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How to paint furniture using latex paint

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Inside: How to paint furniture with latex paint, plus a pro guide to prepping pieces for paint, and how to repair furniture prior to painting.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we do a lot of painting over here 🙂 Paint is probably the best and most cost efficient way to update a space or a furniture piece. It’s easily accessible, affordable and with a few tricks and tips, you can have a designer-looking piece for next to nothing. Folks tend to have a lot of questions about paint. I did too when I first started out! And one of the biggest questions is how to paint furniture using latex paint.

I’m no stranger to furniture flipping of all sorts. I am like that person who sees a piece on the side of the road and gets sad about it not being wanted. Have a look at my pro tips for hunting down the best curbside finds and then you might also want to look at my tips for cleaning a piece before you paint it. I write a lot about using chalk style paint on furniture, but latex paint can definitely work if you know what you’re doing and you put the work into the prep.

My Favourite Supplies for Painting Furniture

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Things to consider when painting furniture using latex paint

This is the stuff you buy at the hardware store. Some of the bigger brands include Para Paints, Dulux, Behr, Sico, Benjamin Moore and so on. Latex tends to come in big gallon pails and smaller quart sizes. They range in price from about $17 for a quart right up to $55 or $60 for a gallon of the premium stuff.

Latex paint is perfect for painting walls, ceilings, exterior and interior doors – BUT we also use it sometimes to paint furniture. Why? Because latex paint can be tinted to practically any colour you can imagine and the saturation levels are second to none.

Examples of Furniture Projects Painted with Latex Paint

This Nautical Style Dresser (extra points for the super original rope style hardware!)

Nautical Dresser with Burlap and Rope Drawers

Nautical Style Dresser

This bright green console table with a newly built reclaimed wood top

Autumn Green Sideboard

This vintage waterfall desk repainted in glossy white with new chunky brass hardware.

Vintage Desk Makeover

These super cute curbside finds turned into a set of matching end tables.

Matching Curbside Finds!

Step by Step Method to Painting Furniture using Latex Paint

  • Make sure you always lightly sand your piece first
  • Then use a foam brush or foam roller to apply a stain blocking and gripping primer
  • Where possible apply your latex paint using these high pile small rollers
  • Use thin coats. You will probably need three to get a nice even finish
  • Use a foam brush to get into the nooks and crannies
  • Watch for drips because, once dry, latex does not sand down very well
  • Finish your piece with a protectant in a clear finish. We sometimes use satin or high gloss depending on the finish we want. Apply the finish coat with a synthetic brush.
  • Don’t put anything on your piece for a few days even after you’re finished it to prevent chips, water marks, or indents.

Benefits of painting furniture with latex paint

  • The colour selection is amazing. Some hardware stores even offer a colour matching service where they can create a paint to match a piece of fabric or art exactly! How cool is that?
  • It’s likely best value. 1/3 of a quart is usually enough paint to complete one standard size dresser. It goes a long way.

Other tips for using latex paint on furniture

It can be mixed with other mediums to create a different sort of finish. Check out these two makeover posts to find out how we used basic latex paint and made our own chalky finish!

My typography coffee table was painted with homemade chalk paint (And the paint has outlasted the typography!)

DIY Typography Table with a Silhouette Cameo

Typography L.O.V.E

Also – I whipped up a batch of homemade chalk paint to makeover a cabinet at the lake house a few summers ago. It’s a great way to use leftover latex paint.

Don’t let latex paint FREEZE. It will never ever come back. This means don’t store it on the garage floor, on the porch or balcony. You need to store it inside. In fact, this goes for all viscous paint.

Here are some other great projects and tutorials from bloggers who’ve used latex paint on furniture

  • Practically Functional uses a product called Oil Bond in lieu of primer on her piece. 
  • Here The Kim Six Fix uses Latex Paint on Upholstered furniture. This a really interesting project and technique!

Here are other posts you’ll love

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Jan Newman

Tuesday 9th of February 2016

Great tips. How do you avoid "roller marks?" Kind of a pattern left by a roller--the equivalent of brush marks from a brush? Also, I find the latex can be very thick... how do you make thin layers with it? Thanks

DIY Passion

Wednesday 10th of February 2016

Hi Jan! Those roller marks can be super annoying! I find using the best quality roller is key. The high-pile ones really work well to distribute the paint more evenly. In terms of making thinner layers - just really work your roller in the tray first and if you're finding it's squishy or too saturated, you can always dab it onto a paper plate. The roller should look like it's almost running out of paint before you put it on your furniture, if that makes sense! Good luck!


Friday 8th of January 2016

Thanks for the info. I never use Latex because I did not know much about painting furniture with it.

DIY Passion

Saturday 9th of January 2016

You're welcome Sherry! Good Luck! Glad to help :)


Thursday 17th of December 2015

Great tips! I feel so spoiled with all the chalk and milk paints out there, but latex is always a solid option when you're looking for that perfect color!



Hope Williams

Thursday 17th of December 2015

Enjoy your break! Merry Christmas to you and yours and everyone of your followers. Happy and safe new year to everyone too! ?❄️☃?

Sarah @ Little Red Brick House

Wednesday 16th of December 2015

These are great tips! I always get confused about how to use latex paint but your suggestions really help.

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