The Best Primer for Furniture Painting

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By Daniela Klein

Updated: Mar 11, 2024

8 min read

Best Primer for Furniture
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    Primer serves multiple purposes beyond promoting adhesion for subsequent coats of paint. It seals the initial paint layer and addresses wet spots like tannins on untreated wood, preventing uneven paint and odours on older painted furniture. Additionally, it's advisable to use a wood primer even on new wood to prevent potential issues with uneven finish. However, primer shouldn't be used as a topcoat of paint, as it's not designed to withstand outdoor elements.

    There are various types of primers available, each with specific applications, such as Shellac Primer for blocking smells and stains, Clear Primer for showcasing wood grain. Bonding Primer for smooth surfaces and Regular Primer for providing a suitable painting surface. The choice of primer depends on factors like personal preference and the type of paint being used.

    Various Types of Primers Serve Different Purposes

    Various Types of Primers
    Photo: Bold Wall Flowers

    Shellac Primer

    It effectively blocks odours and stains while protecting the paint layer above from future stains and bleed-through, which can occur due to tannins in the wood. For instance, when painting dark wood furniture a lighter colour like pink or white, Shellac primer serves as an ideal base coat to ensure the wood's colour doesn't affect the final result and prevents bleed-through. Additionally, it's useful for working with materials like Melamine, preventing paint from seeping in and causing bubbling.

    Clean Primer

    This type of undercoat is utilised when aiming to retain the natural grain and character of the wood beneath the final coat of paint. For instance, if intending to paint wooden furniture in black while still showcasing some of its original wood features, opting for a transparent undercoat is advisable.

    Priming and painting the wood furniture as usual, allowing it to dry thoroughly. Subsequently, after the paint has dried, one can create a distressed appearance by gently rubbing a damp cloth over the surface to partially reveal the wood textures underneath. This technique imparts an antique and refined aesthetic to the freshly painted wooden furniture piece.

    Adhesion or Bonding Primer

    An adhesion or bonding primer is typically applied to smooth surfaces such as glass, melamine, plastic, and particle board. If you are painting a furniture only to see that  paint peel off once it dries, you can avoid these issues by using a suitable bonding primer that makes sure paint and structure bonds together.

    Regular Primer

    This introductory layer ensures a suitable base for your fresh paint application. Opting for a quality primer can reduce the need for additional coats of paint and is particularly useful for refurbishing wooden furniture. Experts recommend matching the tint of your primer to your chosen paint colours, enhancing the final appearance and simplifying the painting task.

    Steps for Best Primer Applications for Your Furniture

    Step 1- Preparing

    Start by thoroughly cleaning the furniture ensuring all dust and debris are removed. Take special care to wipe down surfaces as needed. Use this opportunity to clean out any drawers and eliminate dirt and grime buildup.

    Step 2- Covering

    Cover off the attached hardware from the furniture such as  knobs or handles  After covering the old hardware, move everything outside and set up your workspace for priming and painting.

    Step 3- Sanding

    Prepare your furniture by sanding it thoroughly. Sanding removes the glossy top layer, ensuring that the primer adheres properly. It also helps in correcting imperfections and removing stains, leaving the surface clean and smooth for a perfect finish.For wood, begin with coarse sandpaper like 80-grit, gradually progressing to finer grits to eliminate scratch marks.

    Step 4- Priming

    Apply primer evenly over the entire furniture surface. Gently apply the primer for the initial coat, allowing it to dry for approximately an hour before applying subsequent coats. It's advisable to apply 2-3 thin coats for optimal coverage. Two light coats yielded satisfactory results due to the primer's excellent coverage.

    Once the primer is completely dry, proceed to paint the furniture with your chosen colour.

    Also Read: Orange Paint : Transform Your Space with Vibrant Hues


    Paint is not suitable for priming tasks, as its main purpose is to provide an appealing and flawless surface. Primer, being denser, can effectively fill substrate pores and seal it. Selecting the appropriate primer is crucial for achieving optimal results, irrespective of the finishing technique employed. Therefore, incorporating a primer into the concluding phase of your project is important for a successful outcome.

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