How Do You Paint Over Stained and Varnished Furniture?


Quick Answer

To paint over stained and varnished furniture, test the varnish, apply trisodium phosphate, fill and sand the wood, prime it, and paint the wood. This three-day project requires rags, drop cloths, denatured alcohol, lacquer thinner, a bucket, water, trisodium phosphate, sandpaper, wood filler, a putty knife, primer, paintbrushes and paint.

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Full Answer

  1. Test the varnish

    Wet one rag with denatured alcohol, and moisten another with lacquer thinner. Rub them on small areas of the wood. If neither chemical loosens the finish, the furniture is sealed with varnish, and it is safe to proceed.

  2. Wash the wood with trisodium phosphate

    Wash the wood with a solution of trisodium phosphate and warm water. Let the table air dry.

  3. Fill defects with wood putty

    Load a putty knife with wood filler putty, and pack it into cracks and other imperfections. Let the putty dry according to the instructions on the package.

  4. Sand the putty

    Sand the dried putty with medium-grit sandpaper, and remove the dust with a dry rag.

  5. Apply oil-based primer

    Set the furniture on a drop cloth, and use a paintbrush to apply oil-based primer. Do not proceed until the primer dries.

  6. Paint the wood

    Apply several coats of paint. Sand each coat after it dries, and then apply another coat. Do not sand the final coat. Give the paint 48 hours to dry.

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