How to: revamp an old wooden chair


I have couple of old wooden chairs kicking about which I thought would look amazing if they were given a bit of TLC, so I decided to paint them in some new, fresh colours. Here’s how:


You will need:

  • Course sandpaper
  • Finer sandpaper
  • Cloth to rub the chairs down with
  • Old-based primer or undercoat
  • Paint in your chosen colour
  • Paintbrush
  • Old wooden chair

The old chairs were covered in varnish so a heavy duty session of sanding was required. I don’t have any fancy equipment so three hours of elbow grease was in order. Choose very course sandpaper to make the job as easy as possible, and get in all the grooves and cracks. Alternatively you can take furniture to get it stripped but it can cost quite a lot. I recommend against using paint stripper at home unless you have used it before – it’s a messy job using strong chemicals.

Chair before sanding

Chair before sanding

Rub down using a course sandpaper and lots of elbow gease!

Rub down using a course sandpaper and lots of elbow gease!

Once sanded, give it a quick wipe down with a wet cloth to get rid of any grit and dust and apply a coat of primer. This will help your paint ‘stick’ to the chair and hopefully prevent any peeling later on.

chair after sanding

…and after!

Adding a coat of primer

Adding a coat of primer

Once the primer has dried, give to chair another quick rub down with a finer sandpaper, just to even out and bumps of stroke marks in the paint, and then wipe down with a wet cloth again.

Sand down the primer

Sand down the primer

Once dry, the fun part begins! I chose a soft grey colour for one of the chairs and a bright blue for the other. The blue paint was from Habitat’s feature wall paint range which has lots of really gorgeous colours – I took a loooong time in the paint aisle I can tell you.

Painting the chair

Painting the chair

You will probably need two coats to get a nice solid finish. If you get any imperfections in the first coat, a quick rub down with the finer sandpaper and wipe with a wet cloth should do the trick.

Ta-da! The finished chairs.

Ta-da! The finished chairs.


5 responses to How to: revamp an old wooden chair

  1. Daisy

    Hiya, love your chairs! I’m just doing my first chair project and was wondering what sort of paint you used, was it just normal emulsion? If so how well does it last? Thanks 🙂

    • thisisknockout Post Author

      Thanks! Yes the paint was just normal emulsion, I’ve put each chair in a bedroom and they’re mainly used to put clothes on so they don’t get too much wear. If I have moved them about they are a bit prone to scuffing so I think if you were using them regularly as dining chairs it would probably be worth putting a layer of varnish over the top for a bit or protection.

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