How to Paint a Desk – A Simple Guide

Giving your desk a fresh coat of paint can mean a world of difference. If you don’t want to spend money on a new desk and you have an old desk just sitting around, or you have your DIY desk, painting it will make it seem like a whole new desk.

It may sound terrifying at first, but painting a desk is not that complicated and with this guide, you will learn how to paint a desk like a professional. It will save you money and best of all, you will feel proud of yourself.

Let’s learn how to paint a desk.

Things You Will Need

Before painting a desk, you’ll need to get a couple of supplies and materials. Maybe you have some of them at home, maybe you need to buy some of them, or maybe you are already prepared with the supplies.

Either way, below you’ll find a list of supplies that you need to have before painting your desk.

  • Paint (your color of choice)
  • Primer
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Medium grade sandpaper
  • Flat brush
  • Wax brush
  • Finishing wax
  • Respirator
  • Polyurethane
  • Cleaning cloth

When you have all the supplies you are now ready for the very first step. Before we begin the first step, it is best if you paint your desk in a garage or a separate room, so you don’t inhale the smells from the paint all day. Another reason is that the paint needs time to dry during the painting process, so it’s best to leave the desk in a separate room.

Step 1 – Preparation

When you know where you want to place the desk, put some oilcloths beneath it so you don’t spray the paint on the floor. If there are some walls near the desk, you should also protect them.

Now that you’ve done that, you should either tape all the hardware on the desk or remove them so you don’t paint them accidentally. It may take a little more time to get them removed than to tape them, but it’s the safer option.

You also need to remove the drawers and place them somewhere near the desk so you don’t forget about them.

Step 2 – Cleaning

Now that you’ve completed the first step, it’s time to move on to the cleaning process. This is a very important step, as in the cleaning process you will remove all the dust and grain that has been sitting on your desk for years. Don’t skip this step.

Cleaning cloth

Take a cleaning cloth and soak it in water just a bit. Don’t soak it too much as too much water that may damage the wood. When you’ve done that, now it’s time to clean the whole desk and the drawers from dust. Do this thoroughly and when you are finished, take a dry cloth and wipe any place that may contain water.

Step 3 – Sanding

Once you are finished with the cleaning of the desk, the next step to take is to sand it. This step is very important and without it, the paint on the desk just wouldn’t look as good.

For the first step of sanding our recommendation is to use the 220-grit sandpaper. Now you should sand all the surfaces of the desk lightly, evening the desk out. If you notice any rough parts, use medium grain sandpaper to smooth out those spots, then use the fine sandpaper and sand those places again. Try to make the desk as smooth as possible, as that will make the paint stick much better.

Before we continue, use a cloth to wipe off all the dust that was created by sanding to get a clean desk.

Step 4 – Using a primer

Now it’s time to use the primer. You can use a primer in a spray can or you can use a printer in a can that needs to be brushed. Prime the desk evenly a couple of times and let it dry.

Step 5 – Painting!

Finally, we’ve come to the most interesting part, the painting of the desk! Before you start painting, it’s recommended that you shake the paint can for a minute and when you open the can, stir it up with a wooden stick so that the paint can spread evenly throughout the can.

Once you’ve done that, now use a brush and dip the tip in the can. Don’t dip the whole brush as then the paint will be all over the place. Remember, just the tip.

Now comes the part where you should be relaxed but focused. It’s painting time! When you dip the tip of the brush in the paint can, you should start painting evenly, dragging it from one way to another. Once you see that the brush loses the paint, it’s time to dip it in the can again.

You can also paint in the opposite direction, just don’t paint it left or right since that movement will be seen after you’ve finished painting. Plan the movement of the brush before painting and you will be good to go.

Now, once you’ve painted the whole desk and the drawers with the first layer, it’s time to let it dry. When the paint dries completely (be patient) it’s time to sand it lightly before painting it again. This second layer of paint will fill the wood with it in all of the places where the paint didn’t stick the first time. When you are done, let it dry.

Step 6 – Protecting the wood

When the second layer of paint completely dries and there is no rough sport, it’s time to use a protective wax or a protectant like polyacrylic. We like to use protective wax, but it’s just our preference.

Get the wax just a little bit on your wax brush and then brush the desk in smaller movements. Be sure to use a cloth to even out the wax. Just don’t forget to wax the drawers also!

Jolie Finishing Wax

Step 7 – Putting the desk together

When you are finished with the waxing, now is the time to put all of the pieces of the desk together. Place the hardware where it has been before and place the drawers in their place.

And that is it! You’ve now learned how to paint the desk like a professional. Not just that you’ve saved money that you would spend on a new desk, but you’ve learned to do something new. Be proud of yourself!

If you are interested in how to measure a desk, feel free to read our guide here.