How To Paint or Stain Home Furniture Using an Airless Sprayer

Project Overview

Painting a dresser with a handheld sprayer

Whether it’s a flea market find or a chair or dresser you already own, a fresh coat of paint can give new life to otherwise outdated or tired-looking furniture.

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Safety Notice: Whenever operating spray equipment, take proper safety precautions, stay alert, and be mindful of potential hazards. Wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses/goggles, spray sock (hood), hat, proper footwear, dust masks and respirators. Make sure there is adequate ventilation. If you’re painting in the vicinity of appliances, turn them off. (See Safety Precautions in your Sprayer Operation Manual.) Always refer to the specific instructions and safety procedures for the spray equipment you are using.

Related Project: How To Paint or Stain Outdoor Furniture

How to Spray Furniture: Quick Summary 01:00

Suggested Tools & Equipment

  • Graco, Magnum, or TrueCoat Paint Sprayer (see comparison chart or sprayer selector)
  • Paint/Stain
  • Spray tips – a wider spray pattern for large surfaces and narrow size for smaller surfaces (see tip selector)
  • Empty buckets for priming sprayer and cleanup (two needed)
  • Stir sticks
  • Sandpaper—100-300 grit
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint strainer bag – helps prevent tip plugs and provides a better finish
  • Tarps, drop cloths, or plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brush for touch-ups
  • Pump Armor storage fluid or TSL fluid (see pump protectant product details)
  • Cleaning rags
  • Stiff nylon brushes for cleanup
  • Safety and protection equipment – safety glasses/goggles, dust mask/respirator, spray sock or hat to cover head

Getting Started/Prep

  1. Establish a work area away from other surfaces on which overspray could land, and cover the grass or pavement of that area with tarps or drop cloths.

  2. Set the furniture on the drop cloth. Remove any drawers, and use screwdrivers (not a drill/driver) to remove any handles or other hardware. (Powered drill/drivers can strip the heads of metal screws used in furniture construction.)

  3. Thoroughly clean the furniture using a rag and mild cleaning agent.

  4. Repair any cracks or damage. Fill any holes with putty as needed, and then lightly sand all surfaces. Start with 100-grit sandpaper to smooth any repaired areas, and increase to 300-grit to smooth the surface and increase paint adhesion. Lastly, wipe down the furniture piece with a tack cloth to remove any sanding dust.


  1. Select the spray tip that’s best suited for the paint you’re using. In general, a tip with a narrower 8-inch-wide spray pattern and a .013 hole size will give you the best control. Be sure the tip’s hole size does not exceed the maximum capacity of your sprayer (see spray tip info).

  2. If you’re using paint from multiple containers, mix it together in an empty 5-gallon container to ensure consistent color even if small color differences exist between individual paint cans. When spraying lighter materials, select the lowest pressure setting that enables you to maintain a good spray pattern. Lower pressure settings will give you better control and a finer finish.

  3. Work from the top down, spraying in long, even strokes and going with the grain of the wood. Keep the spray tip about 12 inches from the surface you’re spraying. Pay particular attention to spray into intricate areas such as trim or detailed carvings, and overlap each successive spray pass by approximately 50%.

  4. Spray the drawer faces (if any) separately. Place the drawers with their faces facing up on the tarp, and use masking tape and plastic drop cloths to protect all inner drawer surfaces. The goal is to only paint the drawer face and not the drawer box itself.

Visit How to Use a Paint Sprayer: Spray Techniques for more spraying pointers.


  1. Allow significant time for the paint to dry; then remove all protective plastic and masking tape.

  2. Use screwdrivers (again, not a powered drill/driver) to replace any hardware that you’ve removed.

  3. Replace any lighting fixtures that you removed and move furniture or other items back into place.

  4. Clean your airless paint sprayer after each use. Follow the directions in your user’s manual for Power Flush cleaning with water based materials or use the bucket method of cleaning if applicable. For more information, see Power Flush Video or refer to your Sprayer Operation Manual.