How to Paint and Stain Furniture Grey (With Video)

Another nightstand makeover! I found this vintage nightstand at the thrift store for $25 dollars, I know that’s a little pricey for the condition and size but I thought I could really bring it back to life. I chose a grey paint and also a grey stain, so I am going to teach you the entire process of how to paint and stain a piece of furniture grey.

Using grey paint is easy when it comes to furniture painting. Follow your typical furniture painting steps and you will see great results. When staining furniture grey you will need to sand down your wood bare and then apply your penetrating stain. 

I have painted multiple pieces of furniture grey now and I know I can provide you a few tips and tricks to make your grey furniture look amazing. Feel free to watch the entire video process where I paint and stain a nightstand grey or read my step by step guide below.

How to Paint and Stain Furniture Grey

Step 1: Deep Clean and Remove Hardware

When starting any piece of furniture that I am going to paint I use mineral spirits and wipe everything clean. Mineral spirits are strong and quite toxic, feel free to use Krud Kutter and other grease cleaners. You want the grease off your piece, it will cause issues sanding and more importantly to your finished paint product. Remove the grime and you’ll be fine!

I remove my hardware as well, I either clean it up and re-use it or find new ones. You’ll see me painting hardware all the time.

Step 2: Sand or Strip

electric palm sander

Next, we need to lightly sand the entire piece of furniture, however, where you are staining you need to get down to bare wood. In the project in my video example, I use paint/varnish remover and it helped a bit but I still needed to sand until bare wood. If you leave any remaining paint or stain it will be noticeable under grey paint, unlike some other dark stains.

The paint stripping process is messy but can be a great choice when working on a thin veneer. It will reduce the amount of sanding needed so you don’t go through the veneer and ruin your project.

I used 180 grit sandpaper all over the project, I sanded where I am staining down to the bare wood, and in the other areas where I will paint I lightly sand until smooth to touch. This helps the paint adhere better than it would to the old clear shiny finish.

Don’t forget to wipe all the dust-up after sanding.

Step 3: Tape Off Where You Will Stain

taping up furniture

I like to paint first so I do not need to tape up the finished stained surface. Grab some painters tape and cardboard, cover the tabletop, and anywhere else you are staining. In this nightstand project, I am staining the drawer face, so I covered it up with tape and cut it with a utility knife perfectly. See it in the video!

This gives some peace of mind so you don’t get paint all over your fresh and ready to stain sanded wood.

Step 4: Prime Surface

After getting things taped up it’s time to take out the primer. I have been using Rust-Oleums Flat primer for many of my projects, it’s a spray paint primer that is so easy to use. Grab the grey or white in flat and your project will turn out great.

flat white primer for wood projects

The reason we add a coat of primer is that wood tends to bleed when painted. It is usually found in lighter colored paints, and it happens on certain types of wood, but no matter what adding some primer to any project is highly recommended.

Step 5: Begin Painting Grey

After spraying a primer barrier we can begin painting.

I am painting this grey nightstand with a paintbrush. When painting smaller projects I just grab my paintbrush because it’s just easy. If I take out my paint sprayer gun the cleanup takes longer than the paint job, and if that’s the case I usually just opt out and grab a brush. Feel free to use a roller too, it definitely makes things quicker!

When I paint using a brush I apply multiple thin coats, this ensures that the paint isn’t going to run and it also holds on better to the wooden surface. Having that tiny bit of extra durability really goes a long way. This project I painted 3 coats of grey paint.

I am using grey paint by Behr from Home Depot, it was on the discount rack meaning someone purchased it and returned it most likely. It was only $3 for the can, plenty for a small 946 ml/1 qt can. I still had plenty of paint leftover that I used on a coffee table project.

Step 6: Remove Tape

After letting the paint dry to touch we can peel off any table and protected surfaces. When peeling tape off a painted furniture project take your time and be careful. Paint can layer over your tape making it a peeling risk. I like to angle the tape down when peeling the tape off

You can get a better understanding in the video of this peeling tape method. The idea is to avoid peeling the paint up because if the paint comes up on an edge you may need to sand the area lightly and re-paint to fix it. Just a time-consuming fix that you should try to avoid at all costs.

Step 7: Apply Stain

staining furniture grey

Ok, we made it this far. The paint is on and it’s dry, the tape is off and we didn’t peel anything up, well I hope you didn’t. Now it’s time we apply our penetrating wood stain.

I am using a Minwax Classic Grey Stain, my favorite grey stain I have used yet.

Applying the stain is easy, here’s what I did:

  1. Grab a lint-free rag
  2. Dip the rag in the grey stain
  3. Lather the stain over the bare wood surfaces
  4. Use dry rag to clean if the stain drips and spills
  5. Wipe excess stain and let it dry

The process is simple. If you want a better visual of the process check out the video at the 6-minute mark.

Step 8 (optional): Antique Glaze

antique glazing furniture

If you want a glazed or vintage look apply some stain over the paint and then wipe it off. I lathered the grey stain over the grey paint and it darkened the piece and gave it some character. The idea of antique glazing is to bold and bring out imperfections in the wood itself. If there is a dent or scratch the glazing will highlight the specific area.

This is an optional step that in no means you need to do. I didn’t plan on antique glazing but I thought the grey looked a little bright. The glazing toned it down a notch and it turned out great.

The process follows, first apply the stain over a dry painted surface. Its best to antique glaze over satin paint but it will still work on others. Second, grab a dry lint free rag and wipe up and down (top to bottom) creating an even glazed look. If you go in circles you will see the staining pattern, typically this is not the look I would go for. Wiping up and down creates a nice antique look that can bring a boring piece back to life.

Step 9: Paint Hardware

Painting hardware is where you can really create value. Old bronze drawer pulls just don’t fit in with new furniture today. I like to take old metal pulls and do a makeover on them. The process is easy and it makes the piece of furniture look a lot better.

Steps to refinish drawer pulls and hardware:

  1. Clean the hardware with warm water and suds
  2. Lightly sand the hardware
  3. Clean any dust
  4. Prime hardware
  5. Spray paint hardware
  6. Apply wax to glaze hardware

In simple words, that’s the way I paint and take junk hardware and turn it into beautiful hardware.

Step 10: Apply Topcoat Finish

Finally, our last step. Let’s apply our topcoat finish to protect our piece of furniture. There are a number of topcoat finishes that hold up in quality. My go-to choice for a small nightstand is usually a spray-on lacquer. It’s quick and easy to apply.

When using lacquer as a topcoat finish there are a few things to keep in mind. Lacquer is toxic so make sure you are outside or in a well-ventilated space. When spraying lacquer make sure there isn’t a lot of dust in the area, this applies for all topcoats but just be aware so your piece doesn’t dry with dust all over it. Spray 3-4 coats of lacquer and your piece will turn out durable. It may not be a strong as other thick finished but if you apply enough it can do a good job. Lacquer sprays on in light coats so the more coats the more durable the piece of furniture will be. I try to spray one thick coat, but be careful of running paint.

You can also use polyurethanes and polyacrylics as a topcoat, these I would recommend as a topcoat for the tabletop surface. This is where you need the most durability. Applying and brushing this over a glazed area could cause issues to your glazing design, try to avoid them, and just use a spray-on topcoat. These brush or wipe on finishes can be applied at a thicker amount, meaning more durability but longer dry times.

Pick and choose what finish works best for you, we don’t have to worry too much about yellowing since we are painting and staining grey. But if your color is lighter avoid polyurethane and use a lacquer or Minwax polyacrylic finish.

I use Watco Lacquer Spray in a satin finish. Never had an issue with yellowing in color!

Best Grey Paints for Furniture

Rust-Oleum Aged Gray Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint

See on Amazon

Rust-Oleum makes some beautiful chalked paints that are affordable and are durable. This aged gray paint is a super popular choice when searching for grey furniture paint. It is water-based so it’s easy to clean up your skin and paintbrushes with soap and water.

This paint dries to touch in about 30 minutes give or take depending on temperatures and humidity levels. Furthermore, this paint will adhere to many different surfaces, making it great for more than just a wooden furniture project.

Chalk paints dry to a matte finish and this type of paint dries to an “ultra-matte” finish as Rust-Oleum states it. If you are looking for this type of finish in grey you can’t go wrong with Rust-Oleums Aged Gray Chalk Paint!

Another color option by Rust-Oleums chalked line is called Country Gray. It is a darker grey, but feel free to check it out.

Behr Premium Plus and Behr Marquee

I use Behr paints all the time because of the easy accessibility of having a Home Depot near my house. When you go to a home depot you can choose from hundreds of colors to fit exactly what you’re looking for. I choose the blue can most of the time, this is a satin finish. The satin finish is known to be the most durable paint for furniture. If you see me with an eggshell, semi-gloss, or flat I likely found them on the discount shelf.

I typically buy Behr Premium Plus because it’s a little more affordable. In sample sizes, the $5 dollar or so size, I get Behr Marquee and the quality feels good. Either option is a good option so you can’t go wrong. If you can feel a huge difference in products choose your favorite after testing.

Here are some great Behr colors to choose from:

  • Hailstorm Grey
  • Great Graphite
  • Cosmic Quest
  • Evaporation

See these colors on the Behr website by clicking here. There are hundreds of greys to choose from! Find them and then you can get them at Home Depot by ordering it online for pickup or just go get it.

You can find many other colors at home depot, not only Nehr colors. Go check out their color wall selection, it’s pretty awesome!

Grey Furniture Projects by Me!

I currently have 3 videos where I use grey paint and/or stain. One nightstand, another coffee table, and a bar cart makeover. For the nightstand and coffee table, I used the exact same products and they both turned out amazing.

However, for the bar cart makeover I went a little darker on the grey and choose Euro Grey at Home Depot. Then I applied dark wax over it, doing a similar antique glazing process as I did to the nightstand but with wax, and it turned out super cool. I install new antique casters and drilled some holes for a drawer pull. It was a fun project, take a look at the video below to check it out!

Final Thoughts

I hope I helped you with your grey furniture painting project. Whether you decided on painting and staining, or just painting I hope my guide has helped answer some key questions you might have had. If you haven’t checked out the video and you still have questions, you should give it a watch.

I will likely have more grey projects out soon. So check out my youtube channel and subscribe so you don’t miss out on them!

Good luck painting your next piece of furniture grey!