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How to Paint a Desk | Explained in Detail 2022

How to Paint a Desk? It’s not always an easy task to paint a desk. For some people, it can be downright intimidating! But if you’re someone who knows how to use the right materials and equipment, painting a desk is actually fairly simple.

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In this blog post, Focal Upright will go over everything you need to know about painting desks. Let’s dive in!

How to Paint a Desk?

Sanding the Desk

Separately clean the drawers and desk. The paint may chip if you don’t clean the desk first. Please take out the drawers to separate them for cleaning and painting. Murphy’s Oil Soap is an excellent choice for this part of the project.

Take out the hardware. This will prevent them from being damaged during sanding.

You can lightly sand the desk with medium-grit sandpaper. If you want to sand between layers of paint, you’ll need to use grit sandpaper.

If the surface is already dull, there is no need for you to sand.

Gently move the sander back and forth. You don’t need to exert any pressure on the sander. Just glide the machine across the surface. Sanding the desk it well to help the paint adhere to the surface.

Priming the Desk

Use cheesecloth or paper towels to clean the desk. Dust that remains on the desk’s surface after finished sanding could cause a rough paint job. Before applying primer, clean off all sawdust.

Choose a primer. There are three types of primers: oil, pigmented Shellac, or latex. Different primers work well on other surfaces, so you should choose the primer best suited for your desk.

You should choose an oil-based primer if your desk is made from unfinished, weathered, or varnished wood or wood that bleeds tannins such as cedar.

If you’re painting concrete, brick, or pine, use a latex-based primer.

Use a pigmented Shellac primer to deal with water, tannin, and smoke stains.

The primer should be applied to the desk. You can spray primer cans or paint primer with a roller brush.

You only need one coat of primer unless the wood is damaged or unfinished. Two coats are recommended for wood with stains and wood that has never been primed.

Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the desk. The desk can be lightly sanded again. Your desk will have professional look thanks to light sand between primer and paint.

After removing the second sand, wipe down the desk. For best results, use a tack cloth.

You should wait a week before you start painting. Although you may wait until all your tools are ready, primer works best when it has seven days to seal.

Painting the Desk

Choose an interior latex paint with a glossy finish. Avoid painting with a flat surface as it will be difficult to clean. Glossy finish will look great and be easy to clean.

Select an application tool. The paint can be applied using a roller and paint brush or a sprayer. If you have a tight budget, the roller and paint brush are great options. Although it is more expensive, the paint sprayer can be handy.

Apply the paint to the desk by brushing and rolling it. First, paint the crevices with a paint brush. Next, apply a foam roller to the desk’s flat surfaces.

The foam roller saves time and makes it challenging to see brush strokes.

Use the paint sprayer. Practice painting on a piece of cardboard before you use the paint sprayer at your desk. This will allow you to get familiar with the strength of the paint sprayer and help you decide how far away you should stand from your target.

Spray straight, long strokes. Before you turn on the sprayer, start making the strokes. Keep your strokes as straight as possible once the sprayer has been turned on. Cover 2-3 feet (61-91cm) per second.

Your target should be approximately 10-12 inches (30-25 cm) away. The thicker and more difficult it will be to maintain even paint, the closer you are to the desk.

The nozzle of your paint sprayer should be perpendicular to the surface that you are painting. The paint will layer unevenly if you arc it.

Paint in thin coats. A rougher finish is more likely for thicker coats.

Most desks can be painted with 2-3 coats.

You can achieve an antique appearance by rubbing the edges of the painted surfaces with some sandpaper.

Sand between coats. You should lightly sand each coat with fine-grit paper to create a smooth finish.

Protecting Your Desk

Let the paint dry after finishing the last coat. Allow the desk to dry for 24 hours after applying the last coat of paint. The furniture can be left to cure for around 30 days. This will protect the coat of paint.

If you decide to cure, make sure that the desk is completely dry for 30 days. Otherwise, the process won’t work.

Protect the desk with a sealant. Apply a protective layer to your desk using either a water-based top coat or polyurethane. Avoid using polyurethane on a desk painted in a pale or white color as it may give off an unwelcome yellow tint.

Apply the final touches. Once the protectant has dried for 24 hours, you can screw the doorknobs or handles back in. To add an extra touch, you can line the drawers with colorful paper.

See Beginner’s Guide to Painting Furniture, Click here.

Priming and Painting

Use a medium-sized brush to apply a light coat of primer. Apply a second coat of primer if you plan to change the color of your desk. Two to three coats of primer are better than one. Refer to the instructions for the drying time before you paint.

Use a medium brush to apply a light coat of latex enamel paint. Start at the top and work your way down. Paint the front body first. Next, paint the vertical pieces. The sides of the desk should be painted from top to bottom. Next, paint the drawer fronts from the side.

Before applying a second light coat, let the paint dry for at most two hours. Depending on how much paint is covered and how dark the color has changed, you may need to add a third coat.

After the paint has dried completely, reattach the handles and hardware to the desk. Then you’ll have a new desk:)

See our guide about How To Make A Desk, Click here.

FAQs About Painting a Desk

How do I know when my desk is dry?

After you finish painting your desktop it should take about 24 hours before it fully dries and becomes ready for use again. You’ll know it’s dry if you can’t stick to the desk with your fingers.

How should I store my paint?

Paint can be stored in many different ways, including cans, jars, or plastic containers with lids (just make sure the container is labeled for paint). Paint that’s been opened but not used up may be left at room temperature to keep it from drying out.

How do I know if my desk is made of wood?

If you can’t see any metal frames or hardware under the surface, your desk is most likely wooden. If this applies to you, it’s important that you sand the surface before painting.

What kind of paint should you use on a desk?

Paint is available in many different forms, from liquids to powders. Before you decide which type is best for your needs look at the label and make sure it’s made specifically to paint furniture (and not something else). This will ensure that the finish has just the right amount of durability for a desk and that it won’t peel or chip easily over time.

Read also: https://refreshliving.us/best-paint-furniture/

Can I paint a desk skip sanding?

No. You don’t. However, you need to prepare the surface properly first. It is advisable to wipe it down with a soapy rag. You may also want to use deglosser. Instead, I prefer to use oil-based paint. This will stick to varnished surfaces and prepares for the final coat of paint.

How do you prepare a desk for painting?

Use 220-grit Sandpaper to lightly sand the surfaces of your desk. This will make it easier for the paint to stick. Use 100-grit sandpaper for desks with a flaky or chipped finish. Then, finish the job with lighter sandpaper.

Can I paint my desk white?

It is easy to transform a desk into a stylish piece of furniture by painting it white. It is likely that the brown wood has been stained and varnished. This means you will need to prepare the surface before you paint it white. The fun will last longer than expected and it will be well worth the extra effort.


Refinishing or painting a wooden desk can bring new life to an older piece of furniture. I hope you found this guide helpful. If not, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have about painting a desk. You can also find more articles on our website at focaluprightfurniture.com. Thank you for reading!


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