If you are ready to jump into painting furniture before you pick up that brush make sure that the piece you want to paint is going to be a good candidate for a furniture makeover.

What material is it made of?
If the piece you are considering making over is solid wood, then that is great. Furniture made from solid wood is the best kind of furniture for makeovers. Fair warning though, if the wood is a darker wood, especially a redwood, it’s going to be hard to cover the piece with a lighter color. You’ll want to apply a few coats of stain blocking primer to keep the wood tone from bleeding through. There are details here on when and how to prep furniture for makeovers.

If you’re dealing with a piece of furniture that is covered in laminate, you can paint it, but the paint will eventually scratch off over time. Before painting it, you’ll want to sand and prime the piece well. I also suggest using an oil-based paint on laminate furniture to give it more durability. Get more details here on what type of paint to use on various surfaces. 

What kind of condition is it in?
If there are just a few small scratches on your furniture, you should be good to paint it. You can easily fill those with wood putty, and scratches that are very shallow will often just fill with paint. If you are dealing with deeper scratches and gouges, then be prepared to fill them with multiple layers or wood putty and sand between each coat.

If the piece of furniture has broken arms or legs, I often stay away from it. Sometimes if it’s a clean break and I can easily nail and glue it back together. I’ll give it a whirl, but otherwise, I walk away.

Many pieces of older furniture will have a wood veneer on them. Often, this veneer is chipping off in places. If it’s just in a few places, you can fill these spots with wood putty. Sometimes, you can even pull the veneer completely off and just work with the wood beneath it.

If any of the current finish is chipping on the piece of furniture, you will want to sand it before painting to get a smooth surface.

Do you have to reupholster it?
Reupholstering pieces can sometimes be a 30-minute job and sometimes a days-long process. Upholstering pieces is not one of my favorite things to do, and I am by no means an expert at it. I only buy pieces that need reupholstering when it’s a simple reupholstering job, such as just taking off the seat cushion and recovering.

If you have more questions about painting furniture, be sure to read this FAQ post about furniture painting and visit my library of furniture painting tips.

Jenna LaFevor rants on at Rain on a Tin Roof about DIY projects, junk décor, thrifty finds, crafty creations and other decorating dilemmas. She went to UTC, where she got a teaching degree that now collects dust. When she isn’t trying to keep her kid from climbing out of the circus ring or making sure her husband’s shirts are taken to the dry cleaners so she gets out of ironing, she can be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cheap beer in the other. But if you’re buying, she’ll have a cosmopolitan. You can email her at rainonatinroof01@aol.com or you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @raintinroofblog or at her blog. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.