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How to Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding in 2024

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Restoring furniture is a cheap way to amplify your style. It is often much more affordable to refinish furniture rather than purchasing new. But sanding is the worst! It is messy, time consuming and tiring. Learn how to paint wood furniture without sanding for a durable finish with these different options.

Living room with stone fireplace and arm chairs.

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Can You Paint Over Wood Furniture Without Sanding?

Can you paint over wood furniture without sanding? Absolutely!

My favorite option is to use liquid sander; also called a deglosser.

Use deglosser instead of traditional sanding to accomplish the same goal: preparing the furniture to accept and hold paint, long term.

Deglossing is a simple method where you simply rub the product on with a rag. Then, wait a few minutes to allow it to work. Finally, wipe down with a clean wet rag to remove any residue.

Continue reading for an in depth tutorial on the entire process, including proper steps before and after deglossing.

I’m going to use this Facebook Marketplace find as today’s example of my favorite way to paint wood furniture without sanding!

Wood furniture before makeover.
Cabinet Before Refinishing
How to Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding

Can You Paint Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding?

Often times people assume they can paint raw wood without sanding, but what about how to paint over varnished wood?

My marketplace find had a high gloss varnish on it, and I was still able to paint over it without sanding! That’s because I used a two step process that is my go-to for painting wood furniture.

The degloss and prime combo!

Deglosser is a wonderful way to substitute the sanding process. It is a much less strenuous and much faster alternative to sanding furniture to remove varnish or lacquer. Combine this step with priming and you have a beautifully prepared surface for paint to adhere to.

How to Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding

How to Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding

Now, let’s walk through this method of painting wood furniture without sanding step by step.

1. Find a Sturdy Piece of Furniture with Good Bones

When referencing furniture, good bones means that the piece is structurally sound, has good lines/details and will be a functional piece for your family.

As you can see from the before photo above, my cabinet is a solid piece of furniture and has very clean lines (aka straight and not ornate) for a modern feeling. The shelving is exactly what I was looking for to display my favorite decor and the storage underneath is very functional.

This is the first step in refinishing a piece to bring it to your style. Make sure it is solid and functional and the aesthetics will come later!

2. Clean Wood Furniture Thoroughly Before Painting

The next step to restoring wood furniture without sanding is to clean the piece thoroughly.

I like to use TSP, which is a heavy duty cleaner. It does excellently at removing years of grime, dirt and grease. This leaves your piece with a clean finish so your primer doesn’t have to work as hard.

Cleaning wood furniture

First, clean the piece with TSP wearing durable gloves. Then, go back over the piece with clean water to clean off any film it leaves behind.

Make sure to remove doors and hardware so you can clean in all the nooks and crannies.

For a detailed cleaning process, make sure to check out this post which is applicable for prepping cabinets or wood furniture for paint.

3. Degloss Wood Furniture Instead of Sanding

The next step in this version of painting furniture without sanding is to use a deglosser.

Like I mentioned above, this is an alternative to sanding. If you’d rather not work with chemicals then sanding is the other option at this point in the process!

But since you’re here to learn how to paint furniture without sanding, I’m guessing you’ll choose the deglosser.

Wearing rubber gloves, simply rub the deglosser onto the wood with a clean lint free rag. You can also use steel wool, however I often find it is unnecessarily abrasive.

I like to cut up my husband’s old white tshirts he wears under his dress shirts for my rags! They are a great fabric and totally lint free.

After you’ve applied the deglosser, wait for the allotted time on the label and then wipe down with a clean wet rag. Each brand has a slight variation to the instructions so make sure to follow the recommendations of the brand you buy.

DIY hutch makeover

Once you’ve cleaned and deglossed your furniture piece, you will want to decide if you’re keeping the existing hardware or not.

Patching Old Hardware Holes

I wanted to update the pulls on my piece and found that the new hardware didn’t line up with the existing screw holes.

New hardware on cabinet doors

This is an easy fix!

Simply use wood filler to fill the existing holes, sand down the surface flush, and then drill new holes in the position you need for your new hardware. I like to drill these holes before I prime and paint so I don’t mar up a freshly painted surface later.

I used these classic matte black pulls for my cabinet makeover. I love that they come in various sizes and finishes.

4. The Key For How To Paint Furniture Without Sanding: Prime

The next step is to prime!

I’m always asked, “Do I need to prime furniture before painting?” And the answer isn’t exactly straight forward.

For this method, yes you do. But I will share a few other methods at the end of this article that don’t require a priming step!

Best Primers for Painting Wood Without Sanding

Since I am using a latex paint, a quality bonding primer is necessary. Latex paint is versatile since it comes in many finishes and colors, but it isn’t the most durable option for furniture.

So priming first will ensure a long lasting finish.

Priming a wood cabinet without sanding

I like both Kilz bonding primer and Zinsser Oil Based primer for use on furniture.

For this piece, I used oil based because it was what I had on hand. I traditionally like to work with water based paints for easy clean up but oil based is a great option as well!

Primed cabinet doors

One thing to look out for is that your primer works with TSP. Some primers say not to use TSP prior because it cannot adhere to a piece that has been cleaned this way. So make sure to read your labels to avoid heart ache down the road.

5. Paint Wood Furniture

If you’re new to DIY and want to learn how to paint anything like the pros, make sure to check out my ebook, DIY YOUR DREAM HOME. This 58 page guide will teach you how to paint anything in your home like a pro. Plus, snag free paint labels and my paint planner too!

DIY Your Dream Home Pin

You’ve made it!

All 4 of these preparation steps are necessary for a quality and durable paint finish when using latex paint.

If you skip the cleaning, deglosser or primer, then your paint will only have a slippery/grimy surface to try to adhere to. And paint does not do that well on it’s own!

By taking the time to do a quality job on the preparation steps, you’ll benefit greatly in the long run.

Painting wood furniture without sanding.

While you only need to apply one coat of primer, you will want to apply two coats of paint. The image above shows one coat of paint and, as you can see, it is a streaky finish. This is typical of latex paint and why I always recommend two coats for your topcoat.

Black Painted cabinet doors

I chose to use the color Black by Rustoleum which you can buy online at Walmart.

This is a bit of a chameleon color. I used it in my son’s room to makeover his loft beds. You can see that amazing transformation in this post!

In his room it looks like a true black. However, on this cabinet it pulls more of a charcoal with navy undertones. Lighting is everything with paint so I always recommend color samples!

When using latex paint, a semi gloss or gloss are the most durable finishes on furniture.

Painted cabinet in black

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

My cabinet was solid wood, but more often than not, thrifted furniture is laminate. So the question becomes, “Can I paint laminate furniture without sanding too?” Yes!

By using the same method as above, you can paint laminate furniture without sanding. Simply make sure the laminate itself is in good condition and isn’t cracking or chipped.

Living room with black cabinet

The priming step is the most important for painting laminate furniture since you don’t want to sand an already delicate surface. Take care to follow these same steps and your laminate furniture will turn out just as beautiful.

How to Paint Veneer Furniture Without Sanding

Similarly to laminate furniture, older pieces of furniture often have a delicate top wood veneer.

You can paint veneer furniture without sanding with the same steps as solid wood furniture.

However, if you have to do any touch up sanding, make sure to use a very fine grit sandpaper so you don’t damage the veneer.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that you dry your wood furniture well during the cleaning step as water can cause veneer to curl.

What Paint do I Use for Furniture?

Now, on to the other methods for how to paint furniture without sanding!

The method above uses primer and latex paint, but what if you don’t want to prime too? There are a few other paint options you can choose from.

  • Chalk Paint: Boasts a no-prep reputation, however the finish options and colors are limited. Top coat highly recommended.
  • Mineral Paint: Similar to chalk paint, but often more expensive. Top coat recommended.
  • Milk Paint with bonding agent: Also does not require sanding or priming, however the colors are limited and you have to mix your paint/bonding agent well.

All three of these types of paint are a great alternative to latex paint. However, most of them do require a top coat.

So if you’re trying to avoid an extra step of painting, then they don’t quite accomplish that. Whether you are painting a prime coat or a top coat, it’s still an extra coat of painting something!

Decorated shelves in a cabinet

This is why I personally prefer latex. It is more affordable than chalk, mineral or milk paint and isn’t any additional work in the long run.

However, I know many people who swear by these non-latex paint options and they do produce a beautiful result as well! It’s simply a preference as they will all work wonderfully to update your wood furniture with paint.

Side view of hutch cabinet

How Do you Paint Furniture Without Brush Marks?

As you can see, I used a paint brush to do my cabinet makeover. This is a typical tool and I prefer it over small foam rollers. I think it gives a better finish and you have more control over the paint application.

I use this short handle angled brush for most of my projects and it is highly recommended.

You can see all of my favorite DIY paint tools in my Amazon Storefront for quick purchasing!

black cabinet styled shelves

This post is geared towards painting trim without brush strokes, but all of the painting techniques apply just the same to painting furniture to get a smooth finish.

Painted black cabinet.

Make sure you head there next to get my best tips and avoid those pesky brush strokes!

You Might Also Be Interested In

I’ve refinished quite a few pieces. Some I’ve kept wood, and some I’ve painted, but here are a few ideas if you’ve wondered how to refinish furniture!

If you’re looking for more painting projects, I have a ton of resources on the blog to help you.

How to paint furniture without sanding.

Decor Sources

I hope this article on how to paint wood furniture without sanding has been helpful to you!

Painted wood furniture

You can find my shoppable home decor linked for you via the images below!

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See you next time!


How to Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding


  1. Hello Sarah,
    I’ve never painted furniture before. I followed your instructions and love my dining room table! You had mentioned matte polyurethane. Would this work well for a dining room table? Would you recommend oil or water base? Thank you! Liz

  2. Hi I am painting a china cabinet wanting to do black with gold hardware..the cabinet will be exposed to high humidity..any suggestions? I was thinking deglosser..primer..paint..is that enough?

  3. Thank you for the detailed steps and products! Quick question – How long do you wait in between coats?

    Do you need to wait for each step to dry before moving to the next step? Are there any impacts if you let it sit for a day or two in between steps?

    1. You should wait as long as the recommended timeframe on the can. Each paint manufacturer has different drying times between coats so it’s best to use what they recommend.

  4. Hello! I’m planning to paint a piece that has some chips and cracking in the veneer. Am I able to still follow your steps or is there any additional care I should do prior or during the process? Thanks!!

  5. Hi Sarah
    I have a walnut veneer press and I am wondering if I can stain it oak veneer? Any advice appreciated thanks

  6. I’ll be tackling my first furniture paint job soon. I bought a new (from a furniture store, not used) light wood colored table for my son. I want to paint it grey to match his aesthetic. Do I need to do the same cleaning and deglossing you did?
    Love the outcome of your project!

  7. Painting wood furniture can be a great way to refresh and update the look of your home, and this article provides some helpful tips and techniques for painting without sanding. I appreciate the step-by-step instructions and the emphasis on using high-quality materials and taking the time to properly prepare the surface. This article can be a great resource for anyone who is looking to tackle a DIY furniture painting project.

  8. I find this to be very helpful, especially to newbies. I’ve painted for quite a while and I love fusion mineral paint. It gives a nice low sheen luster and DOES NOT require a top coat. I know you mentioned mineral paints require a top coat so I wanted to let you know that Fusion does not. I’m not sure if others as this is the only one I’ve used. They do sell a top coat for more durability but it is a great paint that dries quickly and very hard. I’ve also used latex and chalk along with furniture and cabinet paint. Fusion is a bit more expensive but is a great product. Thanks again for your information.

  9. Hello, I am painting a bed frame that I found at a thrift store. I’m almost positive it’s a Laminate peice. Should I still use the cleaner chemical you suggested, before using the primer? The chemical won’t hurt the laminate ?

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