From Beginning to End Table: How to Paint Furniture

Table After

The picture below was the only “before” picture I could find of my end table. A hand-me-down from my grandparents, this table graced our living room, and, more recently, Hailey’s room. (If you are wondering, below she is turning her iPod dock on and off.)

Table Before


The table had a round wood piece screwed to the top, meant to be used with a tablecloth and the glass piece as seen above. Instead of giving the table away I thought I would try to modernize it a bit. I unscrewed the round wood piece and discarded it, then filled the holes and other dents and dings with Elmer’s E855 Carpenter’s Wood Filler. After letting that dry and gently sanding the filler down, I was ready to prime. When you are painting furniture there is not much need to sand the entire piece down as long as it is being primed before painting.


I primed the piece using Zinsser’s mini foam rollers and Prime & Seal Oil-Based Stainblock Primer. To get as smooth of a finish as possible, I sanded in between coats with an extra-fine sanding sponge (extra-fine sandpaper works too). Be prepared for lots of touch-ups if you are sanding your piece.

Here is the piece fully primed:

Table Primed


Before painting I lightly sanded the primer once more. Using another foam roller I layered 2 coats of turquoise paint, replacing the roller with each coat and sanding between coats, according to the instructions on Bryn Alexandra’s blog here. The paint is certainly not perfect, but for my first furniture painting project, it turned out ok.


The last step was to coat the entire table with two coats of MinWax Wipe-On Poly. This protects the paint from scuffs and water while adding a glossy surface. If you haven’t used it, Wipe-On Poly is amazing. I keep old plastic food tubs on hand to pour the Poly into, then use a piece of old t-shirt to wipe the poly onto the object.

I had chosen a bright flat turquoise paint from Benjamin Moore (originally thinking this would land in Hailey’s room). I wanted a fun pop of color, but I don’t think I realized how bright this would turn out. It definitely brings some summer into the house! While working on this project I acquired a more perfect nightstand for Hailey’s room for $12 on Craigslist. This end table currently functions well as my kitchen catch-all but I envision it someday in a playroom.

Side-note: In the colander below are greeting cards we’ve received. I remember my best friend’s family (the Widmers) keeping greeting cards they’d received from friends/relatives on hand so they could grab one for prayer time before dinner. They would pray for whomever had written the card. We’ve started making this a family tradition for us as well – what a great use of cards!




  1. Andie
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Love that an end table that originally looked like that could end up so fun and new! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Posted July 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the comment Andie! Yes, now that I’ve tried painting furniture a couple times, I’m always looking at my old things with new eyes – wondering how I can update it.

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