How to Spruce Up Your Rocking Chair With Fresh Paint

How to Spruce Up Your Rocking Chair With Fresh Paint


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Which is probably why upcycling continues to be popular among homeowners.

But what exactly is upcycling?

According to The Huffington Post, upcycling is the art of making treasure out of trash. It is a stylish, practical, and beneficial way to reduce waste and create a one-of-a-kind piece for your home.

There are many upcycling ideas online but since we’re quite partial to chairs, particularly rocking chairs, we will show you how to paint a rocking chair (using different types of paint) and transform it into something unique and delightful.

How to Paint a Rocking Chair with Spray Paint

Compared to regular paint, spray paint dries quickly and doesn’t leave any telltale brushstroke marks.

It’s perfect for well-made furniture with great lines that just needs a bit of sprucing up.

For this project, you will need:

  • An all-purpose spray paint
  • Newspapers
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer (depends on the style of the chair)
  • A cloth


  1. Line your working space (ideally, a well-ventilated area) with newspapers.
  2. If you want a contrasting color effect, apply masking tape or painter’s tape to areas you don’t want any paint on.
  3. Remove loose paint, rust, wax, oil, and grease by lightly sanding the surfaces to be painted.
  4. Use a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust.
  5. Apply two coats of primer. Leave at least four hours in between coats to ensure it’s thoroughly dry. Note: Some spray paints don’t require any primer. You may want to go for this type of paint to save time.
  6. With your selected shade, hold the can about 30cm from the surface of the chair. Make sure to spray in a steady back and forth motion. For a smooth finish, keep the can in motion and apply several light coats a few minutes apart.

How to Paint a Rocking Chair with Chalk Paint

Chalk paints give furniture an aged, distressed look. They are often used with soft wax to seal the paint and leave a matte finish.

You will need:

  • Chalk paint
  • Clear wax
  • Dark wax (to age and distress)
  • Wax brush
  • Clean rags


  1. Clean your rocking chair, making sure to remove any loose dirt.
  2. Cover anything you don’t want to paint.
  3. Stir or shake paint and apply with a paint brush.
  4. Wait 3 hours before applying the second coat.
  5. Let the chairs dry overnight.
  6. In the morning, use a clear rag to apply a thin coat of clear wax. Let it dry.
  7. Use your wax brush to apply dark wax to the chair. Do this in small sections to achieve the level of distressing that you want. Use a clean rag to wipe off any excess wax.

How to Paint a Rocking Chair with Latex Paint

Latex paint is water-based and comes in a variety of sheens from flat to satin to semi-gloss, gloss, and hi-gloss.

Out of all the options for painting furniture, latex is the least expensive option. If you choose a glossy sheen for your rocking chair, you don’t really need a top coat.

You will need:

  • Clean cloth
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wet-and-dry sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Primer
  • Latex paint


  1. Get rid of any dirt or dust with a damp cloth. Let the chair dry.
  2. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the wood chair. Make sure to sand the small crevices.
  3. Use wet-and-dry sandpaper to finish the rocking chair until it is smooth.
  4. When the chair is dry, apply a single coat of primer.
  5. Once the primer has dried, paint the entire chair with the latex paint of your chosen color.

How to Paint a Rocking Chair with Milk Paint

Milk paint is a non-toxic water-based paint made from milk and lime with pigments added for color. It is very safe to use and gives furniture a natural, old-world look.

To paint your chair with milk paint, you will need:

  • Milk paint
  • Finishing oil
  • Milk paint brushes
  • Soft cloth
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • Unfinished wooden rocking chair


  1. Sand the surface of your chair. You can also use a power sander if you have one to save time.
  2. Apply a coat of milk paint using your special milk paint brush. Let it dry for 30 minutes.
  3. Apply a second coat and let it dry again for 30 minutes.
  4. Use a finishing oil to seal and protect your freshly-painted chair.
  5. Lightly wet-sand your chair. Be careful not to sand off the paint.

How to Paint a Rocking Chair with Acrylic Paint

While acrylic paint is mostly used in artwork, you can still use it to upcycle your rocking chair. It’s long lasting and durable and won’t crack or yellow unlike oil-based paints.

Cleanup is also a breeze. You just need soap and water for spills.

For this project, you will need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Sponge
  • Clean rags
  • Paint scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water-based acrylic primer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Foam brush
  • Brown paper bag
  • Finishing glaze


  1. Prep your wood chair by washing it with warm, soapy water. Let it dry.
  2. Use a paint scraper to scrape old paint from your rocking chair or use sandpaper for bare wood.
  3. Wipe with a slightly damp cloth.
  4. Apply a thin coat of water-based acrylic primer. Let it dry then apply another coat. Let it dry completely.
  5. With a foam brush, apply a thin, even coat of acrylic paint. Allow it to dry then use a crumpled brown paper bag to smooth out the surface.
  6. Apply two more thin coats of paint.
  7. Apply one coat of finishing glaze then allow your chair to dry.

Some Tips for Painting Furniture

For old furniture, especially those you got from a garage sale, don’t forget to test for lead.

Old layers of paint might contain harmful particles of lead which you could be inhaling while you are sanding down an old rocking chair, for example.

Also, when sanding furniture, always wear gloves, goggles, and a dust mask to protect yourself. When you’re done, remove any sawdust that remains with a hand vacuum or barely damp cloth.

Lastly, be patient and do a number of thin coats instead of one thick coat. Paint looks better when done this way and will be more durable.

Join the discussion