While painting a kitchen chair appears to be an easy task, it’s not. Attention needs to be given to the physical state of the chair. Has it been in, or is it currently in a smoker’s home? Will children be using it? These are all special considerations when thinking about durability of the painted chairs.

No one wants to have to paint chairs every year. Very few people enjoy painting kitchen chairs at all. Yet there is a proper technique to it. If not done properly, paint can appear uneven. Worst-case scenario is that the paint won’t adhere, or either smoke or the previous color leaks through.

Properly painting kitchen chairs, while time-consuming, boils down to following simple steps. Doing this will help you avoid frustration and enjoy your newly painted chairs.


painted chairs



Properly Clean the Chair Before Painting 

First, food particles should be removed. The chair should be relatively clean before you apply paint. Prep work is key and shouldn’t be skimped on if you want flawless results.

However, what if there is a smoker in the house? The prep work then becomes slightly more involved.

Smoke embeds itself into any surface it touches.  It requires more than just a “surface clean” to get the smell out. Improper cleaning or masking odor will just make the smell return. Additionally, the smoke can bleed through layers, creating a very uneven look.

The first step is to do a spot-check using baking soda on the chair. This is to ensure that color doesn’t lift off of the chair. If, after an hour, the chair is fine, then coat the entire chair. Allow it to sit for 24 hours, then vacuum up the baking soda and remove the excess.

The second step is to clean wood components with Murphy’s Oil Soap or a wood cleaner. Do not use wood polish as it won’t get deep into the pores. Wood soap works best because it removes set-in smells, plus the tar from the nicotine. The idea is to cleanse as deep down as possible.

After the chair is dry (usually 24 hours later), apply a vinegar/water solution. Take one part vinegar to one part water and mix. Plain vinegar usually works best.

Spray the solution onto the surface. Then, wipe clean. Keep cleaning until the rag comes clean. Using this solution will further take out the nicotine and neutralize the smell.

Then, follow up with a lemon polish to seal in the moisture. Allow to dry and set for another 24 hours. Then, prime.

For smoke trapped in material coverings, use baking soda as outlined above. Vinegar and water can be used to neutralize the smell depending on the material, followed by a scent masking fragrance. This is the easy way.

To do it the proper way, the chair should be reupholstered.  The smell will tend to linger unless it’s leather. Then, you may be able to get away with a leather cleaner to get deep into the pores. However, the cleaner will need to be reapplied until the cloth comes clean. Using a white cloth is advisable as it allows you to ensure the chair is completely cleaned.

Additionally, some chairs have factory coatings that need to be removed. Their purpose is to keep the wood clean. A degreaser must be used before priming, or a light sanding.

If the chair has several layers of paint, consider using a paint stripper to remove all of the layers. While it is time-consuming, the end product is much better. Painted chairs that are older, tend to sometimes have layers of paint on them, so don’t forget this step. Being very thorough with decor painting ideas like this, always helps.


Chairs Should Be Painted Upside Down

painted chairs should be done upside down

Chairs should be placed upside down before painting. The underside should be done first as this is where tiny details get overlooked. A small brush may be required if there are delicate, ornamental etchings on the chair. Painting a chair upside down allows the paint to fill the small areas. This is especially important if the chair has any detail to it.

The first step should be to sand the area. This creates a surface for paint to adhere to. Apply the primer so that paint will last. Primer also prevents paint from bleeding through. Then, paint the topcoat. A brush or spray works best on any chair.

After this is done, you are ready to apply paint to the top and really change the color.


Use The Right Paint For the Proper Surface

While chalk paint will adhere to any surface, using it to paint over a rusty surface spells disaster, as it will bleed through the surface. Smoother textures can cause it to peel and chip.

This type of paint easily picks oil up from your fingers tips if it is not sealed properly. Therefore, latex or oil-based paints may be a better alternative. They’ll last longer without flaking or peeling.


Always Use Separate Primer

Now, several paints include primer. This makes painting easy. It prevents the frustration of purchasing yet another paint can. While great for walls, they are not ideal for chairs, be it a fabric chair or a rocking chair.

Chairs are considered high-use furniture. If they are made of wood, there is a greater urgency to apply a separate primer. Applying a separate primer aids in proper adhesion. It means that if you are repainting a chair, the old color will not bleed through, especially if you are lightening the color.

Mahogany chairs can especially bleed through without a primer and need to have a stain-blocking primer used first. Then, paint can be added.

If chairs have been in contact with smoke, a special primer needs to be used. They are expensive, but worth the added cost. Extra steps should be taken beforehand to ensure the smoke is removed from the furniture.


Paint in the Proper Conditions

Many people like to paint when weather is humid. Hot temperatures with high humidity can cause delays in drying. Conversely, if it is too cold, paint can freeze in the air before coating the furniture. For the best results, follow the instructions on the paint can.


Use the Correct Sealer

Chairs should be sealed for durability. However, wax is not always the preferred choice. Experts direct people to use a glaze or polyacrylic sealer.

While paste gives a gorgeous finish, if used excessively, it can scratch or wear. The purpose of wax is to enhance the painted furniture, not protect it. Polyacrylic, or “poly,” prevents scratches. It stands up to everyday usage.

The best method is to use poly as a base, then apply a paste wax over the top. It makes marker, pen, or other stains easily removable.

It should be noted that poly needs to be applied every few years, especially on kitchen chairs. Wax only needs to be applied every few months.

The benefit of using paste wax is that it will deepen the color. Poly will intensify the color but not deepen it. Brown paste wax adds a nice patina if you don’t want to wait for the glaze to completely dry. The downside is that it only comes in one shade.

Wax, on the other hand, allows wood to breathe better. However, poly dries faster. Preference depends on desired effect and timeline.  Your choice does make a difference when it comes to painted chairs.


Allow Enough Time to Dry Between Coats

painted chairs on cart

Paint needs to fully dry between coats. Due to the toxic nature of inhaling paint fumes, it should also be applied in a well-ventilated area. Depending on the weather, paint can take up to an hour to dry.

If the weather is warmer, it should dry in half an hour. In colder weather, it may take up to three-to-four hours.

There are many other tips for painting chairs. You want to use the proper brush with the correct length. This allows you to get into the fine details of the furniture.

Also, be sure to use old clothing. Many people think they won’t get paint on them, but we quickly forget to be careful. Paint is horrible to get out of clothes and can damage them permanently.

Painting kitchen chairs can add a simple upgrade to any kitchen. Plus, so many different techniques that can be used to create a desired effect.

Attention needs to be taken in properly prepping the surface before painting the chairs. If anything leaks through, the end result is ruined. Then the chair needs to be completely stripped and redone.

Be sure to take the time to prep it properly beforehand. This will save a great deal of aggravation in the end. Then, work with a primer, paint and seal, allowing coats to thoroughly dry in between layers. The end result will be perfectly painted, durable chairs.



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