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.


I heard you loud and clear. All those comments. All those opinions. Can I tell you how much I adore you?

And that desk?

No worries. I’m not painting it. 🙂

This is not a post about how to paint a desk without brushstrokes.

Just between us? The desk looked worried that it was going to change it so I told it that I loved it yesterday and that I might sand it and stain it sometime in the future. But for now?

I’m going to leave it as is and live with it in the room.

But all this painting talk got me thinking. Do you know the top questions I always get asked about painting a project like this round white table in the picture above that I got at a thrift store 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 it has tons of power and 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?

In amazing news?

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 table?

We started with the edges and the ridges of the table leg first.

See how the front of the table 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.” I think someone told me once upon a time this is a good idea.


Just no.

All those crosshatches show up when the paint dries.


Keep your brush and your paint going in one direction. You also want to make sure that you don’t overload the paintbrush with paint. It’s so much better when you dip the end of the brush in the top of the paint can and then add just a little paint at a time on the piece of furniture. It’s just like painting your nails—you don’t want to overglump the polish on. If you add too much paint at one time it dries unevenly.

Tip 7: Finish with a mini roller


Why? Because the BEST tip to getting a smooth finish without brush marks?

A mini foam roller. This kit is perfect for painting furniture.

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 right before your eyes.

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. You can make any furniture looks like it just showed up from a professional paint factory.

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 remind my desk that it’s not get painted…

….one more time. 🙂

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  1. Image for Lorelei LaFortune Lorelei LaFortune

    Love the hints. Haven’t done very much furniture painting but have done tons of trim. So here’s Tip 8: Add paint conditioner such as Flood by Floetrol. Can be used with sprayers or brushes, helps the paint flow after brushing into a smooth surface. You can actually watch the brush strokes disappear.

  2. Image for Claudia A Claudia A

    Also to help paint level out, mix in small amounts of Penetrol (for oil) or Floetrol (for latex). Floetrol is a latex and acrylic paint additive used as a conditioner to help reduce build up on paint brushes, eliminate brush marks, reduces wear and tear on spray guns and it extends drying time. Floetrol also reduces orange peel effect when using a roller and helps keep a wet edge to reduce lap marks. I sound like an advertisement lol.

  3. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    So glad you let us know the desk is safe from paint, and that it now knows too. I do love some painted furniture though I cannot deny. And I love doing it. Thanks for the tips. Enjoy your day.

  4. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    GREAT advice, KA! I am sooooo impatient with hand painting and it shows. Sigh. Really loved these tips. And I am glad your beautiful heirloom desk isn't going to be painted. ♥

  5. Image for Lauren SCHMIDT Lauren SCHMIDT

    I tried to leave a comment yesterday but it said there was an error. Anyway i didn't think you should paint it. Since you felt the wood helped to ground the room along with the navy fireplace but weren't sure if it went with the look you had in mind for the room you could try something different. You always do such a great job mixing and coordinating fabric. Maybe you leave the top exposed and "skirt" the three sides of the desk with a blue and white fabric that works with the rest of the room. That might be too "frou frou" but might give it a soft, feminine look.

  6. Image for Kay Kay

    If you are happy the desk won't get painted, raise you hand! I'm sure there are many of us that are relieved! Nothing can replace that original finish and I think you can imagine your dad sitting there and his hands almost caressing the top of the desk and on the handles, stopping to talk to you, things that cannot be duplicated except in your memories! I am very happy you told the desk that it will remain the same. Did it sigh in relief?

  7. Image for va in NC va in NC

    Thanks for the painting tips. I have several painting projects needing attention. So very glad you did not paint the desk...sure dad is smiling down and saying thank you.

  8. Image for Kat Kat

    Great tips! My first coat was super ugly, looked very amateurish and cheap. Probably because I was too impatient, used too much paint, and didn’t pay attention to notice drips that were forming. I sanded out all the drips and followed your tips for the second coat and it looks Amazing! I also mixed a little calcium carbonate and water into my paint (1 part water + 2 parts calcium carbonate mixed, then slowly mixed in 8 parts paint.) basically changing it into a chalk paint which I thought would help because there were a few places where I had to sand down to bare wood to get rid of drips. Anyway for the 2nd coat, I used your tips: loaded up the brush then scraped excess, used minimal pressure on the brush in one direction only, then before it dried, rolled over lightly with a (mostly dry) high density foam roller. The result is a velvety smooth finish that looks gorgeous. It seriously looks sprayed on. Thank you! Ps. I also tried using just the roller to apply paint (eg skipped the brush entirely). but that created an orange peel effect that was so ugly I was afraid to let it dry, wasn’t sure if it would disappear. So it seems the foam roller works best, like you said, as a mostly dry pass at the end. not trying to apply more paint, just taking up excess that would otherwise dry into unwanted textures like drips, brushstrokes, or other uneven bits.

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