A Fresh Coat of Paint for IKEA Dining Chairs

Before and After

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do! Last month, I gave a few of my dining room chairs a facelift, and I must say, I’m extremely happy with how they turned out!

So what spurred on the inspiration for this project? I had 4 IKEA GILBERT chairs that we chose to reuse from our old dining table set. They were finished in a birch veneer that is typical of IKEA furniture, which didn’t quite go with the dark chocolate brown-almost-black finish of our current dining table. We chose to reuse the chairs because they were in perfectly good condition and couldn’t justify spending more money on new chairs. Therefore, my mission was to figure out how to update these guys to make them look like they actually belonged in my dining room.


After some thinking and researching on Pinterest, I decided by my best option would be to spray paint the chairs. I found two pretty good blog posts by AllThingsThrifty about the basics of spray painting and painting furniture, which helped me plan out this project. Here’s a list of supplies that I used:

– Cardboard boxes
– High Grit Sand Paper
– Painter’s Tape
– 2 cans KILZ Original Spray Primer
– 3 cans of Krylon Spray Paint in White Gloss
– 1 can of MinWax Polyacrylic Spray in SemiGloss

First things first, I disassembled my chairs because the back, the seat, and the legs are all separate pieces. I did this to (1) minimize the parts of the chair which did not need to be exposed to spray paint (i.e. the legs) and (2) avoid paint pooling in between the crevices where the chair back and seat meet. I also planned to spray paint the bottom of the chair for uniformity. So I took the blue painter’s tape, covered the screw holes as well, and trimmed away the excess for perfect coverage. Next, I set up shop in the garage (LOVE the fact I have this space to do messy projects now!). I made sure to clear the space and cover the floor, and park the car at the other end of the driveway. I also set up small cardboard boxes to use as pedestals to place the chair pieces on for painting/drying. Saving all those cardboard boxes came in handy! Now it was time to paint.

Chair Prep

Painting Setup

The basic plan was to first prime with the KILZ, then paint with the Krylon white paint, and finally seal with MinWax Polyacrylic spray. I basically followed the application instructions on the spray cans. Surprisingly, it was a pretty straight forward process. I learned a few things about spray painting from this project:

1. Sanding isn’t always necessary before priming. I didn’t sand the surfaces before priming as the chair surfaces were already smooth and sealed. Instead, I just wiped them down with a clean paper towel. The KILZ did a pretty good job of prepping the surfaces for the paint to adhere.

2. Shake the can for the minimum indicated time on the can. Don’t cheat. I’m serious. It makes a difference!

3. Apply in thin even coats. Use steady, constant sweeping motions. But make sure the coats aren’t too thin (like a dusting) or else I found that the applied coats would dry with a sandpaper finish. This then required more sanding in between coats, and thus, more coats of paint to get a smooth finished coat.

4. Spray paint items in an upright manner. I initially spray painted the first few chair pieces on my makeshift pedestal with them parallel to the floor. I noticed that I wasn’t getting a consistent smooth coating on the pieces. Then, it hit me to stand them upright in a bigger box against the wall. Once I did this, the painting became so much easier as the paint went on in more even, smooth coats, and required less touchups afterwards.

5. Sand and wipe clean in between coats. Sand as needed, but definitely make sure the surface is clean before you apply another coat.

6. Be patient and let it dry! Not only does the paint need time to be dry to the touch, it also needs time to set up. Do not rush this process, although it might be tempting.

and voila!…Here’s how the chairs turned out!


According to my husband, they look like store bought chairs. I’ll take that as a compliment because I only spent $40 on supplies for this project minus the cardboard boxes (which were free)! Similar styled chairs from West Elm, Crate and Barrel or CB2 run from $80 – $100 EACH. In that case, I just saved myself a whole bunch of money on not buying new chairs and that makes me feel AWESOME!


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