra-low VOC, i.e. it is safe to use in enclosed areas, like our bathroom. You will be able to breathe because the smell of paint vanishes quickly. Of course, if you are sensitive, do use a mask and a protective eye gear.

I did two coats of this primer with 1-2 hours drying interval. The oak was almost completely covered after the 2nd coat, I thought of leaving it as is.

III. Painting

bathroom cabinet4
My apologies if the photos were poorly taken. 🙁

I wanted a flat finish for the cabinet and frame with no intention to seal afterwards. Again, after a lot of “reading-the-labels” and googling, I opted for Dunn-Edwards Ultra-Premium Interior Flat Paint Suprema. It also has ultra-low VOC, water-based, and it dries with a smooth finish. I applied 2 coats with 2 hours interval. I absolutely love this paint.

For some basic tools I used and where to get them, they are listed below for your convenience. If you are an aspiring DIYer too, you’ll soon realize that we don’t have such a wide variety of products available to choose in the metro. 😞

Painter’s tools


a. Sandpaper (size P120, fine grit)

You can buy this at any local hardware. They are everywhere.

b. Painter’s tape 

I bought mine from Dunn-Edwards (the orange one), but you can grab this from any   local hardware. I also found out that our local folks use the white masking tapes and they say it’s fine to use as well. This can be used to mask the areas you don’t intend to paint and also to wrap the knobs, hinges or handles in case you don’t want to uninstall them.

c. Drop cloth

I chose the Paint 360 brand in plastic form that comes with a masking tape attached to it. It offers a variety of sizes. For this project, I bought the 18MM X 900MM X 20M.

There are also the washable drop cloths I found in True Value or Ace Hardware. I also use old newspapers, magazines or manila papers, as much as possible, in order to save or make use of your old rags/cloths too, just ensure to keep them in place.

d. Paint brushes 

The size depends on what you’re working on. I usually use both 1” and 3” for my projects. It does the work for both bigger and smaller areas. If I needed to fill in gaps, like holes or behind the hinges/knobs, I sometimes borrow my son’s old paint brushes he used for his artworks. I ask his permission, sometimes. 😊

e. Bucket or tray for your paint

f. Protection

Wear gloves, aprons or old clothes you don’t bother to get stained on. I keep old shirts to use whenever I paint or dye my hair. 😉

You may also wear a mask, I bought one used for construction, from True Value, or the blue surgical masks will do. If I use an ultra-low VOC type of paint, I don’t wear a mask.

Also, I find it easier to paint using my bare hands.  Just get ready to get dirty and oh please don’t do that if you intend to keep your nail polish. 😝

Lastly, if you like to re-use your brushes, you can save money from buying expensive brush cleaners and instead soak your brushes overnight with vinegar (I use Datu Puti / Silver Swan in plastic packs).

Here’s a photo of the newly-painted bathroom vanity.


That’s all for now. I have lots to share with you but some of my old projects didn’t have “work-in-progress” photos. But then again, I see my relationship with paint long-term so  rest assured there’ll be so much more in the future.

Thanks for reading and please drop me a note if you have any questions or anything to share. I also love to hear stories about your DIY painting projects.

Sharing is caring and I’d be happy if you can tell your friends about this blog.

Cheers to a colorful and happier world! ❤️


6 thoughts on “DIY: How-To-Paint Furniture”

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