Can you really paint furniture without sanding or prepping?

Can you really paint furniture without sanding? That seems to be what every single Chalk Style Paint brand wants you to believe.

the TRUTH about Furniture Prep

Every Single Clay & Chalk Paint make the same claims.

Even though I stand behind the brands I sell for their durability, color selection and ease of use, I don't stand by these statements in every situation.

DIY paint brands want to sell you on the idea that Chalk Paint automatically means less mess and more ease. Don't we all want that? So the sales message is NO sand or prep necessary. Honestly, I'm not totally on board with this "No Prepping or Sanding Necessary!" messaging.  I think it is too broad and will eventually result in you being unhappy with the final result of your painted piece.

Here's the thing, whether or not this is true, Chalk Paint is the BOMB. Whether you make it yourself, or find your favorite brand of chalk style paint that has all the colors you love, chalk and clay based paints are hands down the BEST way to transform furniture. But back to the question...

The short answer is: Yes you can. Yes, you can avoid  sanding 99% of furniture pieces that you may want to reinvent with a new coat of paint.

I just want you to understand my friends, that prepping and sanding are not the same thing. I'm not quite sure why they are always used interchangeably, but prepping is an action but sanding is just one kinds of prep option among many.

In other words, prepping as absolutely necessary BUT does not actually require sanding. Trust me though, you can absolutely paint furniture without sanding. Keep reading and I will show you my tips and tricks to prep without sanding.

I also made this handy video for you if you are like me, and want to avoid as much boring work as possible, but still get a fantastic adhesion.

First let's ask, "What's the fuss with sanding furniture before painting anyway?" What's the big deal about this step? I have some thoughts about this. Don't I always??

I think that when creatives think about sanding, they are imagining clouds of toxic lead dust swirling all over their body and their home. I see so many DIYers breaking out the orbital sander for even the simplest project. Why? Why? That is just not necessary my friends.

I have been in the furniture painting business for nearly 10 years and here's what you need to know about how to prep your furniture before adding paint.

1. Choose the right paint. 

Latex house paint is not furniture paint. Latex will inevitably peel off of your furniture as latex paint is designed to be rubbery when applied. If you want to use latex or acrylic paint make sure to "Chalk" it first. If this feels daunting to you, no worries, just grab some fantastic furniture paint such as Miss Lillian's No wax Chock Paint, or Debi's Design Diary Clay paint. Both of these are fantastic on furniture.

2. Clean your furniture piece.

This step is so you get off any oils that may seep through your paint and result in bleed through spots. Just get some household cleaner and a rag and get her grime-free.

3. Safe Sanding

During this cleaning step you can do some safe sanding by using a sanding sponge to help you remove any grime. This way you can "sand" without the dusty mess. The goal here is to have a clean and gloss-free surface for the paint to stick.

sanding block4. Use a Deglosser

If your piece still has a sheen my favorite product to prep furniture without sanding is to use Miss Lillian's First Step Prep. This stuff is potent so make sure you grab your gloves. Spray it onto a sponge and gently wipe across your wood surface and you will see your gloss finish disappear so that your paint will stick forever.

Look. We all want to know how to paint furniture without sanding. Its alluring. It's easy. We all want to just jump right into the fun part, the painting and creative part. BUT. there is nothing worse than doing all of that work and having your paint flake off (not in a good funky farmhouse way), or having ugly spots show through your masterpiece. 

If you don't get off that grime or that shiny finish your paint won't stick. That's it. End of Story. Mic Drop. Finis.

Have I made myself clear??

What about primer you ask? Honestly, I hate it and I rarely if ever use it. Why? Because if I clean and degloss well I don't need to prime. Priming is messy and costly but mainly because I often want the wood to show through nicely, or at least as my painted piece ages and wears I want the wood to peek through, not some crazy white primer.

The ONLY time I use primer is if I have a crazy slick surface or I have a LOT of splotches in my undercoat that need to be smoothed out. Oh and if someone wants me to go from a crazy dark color all the way to like yellow or orange. You gotta get a white coat under those or you will never get the bright color you want.

When I do prime I use Miss Lillian's Swamp Mud. It not only sticks to anything, but is thick enough to self level out any pesky divots in the finish. You keep the added texture or sand it back nice and smooth. Either way you will have a perfect surface to paint on.

Take just a couple easy, dust free steps, to ensure that your piece brings you joy for years to come. This is how I approach all of my pieces whether they are sold in my shop or they are custom creations I am making from my clients own personal furniture. 

Just make sure to #pickupabrush and enjoy your painting journey.

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1 comment

Am in love with your talent and products. This is what I have been wanting to do. Thank You !

Danna Francisco

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