How to Paint Furniture without Sanding

I discovered how to paint furniture without sanding and I can’t wait to tell you how to do it.

There are a couple of pieces of furniture I’ve been meaning to paint/refinish, but I have put it off because the thought of having to sand them first made me want to give up before I even started. Surely, I’m not the only person that is too lazy to sand furniture before painting it.

As a Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network member, I’m at Lowe’s quite a bit and was able to find Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer and Sealer that promised to stick to all surfaces without sanding and I got some Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer (I chose it because it is zero VOC- volatile compounds that get released into the air).

No sand primer

The piece of furniture I’ve most been wanting to refinish is a dresser that I bought from a good friend. I love the build and shape of the dresser, but the finish was junk.

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Dresser in need of refinishing

I cleaned the surface of the dresser and removed all the hardware before applying the primer. This is where I admit to making a ROOKIE mistake that I will never make again.

Primer on dresser

What was my rookie mistake? I bought primer that could be tinted, but I did not get it tinted. I left is white when I knew that I was painting the dresser a shade of black. Duh! Not a smooth move.

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Regardless, after applying the primer and letting it dry…I added a a couple of coats of paint,  replaced the hardware, and ended up with this…

DIY dresser refinish

Is it perfect? No. If I wanted perfect, I probably should have sanded it first, BUT I like it SOOO much better than before and am totally embracing its perfect imperfection.

Painting furniture without sanding

I don’t even mind if it gets scraped up and the original finish shows in places (but I do wish I had used tinted primer because I don’t really want to see the white primer).

Even though the dresser is fairly large, I had plenty of primer and paint left over to refinish a street find that we’ve been using as a nightstand.


This nightstand was driving me crazy with it’s ugliness. It reminded me of a bad dream I had in the 70’s or maybe it wasn’t a dream, maybe it just looks a lot like the furniture I had in my room in the 70’s. Now, that I’ve done a lazy-no-sand-refinish…I’m totally diggin’ it!



Disclosure: I am a member of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Blogger Network. I was provided with a gift card to complete this project. All statements and opinions are mine.


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  • Harleena Singh

    Loved the pictures and the fact that you really get down to painting these! It took me back in time when I used to get along with my Dad and paint the chairs fence, though that was all we ever did. :)

    It does take a lot of work to get these painted, which starts with scraping the surface and then the other details. But the end result is always wonderful. Thanks for sharing these with us. :)

  • savannah

    i LOVE tinted primer! it all started with a red wall that ended up cost 4x what it could have…*sigh* your projects look gorgeous, sugar! xoxoxo

  • Vidya Sury

    Hey! Love what you did with your dresser – I was wondering – remembering your earlier post about the no-sand finish. I am still sitting on that cabinet I mentioned. Its back is primer-ed white. I can’t decide what color to put on it because I have a stack of earthen pots I need to paint too….and I want them to harmonize. Not that I am after perfection…. 😀 We had a shoe shelf painted cream (ugh) and because of my indecision, I ended up sticking a collage of pictures on it.

    So inspiring, Claudya… maybe I’ll decide this week. Such fun, no?

    • unknownmami

      I’m really happy I finally got around to doing it and the only thing I would do different is get my primer tinted.

  • LindyLou Mac

    A brilliant make over.

  • MommyLisa

    OMG – I am lazy too.  That looks awesome. 

  • Tami

    My husband and I were given a bedroom set from his grandparents.  This set is something they had from the time they were married.  It looked very much like your ‘before’ pictures.  Unbeknownst to me the products you mentioned, I sanded and sanded and sanded the furniture.  Took what felt like 4 E V E R!  I painted it white and stressed it to look old farm furniture.  I was very pleased with it.  Your furniture turned out gorgeous! Great job!

    • unknownmami

      I’m sure your way is better in the long run, but I could not fathom the idea of sanding those pieces. I am way too lazy.

  • Bmanousos7

    wow, that looks great! such a lovely dresser. great job!

    • unknownmami

      Thank you. I’ve always loved the dresser, but the finish was awful.

  • Danielletodd

    That dresser looks wonderful! I have a huge shelving unit that I want to paint but it’s too hard to move and I don’t want to sand inside because of the mess. I might just try this. 

  • Wanda

    I love the paint color…what color did you use?

    • unknownmami

      I believe it is called “Cracked Pepper” by Valspar.

  • Elanna

    Looks like it was a beautiful piece of furniture before the makeover. Unless it was particle board, I would never have ruined it by painting it, especially black. Can’t see any of that gorgeous detailed carving. I would have loved to have that piece so I could refinish it (which is not the same as stripping and re-staining) and bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Sorry, that’s just how I feel. It hurts to see this.

    • unknownmami

      Oh no, it’s not particle board. It’s a very well made piece, that’s why I kept it even when I hated the finish. The finish on it before was pretty awful, but hard to tell from the before pictures. You could see the wood, which is beautiful, but there were huge drips and streaks from whatever was used to stain it. It looked like cups of coffee had been dropped on it and the coffee had somehow congealed in uneven drippy globs. We are much happier with it now and my husband is no longer constantly bugging me to get rid of it or do something to it.
      In person (now that it’s black) it’s much easier to see the detail obviously, but I couldn’t get that to translate with the lighting I have available for photographs. Still, I can totally see your point and your preference for the wood. I am partial to hardwood floors and whenever someone paints over the hardwood I feel like I’ve lost a loved one. I appreciate you taking the time to voice your opinion. Thank you.
      Visit me at:

    • Mrlnmacomber

      I am so with you on this.  If you look closely at the finish on the before pic you can see some of the flaws she is referring to and I can understand why she wanted to redo it but I agree with you on the how.  I love the look of stained wood.

    • Cheridal Nicholson

      I completely agree with you Elanna! I have an antique French armoire that resembles the piece she did that ugly black on. And I would have paid her good money for it as it was. It DOES hurt to see this!!! A good cleaning and light staining would have brought that piece back to it’s true beauty!

      • Claudya Martinez

        Folks, there is no need to be rude. I am an actual human being with feelings. Just because you don’t like what I did to a piece of furniture that belongs to me that does not mean you need to go out of your way to let me know that what I did is “ugly”. To each his own. It is a piece of furniture, it is mine, I love what I did to it. You don’t have to like it, I’m sure you would have refinished it beautifully. This blog is my home online, I’m pretty sure that if you came over to my actual home you would be polite enough not to tell me how horrified you are by what I did to my furniture. Let’s be nice and remember that unlike furniture, human beings on the internet aren’t made of wood and have hearts. Peace out and play nice.


    Beautiful paint job!  I too am VERY lazy when it comes to sanding!  Have a dining room table and six chairs that are on my spring project list to refinish.  Thanks LOTS for the “no sanding” tips!!  Will give them a try!

    • unknownmami

      For the dining room table, keep in mind that you are going to have to let the paint really set/cure before you can use it because tables get a lot of traffic and scratches. It took about a full week for this dressers paint to fully cure and not be easily scratch-able. Still, I’d way rather wait, than sand.

  • Katiestonedo

    Everytime I have refinished something the paint is always sticky after it drys. Any tips?

    • unknownmami

      Yes, the paint on this one was sticky too. Now it is not. Unfortunately, you just have to let it sit and cure for about a week. I live in San Francisco where it seems to take even longer to do so. When I first finished this dresser, anything would have scratched it, now the paint is solidly on there.

  • Kgrossoctmh

    Came over from Pinterest. So inspired by this, I bought the supplies today. We have an old bedroom set my daughter wants black. Thanks for the heads up on tinting the primer too! Waiting for primer to dry, then beginning to paint black tomorrow.

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  • Emily

    Thank you for sharing this! Our next project is to paint some furniture for our bedroom black and we were dreading sanding it!

    We recently redid our bathroom, now on to the bedroom!

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  • Liz Shannon

    I’m about to do this to some of my furniture too! Quick question, did you use a foam roller at all or all paint brush? I’m worried about lines/streaks on my finished product. Any tips?

    • unknownmami

      I did not use a foam roller. I used both a foam brush and regular brush. I prefer the foam brush.

  • Ryan Tennyson

    Now that it has been over half a year, how has the paint held up on this piece considering you did not sand. Are you able to say, with confidence, that you would do more pieces the same way?

    • unknownmami

      It has held up really well and I would do more pieces this way. I wouldn’t do a kitchen table top like this because the top gets a lot more traffic. I also highly recommend that you really let the piece cure before you use it. I had to retouch some parts around the drawers because I did not wait long enough before putting the drawers in so that paint wasn’t hard enough yet. The side table that I did, did not have those issues at all because I waited long enough for the paint to really be set.

  • jazmine

    So you can use an interior paint (that you’d use on walls) for this? I have some nightstands that I’d like to do but want to know what kind of paint to buy.

    • unknownmami

      Yes, I just used a satin finish interior paint.

  • Angel

    Hi there! I totally LOVE what you did with these pieces. It gave me hope for a wood desk I’m buying off of craigslist… wasn’t sure how to paint it w/o sanding but now I do. I have a question tho…. Could you advise on how to paint veneer? There is an armoire in my daughters room that needs painted. The desk and the armoire need to be the same color but as mentioned are two different surface types. HELP!!!

    • unknownmami

      I have never painted a veneer before, but I believe the no-sand primer that I used is supposed to work on veneers as well. Just make sure you let the pieces dry long enough. One piece I let dry for a week and it’s perfect, the other piece I was impatient and had to touch up a few spots that weren’t “cured” all the way. That primer works really well.

  • Silv

    I appreciate your instruction and photos – I’m about to do a makeup table & chair for my daughter’s new apartment and needed the details you gave. Your pieces look beautiful! To be honest, when this dark “espresso” finish became popular recently I wasn’t sure I cared for it but after seeing her roommate’s bedroom set I appreciate its beauty. Wondering if you thought to change the handles/hardware on them?

  • Casey Tarantino

    I used the same primer & paint on a used dresser that I bought and it all started peeling off now i have to sand everything off & start over!!!!

    • unknownmami

      That’s a bummer. The two pieces I did live in our bedroom and they are going strong after a year.

  • lbrennec

    Wow this looks great! I am going to paint a bed this weekend. Thanks for the tips!

  • Madaleine Mulrey

    Love the painted dresser ! I have been researching this subject because we have a dresser which needs refinishing or painting. Is there a step by step guide to this particular project, including the shade of black paint used. It really turned out beyond beautiful!

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  • Alice Premeau

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand– why is untinted primer a bad thing?

    • Claudya Martinez

      It’s not a bad thing and you can totally use it untinted. It’s just would have taken less coats to cover it if I had tinted it to go with the paint I was using.