The 8 Best Types of Paint for Indoor and Outdoor Furniture

By Corrie Pelc


Over the years, furniture takes a beating. Even if it’s inside your home, normal wear and tear can make furniture look faded and old, detracting from the room it’s in.


The great news is with just a simple coat of paint, you can easily take a favorite piece of furniture from sad to fab. That also goes for furniture you may find at thrift stores or on Facebook Marketplace — a quick coat of paint can make all the difference in bringing an old piece of furniture back to life.


With furniture painting being a hot DIY project right now, there are plenty of paint options out there today to choose from. The type of furniture paint you need really depends on your project, the material you’re painting, and the finished result you are hoping for.


Let’s take a closer look at the best paint for furniture out on the market today.


What Types of Paint Can Be Used on Furniture?

There are quite a few types of paint that can be used on furniture, and each one has a different purpose:


  • Latex Paint: The most common type of paint, latex is easily accessible at any local hardware store. Latex paint can be mixed to be practically any color under the sun. This type of paint is also available in a variety of finishes from flat, which reflects almost no light, to glossy for lots of shine. Keep in mind that latex paint bonds to the furniture's surface, which means it can be damaged if hit or can flake off with a lot of use. For this reason, this type of furniture paint will require periodic touch-ups, and you generally need to sand the furniture's surface and apply a primer before painting.
  • Acrylic Paint: Another common type of paint, acrylic paint is conveniently found in craft stores. Also found in a rainbow of colors and lots of finishes, acrylic paint usually comes in smaller bottles — a money-saver for smaller projects. Acrylic paint is a bit more durable but requires a pretty long curing time before it's fully dry, and you’ll also want to plan to use a primer before using acrylic paint.
  • Oil-Based Paint: When it comes to painting furniture, oil-based paint is a good pick as it is generally more durable than latex and acrylic paint. This is because oil-based paint actually seeps into porous materials like wood. However, it does need a longer drying time between coats and requires a well-ventilated area when using.
  • Chalk Paint: A relatively new paint on the market, chalk paint is a great option for painting vintage furniture. This is because once it's dry, you can sand it down to give your piece a "weathered" look. You can also easily find it at craft stores and even hardware stores, and it dries fairly quickly.
  • Milk Paint: Another newer paint option to the market, milk paint is a more natural paint option that is made from milk protein. Normally sold in powder form, it is mixed with water to create the paint — this means you can use as much or little as your project dictates at a time. You’ll also need to first apply a bonder to your furniture to help the milk paint fully adhere. (Bonders often come two-for-one in a primer.)


Test Factors We Considered When Finding the Best Paint for Furniture

Here’s a look at the factors we considered when making this list:


  • Price: Knowing how much the paint costs is important for factoring it into a DIY budget.
  • Type of Paint: Is the paint latex, acrylic, oil-based, chalk, or milk?
  • Size: Knowing how large the can or bottle of paint is will let the user know how many they’ll need to buy for a project.
  • Colors: In how many colors is the paint available?
  • Finishes: What types of finishes is the paint offered? Some common finishes include:
  • Flat or Matte: This type of finish absorbs light rather than reflecting it, giving surfaces a more modern look. Flat or matte finish paints are the lowest on the durability scale.
  • Satin: Definitely more of a luster, satin-finish paints are generally easy to clean. However, they can be a bit tricky as they sometimes show brush strokes too much.
  • Semi-Gloss: With more light reflection than satin, semi-gloss paints have a high durability, making them a good option for pieces in high-traffic areas that will see a lot of fingerprints.
  • Gloss or High Gloss: Gloss or high gloss paint is the highest on the durability scale and the easiest to clean. It’s also the shiniest, so it may not be suitable for all projects.
  • Durability: Can the paint be used indoors only or is it suitable for both indoor and outdoor furniture?
  • Types of Surfaces: What types of furniture surfaces does the paint cover? Common furniture materials include wood, plastic, and metal.
  • Preparation: What type of preparation do you need to do for the furniture before applying the paint — Sanding? Applying a primer or bonder?


Now let’s take a look at the best paint for furniture you can purchase right now.


Best Latex Paint for Furniture: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Premium Latex Paint

~ $11 at The Home Depot


A budget-friendly, fast-drying latex paint available in a variety of finishes and colors.

best latex paint for furniture


If you're looking for the best latex paint for wood furniture, look no further than Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Premium Latex Paint. This budget-friendly, water-based paint comes in 32-ounce cans that can cover up to 120 square feet of surface. This high-quality paint goes on smoothly and dries to the touch in about 30 minutes. Once dry, it cleans easily with just soap and water. The durable paint is designed to resist fading and chipping, and it can be used on both indoor and outdoor furniture. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Premium Latex Paint is available in a variety of colors in either flat, semi-gloss, or gloss finishes, and can be used on not only wood furniture but metal, unglazed ceramic, plaster, and masonry as well. 


Ideal for: Furniture DIYers looking for excellent latex paint that won’t break the bank. 


  • Price: ~ $11
  • Type of Paint: Latex
  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Colors: 30+
  • Finishes: Flat, semi-gloss, and gloss
  • Durability: Indoor and outdoor use
  • Types of Surfaces: Wood, metal, plaster, masonry, and unglazed ceramic
  • Preparation: Company suggests applying a primer before painting


Pros:

  • Lots of colors available at a budget-friendly price
  • Drys to the touch in only 30 minutes
  • Three finishes available


Cons:

  • Requires a primer for best results


Best Acrylic Paint for Furniture: DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels Acrylic Paint

~ $10 at Michael's 


A non-toxic acrylic paint perfect for bringing new life to wooden furniture and cabinets. 

best acrylic paint for furniture


DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels Acrylic Paint is a great option for refinishing wood furniture, shelving, cabinets, and more. This non-toxic acrylic paint comes in 8-ounce bottles that provide two-coat coverage for about 20 square feet of project space, making it a great option for smaller projects or detail work. Available in 21 basic and trendy colors, the acrylic paint dries to a satin sheen and requires no priming or sanding before painting. Once dry, DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels Acrylic Paint helps reduce any raised grain on wooden surfaces, and can be easily cleaned with just soap and water. 


Ideal for: Easily revitalizing wooden furniture and cabinets.


  • Price: ~ $10
  • Type of Paint: Acrylic
  • Size: 8 ounces
  • Colors: 21
  • Finishes: Satin 
  • Durability: Indoors only
  • Types of Surfaces: Wood furniture and cabinets
  • Preparation: No priming or sanding required


Pros:

  • Smaller bottles mean less waste for small projects
  • No priming or sanding needed before application
  • Help reduce the raised grain on wooden surfaces


Cons:

  • Small bottles means you'll have to purchase more to cover large pieces


Best Oil-Based Paint for Furniture: Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel Oil-Based Paint

~ $11 at The Home Depot 


A durable, dependable oil-based paint for wood furniture projects. 

best oil paint for furniture


Available in a variety of neutral and bright colors and three finishes — flat, satin, and gloss — this paint comes in 32-ounce cans, each one covering about 100 square feet of coverage. The paint dries in about 120 minutes and once dry, is super-durable and corrosion-resistant, which makes it a great option for both indoor and outdoor furniture projects. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel Oil-Based Paint can be used on not only wood furniture, but metal, concrete, and masonry as well. 


Ideal for: Oil-based paint lovers who want a budget-friendly option for their next furniture project.


  • Price: ~ $11
  • Type of Paint: Oil-based
  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Colors: 20+
  • Finishes: Flat, satin, and gloss 
  • Durability: Indoor and outdoor use
  • Types of Surfaces: Wood, metal, concrete, and masonry
  • Preparation: Company suggests using Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Primer before application


Pros:

  • Large paint can for the price
  • Can be used on both indoor and outdoor projects
  • Corrosion-resistant once dry


Cons:

  • Requires the use of mineral spirits to clean brushes and rollers after use
  • Takes a bit of time to dry thoroughly


Best Chalk Paint for Furniture: Country Chic Paint 

~ $24 on Amazon 


A low-odor, eco-friendly chalk paint safe for use on children's furniture and toys.

best chalk paint for furniture


Specially formulated for use on wood furniture and other home decor, Country Chic Paint is the best chalk paint for furniture you can buy today. This low-odor paint uses no harsh chemicals like formaldehyde or heavy metals, making it an eco-friendly option, and it's even certified safe by European Toy Safety Standards. Available in 35 neutral and trendy colors, the paint dries in about 30 minutes to a chalky, matte finish that is easy to distress if you'd like. The paint requires no special sanding techniques or primer before application, and once it’s dry it’s durable enough to be used on both indoor and outdoor projects. In addition to wood furniture, Country Chic Paint can also be used for arts and crafts projects.


Ideal for: Furniture DIYers looking for eco-friendly chalk paint for their next wooden furniture project. 


  • Price: ~ $24
  • Type of Paint: Chalk paint
  • Size: 16 ounces
  • Colors: 35
  • Finishes: Matte
  • Durability: Indoor and outdoor use
  • Types of Surfaces: Wood furniture, home decor, and arts and crafts projects
  • Preparation: No sanding or priming required


Pros:

  • Low-odor and eco-friendly
  • Dries in about 30 minutes
  • Safe for use on children's furniture and toys


Cons:

  • None that we can see!


Best Milk Paint for Furniture: Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint

~ $25 on Amazon 


A unique eco-friendly milk paint powder that bonds directly to porous surfaces for a durable finish. 

best milk paint for furniture


Another environment-friendly option for your next furniture restoration project is Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. Made from only five ingredients — milk protein (casein), limestone, chalk, clay, and pigments for color — this paint comes in a powder form that you mix with plain-old water to make only as much paint as your project needs. One bag of milk paint powder yields about one quart of paint once mixed with water, providing about 70 square feet of project coverage. The finish of the paint varies from a solid color to a stain depending on how much water you use. And Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint can be used on any porous surface without any primer — once dry, it soaks into the surface it's been placed on, binding to it directly for excellent durability.


Ideal for: Both environment-friendly indoor and outdoor wood furniture projects.


  • Price: ~ $25
  • Type of Paint: Milk paint
  • Size: One quart 
  • Colors: 24
  • Finishes: Varies depending on how much water you use
  • Durability: Indoor and outdoor use
  • Types of Surfaces: Any porous surface
  • Preparation: No primer needed; use with Miss Mustard Seed’s Bonding Agent when applied over materials with an existing finish


Pros:

  • Mix only as much paint as you need, helping to cut down on waste
  • Only made with five ingredients
  • Bonds directly to any porous surface without a primer


Cons:

  • You have to mix the paint yourself
  • May require a bonding agent if being used on materials with an existing finish


Best Paint for Outdoor Furniture: Majic Paints Interior/Exterior 8-9400-2 Diamond Hard RePurpose 

~ $15 on Amazon 


An excellent pick for outdoor furniture that can be used on practically any surface you can think of.

best paint for outdoor furniture


Although quite a few of our best paints for wood furniture picks can be used on both indoor and outdoor furniture, if you're looking for a paint that is guaranteed to stand up to the weather, then you'll want to check out Majic Paints Interior/Exterior 8-9400-2 Diamond Hard RePurpose Paint. This water-based acrylic paint can be used on practically any indoor or outdoor surface, making it very versatile. It requires no primer or sanding before application and hardens to a heavy-duty finish that will last for many years. Majic Paints Interior/Exterior 8-9400-2 Diamond Hard RePurpose Paint is available in about 10 colors and only needs to be cleaned with soap and water once applied.


Ideal for: Providing a long-lasting finish on almost any material that can last the elements. 


Price: ~ $15

Type of Paint: Acrylic

Size: 32 ounces

Colors: 10

Finishes: Satin

Durability: Indoor and outdoor use

Types of Surfaces: Wood, metal, glass, steel, vinyl, tile, aluminum, brick, drywall, and more

Preparation: No sanding or priming required


Pros:

  • Can be used on a wide variety of materials
  • Dries to a heavy-duty finish that will last for many years


Cons:

  • Only available in 10 colors and one finish


Best Spray Paint for Furniture: Krylon Colormaster Paint + Primer Spray Paint

~ $14 on Amazon 


A spray paint that dries to the touch in 10 minutes and comes in a literal rainbow of colors. 

best spray paint for furniture


If you read our buyer's guide for the best spray paints for plastic, you'll see that Krylon is a top pick when it comes to spray paints. There's really no surprise that the best spray paint for furniture is the Krylon Colormaster Paint + Primer Spray Paint. Available in a seemingly endless rainbow of colors and eight finishes, this spray paint is suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects. In addition to wood, this spray paint can be used on metal, glass, plaster, paper, and fabric. Being it has a built-in primer, no additional primer is needed before applying. The paint dries to the touch in 10 minutes and dries enough so you can handle it in about one hour.


Ideal for: Furniture DIYers who like the easy application of spray paint. 


  • Price: ~ $14
  • Type of Paint: Acrylic
  • Size: 12 ounces 
  • Colors: Rainbow of colors
  • Finishes: Flat, matte, semi-matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, metallic, and primer
  • Durability: Indoor and outdoor use
  • Types of Surfaces: Wood, metal, wrought iron, glass, plastic, ceramic, paper, fabric, and more
  • Preparation: No primer required


Pros:

  • Comes in a rainbow of colors and eight finishes
  • Dries to the touch in 10 minutes


Cons:

  • Requires a well-ventilated area for use
  • Needs about one hour to dry before handling


Best Furniture Cushion Paint: Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color

~ $6 on Amazon 


Perfect for giving furniture cushions, pillows, and other textiles a quick makeover. 

best furniture cushion paint


If you're taking the time to repaint a sofa or seat, why not touch up the cushions, as well? Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color is the tops in our book for painting furniture cushions. This fabric spray paint comes in over 25 colors, from basics to brights, that work on both natural and synthetic fabrics. Once applied, the fabric paint dries fast, and once set is permanent and completely machine-washable, and you can also use it on clothing, pillows, and tablecloths. The paint does not leave the fabric stiff — but instead soft and flexible to the touch. And Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color can also be used with stencils and other tools, so let your creativity run free!


Ideal for: Bringing new life to tried furniture fabrics, such as cushions and pillows. 


  • Price: ~ $6
  • Type of Paint: Fabric spray paint
  • Size: 3 ounces
  • Colors: 25+
  • Finishes: N/A
  • Durability: Permanent and machine-washable
  • Types of Surfaces: Natural and synthetic fabrics
  • Preparation: None


Pros:

  • Available in 25+ colors
  • Dries in fives minutes between coats, and 30 minutes overall
  • Once dry, fabrics are soft and flexible


Cons:

  • Works best on light-colored fabrics
  • Needs to be used in a well-ventilated area




How to Paint Furniture 

Now that you know what the best paint for wood furniture is, it’s time to get painting! Here are a few tips to make it a great experience:


  • Get it Clean: No matter what type of paint you’re using, you always need to give the furniture you’ll be painting a good cleaning. Just plain soap and water with a soft cloth will do the trick. And make sure it’s fully dry before painting, so try to do this step at least a few hours before anything else.
  • Sand and Prime: While some paints and primers may say you don’t need to sand your furniture first, sanding is still something to consider. Sanding with sandpaper or a liquid deglosser helps remove any old finishes from the furniture and really gives the primer and/or paint something to adhere to. If your paint requires a primer, you can apply that after sanding.
  • Use Good Painting Technique: When painting wood furniture, try to paint in the same direction as the grains of the wood, if possible. Use long, smooth strokes and a high-quality paint brush for the best results. And make sure to read the paint can or bottle and follow the correct drying times between coats. 
  • Let It Dry: While it may look dry and feel like it to the touch, your finished furniture piece may not be fully dry to handle or set outside. Make sure to follow the drying guidelines on the package, but if drying times aren’t clear, give the coat at least 24 hours to dry just in case.


Tell us about your favorite furniture painting projects and share your tips below!

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