How to Paint Furniture Without Sanding Or Priming [7 Steps]

Sometimes you want to paint your furniture without the hassle of having to sand or prime it beforehand. And while sanding and priming are typically recommended when painting furniture, there is a way to paint your furniture without performing these steps. We've discovered how to paint without sanding or priming, and we'll walk you through it!
Here are the steps to paint your furniture without sanding and priming it first:
  1. Prepare the room.
  2. Prep and clean the furniture.
  3. Fill in any damaged areas or holes.
  4. Apply painter's tape.
  5. Apply liquid sander.
  6. Apply all-in-one paint/primer.
  7. Apply additional coats as needed.
Please continue reading to learn more about each step. We'll also suggest some of the best paints for use without sanding or priming and answer some of your other furniture refinishing questions.
A close up of a woman upcycling furniture in workshop at home painting cabinet, How to Paint Furniture Without Sanding Or Priming [7 Steps]

Steps to Paint Furniture Without Sanding or Priming

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Close up of a woman hand holding brush painting pink color on a white wooden table
Though you may not be sanding or priming your furniture before painting it, it is still important to prepare the furniture. A good prep job on the furniture will ensure that the paint will last longer and have minimal chipping or peeling after it sets.
Tools you'll need:
  • Angled paintbrush
  • Painter's tape
  • Straight edge paintbrush
  • All-in-one paint/primer
  • Liquid sander
  • Drop cloths
  • Mini paint roller
  • Paint trays

1. Prepare the room

Before painting the furniture, it helps to prepare the room in which you will work. Bring all of your painting equipment into the room (i.e., paint, rollers, paint trays, ladders, etc.) and lay it on one of your drop cloths. Next, be sure to place the furniture to be painted on top of a drop cloth. Also, cover and surrounding flooring or furniture with drop cloths prevent any accidental paint splashes or spills.

2. Prep and clean the furniture

If you don't plan to sand or prime the furniture before painting it, you will definitely need to make sure that it is cleaned thoroughly. Remove any personal items from inside or on top of the furniture and clear out any cabinets. If there are any drawers, be sure to remove them from the piece. Next, take a dry cleaning cloth and wipe down the furniture to remove any dust, dirt, or debris that may be lingering on it.
Then, take a damp cleaning cloth or sponge and clean off the furniture with dish soap or all-purpose cleaner-- this will degrease the surface of the furniture, making for easier paint adherence.
Pro Tip: Be sure not to use any cleaners are soaps that contain oils, as they may leave residue on the furniture. This can make the surface more challenging to paint, especially given that you're not priming or sanding it.

3. Fill in any damaged areas or holes

After you have cleaned off the furniture and allow it to dry, it's time to make sure the surface is prepped to be painted. If you have furniture that contains wholes from punctures, splitting, or any areas where there is chipping, it's best to use a wood filler to cover these areas-- otherwise, they will stand out once you apply the paint. The best way to cover the areas without sanding down wood fillers is to use a putty knife. 
When you apply the filler using the putty knife, be sure to drag the knife over the holes so that it flexes and completely smooths out a filled-in area so that it's not protruding from the surface of the furniture. Remember, you don't want to go back to sand areas where the wood filler is sticking out. And if you paint over it without smoothing it out you will have a bumpy paint job.

4. Apply painter's tape

Now it's time to apply your painter's tape to the furniture. Tear off your painter's tape in strips that are about a third of the length of the furniture-- this prevents you from tearing off too much at a time. Apply the tape to any hinges on the furniture and any areas where there is hardware, metal, or other surfaces not to be painted. If your furniture is attached to a wall, be sure to cover the furniture's edges where it meets the wall.

5. Apply liquid sander

Once you applied your painter's tape, you can now apply a liquid sander to the furniture. The liquid sander is a chemical solution that will help to de-gloss the furniture and make the surface easier for the paint to adhere. Take your cleaning cloth and liberally apply the liquid sander. Then run the cloth over the furniture starting from the left side (and the inside if it's a cabinet).
Be sure to wear protective gloves, and you may want to wear a ventilation mask as well, as the fumes from liquid sander can be a bit smelly. After applying the sander, allow it to dry anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. You can tell that the liquid sander is dry when it looks a few shades lighter than it did during its application.

6. Apply all-in-one paint/primer

Once your liquid sander dries, you can now apply your first coat of paint. Be sure first to mix up your primer/paint using a paint stirrer to ensure that all of the chemicals are not settled at the bottom. Next, take your angled paintbrush and paint along the furniture's edges to cover the hard-to-reach places such as corners, edges near walls, and around any doors or hardware.
Then, take your straight edge paintbrush, paint the remaining sections of the furniture starting on the left side, and work your way to the right side. If you are painting a large piece, it may be easier to use a mini paint roller. Be sure to use long, smooth strokes while you're painting to avoid visible brush strokes and ensure full coverage.

7. Apply additional coats as needed

Often, all-in-one paints will only need one additional coat, so be sure to check the back of the label before applying extra coats to the furniture.

Can You Prime Furniture Without Sanding?

Covering varnish of old wooden table
You can absolutely prime furniture without sanding it first. You'll often see higher quality primers with a label that says no sanding necessary, meaning that they will adhere just fine without the extra step of sanding the furniture first. It's important to note that these primers are typically more expensive than others, but the additional cost may be worth it if you are looking to save time with your painting project.

What Happens If You Don't Sand Before Painting?

The biggest reason to sand surfaces before painting is to help the paint adhere better to the surface and smooth out any uneven surfaces such as cracks, holes, and dents. However, if you have a quality primer, then you can definitely paint without sanding first. You can also use a no sanding primer or liquid sanders to ensure good paint adhesion top-notch results.

What Kind Of Paint Can You Use On Furniture Without Sanding?

There are a few paint options available if you don't want to sand furniture before painting it.

Bonding Primers

Bonding primers are designed specifically to work on areas that may be challenging to paint. They're made to help paint adhere (or bond to) a wide range of surfaces (i.e., brick. glass, vinyl, metal, etc.). 

Milk Paint

You can also use milk paint if you don't plan on sanding the furniture first. Milk paint can be applied in the same way as traditional paint, and it contains ingredients that help it adhere to surfaces better (which makes it way more expensive than regular latex or oil-based paint).

Chalk Paint

This type of paint requires no prep work. Chalk paint is a very adhesive paint thanks to its thick viscosity-- it sticks to almost any surface. Chalk paint can be used on wood, walls, glass, metal, plastic, in a range of other materials. 

Is Paint And Primer In One Better?

This is a question that is often debated amongst professional painters and home improvement experts. And the truth is that several all-in-one primers on the market will do a great job and have beautiful finished results. However, when it comes to working on raw wood surfaces or materials that paint may have difficulty bonding to, it is still recommended to use a traditional primer first.

Wrapping Things Up

Sometimes, it may be helpful to first test out a small piece of the furniture to decide whether or not skipping the steps of sanding and priming will impact the final finished results. If it does, you can always go back and simply sand the area, prime it, and then paint it.
Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts: 
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