There are some paints (chalk paint) and DIY posts claiming that you don’t need to sand before painting. In my 10 + years experience, I have found sanding first is always the best first step.Your primer and paint needs something to adhere to and a chipped, peeling or previously polished surface is the worst thing for the adhesion of your paint.
If there’s a layer of paint, varnish, or any top coat on your furniture, use an electric sander. Fresh paint will adhere better if you can remove as much as possible. The point of sanding is to rough up the surface (KEY) to give your primer something to stick to. So if sanding down to bare wood is proving to be extremely difficult, I usually just sand it until the surface starts to feel slightly rough to the touch.
Then, to smooth out the surface I sand everything again with a 220 grit. If the furniture you’re refinishing doesn’t have a thick layer of paint or varnish on top, you may be able to just use 220 grit.
On occasion, you may be able to get away with sanding with just a fine grit sanding block. Although I usually don’t recommend it, (because it doesn’t rough up the surface as well as a power sander) it can be used on furniture pieces that are already bare wood and in excellent condition.
Laminate/MDF furniture cannot be sanded! It’s not real wood and sanding it will simply scratch the finish. In this instance I recommend a primer before the paint - even if your paint has a primer included in the formula
Veneer furniture can be difficult to work with. Since it's such a thin layer of solid wood, a power sander can easily sand through the real wood and expose the plywood or particle board underneath. If you feel comfortable working with veneer, you can carefully power sand it. However, for beginners I often recommend sanding with a fine grit sanding block to rough up the surface as much as possible without sanding through the veneer.
If there are any scratches, gouges, or holes, now is the time to fix them. If you plan on swapping out the knobs or pulls, check to see if the existing holes will align with the new hardware. To fill in any holes or imperfections with wood filler. Once the wood filler is dry, I sand it smooth with a fine grit sanding block or electric sander.
Once the repairs are complete, wipe down the furniture and get rid of all the dust. If there are any sections of the furniture that you don’t want painted you can tape that off.
Now we are finally ready to prime!
NEXT WEEK - Priming & Painting