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My Favorite Furniture Paint and Why

Are you in search of the best furniture paint to use on your next project? Here is my favorite furniture paint and why I love it so much!

There are so many furniture paint options on the market it makes it hard to decide which paint to use. In reality, you can always use a regular satin or semi-gloss sheen paint on furniture.

However, if you use regular paint then you have to use a clear top coat for protection – especially on the horizontal surfaces.

Top coating with polyurethane adds days to your project time. If you are looking for a paint you don’t have to top coat and dries to a smooth hard finish, I have the best furniture paint for you!

Guess what? That means it isn’t chalk paint!

Painting Furniture

Yes, I’ve been coined by my friends the “Queen of Painting Everything” and have quite a lot of paint expertise after working for Valspar (now owned by Sherwin Williams). 

You know what paint is not my favorite furniture paint? Chalk finish paints!

Shocking I know because the piece people love the most in my home was painted with Valspar’s Chalky Paint and you can read all about it in this post. 

credenza-sideboard-painted-with-Valspar-Chalky-Paint
Painted with Valspar Chalky Paint: Color Sharkfin + Custom Wash

Wall Color: Valspar CI191, Sea Salt Blue

Credenza Color: Valspar 34007-2A, Sharkfin, with custom wash

Why don’t I like chalk paint for furniture? Chalk paint is just like all typical latex paints and you must protect the chalk paint surface with either wax or polyurethane. Bottom line is a top coat adds time! Time to apply, dry and sand or buff.

This credenza I top coated with a matte polyurethane to protect it from scratches and wear, but that added 2 days to the project – not fun.

Who doesn’t want to shorten a paint project? This woman sure does!

To give you perspective, here are all of the furniture pieces I’ve painted in the last 24 months in my home:

  1. 2 nightstands
  2. French armoire
  3. Bombay chest
  4. Foyer table
  5. Kitchen table
  6. Coffee table
  7. 4 chairs

Just a few things in my repertoire of painting projects 🙂 I used the SAME paint on every project. I’ve both sprayed on this paint with an airless sprayer and hand applied with a brush and foam roller.

This paint NEVER disappoints and has worn perfectly, with no top coat!

My Favorite Furniture Paint

What is this seemingly perfect furniture paint? It is Valspar’s Cabinet Enamel! What Tracey? You are using a cabinet paint on furniture? You bet I am!

valspar-cabinet-paint

I’m sure you are wondering why I love a cabinet enamel for furniture?

Why I am a fan:

  • This is paint technology that acts like an oil and cures to a hard tough finish
  • Water based, which means soap and water clean up
  • Low odor, low VOC (gasses)
  • Available in almost all of Valspar’s paint colors (2,000+)
  • Flows and levels beautifully, which means virtually no brush marks!
  • Non-yellowing like the old oil paints

#1 reason I LOVE this paint: NO TOP COAT NEEDED!

Valspar Cabinet Paint

This really is a new paint technology called alkyd oil. What that means in plain terms is there is a molecule of oil trapped inside the latex paint. So once the paint dries and cures, it ends up being as tough as an oil based paint. Cool!

Why don’t I like oil paint? They yellow over time, they are high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), have a very strong odor, and require cleaning up with mineral spirits. 

Application Tips

  1. IMPORTANT do not shake the can of paint! To mix ONLY STIR. 
    1. If you do shake it, don’t use the paint until it settles.
    2. Little air bubbles will get trapped in the paint and will leave marks on the surface of the paint.
  2. When hand applying, use only a FOAM roller and nylon/polyester brush
  3. Be prepared to apply 2 coats and possibly prime first (I always prime when going over stain)
  4. Let the 1st coat dry OVERNIGHT, before applying 2nd coat.
  5. Don’t place objects on the surface, until the 2nd coat drys 48 hours.

When making over my foyer table to a new color, I painted over the original paint that was also Valspar Cabinet Enamel. 

foam-roller-applying-valspar-cabinet-enamel

I’m happy to report that I didn’t have to sand or prime and could just re-coat again with Valspar Cabinet Enamel!

brushing-valspar-cabinet-enamel

I was able to get full coverage in just one coat. This was a half hour project that completely made over a piece of furniture in my home.  See the final results of this project at the bottom of this post.

However, ALL other furniture paint projects I’ve painted directly over stain and PRIMED FIRST (look for a latex bonding primer – I recommend a few in this post).

Painted Furniture Review

Below is a nice review of some of the furniture I’ve painted with Valspar Cabinet Enamel.  I’ll link the posts associated with these projects, if you would like to read more about them.

I’ll share the paint colors I used too!

Master Bedroom Furniture Paint Makeover

Ceiling and Wall Color: Valspar CI 13, Feeling Blue

Armoire and Nightstand Color: Cabinet Enamel, Valspar 3008-10B, Light Raffia

Armoire-Painted-with-a-Paint-Sprayer

close-up-carved-detail-french-armoire-painted-valspar-light-raffia-cabinet-enamel

Bombay Chest Paint Makeover

Wall Color: Valspar 3004-8B, Hazy Yellow

Chest Color: Cabinet Enamel, Valspar 5004-3B, Garden Flower 

dresser-painted-valspar-cabinet-enamel

dresser-painted-valspar-cabinet-enamel-marble-tray-flowers

Pottery Barn Driftwood Faux Finish

Wall Color: Valspar 3007-10A, Wetland Clay

Chair Color: Valspar 7002-16, Swiss Coffee

Table Custom DIY Finish: Click Here

white-chairs-driftwood-faux-finish-table-painted-valspar-cabinet-enamel

Pottery-Barn-Seadrift_Faux-Driftwood-Gray-Finish-Porch-Daydreamer

Reveal: Modern Coastal Powder Room

Wall Color: Valspar CI198, String of Pearls

Foyer Sideboard: Valspar 5001-2A, Academy Gray

Blue-console-table-in-foyer-painted-valspar-cabinet-enamelconsole-table-under-window-painted-valspar-cabinet-enamel

See that beautiful smooth finish, with no brush strokes, and a hard finish? Yes, you can achieve the same results when you paint your furniture too!

Pin It for Later!

best-furniture-paint-that-doesn't-require-a-top-coat_painted-carved-armoire

Do you want to see this paint in action on actual cabinets? Yes, I love it for cabinets too! Watch this video and read How-to Paint Cabinets and Get a Smooth Finish

Wagner Studio Pro Painter

Good luck on your next paint project!

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…

free-paint-sheen-download-porch-daydreamer

Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

 

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer

Tracey

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41 Comments

  1. Can you use a glaze or wax over this type of paint? Or layer paint? I want that weathered/driftwood look on my bedroom furniture

  2. Hi tracy, love your site so far, only been a subscriber for a day. am painting an old vanity
    that i have had for about 40 years. had to strip it because it was bubbling up alot. once i got all the old finish off, used the valspar bonding primer. i put 2 coats of primer on it,
    didn’t realize i only needed one coat. i sanded the first coat and they were relatively
    thin coats. ready to paint, so happy i don’t have to apply a topcoat. i don’t do well
    with rollers so i want to use a brush for this project. can i add floetrol to the
    Valspar cabinet enamel to help with brushstrokes?

    1. Hi, Glady! Good for you for tackling a new project. Do not use Floetrol! First, it isn’t necessary because the product flows and levels so well and second, the paint will never dry…trust me. Someone long ago recommended I use Floetrol and it ruined my project.

  3. Hi!! I love your website!! I’ve learned SO MUCH! I am about to tackle my first furniture painting project and I’m nervous, but excited!! I went to Lowe’s today and the guy in the paint section said not to use a water-based primer under an oil-based paint. I planned on using the Valspar Stainblocking Bonding Primer and then the Valspar Cabinet & Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel on top (color: gravity).

    Your post says the Valspar Cabinet enamel is water-based with an oil component.. does this mean I can use these two together? The word “oil-enriched” on the can is throwing me off! Thank you so much!!!

  4. Girl! You are a woman after my own heart! Your work is gorgeous! I’ve painted a ton of furniture, but mainly with chalk paint and I am OVER it. This post was just what I needed. Two questions—1) Can you paint over chalk paint/wax? I’m redoing some coffee & end tables from Pottery Barn that had been a super dark espresso stain, but I’d chalk painted them a creamy white a few years ago. I’ve got 3 little ones who have left their mark (literally), and I wanted to repaint it the same creamy white color but in a tougher finish. I was planning to use some Zissner Bullseye on it, and then use the cabinet paint on top. Is that what you recommend? Do I need to sand or strip the wax off first?
    2) Can you use this on laminate furniture?
    Thank you so much!!

  5. Hi! Are you familiar with Valspar Furniture Paint not cabinet cabinet paint?
    I sanded a piece throughly and then used a Liquid sandpaper product. I did not use a primer because the piece had been primed and painted before.
    After waiting more than 24 hours, you can scratch the surface with your fingetnai
    Do I continue or start over by sanding it down and then use a primer??
    Everything I read said sending well and using Liquid Sandpaper would be ok.
    Help! I am at a standstill because I have 3 more large pieces to also paint.
    I thank you in advance for any help and hope to hear from you soon.
    Regards,
    Donna

  6. I’ve read both this post and the Chalk paint post and I am not sure which technique to use on a wood finished table and chairs for my daughter. The effect that I want is a black coat over a grey coat, and burnishing very minimally on edges so the grey will come through. The pieces are fairly clean lined without a lot of detail. I don’t want an overly glossy finish, but enough so it will be easy to clean. Which technique do you recommend, and in either one, will I have to do 2 coats of the Black over 1 coat of grey?
    I appreciate your advise and usually do not reach out with questions, but you really seem to know what you are doing. I use to paint many items in my past, but it has been so long, and products have changed.
    Thank you!

    1. What an interesting question and every time I create a new finish I think through how to layer the paint to get the look I want. So this one is easy 🙂 Yes, what you said I would do and start with the gray under the black if black is the primary color with gray highlights. You can get this look with either paint choice, but will have to wax or polyurethane over the top of the chalk paint (which I am sure you know). Sounds like it will be beautiful.

      1. Thanks! After reading through every possible blog of yours on painting techniques, I have decided to go with the Valspar Bonding Primer and Cabinet Enamel option, rather than Chalk Paint. Off to Lowes!
        Wish me luck and thank you for your quick reply! Love your site!

        1. Awwww, thank you! Buy some foam rollers too…SO important to get a smooth finish and “strike off” in long strokes to avoid roller marks! Basically, that means pull your roller from one end of the table to the other as you finish a section 🙂

  7. Hi! I have been reading your blog vigorously and I am so appreciative of all the information. I have nothing but mahogony/cherry furniture in my home. From dining room, to cabinetry to bedrooms. It’s a lot, and I so want new colors but buying all new furniture with good furniture already here seems like a waste of money. Especially with 4 kids. That being said, if I use the valspar cabinet enamel on say an active dining room table…and let it cure for 48 hours. Do I need to polyurethane it afterwards? Or am I good to go? The kids and I all end up at the dining room table with laptops etc. So it sees a lot of action. What do you recommend to do for this type of surface.

    1. Hey, Jenifer! I’d say with 4 kids and knowing you are going to use the surface a lot protecting it with a top coat is a good idea. My favorite that I used on the table in my son’s loft area is coated with a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic water based polyurethane in satin sheen. If you want a shinier finish, you can use a semi-gloss. Happy painting!

  8. This maybe a dumb question, I’m new to painting but now want to paint everything. My house has a lot of dark wood. Could you use this paint on wood trim and wood molding?

  9. Hi There!
    I’m preparing for a kitchen cabinet redo and I’m uncertain about one major thing – the cabinets are oak. Do you have any experience using this paint with oak? If so, did you feel the need to use a wood filler or does the primer/paint will well?

    Thanks!
    Brandea

    1. Brandea, sorry I haven’t had to paint over oak. It really is up to you and the look you want. Many people want to cover the graining and use a filler to mask it. That will be a lot of work and if it’s really just a brighter color you are after, I’d say skip it and save yourself the time 🙂

  10. Hello. I recently tried the enamel paint and love it! You used light raffia for the armoire? Is it a true light grey like it looks in the photos or does it have strong undertones? I need a true light grey paint to paint my daughter’s furniture and am trying to avoid purple, blue or green undertones. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey, Mandy! Glad you love the enamel. Light raffia is definitely not a gray, but a creamy off-white. Try Valspar Tempered Gray 4004-1A. It’s a warmer gray to avoid the cooler tones you mentioned. Let me know what you think!

  11. Hi Cindy! I have a dining room set that I want to try this method on. Do other brands of cabinet enamel work just as well? Also do I need to prime or is this a paint and go method?

    1. We just moved into a beautiful new home… And all of our furniture looks sad and tired and sooo mismatched now. I want to paint EVERYTHING! LOL! I love the look of the new Valspar paints. Can I ask, why do you use the cabinet paint instead of the Valspar furniture paint? And is the finished look shiny? I prefer a more matte look. Would I need to apply something else for that look? Finally… Is it possible to make it look a little bit distressed? Sorry for so many questions. 😁 I am anxious to get painting!!

      1. Brandy, my best advice is to click through to the various posts I link in this article to see how the product looks in various settings. The furniture paint is “same girl different dress’ as the cabinet enamel and came out later. So I just stick with the Cabinet Enamel, since I have been using it for years. The sheen is between a satin and semi-gloss. Check out this post of my bedroom to see how it looks in the daylight on my armoire – it would only have that maximum of a sheen in direct sunlight. Remember the more sheen the more durable and easier to clean. The cabinet enamel has been so durable on my nightstands. https://porchdaydreamer.com/paint-sprayer-best-project-ever/

        If you truly want a matte look, then use chalky paint with a matte polyurethane top coat. Link to post about that here: https://porchdaydreamer.com/chalk-paint-stained-furniture/

        Here is a post and I have done antiquing glaze over the enamel on a table without issue, but it is VERY hard to sand of course due to the hard finish. https://porchdaydreamer.com/antiquing-glazing-cabinets-and-furniture/

        More painting advice is compiled here: https://porchdaydreamer.com/paint-project-resource/

  12. Hi,

    You’re work is gorgeous! I’m thinking of adapting your spray method for my a dresser turned vanity. Do you think it would be possible to use the Valspar Cabinet spray in the Wagner Home Decor Stationary HVLP Paint Sprayer instead of the Studio Pro (they are on sale in my area)? Or would I be better off with a foam roller and brush method? Would a paint conditioner help things go more smoothly?

    Thanks so much!

    Tracy

  13. I love your blog and all the tips. I’m a novice when it comes to painting furniture although my Hubby did some antiquing on our hand-me-down furniture when we were married in the 1970’s. Seventeen years ago we inherited a very-yellowed French Provincial bedroom set from my beloved aunt & uncle. It’s seen better days but I just couldn’t part with it. We’ve never attempted to restore it because we were unsure how to go about it. Recently when I suggested chalk painting it to my Hubby he was very skeptical. And then I found your post about Valspar Cabinet Enamel paint and he said YES – that’s what he wants to use. So it looks like our old furniture will finally be getting its much-deserved makeover. Thank you!

  14. Thank you for all this info on the Valspar Cabinet paint. We are starting to paint this weekend, our kitchen cabinets are already painted, but doing a refresh, we love Valspar paint but have not used this paint. Will give it a try.

    1. Hey, Cindy! Funny enough this weekend I am going to repaint my bathroom cabinets in a new color, with the cabinet enamel. I’ll be doing a post soon about how I am handling nicks and chips (very few around my makeup drawer). Good luck and I hope you love it! Use a foam roller and you will get a perfect finish.

  15. Thank you for the valuable info- paint choices always confuse me! Maybe I’m asking the obvious, but would this paint work well for kitchen cabinets? (After priming, of course)

  16. All your painted wood pieces are beautiful. And I appreciate knowing that it is Valspar! When painting over stained surfaces, what kind of primer do you use, oil or latex?

    1. Linda, thank you! I always use Valspar’s Bonding Primer which is water / latex based for soap and water clean up. Thanks for asking the question, so I can make sure I address it in this post for everyone to know 😉

  17. Hi Tracey! So good to know! I have painted a couple pieces with horizontal surfaces with Benjamin Moore paint we used for our walls. Last summer we did a French dresser with an air sprayer after seeing your beautiful piece you sprayed. We let the piece cure for a couple weeks before we put anything on it and it still marks up when I change things around. Did not apply a top coat. So disappointed in wasting all that time! Next time I will try this paint. Thanks for sharing your valuable experience!

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