Looking to paint furniture a smooth finish? It’s so much easier than you think. Here are 7 tips for painting furniture without brush marks.

7 Tips For Painting Furniture Without Brush Marks

Thank you all for all your sweet comments about the change up in the living room.

I cannot even begin to tell y’all how happy you make me.



The one with the coffee cup and the amazing smile.

When you leave me a comment or send me a message or even ask me a question….

…..it means so much.

And the number one question I got asked from yesterday after I talked about painting the bookcases? How did I get the finish so smooth? How did I paint them to look like a professional did it.

How did I paint them without any brush strokes showing?

No worries my incredible friend.

We got THIS.

Here are my best 7 tips for painting furniture without brush marks.

Tips For Painting Furniture

7 Tips For Painting Furniture Without Brush Marks

Tip 1: Use a paint sprayer

A sprayer is your friend when it comes to a smooth finish.

(total aside: this was so captain obvious that I had to get it out of the way at the beginning.)

They are so easy to use if you have the right one. I love this one that I’ve used for SO MANY different projects.

It is a little bit of an investment, but the coverage is amazing and you just add the paint to the container and attach it.

If you are using a paint sprayer here are my best tips:

  1. Make sure you use fresh paint that’s not been sitting for a while to prevent glumping.
  2. Keep the sprayer about 12 inches from the furniture to prevent overspray.
  3. When you first go to use the sprayer, spray on a piece of cardboard first before you spray on the furniture to practice.
  4. Thinner even coats are your best friend.

But what if you can’t afford a sprayer or you just want to use a brush?

No worries.

You can still get a smooth finish with these tips.

brushes for Painting Furniture Without Brush Marks

Tip 2: The right brush

The right brush makes all the difference.

This one is my favorite and it’s the one we use for most of our projects.

The slanted surface allows for more flexibility when you are painting and the bristles are so close together that it leaves a smooth finish. Also, the bristles don’t come out and get stuck in your top coat. There is nothing worse than getting everything smooth and looking down and seeing a bristle in your painted surface.

Also, this brush is amazing for the corners and intricate details.

It’s only 1″ wide and has incredible coverage.

7 Tips For Painting Furniture

Tip 3: The right sheen makes all the difference

This is the tip that everyone kind of forgets about.

Here’s a painting truism.

The lower the sheen, the less likely your brush marks will show.

So for example, if you are using a semi-gloss, it’s much harder to disguise brush marks.

If you are using a satin or flat or eggshell, the brush marks fade.

Tip 4: Start with the details first

You want to paint the flat surfaces last to smooth them over, so when painting the bookcases?

We started with the corners and the front of the bookcases first.

See how the front of the bookcase has a tiny lip? We started there first, getting the paint into those surfaces.

Then we came back and painted the flat surfaces last.

Tip 5: Don’t press too hard with your brush

When painting furniture, you don’t want to press down too hard with the brush.

The brush is your friend.

Glide the brush over surfaces rather than pressing down so hard that the bristles spread out and leave marks.

You also want to keep an even amount of paint on the brush—don’t glump tons of paint or dip it just a little bit. I like to stretch a rubber band vertically around the paint can.

Then I dip the brush about 1/3 of the way into the top of the paint, wipe off the edges on the rubber band and glide over my painted surface.

Tip 6: Always paint in one direction

I learned this tip the hard way.

I used to paint in a cross-hatch pattern—swiping this way and that way in an “X.”


Just no.

All those cross hatches show up when the paint dries.


Keep your brush and your paint going in one direction.

Tip 7: Finish with a mini roller


The BEST tip to getting smooth finish without brush marks?

A mini foam roller.

After you’ve finished the last brush stroke, get out this mini foam roller and go over the surface lightly one last time.

Any brush strokes that are left will disappear.

Quick note: you can’t let the paint dry too much before you roll it or it will get tacky so work in sections.

That’s it!

That’s all you need to do to get a smooth finish without brush marks.

Do you have any painted furniture tips?

Do you have anything you’ve learned that you could share about painting furniture without brush marks?

I’d love to hear.


Hold on a minute.

I need to get coffee. πŸ™‚

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Laura Laura

    I learned a new word today! Glumping! Thanks fo the painting tips and vocabulary expansion. Now I need to paint something...(though it is a bit hot here in Palm Springs).

  2. Image for Linda V Linda V

    May I add another hint? I add a bit of Floetrol to my paint before I brush it on. It's a latex paint additive that makes the paint a little bit thinner and sort of level itself after I've brushed it on. I LOVE Naval and the bookcases look so perfect in your living room. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Image for Cynthia Chilson Finger Cynthia Chilson Finger

      Agreed! If you're using an acrylic / latex paint, Floetrol is the bomb....especially when painting woodwork.

  3. Image for PJ PJ

    Thank you, KariAnne! These tips are timely for me. I just finished painting the screened porch floor and now will move on to painting the furniture for the porch. And by the way, I can not get enough of those bookcases in Naval! Have an amazing day!

  4. Image for Lyn Lyn

    The new blue color just pops, and it makes that room even more special. Just a comment, you are wrong about something - we don't make you happy - you make all of us Thistlewooders happy. I might go so far as say you make our day!!!!!! Your happy enthusiasm is infectious, and we need more of it these days.

  5. Image for Jackie Jackie

    We always use a paint additive to our paint. Flood Floetrol is a great one. A professional gave us this tip after we painted our kitchen cabinets and when they dried we saw brush marks. Once using the additive it looks like a pro did it.

  6. Image for Kay Kay

    I love the "new" bookcases. When I paint I use a small roller for the finish, going over and over from one side to the other without lifting, using light and lighter pressure. This gives a very smooth finish.

  7. Image for Kris Kris

    Oh shoot, where was this two months ago? I painted an old dresser for my daughter's room. It was the first time I ever tried anything like that and I tried to research the best way to do it but your ideas would have been helpful. But for a first try, I feel like I did pretty darn well .... too bad I didn't know the "paint the details" thing first, haha. And thanks to everyone who recommended Floetrol.

  8. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Karianne, You are so kind to share your tips and to respond to all of the comments left for you to read. I am a devoted fan of Purdy angled brushes. They are the only brushes I use. I really appreciate your tip about the rubber band. I will definitely try that the next time I paint. I also agree with your comments about sheen. All imperfections will show when a higher gloss is used. This is why builders often use a flat paint on walls. I had never heard of Floetrol before today. I am familiar with good quality self-leveling primers and paints. They too make a difference. You are the best!

  9. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    You just keep on paintin' and we'll keep on watchin' cause we love what you do!!! I need to paint my cabinets the second time and need advice!!!

  10. Image for Rebecca A Sanborn Rebecca A Sanborn

    Use a separate container, ie. paint bucket or plastic container when painting. This avoids contaminating the original can of paint with stuff your brush may pick up as you paint. Keeping the original can of paint clean and free of debris will enhance subsequent coats of paint. This tip comes from my "OCD" wooden boat building husband. Thanks for all of your painting tips and your inspiration. You are the best!

  11. Image for Nancy Neumann Nancy Neumann

    Thank you for all your tips KariAnn! I just love, love, love your Naval bookcases! I am going to try my hand at painting a bookcase I have thanks to your inspiration and painting tips. Which Wagner Sprayer do you recomend? When I click the link it takes me to Amazon and shows 4 different Flexio Models.

  12. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    Gorgeous, Karianne. What color is it? Exactly what I want for the cabinet in my master bath. Not as dark as navy, but THIS (your) color. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

  13. Image for Lisa Lisa

    These are great tips. Thank you. I practice a few of these and will definitely try the others. I only recently noticed that there are different brushes, based on the bristle material , for different sheens of paint. Did you use matte on your bookcase? Have you used less sheen on furniture before, and if so, how was it to wipe down? Did it hold up over time?

  14. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

    Lisa, Great questions! Yes! I always use low sheen when painting furniture. Eggshell definitely holds up better than flat! Let me know if you have any other questions! happy day! KariAnne

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.