Best Paint for Wood Furniture

Best Paint for Wood Furniture

You’ve had that piece sitting in that same spot for years. Maybe even decades. Now it’s time for an update. So what is the best paint for wood furniture?

Oh boy! That question is likely to cause a lively debate if you’re among dedicated furniture painters. I know that where I sell my painted pieces there are several others who paint furniture and we all have strong opinions. If you toss in someone who sells paint then the situation becomes explosive FAST.

It’s a touchy subject.

I’m going to assume if you’re googling, or searching out this topic in some other way, that you’re not already a furniture painter and you’re not selling a certain paint brand. If you are then you might want to click away and read something else that won’t trigger you.

I Promise to Tell You The Truth

When I started my YouTube channel and blog I promised myself I would always be honest with readers and viewers. I have never liked putting my trust in someone who was only trying to sell me something.  Worse yet, trying to sell me something they knew wasn’t the best thing for my situation.

I won’t do that to you. Never. I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight if I did.

I Once Sold Paint

A few years ago I jumped on the sell chalk paint bandwagon.  I thought you should know that up front. There’s still a bunch of paint that I haven’t sold in boxes in my basement. I was one of those stock-ist who said only my paint was any good.  The truth was it was the same as all the other chalk paint. There was no difference at all that I could tell.

For some reason, I felt like I needed to make that statement just to get it off my chest. I’ve never felt right about it. Telling people our paint was better when I couldn’t tell the difference really bothered me. It made me feel like a complete liar, because I was.

Like so many others, I sold chalk paints that had a tendency to scratch easily. Chalk paint takes forever to cure so any bump would make the paint chip or scratch. Especially when you didn’t sand the piece. That’s supposed to be a selling point, the no sanding, but try to explain to a customer that they have to treat the piece with kid gloves for two weeks while the paint actually stuck down. The only time I felt comfortable saying they would like the paint is if they wanted a chipped look because of how easy the paint was to scrape away.

It was difficult to work with because it dried too quickly. You would think that drying fast is a good thing but it can dry TOO fast and cause a gumming problem.

The second coat of paint always reactivated the first coat causing other problems for people I sold to. To be honest most people using chalk paint for the first time almost required a class before using it.

The party line was to tell people they would love this paint, when the truth was I felt like most of them would be frustrated with the paint.

I am reformed now.

My days of selling paint are behind me. I am not sponsored by a paint company. In other words I have no dog in this fight, so the advice I’m going to give you on which paint to use on wood furniture isn’t driven by an inherent bias.

What Paint Do You Use on Wood Furniture?

I use them all to be perfectly frank. I keep trying all the paints that come out to see how they work. I’m trying to use up all the paints I have on hand before I buy anymore paints. Which means I am currently painting with chalk paint, milk paint, spray paint, and latex paints.

My Furniture PaintsMy actual paint collection
Some of My Paint

So What is the Best Paint for Wood Furniture

In 99.9% of the cases the answer to what is the best paint for wood furniture is latex.

I just triggered a bunch of people.

Here’s why I’m suggesting latex paint:

First, it’s available everywhere and I do mean anywhere. You don’t have to find a boutique or specialty dealer in your area to find it. Your local hardware store has latex and I can almost guarantee it. They can tint it any color you want.

Second, it’s less expensive that other “specialty” paints that report to be furniture paints. You buy a quart of latex paint for under $20 and if you look through their oops paints you can pick up a whole gallon for less than $10. As someone who is selling furniture every penny counts so paying $40 for a “specialty paint” is just too much.

Third, there are no special tools or a learning curve for use. Let’s be honest, some of the “specialty paints” are fussy. They can be difficult to work with and at times just downright frustrating. And don’t get me started on the $20 brushes you just HAVE to have to paint them (no you don’t by the way). Latex is easy to use. Shake. Paint. Done.

Last, when it’s done right it’s more durable than other paints without a top coat. Most of the special furniture paints on the markets need some kind of top coat.  Latex does not.  You can get it in different sheens and none of them require a topcoat.

What is the Best Brand of Paint for Furniture

Again, this is one of those triggering questions.

People love their brand of paint and they will defend them to the end. Rust-Oleum paints are a brand I like a lot but they are not the only brand I use. I like Ace Hardware’s Clark & Kensington which I got on the oops paint rack. Valspar paints have been fantastic.  So far I have not tried a latex brand that I put on my don’t use list.

Again, the truth is I have not found that much difference in the paints that I have use, and because I’m always collecting new paints, I have tried almost all of them.  They all behave just as expected so whatever brand you find in the color and price you like that’s the one you should buy.

Any Paint Will Work

Here’s the truth, if you’re looking at that piece in the corner and feeling like it needs an update, grab whatever paint you have on hand.  People get too caught up in believing there is only one way

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to do things or there really is a “best” of something. I can tell you after years and years of painting furniture there is very little difference in paints.  They all cover the surface and they can all be distressed.

I know I’m going to catch some heat for saying this. There are paint dealers right now who are hiding in the bushes outside my house waiting to shout at me and tell me how their product is different. Who am I to say that it’s just paint!

Well, I’m the person writing this post and if they don’t like it they can write their own post.

If someone tells you something is THE BEST! Ask yourself if they have a reason for saying that. Are they selling you paint?

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4 thoughts on “Best Paint for Wood Furniture

  1. If you recognized that you ‘had a dog in the fight’ and may have been biased, then it wasn’t inherent, but self serving, and financially incentivized. But congrats on getting out of the rat race.

  2. I appreciate your vulnerability and honesty in this post. Guess what? We’ve all don’t things are aren’t proud of and would never do again! :):)

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