How do you achieve the smooth Pottery Barn finish?

Lena Gott
by Lena Gott
I have a couple kids furniture projects in mind, but I know I'm going to be disappointed in them if the finished product isn't nice. Specifically, I would love to achieve a smooth finish on the wood, kind of like the finish you see on Pottery Barn kids furniture. Anyone know how to do this?
  8 answers
  • Evey's Creations Evey's Creations on Apr 03, 2015
    The easiest way to achieve a smooth finish on painted furniture is to use a paint sprayer. @HomeRight has an awesome's the one I own and use. Check them can see furniture that I've painted using them over on my profile here, as well as on my blog. :)
  • Shari Shari on Apr 04, 2015
    I agree, a paint sprayer is the way to go for a super smooth finish. I bought a basic Wagner sprayer at Lowes about 8 years ago for about $100 and it has served me well through many furniture painting projects. It's easy to operate and easy to clean. I will give you a few tips I discovered when spraying furniture. First, if using latex paint, the sprayer instructions tell you to dilute your paint with water but, with my sprayer, I found it really takes more water than the instructions indicate. Start with the dilution rate suggested but don't be surprised if you need to add 2 or 3 times more water to get the paint to run smoothly through the sprayer. (This also means that your paint goes farther so a quart of paint would likely be more than enough to paint 1 or 2 average sized pieces of furniture, like a dresser and night stand.) Also, I discovered I needed to bump up the sheen level of the paint when I use the sprayer. If I want a satin finish, I use semi-gloss paint. To me, satin looks less satiny when sprayed. I don't know why that is--perhaps because the paint needs to be diluted so much. Finally, use multiple thin coats of paint (and primer). Don't try to get complete coverage in 1 or 2 coats. It is not unusual for me to use 3 or 4, even 5 light coats of paint to get complete coverage, especially if I am spraying a light color over dark furniture. Light coats of paint dry quicker and harder than 1 or 2 thicker coats. There is also less chance of paint drips when you apply thin coats. Each time you go to use your sprayer, test the spray on a piece of cardboard or scrap piece of wood first to make sure the flow control is right and the sprayer is producing a continuous, even spray. Finally, if using latex paint, be aware that although latex will be dry to the touch in 1 hour or less, it can take up to 30 days to completely cure. Be careful setting objects on flat surfaces until cured because if the paint has not completely cured, you run the risk of having things stick to the paint.
  • Kimberly Saxton Scruggs Kimberly Saxton Scruggs on Apr 04, 2015
    I'd ask someone who refinishes or repairs furniture. I've seen where first you sand the surfaces with a fine sandpaper to acheive the smooth feel you're looking for. Look in the DYI site about painting furniture for that professional look. Some say to sand after the first coat of paint or stain and then do it again, allowing to dry well between paint/stain, etc. of course. Experiment on scrap wood or whatever, if you're going to use a sprayer until you get the feel of it.
  • Lena Gott Lena Gott on Apr 04, 2015
    This is awesome - thanks so much everyone!!!
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Apr 05, 2015
    Paint sprayer, but in the winter and its to cold and I can't use my sprayer I paint it on, I use whatever paint you want and paint it on the dip the tip of my brush in water and repaint the area. I get no brush strokes. The draw back to this is I watch closely for drips. You get the feel of the brush and how much water you need when painting.
  • Tammie Housley Tammie Housley on Apr 05, 2015
    Can't remember the name but there is a product that you can add to paint that eliminates brush strokes. The clerk at Lowe's or Home Depot should know. I'm sure you could also add it to a paint sprayer for an extra smooth finish. Also, use several thin coats of paint and lightly sand between with extra fine grit sandpaper.
  • HomeRight HomeRight on Apr 06, 2015
    Thank you for the endorsement @Evey's Creations
  • Leslieb127 Leslieb127 on Apr 06, 2015
    Please check out Pinterest. There are some really great tutorials on there about how to get a factory-finish on painted furniture. As others have recommended, I prefer spraying the paint, but it's the type of paint that matters. Many many people swear by chalk paint, like Annie Sloan, while others have made their own. Good luck and hope it turns out well!