Best paint for furniture — 7 prime picks to refresh and revive tired fittings

Transform hand-me-downs and thrifted finds with the best paint for furniture

An Annie Sloan lifestyle image featuring some the best paint for furniture including Oxford Blue on armoire and Barcelona orange on wooden dining chairs
(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

The best paint for furniture is an essential for refreshing the most treasured piece within your home, whether that's a chair or a dresser. You can revive family hand-me-down, or upcycle a secondhand find with these paints for cheap.

This round-up includes a range of emulsion types with durable finishes, which you can use on a variety of furniture. But when it comes to picking out the perfect paint, there are a few key considerations before you get to the fun part of picking a shade.

The item you're painting, your level of DIY expertise, and how you want the overall finish to look should all contribute to your final decision. We've tested all the paints in this guide, as well as advice on how to paint furniture.

Best paint for furniture: Quick menu

1. Best overall: Rust-Oleum Chalked Furniture Paint
2. Best for cabinets: Valspar Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex Interior Paint
3. Best coverage: Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover Gloss Paint
4. Best for a vintage look: Behr Interior Chalk Decorative Paint
5. Best spray paint: Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X Spray Paint
6. Best for outdoor furniture: Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain - Solid
7. Best chalk paint for color variety: Country Chic Chalk-Style Paint
8. How to choose
9. How to buy
10. Where to buy
91. How we test

The best paint for furniture you can buy

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best paint for furniture overall

Image of a tin of Rust-Oleum paint in chalkReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

1. Rust-Oleum Chalked Furniture Paint

Best furniture paint you can buy: achieve optimum shabby-chicness with this chalky paint

Specifications

Best for: Ease of use
Type: Water-based chalk paint
Finish: Flat
Colors: 9

Reasons to buy

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Nine colors to choose from 
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No priming or sanding required
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Easy to apply
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Doesn't have a strong smell as it's low VOC

Reasons to avoid

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Chalked paint isn't wipeable or stain resistant  
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Can't be used outdoors (interior use only)

If you're time poor, but want to give a DIY project a go, this Rust-Oleum Chalked Furniture Paint is a great go-to option. After sampling it, we found that no sanding or priming was required pre-application, and as it’s a water-based product, it didn’t smell too potent or give off strong fumes, so it could easily be applied indoors with a few sheets of newspaper laid down for protection. The matte finish makes it a great pick for those who love a rustic look. But, to give it a more contemporary vibe and improve the durability, add a topcoat of a glossy polyurethane.

Best paint for cabinets

Image of a tin of Valspar paintReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Valspar)

2. Valspar Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex Interior Paint

Best furniture paint for cabinets: get those cabinets looking brand new with this glossy paint

Specifications

Best for: Cabinets
Type: Latex
Finish: Semi-gloss
Colors: Custom

Reasons to buy

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Dries hard
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Durable and scratch-resistant
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Hundreds of color options

Reasons to avoid

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May require multiple coats
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Not suitable for outdoor use

If your kitchen cabinets look a little worse for the wear, Valspar's Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex Paint can quickly and easily make them look brand new again. This is a durable paint that goes on smoothly and leaves a even hard finish that won’t show any sign of brush marks. It can be custom-colored, so you can choose from Valspar's extensive color library. 

This paint works best with sanded or de-glossed cabinets, and you may require a primer if you're going from a dark to a light color. Our guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets will show you how to achieve a professional finish.

Best furniture paint for coverage

image of tin Rust-Oleum paintReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

3. Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover Gloss Paint

Best furniture paint for coverage: a thick and glossy paint for a modern finish

Specifications

Best for: Thick coverage
Type: Latex
Finish: Gloss
Colors: 10

Reasons to buy

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A little goes a long way 
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Sleek, shiny finish
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Can be used for outdoor furniture
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Coats dry in around 30 minutes

Reasons to avoid

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Not a huge range of colors
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Has a mild odor so best used in an outdoor area or ventilated room

This Rust-Oleum Gloss Furniture Paint can be used on a multitude of surfaces, including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic, and it's durable enough for outdoor use (for instance, if you're planning paint a shed). You’ll find it’s shinier than the standard satin paint, which gives refinished pieces a more professional-looking finish.

A little goes a long way (we've use a quart to paint closet doors, which we primed first), and it dries to the touch in just 30 minutes, so you don't have to wait long to apply a second coat.

A few things to note: Gloss paint can be a bit trickier to work with that matte, since if you go back over your brush strokes too many times, the finish won't look even. If you're a DIY newbie, chalk paint with a gloss topcoat might be a better option, but veterans should have no problem. We also found it works best with a primer on wood, especially on stain-treated items.

Best furniture paint for a vintage look

Image of Behr paintReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Behr)

4. Behr Interior Chalk Decorative Paint

Best furniture paint for a vintage look: a delicate, chalky paint for creating a distressed look

Specifications

Best for: Vintage look
Type: Matte
Finish: Chalk
Colors: 8

Reasons to buy

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On-trend rustic, vintage look
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Easy to use
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Low VOC 
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Tintable to 500 colors
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Less expensive than other brands

Reasons to avoid

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Often requires two coats

Behr Interior Chalk Decorative Paint adheres to most pieces without primer. It's ideal for DIY newbies, and painting furniture pieces like sideboards, dining chairs, and table legs. This paint glides on to give a flat, matte finish that is strong enough to withstand wear and tear and will not rub off with general use unless you have specifically distressed it. 

If you prefer a more contemporary look or want more durability, pair it with Behr's sealing wax (available at Home Depot) to achieve a satin finish. The wax comes in clear, white, and brown, which you can use to create a whitewashed or antique look. One of the best parts about this paint is the number of color options. It's tintable, so you can choose from 500+ colors in Behr's library.

Best furniture spray paint

Image of tin of Rust-Oleum painters touchReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

5. Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X Spray Paint

Best furniture spray paint for those on a budget: affordable for those budget DIY jobs

Specifications

Best for: Small jobs
Type: Various
Finish: Various
Colors: 40 +

Reasons to buy

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Affordable
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40+ shades
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Widely available
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Quick and easy

Reasons to avoid

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Requires a well-ventilated areas
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Strong fumes

If you want to quickly give a small piece new life — spray paint is the way to go. Our favorite is Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X Spray Paint, which we've used on old planters, thrifted nightstands, and inexpensive picture frames. 

There are lots of fumes with aerosol paint, so use it on small jobs minimize exposure. Plus, after a while, your finger will get tired from holding down the spray trigger, which is when drips and smudges typically appear.  There is also no need to get out (and clean) a paint roller, brush, and tray.

Many of the neutral shades come in varying finishes, but if you can't find a color in that meets your requirements, apply a coat of 2X clear paint, which comes in gloss, semi-gloss, or matte. If you use this paint, you must wear a respirator — even if it's done outside. We like this option from 3M on Amazon, which you use with cartridge filters. We also recommend wearing goggles (like these from Amazon).

Best paint for outdoor furniture

Image of Benjamin Moore paintReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore )

6. Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain - Solid

Best furniture paint for outdoor use: durable external paint, available in thousands of colors

Specifications

Best for: Outdoor use
Type: Acrylic
Finish: Matte
Colors: Thousands

Reasons to buy

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Outdoor furniture
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Tintable to most Benjamin Moore colors

Reasons to avoid

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Must be used with primer

This matte-finish paint, part of Benjamin Moore's Arborcoat line, is perfect for painting your best outdoor furniture like wooden backyard furniture (e.g Adirondack chairs) and your favorite metal patio furniture. It's durable, mold and mildew resistant, and can be tinted in any of the thousands of colors Benjamin Moore offers. 

One thing to note: there are several Benjamin Moore Arborcoat products, but only the solid stain is tintable in all colors. 

Best chalk paint for color variety

Image of tin of Country Chic paintReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Country Chic)

7. Country Chic Chalk-Style Paint

Best chalk paint for color variety

Specifications

Best for: Easy wood furniture makeovers
Type: Chalked
Finish: Matte
Colors: 55

Reasons to buy

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Ultra-low VOC
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Comes in 55 colors which can all be ordered online

Reasons to avoid

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More expensive than other paints on this list

If you want to save yourself a trip to your local hardware store, consider Country Chic Chalk-Style paint, which is available online. It goes on easily and smoothly, dries quickly, and is virtually odorless.

We used Elegance (a grey-blue shade available from Amazon) to paint an antique wooden desk chair, and after two coats, it looked good as new. We also used Country Chic's Hemp Oil to seal the piece and make the finish more durable, albeit darkening the color.


How to choose the best paint for furniture

In general, there a few different paint types available for furniture:

Chalk paint is a water-based paint with a matte finish that's ideal for painting wood pieces. It's beloved by DIYers because it's incredibly easy to use: chalk paint requires no sanding or prep work before use, and because it's low or no-VOC, you can DIY indoors. Chalk paint can also be easily distressed, so if often used by those who want an antique finish. At the same time, because it's water based, chalk-paint is only suited for indoor projects, and if you plan to use it in a high-touch situation (like a dresser) you'll likely want to seal it with a polyurethane or wax before use. 

Spray paint is another easy-to-use furniture paint, but it's more durable than chalk paint. Spray paint will adhere to nearly any surface: metal, wood, plastic, ceramic, glass, and more, and there are varieties suited to indoor and outdoor use. It's also inexpensive, and the easiest paint to use if you want a smooth look with no brushstrokes. Spray-painted pieces can also smell like chemicals for a few days, so you'll want to give them some time to offgas before bringing them indoors.

Latex furniture paint can be used to paint a range of surfaces, including to paint wood furniture, cabinet doors, metal, masonry, plaster, and unglazed ceramic. It's more durable than chalk paint, but requires more prep work and dry time between coats. You'll need to sand down and prime old wood furniture that already has a finish or coat of paint on it. If you're working with unfinished wood (perhaps you're wondering how to paint a staircase), then you'll need a 1–2 coats of primer before painting. And, if you want a lasting finish, or are planning to use your furniture outdoors, go for a latex paint, followed by a few coats of polyurethane. 

How to buy the best paint for furniture

Consider the following when purchasing the best paint for your furniture:

The function of the piece you're painting: Different paints offer different levels of durability, so it's important to consider the way you plan to use a piece before choosing a paint. Chalk paint is easy to apply and low-VOC, and makes a great paint choice for decorative accents like mirrors or accent furniture. But, it can tend to chip and wear over time on surfaces that get a lot of everyday use, like the top of a coffee table or a cabinet door. If you love the look of chalk paint, but need a more durable solution, seal the paint with a wax or polyurethane, or opt for a more durable paint in a matte finish.

The finish you're going for: This will impact both the look and the function of your furniture. Gloss paints feel more contemporary, while matte paints are suited for farmhouse or shabby-chic decor. Satin or semi-gloss finishes are versatile enough to suit any design style. Gloss, semi-gloss, and eggshell paints are wipeable and easier to clean than matte, flat, or chalk finishes.

The range of colors available: You'll want to be sure the paint you choose comes in a hue you love. Tintable paints come in hundreds of shades, and most can even be color matched to a shade from a different manufacturer. Spray paint and chalk paint, on the other hand, are generally offered in a set range of colors. 

The amount of prep you want to do: If you're refreshing furniture that's in good condition, chalky paint is the quickest, easiest way to go. That's because it doesn't require a sanded or primed surface (although you'll often get longer-lasting results if you complete those steps), or a sealer. With acrylic and oil-based paints, deglazing, sanding, and priming are recommended, and you may need a coat of polyurethane depending on how you'll use the piece and how long you want it to last.

Where to buy the best paint for furniture

How we tested the best paint for furniture

Our former editor-in-chief, Kaitlin Madden reviewed all seven paints for furniture in this guide. As part of her testing criteria, she evaluated the paint's performance, finish, color availability, and viscosity.

As part of the Real Homes testing process, our in-house team and external contributing editors have a collective responsibility to recommend products that fit within our readers' budget constraints, and where possible, are environmentally friendly. 

Christina Chrysostomou
Acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket. I'm the in-house appliances expert and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.

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