How to Upcycle Furniture

Ok, so the most important thing to know is that you don’t need lots of expensive tools to upcycle furniture. Really all you need is a piece of furniture, obviously, some sand paper, a foam roller, a foam brush, rags, water, primer (not required if using chalk paint) and clear varnish or wax.

Rule # 1 – Remove the hardware and sand – remove knobs or handles, hinges, latches etc.. then, most important, ALWAYS sand your furniture!

There are a lot of sites and blogs that claim sanding isn’t necessary but it really is. If you want it to last, definitely sand first. Usually about 150 – 180 grit sandpaper is good. You don’t need to go mad with it, you’re just trying to rough up the surfaces, but do make sure you sand all of the surfaces.

Rule # 2 Remove the residue – make sure you wipe your piece of furniture down afterwards to remove any particles. A damp tack cloth or rag is perfect for the job.

Rule # 3 – Primer – A good wood primer to use is Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 primer, but if you are doing a laminate piece, Zinsser B-I-N Shellac based primer is the one to use.

If you are able to spend a bit more money on your primer and paint there are also some great non toxic and more eco friendly options provided by Earthborn and Auro.

Using a foam brush, cover the whole piece not forgetting all the little nooks and crannies. Allow to dry for the allotted time. Once it is fully dry you will need to lightly sand it again, probably with 220 grit sandpaper, to remove any drips, then once again wipe it down with your damp rag or cloth.

Rule # 4 – Paint – Now it’s the fun part. Using a foam roller, apply your chosen paint colour. You will probably need 2 or 3 coats of this, allowing 6 – 8 hours in between coats. It is also important to sand between coats to remove drips.

Once your final coat is dry, wipe down your furniture again removing all residue (use a clean/new cloth for this).

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Rule # 5 – Protection – The best way to finish off your upcycled furniture is with a clear varnish or wax. Using a foam roller, apply a thin coat all over the furniture making sure to lightly roller over it again to smooth it out. If using wax, apply the wax to a microfiber cloth and rub it into the furniture all over making sure to get into all the little nooks.

Once dry, re-attach the hardware or attach new hardware and it’s ready.

Now you know how to do it, take your upcycling furniture ideas and go for it!