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

Raise your hand if you remember the change-up in the living room.

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

I told them I loved them yesterday.

And again today.

And I know I’ll tell them tomorrow.

Do you know the top questions I always get asked about painting a project like these bookcases or these thrift store makeovers?

  • 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 topcoat. 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.

I always go over the final coat on flat surfaces with a foam roller to even out the surface. This kit is one of my favorites. I love having a mini tray for the roller.

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 crosshatches 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 tell my bookcases I love them one more time. 🙂

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post. Thank you for supporting Thistlewood. If you purchase a product through my links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 🙂

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  1. Image for Kris Kris

    I could have used these ideas last summer! I don't plan on rehabbing enough furniture to invest in a sprayer so I appreciate your other techniques. Thanks!

  2. Image for Sheri Sheri

    Where did you purchase your bookcase ? Perfect style ! My living room is gray and navy . This would be a perfect addition in mine .

  3. Image for Kimberly Rable Kimberly Rable

    I lightly mist my paint brush with water before even starting…then if I find my paint is getting tacky and setting up fast I mist as I go along, keeping a wet edge at all times.

  4. Image for Celeste Celeste

    I have a project waiting in the wings. I painted my basement walls' lower paneling SW Dorian Gray and I want to paint a small knick-knack cabinet the same. I'd like to use a sprayer, but I was wondering. Is the sprayer all that's needed or do you roll the paint with the foam roller after spraying? I am also taking the back panel off because I want it to remain wood grain to contrast the paint.

  5. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Always a great reminder on an awesome how-to. I just hate brush strokes and bumps and glumps and - gasp - bristles after I am finally done. Great tips, KA! TY!!

  6. Image for Penny Penny

    Thanks Karianne, I always use the foam roller, it works like a charm. Can you share what color you painted your bookcases, they look fantastic

  7. Image for Anna Anna

    Super ideas. Especially for those who don't have or want a paint sprayer. I love the tips about going every thing with a foam roller. Genius. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Image for Barbara Barbara

    I love getting any tips from you- the rubber band on the paint can sounds like a great idea!! Love that SW Naval color:)

  9. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    I just read my email from yesterday. Thank you for the helpful tips. I love painting furniture, vases, lamps. Paint is an amazing item. Have a great day.

  10. Image for Peg Peg

    My best tip for painting is to hire someone! LOL Seriously though, these are all great tips!! I have painted several pieces of furniture and usually freak because the first coat always looks awful. Hold out for that second coat though, and you'll feel way better about your project!!! xoxo

  11. Image for Debbie Dench Debbie Dench

    What is the name of the blue and white china that is shown in the photo of your shelves? It's beautiful. I have followed you for a long time. Love your style and tips. Thank you

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