How to Paint a Spindle Chair

Spindle chairs can be tricky to paint. I'm sharing my tips to get the best results as well as a video tutorial!

  white painted chair and wood wall

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Do you love to use chalk paint?

Chalk paint is my #1 favorite product for painting furniture because there's virtually no prep! If you are a beginner or you've never used chalk paint before, make sure to read Chalk Paint 101!

I used to paint furniture all the time, but haven't had much opportunity recently. I say that when I literally just shared my pink painted curbside table last week, but other than that piece, it's been awhile!

Every now and then I just get the itch to paint something! If you're interested, you can find all my painted furniture projects by clicking here.

1980's anyone?

The one piece of furniture that I still have from my youth is this chair. I went years back into my Google Photos and found an image of it in it's original oak state.

That orangey oak stain is straight outta 1982! Anyone remember? I think our whole house was this color 😀

It's a cute chair but the stain is way too yellowy. Several years ago I spray painted the chair gray with Rustoleum Chalked spray paint as a quick fix, and my daughter used it in her bedroom. I painted the chair with full coverage, no distressing, which to me makes the chair lack interest. But it served its purposed until she no longer needed it.

I wanted to use the chair in my kitchen but it needed to be lighter. If you've seen pictures of my kitchen, you'll know it's quite tight and everything in the breakfast nook is white or black. I didn't want to add gray into the mix, so decided to paint this spindle chair a creamy white.

The kind folks at Country Chic sent me a few samples of their paint to try out. It's an all-in-one paint, so wax isn't necessary. If you want the best protection for your chalk painted furniture, make sure to read Top Coat Protection Options for Chalk Painted Furniture. It explains the difference between wax and poly and when to use each. 

Crinoline is a creamy white so I knew it would be a great color to use in my kitchen.

If you're new to chalk paint, that first coat looks really bad. You'll be convinced you ruined your piece! But don't give up! All the magic happens in the next coats of paint! 

You can usually get away with two coats of paint if you're painting a darker color over a lighter, but because I was doing the opposite, I needed three coats to give me the coverage I was after.

Chalk Painting Tips

The trick to get a smooth finish is to paint light coats. If you go too heavy with your paint, you'll wind up with drips and blobs that look really bad (and are very difficult to smooth down!)

Another trick I always do when painting chairs is I like to flip the chair over to be able to reach the legs without having to bend! This definitely saves my back!

Those tricky spindles

Watch this short video to see the best way to paint the spindles on a chair. 

I had very little paint on my brush when I painted the spindles, so I didn't wind up with a big mess in my home because yes, I painted the chair indoors as it was raining all day!

Once I had three coats of white chalk paint on my chair, and it was fully dried, I took it outside to distress it.

Normally, I used a sanding sponge to lightly distress the edges of furniture, but for this piece I needed to use my palm sander. I like the small size of this sander because it's easy to hold (especially nice for someone with small hands and tendonitis!) 

The electric sander made distressing easier and allowed me to do more heavy distressing, which is the look I wanted. I wanted to sand right down to that 80's stain in a few strategic areas because when the darker stain is revealed, it adds dimension and interest to an otherwise plain Jane chair!

But proceed with caution! If you choose to use an electric sander, just be aware that the paint will come off so quickly and easily. Know what areas you want to distress before you take the sander to your piece. And use a light hand!

You can see the difference in this before and after.

I try to limit my distressing to the areas of a chair that would normally receive wear because it looks more natural. 

Don't be afraid to paint a spindle chair! I hope those chalk painting tips were helpful the next time you need to paint a spindle chair! Need more chalk painting ideas? Click here to see all my chalk painting projects!

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bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. Love this chair and yes it was very orange.

    Nothing like a coat of paint.

    1. Thank you, it's hard to believe we used to love that orangey oak! 😉


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