Home » How Do You Paint Dark Wood Furniture White?

How Do You Paint Dark Wood Furniture White?

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

Do you want to brighten up and modernize the room with light and white wood furniture? However, all you have are dark-colored ones.

So, how do you paint dark wood furniture white? Here are some tips and tricks on how to turn your furniture into a different hue.

How Do You Paint Dark Wood Furniture White? 

To paint dark wood furniture white, you need to clean it first. Remove all moveable parts, such as drawers, and non-wooden parts, such as handles. Sand the wood furniture in a circular motion to remove the gloss and allow the primer and paint to get a grip. 

There are several steps that you need to follow to achieve a solid white color over your furniture. These steps will also help prevent bleeding through the wood of the old dark color. 

Steps to Paint Dark Wood Furniture White

Painting dark wood furniture white may be challenging and may take days. However, it would be very satisfying once done and compared to buying new, quality furniture, this is the cheaper alternative. Here are the steps that you need to follow to paint dark wood furniture white.

A dark wooden cupboard with glass design

Step 1: Clean the Wood Furniture

Free your wood furniture from dirt and dust to avoid bumps and uneven surfaces after priming or painting. You may use a damp cloth or a tack cloth to clean it. Also, this is the part where you remove the drawers, handles, and other removable parts that you don’t want to paint white.

Step 2: Sand the Wood Furniture

This step is very necessary if you want the primer and the paint to hold on to the furniture. Use fine-grit sandpaper, such as 120 to 220 grit. With a circular motion, sand the whole furniture to rough it up a little or smoothen some bumps. If the texture seems off, you might need to strip the furniture.

Sanding removes the old outer coat of the furniture, making it possible for the new paint to settle on it. After sanding it with fine-grit sandpaper, you may sand it again with medium-grit sandpaper, 60 to 100 will do, for a smoother finish.

Cleaning the surface of the wood furniture is also necessary after all the sanding process. This is to ensure that the grains and dust will be removed from the surface of the furniture. Wipe it with a damp cloth again and allow it to dry before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Apply the Primer

Once the furniture is dry, you may start applying the primer. You can either use a paintbrush or foam roller depending on the size of the furniture you’re painting.

For smaller and narrower surfaces and intricate designs, you may want to use an angled paintbrush for even application of the primer.

You can use a foam roller for wider surfaces or if you don’t want to leave any brush marks. Just make sure to move the roller in one direction, the same thing with a brush.

A close up shot of a dark wood cabinet

Applying a primer to dark wood furniture before painting it will make your life easier and will save you a lot of money and paint. This will also amplify the effect by choosing the best primer for wood furniture.

In addition to that, the primer will allow the paint to stick to the furniture better. You may apply at least 1 to 2 coats of primer on the furniture.

Just wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying another. Once the primer is dry, sand it again lightly. 

Step 4: Paint the Wood Furniture

After sanding the furniture lightly, wipe the dust away with a fine cloth and you’re ready to paint. Choose latex paint designed for indoor or outdoor furniture. Even if you have 2 coats of primer, your still need at least 2 coats of paint.

Allow enough drying time between each coat so as not to ruin the layer of paint. If you want to achieve a perfect white paint finish and a more solid and opaque look, you may apply a third or fourth layer of paint. Wait for the paint to dry and settle for several days before putting anything in or on the furniture.

Step 5: Apply the Finish or Clear Varnish 

To protect your wood furniture from the elements and dust, applying a paint finish or a clear varnish will create a barrier. This barrier protects the white paint from getting dull and dirty easily. It will make the furniture glossy and looking brand new.

Common Problems in Painting Dark Wood Furniture White

It’s not easy to turn dark wood furniture into a white shade. There are some problems that you will encounter along the journey of your repainting project. Here are some of the common problems that you should expect in turning dark wood furniture into white:

  • Uneven finish or coverage
  • Bleeding through of the dark color over the white paint
  • Cracking and flaking of some surfaces
  • Blistering and bubbling
  • Brushstroke marks
  • Too glossy or too dull finish
  • Stickiness after drying

Most of these common problems can be solved by proper sanding, applying the correct type of primer, and applying enough coats of white paint. To avoid the stickiness and the peeling off of the paint, make sure to allow proper curing before the usage of the furniture.

Painting wood with white paint

Related Questions

Can You Paint Over Dark Varnished Wood?

Yes. You can paint dark varnished wood furniture white as long as proper sanding, application of the primer, and coats of paint are applied evenly.

The paint that you should use should be based on the primer that you applied. This is to ensure that it will stick on the furniture properly.

Can I Paint Dark Wood Furniture Without Primer?

You can paint dark wood furniture white without primer if you use mineral paint. This type of paint sticks to almost all kinds of surfaces. It is also durable and some brands do not require a clear varnish anymore.


While treating wood is a different task, turning your dark wood furniture into elegant white furniture is possible, yet challenging. Afterwards, the results may be worth your effort and time since it is going to be easy to mix and match the furniture.

Proper materials should be prepared and the right procedures should be followed to achieve an amazing white finish of your furniture. Problems could be prevented if you allow each coat of the primer and paint to dry completely before applying another.