Best paint for furniture – 9 quick and easy paints for upcycling

Give your tired furniture a new lease of life with the best paints for furniture

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

The best paint for furniture can easily transform tired or dated wooden furniture, giving it an instant uplift. In fact, upcycling is a quick, affordable and sustainable solution for revamping your interiors on a budget; all without having to buy brand new furniture!

Whether you want to spruce up an old table, chest of drawers, or a wardrobe, the best paint for furniture will enable you to get creative and craft your own one-of-a-kind pieces.

But with so many different types of furniture paint on the market, it can be tricky to know which option would best suit your DIY project. From the choice between eggshell and satin finish, to whether you should opt for an oil or water-based type, choosing the best paint for the task at hand will make all the difference to your overall look.

You can even give your kitchen a budget makeover with some of the latest paint options; if you're up for a bigger job check out our guide to the best paint for kitchen cabinets to undertake an affordable transformation.

But if it's an upcycling job you're looking to do, read on to find the Ideal Home team's pick of the best paints for furniture...

The best paint for furniture 2024

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How much should I spend?

The cost of furniture paints can start from as little as £10 right up to £50, but how much you decide to spend really depends on what you’re upcycling. Premium paints tend to have better coverage and require fewer coats. You're also likely to find a wider range of colour options with the more expensive paint brands. But if you’re only doing some touching up on a smaller job or just looking for a basic colour like white, then there’s probably no point spending a fortune on expensive paint.

What is the best type of paint for furniture?

There are two main base types of furniture paint and they both have their pros and cons:

An oil-based or alkyd type is more hardwearing and durable, and you can use it on most surfaces and usually won’t need a primer or topcoat. However, it takes a lot longer to dry and contains harmful solvents.

Acrylic or water-based paints are easy to apply, dry quicker, and have far fewer strong chemicals. However, you may need to use a primer before you paint and as they're less tough you're likely to need several coats, and accept the finish may be less durable.

How to choose the paint finish for your furniture?

Once you’ve chosen your colour, the next step is deciding which finish or sheen you prefer.

Gloss: If you want a high sheen finish then gloss paint is ideal. This paint works well on doors, skirting and window sills but will also lend a modern feel to upcycled furniture. Gloss is also easy to clean, wipe down and maintain.

Satin: This leaves a semi-gloss finish and remains brighter than a gloss finish.

Matt: If you want a rustic finish, matt can add a chalky, distressed style to your old wood furniture. Bear in mind, it is less durable so you may need a protective topcoat.

Annie Sloan pink bedroom with woodwork painted in same colour.

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

What type of furniture can I paint?

With a little imagination, most homeware can be upcycled to give it a new lease of life, but paint is a quick and easy solution for transforming wooden and even melamine furniture with the right paint formula. For inspiration check out our upcycled furniture ideas and start assessing that old sideboard you've been wanting to get rid of with new eyes... For an easy dining room update repainting an inherited dining table and chairs is always a great way to instantly change the feel of a room. See the effects you could achieve in these budget dining room ideas.

How to prepare for painting furniture?

While it’s tempting to rush in with a paintbrush in hand, preparation is key with most paints, although there are exceptions as with the Annie Sloan chalk paints. Before you begin, make sure you clean your surfaces with a cleaning agent to remove any dirt or grime build-up. Once dry, it’s advisable to lightly sand down to get a smooth surface which will make painting easier. If your chosen paint is not self-priming, then apply a coat of primer before you start your upcycling project. Then have fun painting!

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