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Smoothing Chipped Paint on Furniture

chipped paint

With a little effort, smoothing chipped paint on furniture is a great DIY project. That cool old cabinet you picked up at the flea market no longer has to hide away in your garage. Reinvigorate it with a little sanding and a coat of varnish. You’ll be left with a cool conversation piece, and your cabinet will be happy with its smooth finish and lovely patina.

Video Overview

Set Up

Begin by setting up a workspace. A well-ventilated area is best for sanding and varnishing. For small projects, the dust won’t fly too far so any room where a window can be cracked will work.

Sawhorses work well to prop up any piece of furniture you’re working on so you can clean, sand, varnish the bottom edges easily. Alternatively, you could use a couple of 2x4s to support your project.


While sanding, face protection and eyewear are a good idea to keep you from inhaling dust and getting it in your eyes.

Start with a bucket of warm water and some old rags to wash the furniture down before beginning to sand. Then allow to dry.

For chipped paint, use a finer sandpaper, sanding sponge, or electric handheld sander so you can keep the patina but lose the rough edges. When sanding, go slow and gently, revealing new layers while smoothing and keeping the color you love.


Before varnishing, make sure all dust has been wiped away from your project piece and that everything is dry.

Choose a varnish made for furniture. This can usually be found in the painting section of your local hardware store. Varnish can have a strong odor so a face mask will be helpful. When the varnish dries, its will be gone.

Using a brush, apply a thin layer of varnish where needed. (Basically, the entire outside of the furniture.) Allow the first coat to dry, then add a second coat. Two coats should do it, but if the piece is going to be used on a daily basis, then three won’t hurt.

The beauty of the varnish is it will now maintain the chippy paint you love—but keep any more paint from chipping away.

Put It To Use

No more hiding. After smoothing chipped paint on furniture, it’s time to show it off and let it complement your home.

Old doors make cool tables when legs are added. They also look great propped in a corner and decorated with artwork or photos.

An old trunk can create the perfect storage solution anywhere in the house. As a bonus, if it has a flat top, it makes the perfect coffee table.

Hutches can be turned into bars or storage for dishes, art supplies, and just about anything.

Get creative and enjoy bringing classic pieces to life.

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