Everything You Need To Know About Painted Furniture Peeling: Problems and Solutions


Painting furniture to change its colour or make it look new again can be a great idea. If done properly, the furniture will look fantastic and last for years. However. If you don’t do this properly, you’ll find that the paint quickly starts to peel; leaving you with an unattractive piece of furniture.

That’s why many people choose to use a professional furniture restoration firm. It means the job will be done properly and will last. But, if you’re determined to paint your furniture yourself, you need to know the most common furniture painting problems. It will help you avoid the issue.

used with permission from Blackband Design

Failing To Prep

Furniture will usually have either a painted, varnished, or some other treatment covering its surface. The point of this is to make the item look good and help it to last as long as possible.

Eventually, no matter how well it was crafted, the outer coat will start to peel. This is when many people will recoat the item.

This is also when the most common first mistake is made. In effect, it’s failing to prep it properly. In short, if you fail to remove the original coating properly, the new paint will not stick and will peel.

To avoid this, prep properly by:

  • Washing the item with soap and water
  • Sanding it with a medium grit paper, all over
  • Removing all traces of dust
  • Filling cracks etc.
  • Cleaning again
  • Coating in your chosen paint

Sanding removes the old varnish and provides better adhesion for the paint. However, it can still help to use a primer before you paint.

used with permission from Blackband Design

It is best to sand with several grades of sandpaper. You should start with a coarse paper that will remove all the paint on the furniture. It is then possible to use the medium grit to ensure there are no bits you’ve missed. To finish, use a fine grit sandpaper. This will ensure you have a smooth finish, ready for your chosen paint.

If you don’t want to sand all the old paint off, you should ensure the topcoat has been removed and then sand the paint layer to scratch the surface. This acts as a key to help your new paint stick to it properly.

Poor Quality Paint

When you’re painting an item it is important not just to look at the colour of paint you like but also at what type of paint it is. Many household paints are latex-based. However, this doesn’t stick well to many items of furniture, especially wooden or metal pieces. In short, it will quickly peel. To avoid this, you need to make sure that the paint you choose is specifically designed for the material you want to paint. It will reduce the likelihood of issues.

used with permission from Blackband Design

You Used Too Much Paint

It’s much better to add lots of thin layers of paint to get a perfect finish on an item. If you opt for one or two thick layers the paint won’t adhere properly to the surface and will start to peel.

While it’s tempting to apply a thick layer of paint, the reality is that taking a little longer to do multiple thin layers will give a much better finish.

Failing To protect Your New Paint

Whenever you paint something you should add enough coats to get the desired finish and, after the paint has dried, ad a few coats of protection. This is generally referred to as a lacquer or clear topcoat.

It’s applied lightly in the same way as paint. The clear topcoat doesn’t change the colour or the finish of the job you’ve already done. But, it will protect your paint, making it much less likely that it will peel off.

It is worth noting that you can buy paint with a built-in topcoat. You may prefer to adopt this approach although you get the very best finishes when you use paint and a separate topcoat.

used with permission from Blackband Design


If you have repainted an item and it’s then abused the paint will start to peel. In some cases, this simply can’t be helped. It may be that you have boisterous children or that the item spends all its time in the sun and is often climbed on.

However, it s worth thinking about the level of abuse the item will take before you choose your paint. There could be a better option than you should have chosen. If in doubt, you can speak to a professional. Thanks to Glen Sheldon Furniture Restoration for consulting.


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