If you are a fan of fast and easy painting without leaving any brush strokes on your furniture, spray painting is the way to go. But first, you need to learn how to spray paint furniture with a spray gun.

Using a spray gun is pretty easy once you know how to operate one. For example, you can quickly transform your chairs, dressers, tables, or other home decor items that have seen quite the best of age and traffic.

However, it’s no secret that several types of paint sprayers are available in the market today. These varieties can appear a little intimidating, but that’s what we’re demystifying today.

By the time you get to the end of this article, you will be familiar with what you need when spraying painting furniture, how to use a spray gun, and more tips in between.

Let’s dive right in.

Tools And Materials

  • Furniture
  • Spray gun
  • Paint
  • Paint strainer
  • Primer
  • Mask or respirator
  • Gloves
  • Painter’s plastic
  • Tape
  • Damp rag
  • Lint-free cloth
  • 180- 220 grit sandpaper
  • Random orbital sander
  • Air compressor
  • Steel wool

Steps to Spray paint furniture With A Spray Gun

Step 1: Safety and furniture prep

It goes without saying, whenever you have a painting job to do or any woodworking project to carry out, you must ensure adequate ventilation in your workstation.

Next, ensure you have a respirator mask, some disposable gloves, and goggles for your eyes. You can even go the extra mile and wear a coverall. (If you’re unlucky to inhale the fumes, follow our guide on how to clear lungs of spray paint for quick remedy).

The next step is to seal off anything and every part of your workstation from catching paint over-spray. To do this, you will need a painter’s plastic.

You should tape down the painter’s plastic to ensure that it doesn’t get blown around.

An excellent alternative to the painter’s plastic is the Wagner pop-up tent. Once you set it up, you’re almost good to go.

Prepare your furniture

First, clean your wood furniture with a soft sponge and mild soapy water to eliminate dirt or grime. Then wipe the surface dry with a dry rag.

Next, fill the cracks (if any) with wood filler. Once the wood filler completely dries up, proceed to the next step.

Use fine-grit sandpaper (180-220) for light sanding your piece of wood furniture following the wood grain. Also, smooth down the excess filler. You can use sandpaper with a sanding block or a power sander at your disposal. Sand lightly along the wood grain

Wipe the sanding dust off your wood furniture piece using a tack cloth, and then use a shop vac to collect every pile of loose dust from the surface.

Woodworking Tip

If you are working on chairs with padded seats, you should begin by removing the padded parts. If you can’t, do your best to seal them from catching the paint spray.

Also, if your wood furniture has any delicate vintage hardware on them -such as handles, hinges, and knobs- it’s best to unscrew them and put them in a separate container. This ensures they don’t get in the way of your painting.

But, should you find them challenging to remove or you just don’t want to go that mile, then seal them off using a painter’s tape or any masking tape available.

Step 2: Paint and spray gun set up

The choice of spray paint colors for wood furniture and spray paint type is determined by how much traffic your furniture gets. For example, water-based latex paint and chalk paint are best suited for dressers or furniture that doesn’t get much use.

Use oil-based paint for furniture that gets heavy use, such as dining or coffee tables. These paints will shield your wood furniture against paint chips, dents, and water damage.

You can confirm if your spray paint is waterproof if you intend to paint outside.

Open your paint can and give it a swirl using a craft stick or a clean stick to loosen any paint lumps. Next, strain the paint through a paint strainer into a clean container to eliminate any impurities that could ruin a smooth finish.

Thin your paint with about 10% water for water-based paints and paint thinner for oil-based paints. Mix well until you have the right consistency. In any case, check with the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions on thinning paint.

Spray gun set up

Different spray guns are set up differently. A user manual is a great explainer, have it next to you for reference when you’re in doubt.

In this guide, however, we’re using a Flexio Wagner paint sprayer. This is a High Volume Low Pressure(HVLP) spray gun. So, first, assemble the parts of the paint sprayer.

The front part of the gun is the detail nozzle: it could be yellow or black. It can be rotated vertically, horizontally, and even diagonally for different spray patterns.

Rotate the tip of the nozzle vertically for a horizontal spray pattern. For a vertical spray pattern, turn the tips horizontally. Finally, turn the nozzle diagonally for a diagonal spray pattern.

Next, twist and align the “unlock” arrow with the handle on the paint sprayer. Then, insert and twist the spray gun against the spray gun handle to lock it tightly. The tab under the trigger will lock the two pieces together.

Next, insert the air hose tightly into the connection on the spray handle, and attach the other end of the sprayer air hose into the air compressor turbine. This is where the air pressure that pushes paint out of the paint cup comes from.

The knob behind the spray handle controls how much paint flows from the paint canister. Begin with a low flow dial set if the spray material is thin and vice versa.

Too high paint flow setting gives too much spray material and ends up with runs and sags on the surface. In contrast, too low a flow setting will give an inconsistent spray pattern without full coverage caused by too little material.

Test spray your paint sprayer with plain water first. This allows you to experiment with the different spray patterns and material control settings. Only test spray with actual paint once you are comfortable using the paint sprayer.

You can paint a cardboard box, scrap piece of wood to test the spray.

Step 3: Priming furniture

A primer helps bind the paint in place for longer. Most paints contain a primer in them. But, applying a thin coat of a bonding primer never hurts.

You may want to apply a stain-blocking primer to your wood furniture that hasn’t been painted before. This will ensure the wood tannins and odor don’t seep through the paint surface and cause unpleasant discoloration.

Use a water-based primer if you plan on using water-based paint or an oil-based primer to go along with oil-based paint.

You can apply the primer to your furniture pieces using a paintbrush or a foam roller. You can as well use a HVLP gun to apply primer. The goal is to have a smooth professional finish.

First, unscrew the spray gun’s paint canister. Next, pour the primmer into the paint cup until it is 2/3 full. Finally, screw back the cup and lock it tightly onto the spray gun.

Spray paint wood furniture while holding the spray gun at about 6 inches away. Ensure your wrist stays steady when you make the spray passes: if you tilt or turn it, you will end up creating an arc.

Press the trigger down to release the primer. Spray the primer in long passes from one end to the other. Release the trigger once the spray gun tip gets slightly past the other edge of the furniture.

Go over the entire furniture with the primer and only overlap between 30 to 50 % to ensure complete coverage.

Remember to smooth out any bumps from the primer application after the primer dries completely. Use fine sandpaper and sand along the wood grain. Use a tack cloth to remove every bit of sanding dust.

Rinsing the Paint Sprayer

Once the entire furniture is primed to satisfaction, it’s time to rinse your sprayer in preparation for the actual painting job.

For our Wagner sprayer, separate the paint gun’s nozzle, paint filter, and paint cup for easy cleaning. Use plenty of water and soap to clean water-based primer or paint thinner to clean oil-based primer.

Put the solvent type relevant to the primer or paint type you used into the paint sprayer paint cup. Then, spray the solvent to clean the lines of the sprayer thoroughly. Spray until there’s no more paint color left in the sprayer.

Allow the parts of the spray gun to dry thoroughly. Kindly refer to your paint gun’s manual for detailed and specific instructions on cleaning your spray gun.   

Step 4: Spray painting

If you choose to apply a primer using a paint gun, the paint spraying technique is the same. However, pay attention to the following tips.

Spray the first coat of paint in thin coats. Then, allow it to dry fully for as long as the paint container recommends: about 1 hour for water-based paints and up to 4 hours for oil-based paints.

Lightly sand down every imperfection using fine-grit sandpaper (800). Then, wipe the dust using a tack cloth.

Spray a thick paint coat on the second coat for a durable flawless finish. Let it dry, and sand it before applying the third coat if you find it necessary.

Maintain the same distance (6 inches) away from your furniture for a consistent professional finish.

Once you pull down the gun’s trigger, keep your arms moving at a steady pace from one end of the furniture to the other. If you pause or slow down on the spot, you’ll end up spraying too much paint and cause it to run.

Occasionally, use a damp cloth to wipe clogged paint on the nozzle tip.

Related Post: How do I Get Spray Paint Off my Hands.

Step 5: Finish your project

Sand the topcoat to smooth out any bubbles or lumps on the painted furniture. Decide on the finish sealer you will use to protect furniture.

The most common way to finish your furniture is by painting polyurethane or a clear coat of wax. You can spray water-based polyurethane such as polyacrylic on your furniture following the spraying procedure above.

If you choose to apply wax, use a lint-free cloth to spread it evenly on the painted surface, especially if you chose chalk paint for your furniture.

Read also: How to spray paint a cardboard box.

Best Paint Sprayers For Your Furniture

There’re quite a number of paint sprayers available today. But I’ve narrowed down the list to two of the best HVLP spray guns for your furniture, based on personal experience.

Wagner Spraytech FlEXiO 570 HVLP Paint Sprayer

This sprayer has done pretty justice to my furniture painting jobs in the past; when used with a Detail Finish Nozzle, you get a smoother, professional-looking finish. You don’t even need to thin paint with this specific sprayer.

Cleaning this sprayer is pretty easy since you can take apart the parts that have paint in them and give them a thorough wash.

HomeRight Super Finish Max

is another professional sprayer gun you can use to achieve professional-looking results for your furniture. It’s equally easy to use for a smooth spray. You also need to thin your paint for the best results.

The only issue is with cleaning this sprayer. Unlike the Wagner sprayer, you can’t take apart the parts such as the nozzle. However, you can purchase their Rapid Clean Tool to help you clean the nozzle.


Can you use a paint sprayer for furniture?      

You can use a paint sprayer for furniture if you want a professional finish without brush marks on the surface. Using a paint sprayer guarantees a consistently high-quality finish and also dries pretty fast.

Spray painting furniture isn’t only faster than a brush-on but also evenly covers detailed cracks and corners.

Read also: Can you shellac over spray paint?

What is the best paint for spraying furniture?

You can use chalk-style paint to spray furniture. This helps you eliminate the appearance of brush strokes. You can also spray furniture using oil-based paint for fast application. Latex paint is equally an excellent option for spraying furniture.

When to paint and when to wash Furniture?

Prep furniture and paint it to add fresh color vibrancy to your furniture. And, color wash your painted furniture when you want a slightly distressed look.

Mix equal parts of paint and water. Dip a paintbrush or a lint-free cloth in the wash and apply it to your painted furniture. Wipe with a rag to create a distressed look.

What primer is the best for furniture?

Primers are a great way to give paints some extra bonding to the surface. They can be water-based, Oil-based, Shellac-based, or Latex-based

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac- Base Primer seals knots, stains, and blocks odors.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Primer is an excellent general-use primer that can block all oil and water stains on furniture.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer is a 2-in- product guaranteed to save you time and give your furniture an elegant smoother finish.

Zinsser Smart Prime is a water-based stain-blocking primer best for water-damaged or old furniture.

Do you need to thin paint for a Wagner Sprayer?

Yes, you need to thin out paint while using a regular Wagner sprayer. However, if you use a Wagner sprayer with an iSpray nozzle, it can spray unthinned paint.

Use water to thin water-based paints and mineral spirits or paint thinner to thin oil-based paints.

Can you use Spray poly with a paint sprayer?

Yes, you can safely spray polyurethane with a paint sprayer. The process of spraying poly is the same as spraying paint.

Spraying water-based polyurethane is an excellent way to seal a chalk-painted surface. That way, the finish is smooth and intact.

Can you use chalk paint in a sprayer?

Yes, you can use chalk paint in a sprayer to paint your piece of furniture. You can also spray latex paint, primers, and oil-based paints using a spray gun. Using a paint sprayer guarantees a fast and efficient finish on your furniture.


Having gone through this detailed guide on how to spray paint furniture with a spray gun, I hope you feel well equipped to give your furniture a new spray paint color.

Fresh paint could be all it takes to restore vibrancy to your living space. Prepare your furniture, paint and spray gun, spray then apply a protective sealant is all there is to upcycling vintage or fresh wood furniture.

Have fun using a paint gun on your furniture. Then, practice more until it becomes natural to you.

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