Do you have furniture with a high-gloss, factory-finish that needs a refresh? The kind of finish that’s so glass-like you’re not sure if paint will adhere to it? I’m here to tell you that painting over a high gloss finish is possible… with the right prep work.
This adorable three-drawer dresser I showed you yesterday had a very glossy, sprayed-on factory finish. Painted dressers like these come with a few unknowns… Unknowns that you have to consider before you ever consider dipping a brush into a can of paint. Unknowns that can be solved with a little sandpaper and primer!
Paint or Laminate?
This particular dresser was so glossy on the top I actually couldn’t tell if there were 10 layers of a high-gloss clear product applied or if it was a sheet of high-gloss laminate. So while you may not be able to determine the exact surface, the solution to dealing with a gloss finish that I share further in this post is the same.
Oil or Water-Based?
You may not know if the original finish is a oil-baesd or water-based. Oil paint was very popular and used by most furniture manufacturers. Actually, it still is today. That being the case, unless you’re planning to strip the paint, it’s safer to always assume you’re painting over an oil-based product.
If you were to paint over an oil-based paint using a water-based based, the paint will not adhere and will eventually peel. Trust me! I learned this lesson 20 years ago when we bought a very old investment house that needed its exterior wood siding painted.
My husband and I purchased some paint and had a painting party with our family and friends. You know the kind, where you supply lunch and beer, and they show up with paint brushes to help. The exterior of the house looked fantastic when we were done painting. Until… a several weeks later. The paint started peeling off the side of the house in sheets. Like wallpaper. It was horrible! It went from the best house on the street to the absolute worst.
The moral of that story is… always assume you’re painting over an oil-based product.
So whether you’re dealing with a high-gloss finish, lamniate, oil-based paint/stain or water-based, de-gloss and then prime (of course always taking proper precautions with gloves, masks, eye protection, and adequate ventilation).
There are a few ways to knock down the gloss on furniture. You can lightly sand the furniture in the direction of the grain with a fine-grit (120 or higher) sandpaper. The higher the number, the less coarse the paper. Sanding with too coarse a paper or too much pressure may create scratches that could be difficult to cover.
Another way to de-gloss furniture is to spray on a deglosser. I’ve use Velvet Finishes Ready product and it works really well. Basically, just spray it on, let it dry. It’s that simple. There are other liquid deglossers on the market; but I haven’t tried them.
Next, prime the furniture.
The standard rule is that you can apply an oil-based product over a water-based product because the oils will penetrate through the water; but you cannot put a water-based product over an oil (such was the case in my house example above).
To account for any possible oil, always use a stain-blocking primer. Primer adheres to almost all surfaces but the light sanding helps it do it’s job even better. The primer creates a protective layer between any original paint and the new paint you’re applying. This is also true if you’re painting over a stain, as most stains are oil-based.
These are the two primers I always have in my workshop. The Zinsser 1-2-3 primer is used when the original color is fairly light. The Zinsser BIN primer is a shellac primer that’s used when I have to cover a dark color paint or stain that has the potential to bleed through. Both are great.
In summary, lightly sand then use a primer.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I love and use myself.
Rebecca McKeon says
If you use chalk paint, so you still use a primer?
Vicki Blazejowski says
Rebecca, Chalk paint is advertised saying “you do not need a primer because it will stick to any surface”. Which may be the case, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need a primer in every case. If you’re painting raw wood, then use a primer. The wood will drink in whatever you apply first so rather than waste your paint, apply less expensive primer for the first 2 coats. If you’re painting over a finish that has the potential to bleed through your light paint color, then use a shellac-based primer. If you’re painting over furniture that someone may have used furniture polish on, then seal it first with a shellac based primer, otherwise the paint will crackle. Do not paint over furniture wax, or your paint will peel.