How to Paint Furniture Red: My Full Process Explained

Transforming old furniture with a fresh coat of paint can give it an entire new life! That’s what I love about painting furniture. After many painted furniture projects, I finally decided to test out a red paint.

I will share my method for painting furniture red, specifically how I turned a nightstand into a vibrant red statement piece. Whether you’re a beginner or have a few furniture-painted projects under your belt, these steps will guide you through the super simple process from start to finish.

Step 1: Cleaning the Furniture

Start by removing the hardware on the furniture. Then begin cleaning by applying Krud Kutter to the entire surface of the furniture. This powerful cleaner will help remove any grime, old paint, or residue.

After using Krud Kutter, it’s important to rinse the surface with water. This ensures that no cleaning residue is left behind, which could affect the paint application.

The final cleaning step involves vacuuming the drawers and the inside of the nightstand. This removes any dust and debris, preparing the piece for a smooth painting process.

Step 2: Begin Painting!

This project I skipped sanding and priming all together! Sometimes you can get away with it when the surface isn’t glossy and you are using a chalk or matte style paint.

A key tip for smooth paint application is to rinse your brush in water before starting. This helps the brush glide over the surface more efficiently for a smoothing looking result. Just make sure your paint is water-based for this to be successful, most furniture paints are.

I like to treat the first coat of paint like a primer. Apply it thinly to make sure there is good adhesion to the surface. This layer is important because its what is holding all of your paint on.

Once the first coat is dry, apply a thicker second coat. This will start to cover up the underlying surface as well as bring out the richness of the red color paint.

If the second coat doesn’t provide full coverage, a third or even a fourth coat may be necessary. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next.

Step 3: Applying Finishing Wax

Before applying wax, make sure the paint is completely dry.

Use a lint-free rag to apply the wax. Start by rubbing in a circular motion to reach into all the crevices of the paint. Then, align your strokes with the wood grain to avoid circular marks. I find wax can dry quick and if you leave it in a circle or random path it can make buffing to look good much harder.

After allowing the wax to set for 10 minutes, buff the surface with a clean lint-free rag to a soft sheen. This increased the durability and makes it look super smooth tpo the eye.

Step 4: Decorative Dark Wax (Optional)

For added depth and character, apply a layer of dark wax over the clear wax. This step is optional but can really make the details pop.

The application process for the dark wax is the same as the clear wax – apply and let it dry for 10 minutes, and then buff it out!

Products I Used in This Project:

Additional Project Information

I also stained the top piece of the red nightstand to keep some wood grain for visual appeal. A dark stained wood with red paint always looks good, and I recommend trying to keep some wood when you can. This can be the top surface or top drawer/multiple drawers.

Painting the hardware or applying a gilding wax is also a plus. When painting with red, I chose black spray paint on my hardware to make it look nice and fresh.