13 Must-have staples for your next painting project

Hi!  Painting projects can be time consuming but believe it or not, there are some tricks to trimming the time (and frustration) while doing them!  Two of the most important things I've learned about painting furniture is ensuring ample prep time, and having the right supplies on hand.  There is nothing more frustrating then starting a project, only to find out you have to make a Menard's run right in the middle of it!   That's why I created this post....to eliminate (or reduce!) that frustration, and provide a guide for the next painting project you want to tackle.   

When it comes to painting furniture, there are different supplies for different types of projects. The list below provides you with the basic necessities for painting a piece of furniture.   I will be posting a detailed "how-to" on the actual process of painting a piece, but first, let's start with this supply list to get you off on the right foot: 


Even before gathering your supplies, make sure you have a work space that is well-ventilated. You should also consider wearing a mask/respirator for added protection from paint fumes/odors (especially when sanding). A room with windows, garage, or workshop is ideal for painting projects. 

1. Tarp (old sheet or blanket to protect your floor)

2.  Wood filler and edger:  This is necessary for filling any dents or chips in the surface of your piece. Once dry then you can sand these areas flat/smooth.  

3. Sand paper/sand block.  There are many types of sandpaper and knowing which type is right for your project is important.  See a sandpaper guide HERE.  You will want to sand your piece before you prime, after each layer of primer, and after each layer of paint.  A sand block makes sanding easier.  Just wrap the block with your sand paper and sand away!  With all that sanding, you'll need a clean surface for painting.  Scroll down to #3....

4. Tack cloth (used to wipe down the surface after sanding).  This is a cloth with a sticky/tacky texture. Holding this stuff makes me crazy due to its texture, but it works great for wiping the surface clean of dust and other particles. I recommend having 2-3 of these on hand.   

5. Painter's tape (great for protecting surfaces you don't want painted)

6. Screw driver (s) (for removing any hardware on the piece, or removing doors and other pieces).  Believe it or not, this is a time saver in the long run.  Removing all hardware eliminates you from having to tape around, and paint around, all the hardware!  Plus, no matter how much tape you put on to cover the hardware, paint always manages to creep in there.  Remove the hardware. 

7. Paint brushes (there are many types of brushes out there; long bristled, short bristled, long handled, short handled, stiff bristles, varying brush widths. The list goes on!  It can be overwhelming choosing a brush.  Since I've painted a little (lol), I've learned what I like and don't like.  I would suggest practicing with a couple different types before you begin your project.  Purdy is a popular brand that has served me well!  

8.  Paint rollers (Paint rollers are nice for applying primer to a piece (the layer necessary before you apply your paint color).  Rollers work best on surfaces that are flat, and can help cut down on time.   Rollers come in different widths.   I prefer narrower rollers for furniture. The roller in the photo below is 4 inches wide.   Rollers also work great for applying primer to chair/table legs (legs without grooves or curves). 

9.  Stir Stick (the paint store will give you one with your paint purchase).  Ask them for two; one for your primer, and one for your paint.   In the picture below, you'll see some sticks have dried up paint on them.  I'll admit that I get lazy sometimes and re-use them.  If the paint's dry, they can be re-used!  Just make sure there aren't any loose fragments or pieces on the used stick, because they'll end up in your paint!  Always stir before you paint, and periodically while you're painting to prevent the paint from thickening up.  (see #10)

10. Primer (water based, or oil based).  I prefer an oil based primer because of how it paints and sands, but, water-based primer is more "user-friendly" in terms of easy soap and water clean-up. Either type of primer will do the job, which is ultimately to provide a surface that your paint will adhere to, prevent chipping and provide overall durability of your piece.  There are some basic guidelines to consider when choosing which type of primer is best for your project. Zinsser is a popular brand.  By the looks of the picture below, I guess I've used some primer a little!  For a look at different primers and more information on them,  see this primer buying guide from Lowe's HERE

11. Paint:   Paint can be acrylic/latex (water-based), or oil-based paint.  There are also many varieties of finishes, or sheen. The paint store should have samples to help you determine what sheen you want.  If you don't know what type of finish you need, just ask your local paint store personnel. Sheens/finishes can be dull (matte finish), up to high gloss (very shiny).  Your painting project (and your preference) determines what type of finish is best.   

12.  Water  (for thinning out your paint as needed). Paint can become thicker as it sits.  That is why you want your stir stick handy.  Adding a little water can also help thin out your paint, making it easier to work with. 

13. Protective top-coat (water or oil based).  Topcoat is necessary to protect the paint on your piece (prevent chipping, prevent fingerprints and marks).  Like paint, there are a zillion types of topcoats with a million types of finishes, or sheen.  The term "finish" means how shiny (or not shiny) a surface is.  Examples of finish types are high-gloss, satin, and matte.  Home-improvement stores have people who are paint-knowledgeable and ready to help you with your topcoat selection.  You can also view this "Guide to Clear Finishes" by clicking HERE

I think someone could have used a tutorial on proper closing of top-coat cans!   This was in my early painting days.  Yeesh! 

I think someone could have used a tutorial on proper closing of top-coat cans!   This was in my early painting days.  Yeesh! 


Whether it is a small chair, or a large armoir, the supplies on this list serve an important purpose.  Knowing what you're looking for at the store, and having these supplies readily available will help make your project more enjoyable, and less frustrating!  

But not all painting projects are created equal.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on HOW to paint a piece of furniture to achieve two very different looks:  1. Non-distressed, high-gloss finish and 2.  Distressed, matte finish (my specialty!)  Here's a look at two pieces of painted furniture using these two very different methods:


#2 DISTRESSED, MATTE FINISH (not as shiny)

Stock up on these staple supplies for your next project and....


paint on!