Refinishing An Old Wood Night Stand
Hey there! Are you ready for an adventure in furniture restoration? This project involves using wall paint on furniture to refinish and restore it. I had wall paint on hand and this old nightstand that I scavenged from my family farm. But it’s not just any old nightstand- it belonged to 7yr old me.
Less Is More
This post is part of the Less Is More Thrifty Thursday series where I collaborate with some fellow designers to create beautiful home decor from thrifted, repurposed, and dollar store supplies. You can find their awesome creations at the end of this post.
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Old Wood Furniture
Latex Wall Paint
Paintbrushes for Latex Paint or Foam Roller
One warm summer day, I took a drive out to the farm with my Dad. He was needing to bring his tools to the new house in town and I tagged along. While we were out there, we checked out the old storage shed. There were lots of plastic planters, a mini-greenhouse stand (which came back to my place)a few boards, and along the back wall, I spotted these two cabinets. One is a match to a cabinet I’ve already refinished in my home and the other was very familiar.
It was my nightstand from when I was a little girl.
I”ll admit, it wasn’t in the best shape. The paint was all chipped away. The drawer was in rough shape and filled with debris and bugs. There was a nice layer of dirt all over it. But I knew I could bring it back to life with some love. I’m a sucker for old furniture.
So home she came!
Here’s how I tackled restoring this old nightstand, using wall paint, and you can too.
The first step for refinishing the cabinet involved heavy cleaning up. If your furniture has signs of bugs, do NOT bring it inside. You don’t want to chance bringing an infestation or nest into your home.
Thankfully, after doing a thorough lookover, there were no signs of bug deterioration, nests or living-breathing bugs actually. Just remnants of an old wasp nest- which might actually explain why the bugs left it alone. So I allowed it into the garage.
Using a damp cloth and a bucket of cleaner, go to town scrubbing every inch of your furniture. I used a diluted mix of tsp cleaner to really get the years of grime off. If you can, flip your furniture over and clean the underside and inside as well. Let me tell ya, the water looked pretty gross after the washdown.
Scrape and Sand
The key to a professional finish is in the prep work. Take the time to scrape and sand the old paint off. I know it’s not fun, but it makes the end result look so much better. I used a metal scraper to get all the loose and chipping paint off. Then I followed that up with my electric sander.
Start with a 60 grit sandpaper to work through the layers of paint. I love using my mouse sander to get into nooks and corners. Then you can really see what condition the furniture is in. Mine needed some extra nails, wood filler, and wood glue.
Patch Up The Cracks
The top of the cabinet had split apart. I used wood filler in the crack and gouges on the top surface. I wanted the top smooth for items to be set on top, but the sides were left weathered.
The drawer needed to be nailed back together. Down the road, I may rebuild the drawer box, but I’d like to reuse the original drawer front since it’s still in good shape.
I also added a few extra nails to hold the top boards, the one that had cracked, in place so it doesn’t separate any further now that the cracks been repaired. Use some wood filler to cover up all the new nail holes too. Might as well do it now before you do your finishing sand.
For my final sand, I used a 320 grit sandpaper to get a really fine finish. Go over all the wood filled areas with your sander and bring them down flush and even on the top surface. Do all the exposed surfaces with the fine grit sanding to get a really nice and even texture.
Use a lint free cloth or tack cloth to wipe all the sawdust off your cabinet before moving on to the next step.
Time To Paint
If you have leftover latex paint, you can use that wall paint on furniture too. Latex or water-based acrylic paints work better than oil paints for refinishing furniture. It sets faster, is durable, and it’s easy to remove if you want to refinish your furniture again later on.
Here’s a few tips before you get started:
A high-quality foam roller and foam brush will give you a smoother finish than using a bristle brush.
Foam rollers and brushes are great for furniture pieces and smaller projects to help prevent overlapping paint lines, paint drips, and rough surfaces. But they wear out faster than the tools you typically use on house walls.
The roller I had on hand was cheap (dollar store) and did not work well. It kept trying to roll at an angle and go all over the place other than the spot I was trying to roll paint on. But since I was trying to use what I had on hand, I ended up using a latex paintbrush instead. Which worked great and covered really well. I didn’t worry about the paintbrush marks since I was going for weathered and textured sides. This cabinet isn’t meant to look brand new. But if you want a smooth finish using a brush, I recommend checking out Erin’s tutorial on how to achieve a really smooth cabinet finish.
Use a primer to cover the bare wood first before your paint color.
If you don’t have latex primer, then check your wall paint can and see if there is a primer mixed in. That first coat of paint is going to seep into the wood and use more paint. Using a primer will help you get a smoother finish and better coverage with your final coat of paint.
Sand between coats of paint.
By sanding between your coats of paint, you take the top ridges of paint texture off for a smoother finish. Make sure the first coat has dried the recommended length of time. You need to use a fine grit sandpaper and move lightly and quickly. Then wipe the dust off with a lint -free cloth before your next coat of paint.
Brush in the same direction as the wood grain.
When you are doing your final coat of paint, make sure your brush strokes all go in the same direction. It gives your furniture a cleaner look when the brush strokes follow the grain and direction of the wood. Yes, even when you are painting a solid color on the wood and can’t see the wood grain. It still gives the impression of following the wood grain and makes the finish look professional.
Seal It Afterwards
To protect all your hard work it’s a good idea to seal your furniture after the paint has dried. A coat or two of a clear water-based polycrylic sealer will help your finish last a lot longer.
Even though the wall paint gives a full coverage finish on the outside of the cabinet, I left the inside of the drawer as bare wood. Even with sanding the drawer interior was really rough. To make it easy to wipe clean, I cut and attached a self-adhesive contact paper to the drawer bottom. I used a matte white but there are sooo many beautiful patterns and color options for contact paper. Now it looks clean, is easy to clean, and is a nice surprise when the drawer is open to reveal the original wood on the sides.
And that’s how I go about using wall paint on furniture. I love how quick it is to paint furniture with wall paint. It dries fast so you don’t have to wait long between coats and you still get a great finish. The paint color used is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, one of my favorite neutrals and the same color used on the bathroom wainscoting.
Thanks for joining me for my Less Is More project! Please visit the other projects too. They always astonish me with their creative ideas for making the most of your home decor.
Pin It! Using Wall Paint On Furniture
Hi! What did you use to seal the paint?
Sara-Lynn Houk says
Hi! I used Minwax Polycrylic water-based protective sealer. It goes on quite smoothly and dries clear. I only used one coat on this cabinet since it’s not highly used. It has held up really well with no scratches or marks. But if your furniture is going to be used a lot, it would be better to apply two coats of sealer. Thanks for reading my post!
How fun! It looks so good after you painted it. What a great way to fix up furniture in need of a lot of TLC.
Great job, Sara, thank you for the tips! I love using wall paint on my furniture projects too.
Sara-Lynn Houk says
Thank you! I love how quickly it dries compared to shellac and wax.
So fun to have a farm with treasures on it! I love the little stand. Turned out great!
Sara-Lynn Houk says
Thanks! There’s always something to discover and transform
What a transformation! I can’t believe how great this turned out, and such a great keepsake from your childhood!
Sara-Lynn Houk says
I hit the jackpot when I came across it!