{Tutorial} How to Eliminate Brush Strokes on Painted Furniture

When I first started painting furniture, the first issue I came across was the dreadful brush strokes. These things are my nemesis (well, that and laundry day). I got so frustrated when I was working on my first piece because the brush strokes were so bad, I felt like it looked cheap! So, I sanded it down, and tried another technique, then another brand of paint, then a roller instead of a brush, then ANOTHER technique. I think I repainted that first piece like 6 times until I finally bought a paint sprayer from Lowe’s for around $80. I read every tutorial online about painting furniture – nothing was working. The roller made it look “bumpy” which was only slightly better than the brush strokes. Floretrol didn’t seem to help at all. Sanding in between every coat seemed like way to much work – plus I would always sand way to far in some spots, so that it was like I didn’t put any paint on at all. I was SO FRUSTRATED.

How to Eliminate Brush Strokes on Painted Furniture #PaintedFurniture #BrushStrokes #VintageStorehouse

I went along spraying furniture for a while with my trusty Graco sprayer from Lowe’s. It worked extremely well…. but I always wanted to know how to get a good finish with just a brush. Any sprayers make a huge mess compared to a paint brush. I enjoy painting furniture by hand much more, it’s some what relaxing to me compared to painting with a sprayer. Plus, this blog is dedicated to helping others restore furniture – and I know most of you aren’t going to want to go spend $80 on a sprayer to paint one piece, let alone find an area big enough that you can spray in without getting it on EVERYTHING! So… I’ve been experimenting with a ton of different paints over the last few months to find the best combination I could to help all of you readers who are struggling with the same thing! Here is what I found:

How to Eliminate Brush Strokes on Painted Furniture #PaintedFurniture #BrushStrokes #VintageStorehouse

First of all, you CAN get an ultra smooth, beautiful finish with “minimal” brush strokes without sanding or priming and using only a brush. The reason I say “minimal” instead of “no” is that on some pieces I find there are a few small brush strokes in some areas, that I can only see if I get my face right next to the piece of furniture, and I’m looking for them. They are so minimal, you really would never know they were brush strokes if you were not the one painting the piece, but I want to be 100% honest with you guys about the finish you can expect with this.

The biggest thing when getting a smooth finish is the type of paint you use. Here are the 3 things I use to get a good finish:

1. Benin Moore Custom Blend Brush, 2 1/2″ Angled

2. Sherwin Williams Cashmere Paint (Low Lustre Sheen)

3.Vintage Storehouse Chalky Paint Powder

4. Tap Water

{Tutorial} How to Eliminate Brush Strokes on Painted Furniture

A few extra tips on painting furniture with a brush – I talk a lot about adding water to the paint and why I don’t use Floetrol. The 1/4 c. per quart recommendation is a suggestion based on the super dry climate I live in (Utah). If you live somewhere that is more humid and wet, you might not need any water to get a super smooth finish, or you might need more if you’re painting in extremely hot weather. I suggest experimenting with it a little before diving in, to get a good consistency and to see what you’re looking for. You want to water it down just enough that you have a good minute or so before it starts to dry, but not so much that it’s running down the sides of your piece.

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  • Susan

    what is wrong with floetrol that we would want to not use it???

    • Kelsey Elaine

      Hi Susan,

      Nothing is “wrong” with Floetrol, I just haven’t personally seen much point in using it. There are other painters who swear by it and say it changed their life… I personally think it makes the paint more difficult to work with, especially when I’m using Sherwin Williams Cashmere.

  • Susie Renchen

    This was an awesome tutorial. You said you use wax to finish it. What type of wax do you use and do you have a tutorial for that as well? Thanks

  • Jeane

    Fabulous video! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable info. Can’t wait to put your advice to practice.

  • sherry

    I’m confused about the blue mineral paint. I saw your other video on all the different types…from cashmere white to typewriter.
    Which blue mineral paint color did you use for this red piece? you never mentioned the exact one that I can hear.?? I have a huge desk I want to do in this color…can’t wait to get it all the stuff and get started 🙂 LOOOOVVVEEE THE COLOR!!!

    • Kelsey Elaine

      Hi Sherry, I think there is a little bit of confusion between the different Blue Minerals Products… Blue Minerals carries both an Antiquing Powder and a Chalk Paint Powder. The Chalk Paint Powder is an additive you combine with latex paint (any brand or color that you pick up at your local hardware/paint store). It transforms Latex or Acrylic paint into beautiful creamy chalk paint, plus it eliminates the need for priming or sanding. On this piece I used Sherwin Williams Cashmere Paint (mixed with Blue Minerals Chalk Paint Powder) in “Caliente” (that’s the name of the red color). I did not use any Antiquing Powders on this piece. The Antiquing Powders add an aged look to your piece and let you get a little more creative with the finish. That is the product that has the colors “White Cashmere” and “Vintage Typewriter” that you’re referring to. You can learn more about their products on their website http://www.bluemineralschalkpaint.com

  • CharlieMorgen

    I got a little mixed up with the blue minerals mixture. Do you mix the desired paint with the blue minerals mixture THEN add more water to that mixture to paint or are those two separate techniques to paint? Also how much paint did you use with the blue minerals mixture on the red dresser?

    • Kelsey Elaine

      I’d say I used somewhere between 1/2 a quart to 2/3 a quart. It’s been a while, but I know I have a bunch of red paint left over from that project. I usually add the water after the Blue Minerals because it’s easier for me to see how thin the paint is getting, and helps to avoid over thinning… but you can add it in with the Blue Minerals if that’s easier for you!

  • Greg

    Love this! For the waxing part … Have you ever used Briwax? I have a can of clear and was wondering if I could just that brand rather than fiddlers. To help save $$$

    • admin

      I don’t have a lot of experience with Briwax, but it’s more of a paste wax than a soft wax. I prefer the soft wax as it has a soft buttery texture making it much easier to work with than a thicker paste wax that has more of a thicker & harder texture. I hope that helps!

  • Jill

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have been going MAD over trying to chalk paint an antique bed with all the brush strokes and really just want to paint some latex over the whole thing so I don’t have to bother with waxing or sealing with poly which is also notorious for showing brush strokes. Did you ever use the Cashmere paint *without* the chalk powder? Do you think if I paint over a lightly sanded chalk paint with just the SW latex cashmere paint (no chalk powder) using your paint loading and brushing techniques, that the finish would be smooth? I am through with expensive “designer” chalk paint, ugh!

    • Kelsey Elaine

      Thanks Jill, I’m glad I could help. The Chalky Paint Powder does help with the consistency of the paint, but I do think it’s still possible to get beautiful results without using the same techniques. You might have to play with it a little to adjust your water to paint ratio slightly to account for the lack of Chalky Paint Powder though! I’d practice on a small inconspicuous area first, then when you’ve got it all figured out, paint the rest of the piece.

  • http://cakestar.blogspot.com/2015/04/furniture-makeover-bar.html Amy V

    Hi Kelsey, I finished my first project and followed your painting tutorial to the “T”. Thanks so much for your help! I appreciate all of your videos! Here is my first project:


    • Kelsey Elaine

      Love it Amy! Gorgeous transformation! Thanks for sharing!

  • orangesugar

    I thought that you needed to sand and prime furniture before painting? If not won’t the paint just flake off over time?

    • Kelsey Elaine

      That’s a big misconception! If you are going to paint with oil based or latex paint (basically any paint you would purchase from the hardware store), it’s usually a good idea to either prime or sand the piece prior to painting. In all my years of refinishing furniture I have NEVER had to both prime and sand a piece of furniture, and I’ve never had issues with flaking or chipping!

      There’s also a little to be said about the type of finish you are painting over. Some paints have a harder time adhering to really oily or shiny surfaces. This is another place primer can be really helpful as it does a great job of gripping to those surfaces and it can block any oil or grime that would create issues in your finish.

      BUT… now a days there are a TON of products on the market that can be used over most pieces of furniture without the need for priming or sanding. We have our own line of Chalky Paint Powder, which is one of these such products – and this is what I used in the video – but there are many brands out there. Basically the product is similar to having a super great primer (better than what’s in those primer and paint all in one paint products at the hardware store) built into the paint!