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.