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The Ultimate Guide to Painting Oak Furniture

The Ultimate Guide to Painting Oak Furniture

Oak is a durable, sturdy wood that has a gorgeous grain and will last a lifetime if cared for properly, so it’s no surprise that it’s an eternally popular option for furniture. However, from time to time, it can do with a little livening up – if you’ve had a piece for a while and changed décor, or simply want to give it a new lease of life, you might consider painting it. Here, we run you through the ultimate guide to painting oak furniture.

Preparing to paint oak furniture
Like anything in life, preparation is key. If you think you can just throw on a lick of paint in an afternoon, think again. It probably takes at least four days to paint a piece of furniture. Make sure you have the time and all the items you need to create your own oak painted furniture.

The tools you will need for the job include:

  • Sandpaper
  • Paint stripper for wood
  • Grease Remover
  • Wood glue
  • A clamp
  • Epoxy or other wood filler
  • Wood primer
  • Wood paint

Cleaning the oak furniture

The first thing you’ll want to do with your furniture is give it a good clean. Make sure no dirt or grime is left on the item before working on it, otherwise you’re just painting over that rather than the actual wood. You may even want to use a grease remover to make sure it’s completely devoid of unnecessary contaminants; this is especially important when painting oak kitchen cabinets that may have picked up cooking grease and other dirt.

Strip/Sand and Dust

Once you have a nice clean piece, you’ll want to check if it has an existing coat of paint or varnish on. If so, that needs to be removed before you can refinish it. You can use a paint or varnish stripper for this and then, once that has dried, you should sand the surface lightly to make sure it’s even, and any excess finish has come off.

Make sure you then dust your item of furniture thoroughly to, again, make sure there is no dirt or dust left on it.

Undertake Any Major Repairs

Now is the time to undertake any major repairs that your item of furniture needs. For example, if it’s a painted oak sideboard with a broken leg, you’ll want to glue it back in place and then apply constant pressure with a clamp while it dries and finishes.

Note: If your furniture has doors, handles or any extraneous parts to it, it will be significantly easier to remove them to make sure you get an all-over even finish. For example, if painting oak cabinets, removing the doors and hinges will make it easier to get an even coat on all of the nooks and crannies as well as reducing the likelihood of damage throughout the entire process.

Fill In Any Nicks 

With major repairs out of the way, you can address the general wear and tear that might see nicks or scratches need sorting out. You can fill these with a wood filler, with epoxy resin being a very common option for this. Simply fill these dinks and dents with the filler and level them out as best you can. Then leave it to dry.

Sand Again

Despite trying to level out your wood filler, it may still be uneven so sanding it down is a good way to make sure it’s at the same level as the furniture’s surface. Continue sanding until you are happy that the surface is even all over and give it a brief dust down again.

Apply Primer

Whether you felt it necessary to strip the previous finish or not, applying primer is a very important step to refinishing oak kitchen cabinets and other wooden furniture because paint adheres to primer better than wood or wood finishes. There are different types of primer that can either be applied via spray can or paint brush. Choose the one that suits you best and once you’ve applied it, lightly scuff it with sandpaper to create a surface that the paint is more likely to cling to.

Apply First Coat and Let Dry

Once the primer has dried, you can start applying the paint of your choice. Oil-based and latex enamel are the most reliable paints for wooden furniture, and, like the primer, you can find options that can be applied either via brush or spray to suit you. Then, once an all over, even, layer of paint has been applied, leave to become bone dry. Do not apply any more paint if it’s still tacky.

Lightly Scuff then Apply a Second Coat

Like the primer before, you’re going to want to lightly scuff the first coat of paint so that the second sits on top a bit better. Again, make sure it’s even all over when you paint it again and leave it to dry completely.

Chiltern Oak Furniture Wax

Dry, Scuff, Apply Third Coat

Repeat the process of waiting for it to dry then scuffing the surface again before applying the third and final coat of paint. As always, make sure it’s a nice even coat and wait for it to dry completely before moving the furniture into its position within your home. Remember, there’s no need to scuff this coat as it’s the final layer and should now look nice, smooth, and revitalised.

Of course, if you don’t have an item of furniture to paint, you can buy a brand new piece, ready to go. Check out our ranges of already painted oak furniture here.