Painting is the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to transform a piece of wood whether it's a piece of furniture, outdated trim, or cabinets (see our post about painting cabinets). There are only three steps to painting wood and you should be able to paint a piece of furniture or a room's worth of trim in one day. Cabinets take a little more work so be prepared to take your time for those!
Before you paint, consider staining the wood. It's a little more work but it can make the wood look beautiful - check out our tips for staining. If the wood is in bad condition or you know you want something more colorful, then paint is your solution. Here's what you'll need to do.
No need to sand all the way down to bare wood, just use some 100 grit sand paper to scuff up any shinny surfaces so the primer has something to grab on to. After you sand wipe the wood off with a damp towel or a tack cloth to clean up any sawdust.
This is the most important step! If you don't prime, the wood will show through your paint - even after 5 coats! Oil-based primer is the best primer to use over wood (more about primers) but it can be nasty to work with. It does not clean up with water, you need to use mineral spirits which are equally smelly. Make sure you prime in a well ventilated area. I wear disposable gloves and use a cheap disposable brush so there's nothing to clean up when I'm done. We really like Zinsser BIN for priming.
Once the primer has dried (check your can but it's usually pretty short - 30 minutes) it's time to paint. You can use the same latex paint you would use on walls. The way you apply the paint is up to you, you can brush it on, use a roller (or mini-roller) or even use a paint sprayer. You'll see brush strokes with a brush which gives it a hand-painted shabby chic look. Rollers and spray will give the paint a smoother finish.
Here's our book case that we brushed in two colors. The first peek at our re-vamped guest room!