We’ve officially kicked off the Buy to DIY Series and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m sharing all the details on how to easily paint wooden furniture with NO sanding required my friends! Our first Buy to DIY was with the Carolina Room Refresh, where we DIY’d a credenza. Next up we’re going to DIY our brand new wooden nightstands with liquid sandpaper for our master bedroom makeover.

The technique we’re trying out is typically done for painting cabinets. If it’s good enough for all the wear and tear cabinets go through, it’s good enough for a wild family of 4 with 2 rowdy dogs.

What you need to know about Painting Wooden Furniture with NO Sanding Required

Liquid Sander/De-glosser: Here’s the run down on a de-glosser it’s liquid sandpaper and it’s about to be your favorite product ever! You rub it on essentially if you are washing the piece of furniture with soap an water. BE SMART. Wear the protective gloves and face mask, it is a chemical so it will burn if you get it on your skin.

Primer: You need a good primer, no matter what the paint can says. A good primer is what will keep the top coat of paint adhered. What color paint are you planning on using as your top coat? Light or dark? If you’re doing a dark color like I did you need a deep base primer. Those are used for dark paints so you don’t have to do apply so many coats of your top coat. Whoa, that was redundant. Just remember a deep base primer for dark paints…saves you money, saves you time!

Top Coat: Since this project took place during “social distancing” and everyone staying home I worked with what I had in the garage. So spray paint to the rescue! A standard spray paint that can be used on wood, metal, plastic, etc. is what we had in the garage so that’s what I used.

Sealer: I need to preface that a sealant is not necessary if your piece is not going to be a high traffic piece. High traffic: coffee table, kitchen cabinets, nightstands. Low traffic: shelf, picture frame, accent stool/table. Use your best judgement on whether or not a piece will be high or low traffic. Spray paint is oil based so use a sealant that is also oil based. Just be aware, oil based sealants on white paint will yellow over time.

How to Paint Furniture without Sanding and Using Spray Paint

Using Liquid Sandpaper instead of Sanding

Safety essentials are required for the liquid sandpaper, so be sure to wear medical grade gloves and a mask.

Liquid sandpaper is exactly what it sounds like! You still have to apply pressure in a circular motion with the liquid. It’s extremely easy to work with, it’s basically like washing a piece of furniture with soapy water.

Do you see that soapy substance? All this is doing is taking off the shiny top coat on the furniture. Liquid sandpaper works on: paint, varnish, enamel, lacquer, polyurethane, stain, and extremely well for kitchen cabinets, molding and doors.

After 1 coat of liquid sandpaper had fully dried.

After the first coat dried, it pretty much looked the same and there wasn’t much of a difference visually. The liquid sandpaper is supposed to dry like a white chalky substance. Physically, the piece felt chalky and did not the factory finish from when I purchased it. Let it dry completely before deciding if you need another coat, we did 2 coats of liquid sandpaper.

For the second coat I poured the liquid sandpaper on the surface in a palm size amount. However, the liquid sandpaper works the best when the rag is thoroughly soaked. So using a bucket or bowl to submerge your rag can work just as well.

I used more liquid and and pressure on the second coat of liquid sandpaper to see if there was a difference in application. It was easier to apply when I had more liquid, but don’t put so much to where the liquid is pooling on the furniture like I did, it needs to be evenly applied!

I let the nightstands dry overnight after each coat of liquid sandpaper since it was below 52 degrees. The liquid sandpaper will dry faster when it is used in warmer temps! These took 2-8 hours to dry below 52-degrees. The bottle says that it should dry between 10 minutes – 1 hour which would be true if you use a light coat and above 52-degrees.

Liquid sandpaper is a chemical and the more you use the stronger it will be, so be aware of this when you are taking your gloves and face mask off. Give yourself the ol’ Grey’s Anatomy surgery prep scrub before touching anything else.

Prepping for Primer After Using Liquid Sandpaper

After the second coat of liquid sandpaper has fully dried wipe it down with a damp cloth free of any debris. I use painters rags for wiping down and sanding projects and they work great for these sorts of projects.

Be sure to wash your hands after wiping down your piece because there will be residual liquid sandpaper on your hands.

After wiping down the piece make sure it’s dry to the touch! You’ll see the finish is dull and chalky to the touch. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like a big difference!

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Priming Your Furniture

Let the piece dry completely before putting any primer on. I rolled the piece first with high density foam rollers for smooth surfaces (doors & cabinets), then used a 1.5″ brush to to cut in and get any tricky corners.

I used the foam/sponge roller on the spindles since it was easier than the brush. The 4″ foam/sponge rollers are the size of the spindle! The more you use the brush the more you will see brush strokes, so use the roller as much as you can.

By using a foam roller it will give me a similar finish a paint sprayer would. If you want to use a paint sprayer, this is one of my favorites.

We used Zinsser primer in gray, since our top coat is dark I need a deep base primer! When you use a deep base primer you don’t have to do as many top coats of your actual color. Saves you money, saves you time!

Using Spray Paint to Paint Furniture

A few things you should know about spray paint that you may have not known before.

  • Before using any spray paint old or new you should shake it until you hear the ball rolling around. *just like nail polish*
  • To save your hand from all the strain that comes from spray painting, use the Rust-Oleum comfort grip.
  • Rust-Oleum Comfort Grip clips to the top of the spray paint can and makes a wider spray and eases the pressure off your hand.

How to Correctly Apply Spray Paint to Furniture

Knowing the correct way to apply spray paint will be the difference between your piece having a professional finish or it looking like it was a kids craft. You don’t hold down the nozzle and spray like crazy! I clicked on before going over the nightstand and clicked off once I was off the nightstand, just remember “You always start spraying off and end spraying off.”

You need to spray on a light coat as you walk around the piece, the heavier the coat, the more chance you have of paint drips. I had my paint brush in hand and ready for any drips. If you are spraying outside you may or may not need a mask, but you 100% need to use a mask if painting in poor ventilated areas. I’ve used this one during pregnancy and post pregnancy! It was the best $30 I’ve ever spent y’all.

I used one can of Rust-Oleum Satin Finish per nightstand and used a third can for any additional touch ups. A satin finish is usually standard for furniture. When the paint is still wet you’ll see paint streaks, but it will disappear once dry. If you still see them when wet you either did not apply spray paint evenly or use enough paint.

Tip: When spray painting furniture be sure to flip upside down or lay on it’s side. You’d be surprised at how much you miss from only spraying at a certain angle.

If it’s cold when you’re spraying they will take longer to dry. I let my nightstands dry over night and they were still tacky. When I touched the nightstands I could see my fingerprints. That means they aren’t dry all the way through, just like nail polish!

There were a few places that needed to be touched up and I didn’t want to re-spray them. So I grabbed a paper plate and sprayed spray paint and used a small craft paint brush.

TIP: In order to touch up the spray paint or apply a second coat you have to wait 1 hour or 24-48 hours after allying the spray paint. If not your paint will start cracking and you’ll definitely have to sand the piece!

Should I Apply a Sealant to Spray Paint?

You need a top coat if you are using your piece of furniture in high traffic areas. Like I mentioned before, use your best judgement. You know how much you’ll be using the piece.

Spray paint is oil based and typically oil based sealants are applied to oil based paints. If you are spray painting your piece white and use an oil based sealant over the spray paint just know that oil based sealants tend to yellow overtime.

Most spray paints are oil-based, however, if you are using a water based spray paint and use an oil-based sealant you must wait 21 days for the paint to cure or your sealant will make your finish yellow no matter what you put on it.


Let’s take it back to how these nightstands look before we got all crazy with the liquid sandpaper and spray paint! These were a olive green with brown glaze added to them for a very farmhouse look. I actually like the green and when my husband saw them he cringed and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that face before!


Tada! Is it as good as you thought it was going to be?! DIY doesn’t always go the way the right way the first time around. I actually had a Plan B if using the liquid sandpaper and spray painting these guys went horribly wrong.

I think the best comment I received was “Obsessed – very Amber Lewis but DIY and not a million $$.” Amber Lewis is one of my favorite interior designers and I’ve been using a lot of her design projects as my new home inspiration. So that was truly one of the best comments/compliments I’ve ever gotten!

I loved these natural wood ones from Kalina and One Affirmation, but sadly they are discontinued. They currently only sell them in the olive green color that I purchased and white.

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FAQ’s on Painting Wooden Furniture with No Sanding Required

How well does liquid sandpaper work in the grooves and nooks? Are you having to go back in with regular sandpaper?

It works great in all the grooves and nooks because it’s liquid and where ever you can rub in the liquid is where it’ll cover. I didn’t have to go back over with sandpaper AT ALL!

Why is liquid sandpaper typically used on cabinets?

I don’t know the exact answer to this question. But, I can tell you why I think it’s typically used on cabinets, it’s an easier application! I painted my DIY Dryer Cabinets the traditional way: sanding, priming, sanding, 1st coat, sanding, 2nd coat, sanding, top coat. That’s a lot of sanding that you don’t have to do when you use liquid sandpaper.

Does liquid sandpaper help to remove stain?

If your stain has any type of top coat or sealer it will remove that. Liquid sandpaper is not a type of paint stripper, it will not take your piece down to the natural wood it once was. It creates a surface that will be easier for the paint to adhere to without having to sand.

Did I answer all of your Liquid Sandpaper Questions?

There were so many questions I answered just by writing out this tutorial y’all sent via DM on instagram and in the comments of my finished nightstand post. If you have any questions that weren’t answered please be sure to drop them in the comments so I can add them!

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Let me know if you have any questions about anything building wise or product questions! I’m an open book 🙂

For more behind the scenes on all of our DIY and home projects be sure to follow along on instagram @kourtnileigh. To see all of our inspo and upcoming projects be sure to follow along on pinterest.

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7 thoughts on “How to Paint Wooden Furniture (No Sanding Required)”

  1. What an amazing transformation! I recently bought the same set of nightstands and while I don’t hate the color, my husband was also not a fan! Haha. Definitely thinking I’m going to give this process a go. I have a quart of the primer on hand. Unsure as to how much you used, if you think that’s enough or if you recommend purchasing a gallon? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Thank you so much! I used less than a quart, so you definitely don’t need to purchase a gallon. We just had a gallon left over from another project! Can’t wait to see how these turn out for you!

      1. Thanks for your reply. We got spray paint on ours yesterday! We needed double the amount, but we’re working outdoors and it was a bit windy, so I imagine we lost a lot in overspray. Have you gotten the clear coat on yours yet?? Wondering how many cans of the Varathane Spray to add to my next Home Depot order!

  2. The link to birch lane is just taking me to their homepage – do you have a name of the nightstand?

    1. Hi Brett,

      Thank you! This was my first project using liquid sandpaper and it was a great experience. Glad you found the tips and project helpful!

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