How To Use Spray Painting To Renovate Fitted Furniture – A Simple Guide

Spray painting is not just for the walls of your house, and it can also be used to give furniture a new lease on life. This article will show you how to use spray painting to renovate fitted furniture.

What is renovated fitted furniture?

Fitted furniture can either be that old bookcase that takes up a whole wall but looks a bit gloomy in its dark stained wood, or it can be that brand new bespoke bookcase that a joiner has made to fit into an alcove in your home. 

Not just bookcases either, wardrobes, media units, chest of drawers, in fact, any piece of well-made old (or new) furniture that you hate because of its colour but don’t want to throw away because it’s solid is ripe for spraying a new colour.

Obviously, if it’s “renovated”, this means old. However, the same techniques are used to spray new furniture.

Why is it essential to renovate fitted furniture?

These days we are all trying to do our bit for the environment, and one of the best ways we can do this is to keep that well-built old piece of furniture and repurpose it for our modern tastes. 

This is much better than adding to the landfill and spending a fortune on new, not quite well-built furniture. You get to save money, save the planet, and keep that old family heirloom that you love.

If you have a piece of furniture fitted into an alcove in the house, for example, a fitted wardrobe, then there is much less disruption to you having it sprayed. There is no mess ripping out the old unit, and no skip is needed to get rid of it either.

All these reasons mean that more and more people are looking to get their furniture resprayed to look brand new again and have a contemporary feel.



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The most common difficulties when renovating fitted furniture

There are several difficulties when renovating fitted furniture, here are the 3 main ones.

1. Preparing the surface correctly. Fitted furniture can be made from various timbers and even melamine, and these surfaces all need to be prepared correctly. Without the correct preparation, the paint may chip, or flake and even worse, stains may bleed through the finish coating.

To keep things simple, we will look at 3 of the most common surfaces used. These are melamine, hardwood and softwood. All surfaces need to be degreased with a suitable degreaser like sugar soap. Once degreased, the surface needs to be primed. 

Melamine needs an adhesion primer that will stick to the surface, you can buy specialist melamine primers if you are not confident with your paint knowledge, but most adhesion primers will do the job.

Hardwood also needs an adhesion primer and also a stain blocker to prevent stains from the wood coming through the paint. Contrary to popular belief, adhesion primers and stain blockers are not the same. We would advise using the adhesion primer first to bond the paint to the wood and then use a stain blocker next needed. These tend to be solvent-based, for example, Zinsser conversation.

Softwood needs its knots treated with a knotting solution to prevent the knots from bleeding through the paint and then priming with a wood primer. Softwood is easy to get paint to stick to, and any decent acrylic wood primer will do the job.

2. Using the correct paint system Once you have prepared your surface and primed it, the paint system will be the same. You choose many paint systems and brands, which is beyond this blog’s scope. We recommend an eggshell or satin finish; this is either a 10% or 30% sheen. 

Tikkurila makes Hemi 10 and Helmi 30, which will give you the sheen level you require, it is a furniture paint and is hardwearing. It is also water-based, so quick drying and non-yellowing.

3. Achieving a factory finish in your house. Spraying in a spray booth is easier than spraying on site. The booth is clean, the overspray is extracted, and no one is coming into the room and touching the work while it dries. It can also be left in the drying room to cure before being taken back on site.

All this needs to be controlled on-site. The area must be sectioned off so that no one can come in whole the spraying is being done; you can use a “Zip wall” for this. Any areas not being painted need to be protected using masking systems. Finally, it would be best to have good drying conditions for the paint, and the area needs to be warm and well ventilated.

What can the outcome look like?

Simply awesome!


Below is a checklist of steps to renovate effectively:

1. Empty the furniture and protect the surrounding area.

2. Degrease the furniture, allow to dry and then abrade with sandpaper. Apply knotting if required.

3. Prime with the correct primer.

4. Caulk and fill where necessary.

5. Gently abrade and then apply a stain block if necessary.

6. Gently abrade and apply the first coat of finish paint, for example, Helmi 30.

7. Depending on the colour, you may need more than 2 coats. Abrade with a 240 or 320 sandpaper between coats and apply the paint until you get the required coverage and finish. Spraying is quick, so it is not worth ruining the finish for the sake of another coat.

8. Demask the area and clean up.

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