• Hometalker
  • Duluth, MN

How to Paint Black Furniture - One of the Hardest to Get Right

4 Materials
2 Days

If you’re looking for a smooth solid paint finish, brush free finish, the perfect satin sheen, easy to use, water based product for thrifted, old, worn out furniture, we finally found the perfect product.

This is totally not a bash on chalk style paint whatsoever! I love chalk paint and use it all the time. But in times where I just want a solid finish without having to use a poly or wax to seal it in (I

how to paint black furniture one of the hardest to get right

Head over to our blog (click the button at the bottom of this post) to read about the major differences between General Finishes Enduro Pigmented Poly and Chalk Paint.


  • General Finishes Enduro Pigmented Poly in Black
  • General Finishes Stain Blocking Primer
  • Sandpaper (220 & 400 grit)
  • Orbital Sander for the Top of the Dresser
  • Watered Down Latex Paint in Brown for the Top of the Dresser

How to Prep the Furniture

We started out this dresser makeover just like we do any other furniture project.

We scrubbed off the dirt and grime, filled in any larger blemishes with wood filler, and then scuff sanded the whole piece with 220 grit sandpaper.

Since I was using the black poly, I didn’t prime for bleed through, and I wanted to test out the adhesion of the Enduro Poly. (More on the results of that in a bit!)

I also taped off the drawers with painters tape and plastic to prevent overspray.

Painting the Dresser

Painting the dresser was pretty straight forward.

We sprayed the black poly on with our new pro paint sprayer. We recently upgraded from the hobby paint sprayer that we used for 3 years. Either one would work!

The poly is pretty thin when fresh from the can, so I didn’t need to thin it at all. If you’re using a hobby paint sprayer you might need to thin it down just a bit.

Then we sprayed on the first coat and let it dry for about an hour.

Then we lightly sanded the whole thing down with 400 grit sandpaper to get a super silky smooth finish.

Once we got rid of the dust with a vaccum and a tack cloth, I sprayed on another thin coat of black poly.

I repeated this process for 3 coats of paint, which is the recommended minimum coats for durability.

how to paint black furniture one of the hardest to get right

Troubleshooting the Black Poly

After the first coat of paint was dry I noticed that one leg had a little bit of a different finish.

It was splotchy and definitely not the same sheen.

I knew then that something wasn’t right. But I kept on painting to test the product and see what would happen.

After 3 coats of poly the spots were still there.

So after the last coat was dry, I applied one coat of  General Finishes Stain Blocking Primer. And then I let it dry for at least 2 hours.

After the Stain Blocker was dry, I went back and painted another 3 coats of Black Poly in that area.

how to paint black furniture one of the hardest to get right

Painting with a Paint Brush

This time though, I painted it on with a quality paint brush, just to see what would happen if I used a paint brush instead of the paint sprayer.

The black poly went on a lot thinner with the paint brush, but I followed the same process of

  • brushing the black poly on
  • waiting an hour
  • sanding with 400 grit sandpaper
  • and then painting another coat of black poly until I had 3 coats.

I was worried that it would leave brush marks, but to my surprise, the poly leveled really well, and I can’t see any brush marks at all!

Do you need to prime??

The primer did it’s job too and completely blocked whatever was making those splotchy spots!

Just from this one experience I would definitely recommend using a primer, even with the black poly.

It’s super frustrating to have to go back and fix something that could have been avoided in the beginning!

how to paint black furniture one of the hardest to get right

We sanded down the top, gave it a super light stain and sealed it with poly for durability.

Once the paint was completely dry we updated the hardware.

You can learn more about the top and the hardware over on our blog (click the button at the bottom of this post to head over).

how to paint black furniture one of the hardest to get right

This was seriously the easiest possible way to get a super smooth black finish with no dust, lint, or uneven topcoat coverage!

Suggested materials:

  • General Finishes Black Poly
  • Paint Sprayer
  • General Finishes Stain Blocker
See all materials

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Kris
    on Feb 3, 2019

    Would you use this product on a bathroom vanity?

  • Jane
    on Feb 3, 2019

    Love this, great job! What is source for the label pulls? Thank you!

    • Natalie
      31 minutes ago

      Hey Jane, I know this is late, but if you go to my blog post (link is at the bottom of this post) I have a link to the hardware in the original blog post.

  • John Biermacher
    on Feb 3, 2019

    First of all- a very nice project and professional technique.

    I have experience with getting a smooth black finish, because it isa good loo, hence popular with clients. My problem is I don't have a sprayer.

    I generally incorporate used/salvage furniture or architectural salvage in may projects. Therefore I am never really sure what existing finish I am going over so I stick pretty much to oil base product.

    The steps are:

    1) Prime and sand;

    2) black base coat with a brush and sand smooth;

    3) overspray with aerosol spray black to cover sanded area, and

    4) top coat with rub-on (diluted varnish (dilute) to achieve uniform gloss.

    This process works quite well in a small shop and step 2) greatly reduces the amount of spray cans required in step 3.

    There is also an optional intermediate step and that is the base of my question. Often a client wants some edges sanded to expose wood tones. Sometimes after this edge sanding, I color the exposd edges with stain. This is usually done between steps 2) and step 3, sometime between 3) and 4 .

    The problem (finally after this long prelude) is that the primer must be black, because gray, white, or red primer shows as a ring around the sanded edges.

    The only oil base black primers I have found are:

    • an automotive product (which I suspect has a lacquer base) and is very hard to apply and really smelly.
    • black primer in a spray can and a lot of can be required, if doing something like a dresser.

    Do you (or anyone who had the tenacity to read through this lengthy quest) know of a black oil based primer that can be applied with a brush?

    Thanks for everyone's patience.

Join the conversation

2 of 9 comments
    on Feb 4, 2019

    Looks really charming. I have done a few project like yours. I clean the wood and paint black with flat black house paint. Let it air out for a week away from living area.

  • Dpbeee2
    on Feb 5, 2019

    Wow! Very nice turnout!! You gave that piece an entirely different and modern look. Thank you for the tutorial. These tips really help us DYIers.

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