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Trick to Painting Wood Furniture without Sanding

Learn this easy trick to painting wood furniture without sanding. Refinishing furniture or cabinets without sanding is possible and let me show you how. 

Painting wood furniture has evolved over the years. It used to be a known fact that you never paint wood furniture without sanding it first. Things have changed and new products have come out that have changed the furniture painting game. Today I’m going to share a little insight into a few tricks to painting wood furniture without sanding. 

My least favorite thing about furniture refinishing is sanding. I will paint and stain all day, but I could do without sanding. It wears me out, LOL. Maybe I’m just a weakling but honestly y’all it wears me out. 

After getting this question time and again from the blog and social media, I thought I would share my best tricks to refinishing furniture without sanding. 

how to paint furniture without sanding

Let me preface this post with saying this; sometimes the best way to refinish furniture is by sanding it first. There are some situations that require sanding, even when you don’t want to. Solid wood surfaces are best painted after being sanded. All that to say, there are ways to get around sanding before paint. Is it the best way? Sometimes it’s just as good, but sometimes it’s best to suck it up and sand the surface first. If you’ve been to the thrift store, grabbed that beautiful old piece of furniture (that might need just a little love) and are ready to forgo the sanding, proceed my friend.

How to paint wood furniture without sanding?

Understanding the trick to NOT sanding wood furniture pieces requires an understanding of why you need to sand in the first place. The reason you need to sand wood is to “rough up” the surface to allow the new paint to “stick.” Eliminate the sanding process works as long as the surface is prepared to accept the new finish. This requires using at least one of two things; liquid sandpaper and primer. After all, most coats of paint won’t last without proper pre work. Prep work is key folks!

What products do you use to prepare wood furniture for paint without sanding

  1. Liquid sandpaper or liquid de glosser– If you plan to forgo the sanding process when painting furniture, a great product to use to “rough up” the surface is liquid de glosser or liquid sandpaper. This also helps clean the surface really well. Essentially it removes a very thin layer off of the surface and leaves a little “grittier” finish. Liquid sandpaper is a great way to substitute sanding. That being said, don’t try to use it to strip the surface of paint, stain or varnish. It’s not that strong. It’s a good product that will help clean the surface effectively and “rough it up” without wasting a ton of time. 
  2. Primer- Primer is used to ensure proper adhesion between paint and the surface you are painting. It also seals in stains to prevent bleed through. I’m a huge fan of priming all surfaces before paint. 
Liquid Sandpaper

For best results, try using both liquid sandpaper and primer! 

Do I have to use a primer AND a de glosser when painting furniture without sanding?

Not necessarily. If you don’t use a de glosser, make sure you clean the surface really well. Vinegar is a great cleaner sometimes used to clean wood. Also use a tack cloth or a lint free cloth to make sure the surface is free of dust and debris. I’ve previously used a 1:1 vinegar and water solution when I refinished a large solid wood Oak door. After you’ve cleaned the furniture piece, use a good bonding primer. 

vinegar and water mixture to clean wood furniture

Do you have to use primer if you don’t sand furniture before paint?

There are paints that don’t require a primer to be applied first. That being said, if you are trying to cover up an old wooden furniture smell, use a primer first. If you are worried that the old furniture finish might bleed through the new paint, use a primer first. If you are painting a light color (especially white paint) over a dark color, it’s best to use a primer first. 

I’m a believer that 95% of successful furniture painting is prep work. This doesn’t necessarily mean sanding. It just means proper cleaning and proper surface treatment. Proper prep work is key for an easy paint project that will last a long time. 

I’ve got a full video on YouTube that explains in depth when and why you need to use primer. Check it out if you’re on the fence about using primer. 

using primer on wood furniture

There are loads of new paints on the market that are considered “All in One.” Most All-in-One paints are a water based or latex paint with a primer and top coat built in! Word to the wise, I’ve always said to be leery of anything that says “one coat will do it all.” That being said, there are some great All-in-One paints out there. Right now my favorite product is an All in One paint from Heirloom Traditions. This is a great furniture paint that breathes new life into an old surface without sanding, priming or a sealer! I used this paint on my bedside tables a few years ago and they are still in good condition today. 

How to paint laminate furniture without sanding

I actually don’t recommend sanding laminate furniture before painting it anyway because most often it’s a thin veneer or plastic composite with a shiny surface. You generally don’t sand plastic and you need to be super careful when sanding veneer because you don’t want to sand it away! 

In order to paint a laminate surface you would use these same steps that I outlined above with the cleaning or de greasing methods and then a primer. One thing to note; ALWAYS use a primer when painting laminate furniture or cabinets. You need a primer layer in order for the paint to bond to the laminate surface. 

A year in review of my painted laminate cabinets

I won’t go into too much detail here about how to paint furniture because I have lots of “how to paint” tutorials here, but I will sum it up for you in a nutshell. 

How to paint wood furniture without sanding

  1. Use a liquid de glosser or liquid sandpaper to “rough up” the surface and clean it really well
  2. Make sure to finish cleaning the surface with a tack cloth or lint free cloth
  3. Use at least one coat of primer
  4. Finish with your favorite paint product 

I shared some of my favorite primer products in a detailed post about why you need to use primer before painting furniture.

I also get asked a lot about if you can use primer as the finish coat of paint. I’ve answered that question in detail in another post. 

can primer be used as finish coat of paint

There are a ton of paint products on the market today that say they don’t require sanding or a primer. This is a loaded question in my opinion. I say that because primer is used for so much more than just bonding the surface to a paint product. That being said, let me share a handful of paint products that claim they don’t need sanding or a primer product. 

Disclaimer; Most (not necessarily all) of the paint products in the below categories will state “no sanding required.” Make sure to follow the manufacturers directions. 

Paints that don’t require sanding before painting

If you are looking for a more detailed list of the best paint products that don’t require sanding, I’ve got you covered in my post here. You don’t have to be a professional painter to get a good quality result. Here’s a quick list below. 

  • Chalk paint
  • Milk paint with bonding agent 
  • Mineral paints
  • Some Enamel paints
  • Paint plus primer products 
best furniture paint without sanding

I hope you’ve learned that it IS possible to paint furniture without the laborious task of sanding. 

Lindsey**

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