how to paint wood furniture without sanding: 5 Popular Sanding Alternatives

The appearance of your furniture is one of the most important things which determine the beauty of your home. If you want something to look good you have to give your attention to details, no matter what it is. Whether a beginner woodworker or a pro, many of us who love DIY projects often get disheartened by the fact that their projects work okay but don’t look much attractive. And what is the point of working so hard if you can’t present the result to your friends?

The most frequently asked questions I hear from people interested in sanding is related to sanding wood. I got many emails in recent times where people asked me, “how to paint wood furniture without sanding?” Or “can I skip sanding?” Well, the answer is both yes and no because it depends on the surface, the painting product you are intending to use, and some other things. In response to these questions, today I’ve decided to discuss this issue of sanding wood and alternative ways of furniture painting techniques in detail.

The Purpose of Sanding Wood

The objective of the sanding process is preparing the wood before furnishing (staining or painting). It removes the mill mark from the wood to smoothen the wood surface and remove any dents or flaws from the surface. One of the most important roles of wood sanding is removing any varnish or sealer so that new paintings can stick to the wood surface. Sanding is an indispensable part of the woodworking process.

However, in some cases, the sanding process might be a real pain. For example, if the furniture has a sensitive curvy design or the material of the furniture is too intricate. Sanding process creates dust all over the place and it requires some physical labor no matter if you use power sanders or hand sandpapers. If you want to skip the sanding process no matter whatever the reason is, there are some alternatives available to you. Nonetheless, I would recommend you to lightly sand your furniture first. It would give a better staining and painting result to flourish the natural wood grain marks.

Best Sander for Furniture Refinishing

In furnishing process, you only need furniture sander that exerts little pressure on the surface. The little sanding force is enough to smoothen the wood surface and take off any varnish or sealer. The best sander for furniture refinishing is the orbital furniture sander. They are very light and easy to use. You don’t need any prior experience to use one. They only cost $30 to $50. But orbital sanders began going out of fashion with the arrival of random orbital sanders. The reason is, with a random orbital sander you can have both light sanding and heavy sanding. Furthermore, random orbital sanders surpass the limitations of orbital sanders. They only cost around $80 and provide all-round sanding performance with a dust vacuum attachment. So for furniture refurbishing process, a random orbital sander would be the wisest choice among all the wood sander types.

5 Alternative Ways of Painting without Sanding

If you are determined to skip the sanding process, or your furniture nature doesn’t allow you to use sandpapers or power sanders, then you can try any one of the following 5 options.

1. Liquid Sander or Deglosser

Liquid sander or deglosser is the most effective sanding alternative to sanding for furniture with curvy designs or antique values. It is a chemical that is very easy to apply. You can apply it with a sponge or a piece of clothing. It reacts with the old varnish and paintings to remove them and prepare the furniture for a new coating of paint. One thing to note is that it stinks and is best to use in well-ventilated places with a mask. You should also read and follow the direction provided with the liquid sander before using it.

2. Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is the easiest one among all the alternatives. It requires no preparation. It is widely used in industrial settings. They don’t require a sanded surface to stick. Chalk paints can give you a super matte finish. If you are okay with a non-glossy look of your furniture, chalk furniture paint is the easiest solution. You should paint two or more coating to get a good result.

3. Bonding Primer

Bonding primer is another great solution to skip sanding. Often they are marketed with the words “no sanding necessary.” Bonding primers are known for their strong binding power. They can facilitate the stickiness of the new paint. However, before using any primers, you should test your intended object surface with it. Apply binder to a small area or similar kind of surface of your furniture. Wait for 24 hours. And then check if the primer gets stable or not. If yes, then you can go forward with that binder. It is a good option to spend a day for prior testing so you don’t end up figuring out that all your work went in vain after all the hard work.

4. Milk Paint with Bonding Agent

Milk paint is another hassle free alternative sanding solution for your furniture. They are a biodegradable and nontoxic paint that works great on wooden surfaces. Milk paints can be purchased in power or mixture form. You have to use an equal part bonding agent with the milk paint you are using. The bonding agent is a chemical like bonding primer that helps the milk paint adhere to the surface. Milk paint with bonding agent is very easy to use. You need to use the bonding agent on the first coat only. The only downside of milk paint is that it costs a bit more than other painting options.

5. Mineral Paint

If you want a super durable, high standard painting option that requires no preparation, then there is no better option than mineral paint for you. Mineral paint is a nontoxic paint. It is watertight and can stick to any surface. It is so durable that it only requires one coating to have a nice looking finish. The only downside is that you have to pay high to get this high standard, glossy, waterproof painting. Mineral paints are the most costly among these 5 alternative sanding options. If you ignore the cost factor, it is the best way to paint wood furniture.

These are the most effective answers to the question “how to paint wood furniture without sanding?” However, depending on the furniture surface, if these painting solutions don’t work effectively then you have to sand the surface lightly. You can use any power sander that I mentioned earlier or hand sandpapers if you think this would work for your needs.


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