How to upcycle furniture like a professional

One of the most popular ways to breathe new life into old furniture is by upcycling it to create a piece that fits in with your home. With the growing trend for painted furniture, you can achieve the same look for a fraction of the cost by buying used furniture and then painting it yourself. Whether you are looking to create a distressed vintage look or a contemporary and modern piece, we’ll show you some tips to help you upcycle like a pro.


No matter what your project is the first step is to sand your piece of furniture, even if you are going for a vintage or shabby chic look it is still a good idea to sand your furniture. You are not looking to remove the existing finish but just rough it up so that your chosen primer will have a good surface to stick to. Once you’ve lightly sanded your piece you’ll need to remove any dust using a lint-free cloth.


Now that you’ve got a nice clean surface that has been lightly sanded you can apply your primer. Using a good quality primer you can create a surface that is stable and ready for your chosen paint finish. Remember to pick a primer that works with your chosen finish paint so try not to mix an oil based primer with a water-based finishing paint.


Once you’ve fully primed your surface it’s time to pick the paint that you want to use and choose the finish that you’d like to achieve. The main types of paints and finishes are:

  • Chalk paint – this produces a matt, textured and rustic finish.
  • Gloss paint – produces a high shine and glossy finish.
  • Silk paint – is used to create a semi-shiny finish.
  • Eggshell paint – creates a semi-matte sheen.

Eggshell and chalk paint are perfect for creating a distressed and more vintage finish while silk paint and gloss paint will help you create a contemporary piece that will work well in any modern setting.

With your paint chosen you’ll want to use a high-quality paintbrush to apply them and get a smooth finish. For larger areas and bigger surfaces, a mini foam roller is an invaluable tool and one that will help create a smooth finish.

Depending on the surface you may need to apply two or three coats of your chosen paint, remembering to lightly sand between each coat to create a perfectly smooth finish.


The final step of the upcycling process is to apply a clear varnish or wax to seal your furniture and keep it looking great for longer. For varnishes, we’d recommend sticking with an acrylic based product as this won’t yellow your colour. Clear wax is a great choice for creating a natural finish while dark wax is the natural choice for creating a distressed or vintage look.