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Painting furniture white or refinishing anything has many benefits. However, if you’ve ever painted something white, you know how hard it is to get a solid color. In my early days of painting, I had no idea that I could apply paint coat after coat and it will still not look like a solid white piece so let’s try a formula today and see how it works.

Painting white furniture is so classic and versatile, but it is one of the hardest colors to master. It also comes with a few unique challenges. Here you will learn how to paint furniture white without yellowing. For this purpose, I have compiled all the tricks and tips I use to paint white furniture.

White paint has very little pigmentation, so bright white paint doesn’t cover well and it needs more paint per coat than other colors. A white surface also makes irregularities and brush strokes more noticeable due to shadows. But the most problematic aspect of painting furniture white is yellowing. A nice paint coat can be yellowed over time for several reasons. In this article, I will share the method that I have refined over time with numerous customers who have been pleased with the results.

how to paint white furniture

How To Prevent White Paint Turning Yellow

White paint yellows for two main reasons.

During painting, moisture in paint can open the grain of wood and release natural oils or tannins. These tannins cause yellow streaks and splotches in your white furniture paint finish. So, painting furniture requires a clear sealer to protect it from water damage.

A sealer like polyurethane naturally yellows over time, so it should not be used over light-colored paints. However, even non-yellowing sealers occasionally cause problems over white paint. The yellowing may not be noticeable over any color paint, but it is noticeable over white. 


It is best to maximize light when painting white areas in order to prevent yellowing. Also, you can use oil-based paint in rooms and areas where there is a high level of light to prevent white paint from turning yellow.

Useful Resource: Here you can find details about whitewashing dark wood furniture.

How To Paint Furniture White

Preparing & Sanding

Preparing furniture for white paint is similar to preparing furniture for any other color. If you are interested in finding out the best method for preparing and cleaning furniture, I suggest our guide on how to prepare a furniture for perfect painting.

Cleaning can be done without sanding if your surfaces are in good shape! However, if I painted over the rough condition of the furniture piece, you would be able to see all the imperfections.

Therefore, I like to clean the surface using Krud Kutter Prepaint Cleaner. Though it is not as strong as Klean-Strip Jasco TSP Cleaner, but it makes me think twice about skipping sanding altogether.

furniture requires sanding to paint white

As you can see that the wooden table needs to be sanded down to prepare it for a new paint coat with an orbital sander.

We have got a pair of end tables that each had one drawer missing so we’ve got to patch them together and give them a nice coat of white. We’ll have to distress that heavily to give it a firm look.


If you want to paint furniture white, you should always use a quality primer. A good primer prevents stains from bleeding through and improves coverage. You can cover stains with Kilz Premium and Zinsser BIN primer. You should apply two thin coats of primer and wait 24 to 48 hours for the primer to dry completely before you paint.

Painting White Furniture

Using Cotton Chalk Paint from Dixie Belle paint

Choosing the right white furniture paint can be difficult if you don’t know what to use. There are several types and brands of paint available. For this project, I used Cotton Chalk Paint from Dixie Belle paint. White cotton is the purest and best choice for classic and clean looks.

Those seeking a simple decor will find this Cotton color appealing.

You can use this Cotton mineral paint to create the chippy and distressed look. In fact, you can use this color for any project. Cotton Dixie Belle Paint is an ideal furniture paint for chalk painting. Furthermore, you can use it to paint on wood, metal, brick, glass, concrete, and much more.

Now you have selected the paint for the wooden piece. There is one very big decision you need to make: Should you spray, brush, or roll?

As far as my experienced is concerned in DIY projects, sprayers are best for painting since they produce a fast, high-quality finish. In contrast to hand painting, it looks like it was finished perfectly. One coat of paint, including the drawers, takes about ten minutes.

A sprayer produces lighter coats with even coverage without brush marks. It is much quicker than brush painting.

On the other hand, If you don’t want to get the sprayer out and do a whole setup with tarps for smaller projects, you can prefer brush painting.

Whatever method you choose, white paint will generally require more coats. White has the least coverage because there is no pigment in it.

After that you need to sand your table between coats of primer and paint.

sanding between coats of primer and paint

Sanding between coats ensures a smooth, soft finish and it also allows you to see whether you missed anything. If you just want to check it out once, you can use 220 or 320 grit sandpaper. 

Now, you should remove the dust that you just created after sanding. After that, you can apply a white tinted sealer to it. Learn about the tips for white paint from Interior Designers.

Use A Protective Top Coat

When painting furniture white, I strongly recommend using a protective topcoat like water-based poly. I used Dixie Belle Satin Clear Coat that has a soft glossy finish. For wooden tables or any other furniture piece, I like using this Dixie Belle topcoat because it is easy to use and has low VOCs. You should apply a thin layer of clear coat for protection.

Another White Painted Furniture Project:

My baby girl has a new bed. It had a wood finish. So, I painted it all white with Dixie Belle cotton paint. I worked quite a bit on it, but it turned out well. This chalk mineral paint is amazing and easy to use. It covers well and applies smoothly. It was my first time refinishing a baby bed, and it came out beautifully and just the way I wanted it.

I took the pictures before and after white painting baby bed.

Before baby bed painted white
After baby bed painted white

Conclusion On Painting White Furniture

You can paint brown furniture white. It can be done. The secret to painting furniture white is Dixie Belle paint and primer! Here are the before and after pictures of painting white furniture. It’s amazing what a little bit of white paint can do, isn’t it?

Before painting white furniture
After painting white furniture

FAQS On Painting White Furniture

Can you paint white furniture?

White furniture can be painted, but a primer is a smart step to ensure a smooth finish. You can use an oil-based primer to stop bleed-through. Primers do not always need to be applied in two coats, but if you are painting something white, a second coat is always recommended.

Can you paint over white wood?

Yes, you can use oil-based paint, latex-based paint, acrylic paint, or chalk paint over a white painted wooden surface. However, the surface must be sanded and primed first to finish the paint properly. Afterward, any paint can be applied to the smooth surface.

Do you need to sand white furniture before painting?

Painting furniture white without sanding is possible. Depending on the condition of the furniture, you can avoid sanding. When painting your furniture, make sure you wipe away all dust and debris. Also, you can paint wood furniture white with chalk paint without sanding. With Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, you can achieve a stunning matte finish without having to prepare the surface in advance.

How do you paint furniture to make it look distressed?

The most simple method to make painting furniture white distressed look is to sand some of the paint off. It can be used on painted wood. It’s important to sand random areas that get scratched naturally, so it looks natural.

Martina Hitchcock-Holapaints writer

Martina Hitchcock

Martina Hitchcock is a versatile author with expertise in different fields. As a paint sprayer expert, she has in-depth knowledge of paint spraying techniques, tools, and equipment. Martina is also an experienced home remodeler who has worked on various projects, including kitchen and bathroom renovations, flooring installations, and room additions. Her knowledge of home improvement and remodeling is extensive, and she enjoys sharing her insights and tips with readers. You can follow her on Facebook.

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