There are many reasons why you should paint furniture with latex paint, also known as water-based paint. I've listed 11 reasons along with great tips like where you can find great deals on latex paint, what sheen to use, how to have a custom paint color mixed, and more. Once you learn about painting furniture with latex paint, you can update your old furniture!
Painted furniture makeovers are super easy with latex paint. Some people will tell you differently and that's their opinion. The first type of paint I used on furniture was latex. That was back in the day before paint shelves at hardware stores and shops online were overrun with specialty furniture paints. I use some of those specialty paints on occasion but I use latex paint more often than not and I'm going to share the reasons with you. Disclaimer: My opinions are based on my experience using latex paints. I am not a professional contractor or paint expert.
This post probably won’t be a hit with the folks who sell specialty furniture paints. At one time I sold specialty furniture paints…and more than one kind…but I got out of that business. Furniture paints are on every street corner, in every antique mall, on Amazon, and just about anywhere there is an empty spot on a store shelf.
11 Reasons Why You Should Paint Furniture With Latex Paint
Latex paint is readily available at hardware stores, home improvement stores, department stores, paint stores, etc. It can also be ordered online. Did you know you can even buy latex paint at Target? The paint at Target is premixed and there isn't a broad selection.
Price is probably tied with availability for the number one reason I use latex paint. Let’s face it, most of the furniture paints are a little on the pricey side. Latex paint is a fraction of the cost of these paints. I’ll let you in on a little secret too. Most stores that custom-mix paint colors have a shelf where you can find “oops” paint at a greatly reduced price.
Oops paint is a custom mix color that a homeowner selected and then decided they didn’t like the color. The store will mark the paint down considerably. I have purchased quarts of oops paint for $4 where the regular price would have been $18, and gallons of oops paint for $8-$10 where the regular price would have been $38+. A lot of times, you can find sample jars of paint on the oops shelf, and those are as low in price as 50 cents.
You would be surprised how much paint is in those samples, usually enough for a nightstand or vintage wood sewing cabinet. If you don’t see any oops paint at your local hardware store, ask the paint guy where you can find it. You can also purchase latex paint at a big discount at Habitat Restores. Some DIY’ers and contractors donate leftover paints from home projects to Habitat Restore.
Sometimes you can get new cans of paint at Habitat too. There may be other stores in your area that also collect paint to resell. It would be worthwhile to check listings in your area for this type of shop.
3. Color Selection
There are endless displays of paint color chips in the stores. You can get your own paint deck from the manufacturer for a price. There are thousands and thousands of paint colors to choose from. Sometimes when taking a break in the workshop, I look through my paint decks for inspiration.
Custom latex paint color for furniture and walls!
You can also have your own custom color mixed up to match wallpaper, fabric, wall color, etc. I mixed a custom color for our bedroom furniture, and you can see the dresser makeover here. And here is a little secret I learned from my friend Karianne, Thistlewood Farms, and I have yet to try it. It's hard to explain, so I'm going to give you an example.
Say you paint your cabinets dark gray, and you want your kitchen island to be just a bit lighter, but the next color on the paint chip is too light. You can ask the guy at the paint store to make 50% formula or any percentage of your color to white paint. This will give you a lighter shade of that dark gray. Genius huh! Kari says they can only do this mix at a paint store like Sherwin Williams, etc.
Latex paint comes in a variety of sheens. The following sheens are usually available from the paint manufacturer; Matte/Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss, Gloss, and Hi-Gloss. At this time, my favorite sheen for furniture is Flat (or Matte, depending on the manufacturer), and a close second is Eggshell. I like Hi-Gloss for the retro-modern look that’s trending now.
5. All In One Product
Paint & Primer and sometimes sealer (if needed) combination paint is the norm. For most projects, there is no need to buy an additional primer product. The same is true for a sealer or top coat, which is not needed. Win-Win!
6. Wax, Sealant, Top-Coat Not Required
In most instances, a top coat on furniture is not needed for latex paint. If painting a dining room table, I would use a sealer or top-coat over any paint type. If you need to seal or wax over latex paint there are many products to choose from. Specialty furniture paints require their own special waxes and sealers, which are usually pricy.
7. Quality And Durability
When buying latex paint stick with top brands and manufacturers. Paint quality and durability have been steadily getting better and better over the last few years. I've used a number of paint brands that cover in one coat! It all depends on the color you are using and what color or stained finish you are covering. Latex paint is also resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling, which makes it a great option for furniture that will be used regularly.
8. Paint Furniture With Latex Paint: Custom Mixes
The best thing about latex paint is the ability to have the color of your dreams. Take in a favorite blanket, decorator pillow, rug, fabric, you name it,and the paint guy can match the color to a tee or pretty darn close.
Junktion Red Cedar Chest Antiqued With Wax
I love to combine my own colors at home until I come up with the perfect color for a project. For example, I mixed a fabulous red from different latex colors in my stash. I liked it so well I brushed some on a paint stirrer and had Home Depot color match the paint for me. It's called Junktion Red!
9. Special Paint Techniques Friendly
Latex paint can be distressed, antiqued, aged, white-washed, glazed, crackled, stenciled, decoupaged over, etc. You name it, I haven’t found a technique I couldn’t use on latex-painted furniture.
Latex paint can be used in a paint sprayer. I often use it in my HomeRight Finish Max Sprayer. Foam brushes, bristle brushes, and rollers can apply latex paint.
10. Ease of Use
Buy the latex paint of your choice, bring it home, shake or stir, and paint. There is no mixing of powders or painting with lumpy paint. Clean-up after painting the furniture is easy since latex paint is water-based.
11. Paint Samples!
I talked about the paint samples earlier but I didn't mention how useful they are. Most specialty furniture paints don't come in sample sizes. You have to pay the big price for the big jar.....and what if it isn't the color you thought you wanted. No returns. Most latex paint companies have sample sizes you can purchase for less than $6.
12. Use Latex Paint in a Paint Sprayer
Use a paint sprayer filled with latex paint to paint any type of furniture. It will make the job go much faster. The latex paint will need to be thinned with water when using a paint sprayer.
Painting a piece like this metal glider is much easier with a paint sprayer.
13. Latex Paint is Available in Specialty Finishes
Now you can get metallic paint in latex paint. At one time, metallic paints were oil-based....and messy. You can buy chalkboard latex paint and dry-erase board latex paint.
Now you know why I paint furniture using latex paint! The following furniture makeovers feature latex paint. To see the complete makeover with paint information and more photos, just click the photo or the link below it.
Painted Furniture Makeovers using Latex Paint.....
White Chest with Metallic Gold Knobs
White paint is so classy. Paint a chest of drawers for your bedroom or a stunning piece for your foyer. Did you know there is an endless number of white paint colors mixable in latex or water-based paint? Just go to your local hardware store and check it out.
Nursery Furniture in Coral
Silver Metallic Paint Aged With Toner
Yes, you can even get latex paint in silver metallic colors and the metallic paint can be aged using a dark wax, toner, or glaze.
Highly, Highly Distressed Chest.
Yep, this one stirred up some controversy but I was patting myself on the back. I never know what a project will look like until I'm finished. Sometimes I'm happy with the results and sometimes not.
I've repainted furniture I don't know how many times because I didn't like the finished product. This one I loved but others didn't. To each his own.
I've received several comments about the VOCs in latex paint. Some latex paints are VOC-free now. You can find a list of them here at My Chemical Free House. You can also find a list of no-VOC paint here on House Beautiful. Behr Premium Plus is one of the Zero VOC paints and Behr is one of my go-to paint brands for painting furniture.
Do you have any latex paint around the house? Maybe some leftovers from a house painting project. Maybe you have a piece of furniture that needs a little love. Go for it! As always, thanks for being here and have a great day, Kathy
Author: Kathy Owen (Petticoat Junktion)
Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com, a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, and thrifty finds into unique home décor. Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Read more about Kathy here.
How can I grunge up a freshly painted piece? I'm especially interested in dixie belles dixie dirt. I like the look it gives. Or is there a similar product for latex paints?
Not sure if this is the look you are going for but take a look at this post....https://petticoatjunktion.com/painted-furniture/distressed-antique-white-furniture-paint-tutorial/ and
I am going to use leftover latex paint to paint a kid's table. You mentioned you normally don't use a topcoat but would for a dining room table. What type of topcoat would you recommend? I'd like to stick with something with zero VOCs. Thank you!
Jennifer, I'm not familiar with any of the zero voc sealers. I would do an online search and find something that way maybe. I have used Varathane and General Finishes before with good results.
What about prepping the furniture? I wanna do my my outdated dinning set.
Here in Canada, we recycle latex paint and stain at recycling centres. They in turn give the paint away for free to anyone that wants it. A lot of the paint tins have never even been opened. It is usually not enough to paint a room, but always enough to paint a piece furniture.
Thank you for the many great ideas and beautiful inspiration.
thank you, thank you, thank you for your validation! i have yet to take the plunge into chalk paint. i just managed to go through my stash of H4H Restore paints i have - all pints or quarts - and i found so many great colors to choose from! i've got a ton of things to get going on now!
As always a great post, I do the same, have mostly given up on 'special paints and their high prices. I thought of another reason Kathy, the price leaves a bit left over to buy some special touches like knobs etc.
I do like latex but agree with the above comment about vocs. Not everyone has an area to paint that is outside and/or well ventilated. I have a respirator but so uncomfortable to wear while painting. Are there any no voc latex paints? I though behr might have one.
Hi Vicky, There are actually latex paints now that are Zero Voc. I updated the post with info on this subject. Thanks for pointing out the chemical issues with latex paint.
With proper prep I've never had a latex peel. But then again, my items are not outside I use latex to be fiscally responsible!? although I love the other paints!!
Thank you for the great info.
Kathy, I agree with all 11 reasons why but what about the VOC's? What about the chemicals and the smell? Layte. Also peels. I have made my own. Half pai t out of laytex. Now you didnt add that to your list. 🙂
I have painted furniture for years also using latex paint for all the reasons you described. I'm not interested in the bazillions of other types of paint out there and researching the best ways to use them. Why bother, when you can get a great latex paint in the desired color and get fabulous results with it. Although prices have risen some, latex is still more affordable and like you Kathy, I always check out the oops and sample paints and keep an ample stash of those. In my opinion you just can't beat latex.
You really sold me!
Kathy, I totally agree. I have been using oops paint for years. I do like my DIY homemade paint too. But latex is easy! I really enjoy your blog!
Saw this link from "DIY like a boss" and I had to click! Finally some truth out there!!!! I have painted a ton over the years and like you, I love all paint types but the "chalk is the only way" band wagon drives me a bit crazy. Nothing wrong with it but yes you can create a jaw dropping amazing paint finish with good old house paint! And the myth that is wont last isn't true either. I have a beutiful piece sitting in my entry that my grandfather painted with good old house paint 40 years ago! Good luck with your article. People get pretty defensive of their chalk paint ? But seriously folks, house paint people, it is just as good.
Can you also use dark wax on late paint?
Yes. I find it works best on flat, matte, or satin finishes.
Thank you for posting this. I have an old dresser that I want to paint a darker shade of the room's wall color, and I was worried that the latex might not go on well or hold up. After reading your post, I'm going to try it! Your furniture example are beautiful.
Great post I haven't thought of using just latex for furniture. thanks for the tips! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Sharing on Pinterst! Have a great week!
Great tips on latex! Loved it, you're right it is pricey for some of those brand name chalk paints and I am not a wax person. It is too high maintenance.
I did try a cheap chalk paint from a local craft store to paint my kitchen table and it turned out pretty good with a coat of poly over it, but some other projects I rely on latex and the usual sprays for outdoors.
I'm with ya! Love latex paint, and I will add that those three dollar samples changed my life!! I just painted an entire twin bed frame for three dollars in paint! I love the durability of latex; I love how when you distress it the sheen wears down, adding another layer of color...it gives depth without added work or treatments. I have used chalk paints and enjoy them, but it is so nice having a a hard finish all in one (and much more cost-effective)! I'm lazy, I guess!