Ultimate Guidance For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding

Sanding the furniture takes up quite an amount of time and effort; it easily makes many of us give up in the middle. Thus, how about painting over varnished wood without sanding but still giving the furniture a stunning look?

Here in this post, we will provide you nine essential steps to do it easily and quickly at home. Let’s check it out!

9 Essential Steps For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding

Ultimate Guidance For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding

Step 1: Preparation

The first preparation step is always the most important. If the step is well-cared for, it won’t delay your painting due to lacking tools, materials, etc. Furthermore, you would also save time wiping down in the end. Before painting over varnished wood without sanding, let’s lay down a plastic tarp to protect your floor from the painting dropped.

Then, let’s open the window and door to make the air circulate easily. It is extremely important for anyone who has asthma or with small children. 

Step 2: Remove Hardware

If you don’t want cabinet hardware, knobs, drawer handles to be changed into another different color, make sure that all of them are taken off.

Step 3: Clean Surface

At this step, you would need to clean varnished wood. Generally, soft dry cloth is good enough to remove dust. If you have stubborn dirt built up from the wood, a moist cloth would be easier for you to wipe the dirt away. 

Ultimate Guidance For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding 1

Besides, you can also try a drop of mild liquid dish detergent onto a clean cloth to clean dirty spots. Another homemade formulation to clean the wood is a mixture of 2-3 drops of liquid dish detergent with 240ml of water. Using a damp clean cloth to wipe down stubborn dirt could make the varnished wood easily absorb water then damage the wood surface. So, at the same time as using a moist cloth, you also immediately wipe the furniture with a dry cloth. 

Step 4: Remove The Gloss

A deglosser or liquid sandpaper is necessary for painting over varnished wood without sanding. Specifically, the main reason is that the painting isn’t easy to grip on the gloss surface of varnished wood. While sanding takes too much time and effort, a deglosser or liquid sandpaper is a fantastic solution, giving you the desired result. 

Once applying this chemical substance and liquid sandpaper, open the door to quickly release its strong smell release. It would be best if you paint the deglosser and liquid sandpaper outdoors. Once the substance dries, you can paint your furniture with whatever kind of paint you like.

Step 5: Clean The Surface

At this stage, you clean the surface again to help make the surface spotless. Without wiping the dust down again, you could make the surface bumpy if you continue painting. 

Step 6: Repair The Surface

Along with cleaning the surface again, it is crucial that you fix any scratches, nicks, or left by lightly sanding. Additionally, you may also need a kind of wood filler to fill the cracks on the wood surface. 

Step 7: Prime The Surface

Applying a paint primer is an essential step to enhance adhesion for hard-to-bond substrates. Depending on the type of paint you use – an oil-based one or a water-based one, you will use the same kind of latex primer.

In the case of painting over the varnished wood with a color, you can tint the wood primer in a similar color to your ultimate paint color. Finally, follow the instructions of the primer manufacturer about the drying time. 

Step 8: Paint The Surface

Now, we will move on to the most important part of painting over varnished wood without sanding – painting the surface. 

Before starting painting, you should stir your paint to make it a consistent color. Furthermore, it also helps remove globs and bubbles from the mixture. Don’t forget to paint on a small piece of wood to test its color. 

Ultimate Guidance For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding 2

If the test result is fine, you can paint the whole varnished wood furniture now. Let paint lightly in the direction of the wood grain. Start from the bottom of the wood, then move upwards. You shall continue painting on the unpainted wood and move it to the painted parts until the overlaps are finished. 

You can try painting more coats to get the desired color you want. However, you should always paint each time lightly so that the surface looks smooth. Between each coat, it is better to wipe the dust-out. Finally, let the furniture completely dry before applying a new coat. 

Step 9: Apply The Top Coat

Let finish the work of painting over varnished wood without sanding by covering a top coat with either wax or polyurethane. In detail, this step protects the furniture against scuffs and spills. 

Ultimate Guidance For Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding 2

Related Articles:

Is Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding Fine?

Yes, it would be fine. Products like deglosser, liquid sandpaper, and a paint primer are important keys for painting over varnished wood without sanding successfully. Following step by step as the guidance above, we believe you would get a new coat for the old furniture. 


Painting over varnished wood without sanding is doable. We believe that you would have nicely painted furniture by following the guidance above. It definitely saves your budget if you have to buy a new one while still re-using your beloved furniture. 

Reference Source: How to paint over stain / varnish surface – No Sanding

Leave a Comment