Hello! So, lately on my Instagram stories I’ve been sharing how I’m refreshing a vintage, wooden record player with paint. It’s been so fun to transform a $30 thrift store piece of furniture that was begging for a second change. One of my readers told me that they didn’t think I should be painting the wood. So, today I thought I’d share my thoughts on if is it bad to paint wood furniture.
Ok- let’s make this short. Do what you want that makes you happy and works in your house. The end. Lol- let’s dive in deeper.
Is It Bad to Paint Wood Furniture?
To start off, if you’ve been following along for a while then you know I’ve had a lot of projects where I paint wood. And it’s definitely something I enjoy doing for me and my home!
But from time to time I get comments or questions about it.
Is it ok to paint wood? Is it wrong? Am I damaging the piece? Or here’s the actual question I got last week “should you ruin a vintage piece of furniture to match a home’s aesthetic?”
Also, it’s not uncommon that people say that in every case you should never paint wood. And I get that! Honestly, I grew up with that mentality as well. However, I think it’s a little less black and white than that.
Well, these are all things I’ve given a lot of thought to, and have even put some hours into researching expert opinions. So, today I want to share my perspective with you about it!
When Not to Paint Wood
I redid this table last year by stripping the paint off and refinishing it
Generally, there are a few times when you shouldn’t paint wood.
1. When the Original Finish is Beautiful
So, if the original finish is beautiful then you can hold back from painting. Also, a few finishes are very classic and don’t really go out of style. Then you don’t have to worry about updating them as styles come and go. Yay!
Personally, I don’t hesitate to paint a piece if the original finish is damaged. Some pieces can be easily repaired. But in some cases, the damage is beyond saving.
Obviously “beautiful” is a very subjective definition. But it’s totally up to you and your taste at the end of the day.
2. When the Furniture is a Valuable Antique
Secondly, you don’t want to paint antiques that still have value.
Why? Because if they are valuable, it means they were made with craftsmanship and were meant to be seen in their original form. Also, painting will decrease the value the piece might hold.
If you want to know if a piece is valuable, do some research and see if there are similar pieces for sale in the Facebook Marketplace or on Craigslist. You’ll be able to get an idea of its current value based on market prices.
3. When You Want to Strip the Finish and Enjoy the Wood
Finally, a lot of pieces have a good bone structure but a not-so-nice finish. In that case, it’s totally fine to strip the finish and give it a prettier one so you enjoy it how you want it.
This little end table had the scariest 90’s finish that I sanded off and refinished
When It’s Ok to Paint Wood
Alright, there are some specific times when it actually makes sense to paint wood.
Firstly, if you want a piece that’s all you, painting it is the way to go! Since paint colors are totally up to you, you can customize them to work in your space however you want.
Painting can be such a fun way to express your style and personality and gives you the joy of creating. So when you want a piece of furniture to be custom, this is when it’s a-ok to paint it.
When I paint furniture- I always use chalk paint. I have a good overview on chalk paint here if you’re new to it.
2. When You Save Furniture from the Dump
I got this $5 end table from a garage sale. It reeked of cigarette smoke. This was about to get hauled to the dump before I grabbed it. Now it’s one of my favorite pieces!
Here’s another time it’s ok to paint wood.
Say you’re thrifting and you find an old piece that is dinged up and dated. I think it’s totally fine to rescue it and give it new life!
If it didn’t sell, it might end up in a landfill which just equals more waste. So you might as well give it a second chance, right?
3. When You Care About Sustainability
Next up, painting wood is a great option if you care about sustainability and using available resources to their maximum!
And one way to do that is by incorporating used furniture into a home’s decor. It’s really the most sustainable choice as far as furniture goes.
Since nothing new needs to be manufactured or shipped. Plus you’re keeping it from being disposed of.
But just because someone cares about the environment doesn’t mean that they have to have furniture that doesn’t match their house or make them happy. Imagination and paint goes a long way to making an older piece look fabulous again!
4. When You’re Looking for a Trendy Statement
I painted my fridge pink with chalk paint to update a super dated and dinged up fridge for a trendy look
Finally, painting is perfect when you want to have a current, specific look. Since paint is easily changed or covered, you can always repaint it when you’re ready for a new look.
Also, you can always adapt a painted piece to your home’s color scheme as it changes over the years.
Here’s the before picture of the record player. It definitely wasn’t in perfect condition- lots of scratches and dings and paint splatters. I knew when I bought it from the thrift store fo $30 (I still can’t get over that deal!) that I’d paint it.
I replaced the orange speaker fabric with beige speaker fabric. Next, I switched out the metal on the speakers for caning to modernize it a bit. Plus, I was really excited to add caning in this house! To get the caning to lay flat, I spritzed it with water and then placed it under some cardboard and books. It worked like a charm! Next, I tried to glue the caning on, but I was working with such a small area that the glue wouldn’t stick. I ended up layering the caning with the board the speaker fabric is on and screwing them back together.
after- record player redo
Here’s the finished up record player! Didn’t it turn out so sweet?! It’s fun and playful and I sure love the color! If you’re wondering about that awesome vintage scarf, I scored it on Etsy after looking for one for months. I’ll be framing it soon to make it statement art.
I especially love the caning detail! I got a more retro look and it sounds great with the speakers.
Well, that wraps up both reasons of when it’s not ok and when it’s totally fine to paint wood!
At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for your furniture in your house. What will make you happy? What will work for your family?
I know lots of people were raised believing that painting any wood furniture is bad, but unless there’s value in the piece (sentimental or monetary) and the condition is good, there’s a lot of times when painting makes sense. You do you! Make it pretty and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.😉
What are your thoughts on painting wood pieces? Tell me in the comments!
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