how to spray furniture with a spray gun HVLP

How to Paint Furniture With A Spray Gun

In Tips by Jamie P.

When painting furniture and you do not want to see brush strokes or any other uneven paint lines, I recommend using a spray gun to paint your furniture. I know it can feel quite intimidating to use these paint sprayers, but with a small amount of practice, you can become a pro.

The easiest way to paint furniture with a spray gun is to first prep your piece for paint, then spray 2-3 coats of paint with your sprayer, and then seal it using wax or by spraying a clear coat finish. Thinning paint with water or paint thinner can improve spraying efficiency.

It is important to understand that there are different types of spray guns that can spray furniture, but the most common option is the handheld HVLP sprayers. These handheld spray guns are great options because they are super easy to use, affordable, and you do not need a full compressor to get painting. To buy a correct size compressor you are looking at spending hundreds of dollars, but if you already have a compressor just pick up a gravity feed air spray gun kit.

5 Steps to Paint Furniture With A Spray Gun

1. Prep Your Furniture

No matter how you are applying paint to furniture I always recommend that you prep your furniture for painting properly. Beginner furniture painters will paint a piece of furniture and see that their paint peeled and chipped off super quickly. This is likely because they didn’t prep the furniture.

How To Prep Furniture for Spraying:

  1. Clean using a degreaser and a rag.
  2. Apply wood filler if required.
  3. Sand full piece lightly with 120 grit and then finish with 220 grit sandpaper.
  4. Wipe furniture free from any dust and debris.
  5. Apply 2 thin coats of primer.
  6. Lightly sand with 220 grit sanding sponge.

After following the preparation guide above you create a foundation for your paint to properly adhere to your furniture surface. I know many paints these days say paint and primer, they can be quite durable too, but adding some thin coats of spray-on primer never hurts, I like to use Flat White Rustoleum Primer on pieces I want to be extra durable. One thing to note, cleaning your piece is important, and using a degreaser or even warm water with a rag can improve paint adherence a lot.

2. Prep Your Paint Sprayer

Our furniture is ready for paint, now it is time to get our spray gun ready. Preparing your spray gun will become natural after regular use, but this can be tricky from the start. Of course, prepping your spray gun will be different based on which one you have. Preparing your sprayer means to use the proper parts recommended for spraying furniture, and any gun I have used provides good details in their manuals.

I know when using the HomeRight Super Finish Max spray gun to spray furniture, you need to use the correct spray tip (which is the green one) and the fine spray air cap (which is the black one). If you don’t use the correct parts you won’t get the smooth finish you are looking for, your paint will likely come out too thick, and your furniture will not look factory-like finished.

Next, when prepping your paint sprayer you need to prep your paint as you add it into the container (Use a paint strainer when adding paint). I use water-based paints only, so I thin my paints at around 10% water, or I follow the paint can directions if I am having issues. Thinning your paint for your spray gun is an important part of prepping your sprayer. If the paint is too thick, your spray gun will have trouble and you will get a rough to touch surface, I have had this happen a few times.

3. Test Spray

No matter what I am going to test spray before I spray my furniture, why though? Well, spray guns can be unpredictable at times, a small issue with these guns will lead to improper spraying ruining your furniture. Its better to see paint splatter out during the test spray and not while you spray your furniture. I like to set up a paint drop cloth or cardboard and tape it to the wall.

When test spraying you get to adjust your settings appropriately, change the amount of paint exiting the gun with the flow dial or knobs, some guns like the Wagner Flexio series have power settings you can change, and then you can test out the spray patterns too. The idea when spraying furniture is to avoid spraying thick coats of paint or you risk drip marks down the furniture. Spray light coats and in a consistent even pattern, I will explain details in spraying furniture below.

4. Spray Your Furniture

You made it! Now we prepped our furniture and spray gun, we tested our sprayer and things are working perfectly, now it’s time to start spraying our furniture.

How to Paint Furniture With A Spray Gun?

There is more to it than just spraying furniture at random, you must spray the furniture evenly and consistently. Spray guns spray paint in a particular pattern, which is thickest in the middle, and slowly begins to feather away from the center. When I spray back and forth a piece of furniture I make sure to not overlap my spraying, if you do you are risking dripping paint.

Let’s say you spray your first line of paint, the line is thick in the middle and feathers away, so your next spray line should be between the middle of your initial spray and the very top of your feather. Take a look at the photo below:

spray furniture tips

As you can see above you want to spray the next line in the center, this provides an even and constant spray leaving your furniture smooth. Continue this pattern and you will have a nicely sprayed piece of furniture. Just make sure your settings arent spraying too much paint. This photo is from my YouTube video when I explain how to spray furniture with the HomeRight HVLP spray gun, I have it available below for watching, don’t forget to subscribe!

5. Apply Protection

When you finish up spraying paint on your furniture you need to protect it one way or another. The most common ways to protect furniture are by using wax or applying a clear coat product such as polyurethane. I prefer to spray on water-based polyurethane, and my product of choice is Polycrylic by Minwax.

Yes, I did say spray on and I use my HVLP spray gun to spray on my Polycrylic. I actually have a full article called Can You Spray Polycrylic With A Spray Gun, it goes into some serious detail and you can read the 6 Simple Steps in the article to fully understand the process. Also, I spray Polycrylic in the video above too!

I will quickly explain the process here but reading that article gives the full guide on how to. When I add Polycrylic into my spray gun container I always thin it with 10% water and no more. Adding too much water will only cause problems. Make sure to stir the water into the poly for at least one minute, if not you are defeating the purpose of thinning because the water will just sit on the top.

After it is thinned, test spray again to ensure proper consistency and efficient spraying. The biggest tip is to make sure you spray super light coats because Polycrylic and other finishes drip and run down super easily.

Best HVLP Handheld Paint Sprayers for Furniture

1. HomeRight Super Finish Max

See on Amazon

I have a full review on the HomeRight Super Finish Max that you can check out, or you can see the latest price on Amazon. I really like this spray gun, it’s so easy to use and provides professional spraying results. I didn’t know what to expect after purchasing it honestly, I thought its spray wouldn’t be very smooth but I was wrong. It provides a great factory finish to both paint and finish, I am excited to spray a lot more furniture with it!

The only con I mention in my review is the cleaning process is more difficult than the Wagner Flexio gun below, simply because the nozzle of the HomeRight sprayer can’t be removed. They do have a solution and it is to purchase their Rapid Clean Tool, or you can buy another container and use it for just water to make things easier.

2. Wagner Flexio 590 HVLP Paint Sprayer

See on Amazon

I also have used the Wagner Flexio 590 many times to paint furniture. It has certainly done a good job on the dozens of projects I have used it on. I have sprayed paint and also Polycrylic in this spray gun, and both spray great. If spraying furniture I recommend you use the Detail Finish Nozzle for furniture, it sprays a smoother finish. I always thin my paints when I use this sprayer, if not I found the gun would have a difficult time and end up being a rough finish. When properly thinned the sprayer paints perfectly for furniture, definitely recommend this gun!

Final Thoughts

After going through the 5 steps to painting furniture with a spray gun, going into detail, I hope it helps you understand what to do so you can give it a try. I want this guide to be simple, including products you can buy to start spraying furniture yourself.

Using a spray gun to paint furniture is easier than it looks, try it out on some old free or cheap fins to get the hang of it. Good luck spraying your furniture!