How to Paint Wood Furniture Black Successfully

by Rachel
3 Materials
5 Hours

To successfully paint wood furniture black is often difficult. Topcoats commonly turn out streaky on top of black paint.

Black and white are some of the hardest paint colours to finish well but fortunately, I found a combination that gives a great result.

The wood cabinet

My friend saw this cabinet on Facebook Marketplace. The owner had been trying to sell it unsuccessfully and eventually listed it for free, saying it would go to the dump the next day.

It would have been such a shame if this had been thrown away.

It was in great condition, although, it did have some rather adorable artwork on it.

If I kept the cabinet, I would have left the drawings, as they were sweet and add to its story. But I don’t expect a buyer to want to see a child’s drawing on their new furniture.

Prepping for paint

I cleaned the whole piece twice with White Lightning, and it needed it. The water was black after the first clean. That’s the downside of ornate pieces, dust settles in them so easily.

As I planned to paint the wood cabinet black, I used my sander to take the shine off the previous finish. The triangular sanding head is great for getting into corners.

The dust extractor attachment also means that I can sand in the house without making a mess.

Much better than working in a cold shed at the moment!

For the first time, this piece came to me with a slightly musty smell. It’s a common issue so I knew some ways to help remove it.

It’s always interesting to have something new to tackle. Well, when there’s an easy solution, at least!

To help the musty smell, I used BOSS primer in clear. BOSS is designed to block the smell in and it worked perfectly.

Primers often come in white or grey but I wanted clear in this case as I was painting a dark colour. Brown to black is a much easier transition than white to black.

Painting with Black Sands

As painting wood furniture black can be hard, I started with a paint range that I already knew had good coverage.

This paint is Black Sands from Dixie Belle’s mineral paint line, Silk. It’s a lovely grey-black. Not as heavy-looking as some true blacks can be.

I needed two coats of Black Sands, which is what I’ve come to expect of the colours in the Silk range.

I used the same flat brush to paint the ornate area but a round brush would have worked better to get into the details. So, I went back over it with a tiny detail brush before the second coat.

After two coats of paint, one of the doors kept catching on the base. There are two solutions to doors catching. Either adjust the hinges to pull the door up or sand back some of the wood.

I chose to sand back the base of the door a few millimetres, which made it just thin enough so that it didn’t catch.

The advantage of having the piece upside down to sand the door was that it gave me a great view of the piece from other angles, to touch up any imperfections.

It’s something probably no one would ever notice but still a good opportunity to look it over.

Sealing the black cabinet

I’d been recommended hemp oil as a good sealer over black. Black is often tricky and lots of sealers leave streaks.

I used an old T-shirt to apply a small amount of Howdy-Do hemp oil. It was really easy to apply which was great. I do like an easy life.

After a day, I wiped off any excess which hadn’t completely absorbed into the wood. As I haven’t used hemp oil before, I did two coats for extra durability.

New (old) handles

The handles were a bit too heavy-looking for my taste so I decided to change them.

I still had the original handles from another cabinet I made over. Those intricate handles would match the floral, ornate details of this cabinet nicely.

I used 180 grit sandpaper to rub off some tarnishing on the handles and create some shiny detailing.

Adding wallpaper

I chose to cover the back of the cabinet with wallpaper. This is called Japandi and is from B&M.

The pink and white leaves have gold edges that subtlety complement the metallic handles.

To cover the back, I needed four pieces of wallpaper and lined them up so the pattern matched both horizontally and vertically.

I attached the pieces with wallpaper paste and used a wallpapering brush to smooth the paper flat.

If you like floral wallpaper, I  revamped a bookshelf in a similar, nature-inspired way.

The finished wood cabinet

I like that the texture of the wood grain is still visible, particularly on the doors. It adds to the character and you can tell that it’s not just MDF. You can see the texture even better in the photo with the new handle, above.

I’m also really happy with the handles. As they’re smaller, they’re a bit more delicate and allow for the focus to be elsewhere on the cabinet.

The cabinet could hold books or even bottles and glasses. The update makes it more of a statement piece.

I couldn’t resist including this photo. My dog, Puzzle, was missing out on fuss when taking photos, so came to claim a spot on the rug.

I couldn’t have found a more beautiful accessory to the cabinet!

Have you tried to paint wood furniture black? Did it work well? I’d love to know your own experiences.

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Many thanks to Dixie Belle for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 9 questions
  • Mam52325943 Mam52325943 on Dec 03, 2023

    With you Festool R090, what else did you use for sanding inside? Wet/dry vac, hose attachment? Thank you in advance as I am needing to know this. It is overwhelming!

  • Mam52325943 Mam52325943 on Dec 03, 2023

    Yes I do want to purchase a sander with hose and attachments for inside sanding👍

  • B B on Dec 04, 2023

    How can this paint color be called "Black" ? To me and to most I am sure this color registers Gray, or some shade of gray. I think the paint company needs to look at their color wheel before naming their colors.

Join the conversation
3 of 42 comments
  • Katen Katen on Dec 03, 2023

    Nice find. Didn’t look damaged just finish refresh

  • Marilyn Marilyn on Dec 04, 2023

    You saved a nice piece from a landfill, you turned it in to a beautiful piece cudo's to you on both accounts. I love these kind of stories.

    • Rachel Rachel on Dec 04, 2023

      Thank you so much. I couldn’t believe it was going to landfill.