Easy Way To Paint Chair Spindles When You Can't Spray

Painting wooden chairs with all those spindles can be very time consuming and the quickest way to get the job done is with a paint sprayer. BUT if you are an apartment dweller or your only option is to paint indoors then today I'm sharing three tips for an easy way to paint chair spindles when you can't spray. Also included in this tutorial is what to do when sanding isn't an option either.

An Easy Way To Paint Chair Spindles

Easy Way To Paint Chair Spindles Without A Sprayer

...and what to do when you encounter a challenging chair like the one in this makeover.

Paint Chair Spindles The Easy Way

This is the chair after...

Easy Peasy Blue Painted Chair Spindles
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Three tips for painting spindles without a sprayer

It's all about using the right brush, controlling the paint, and the brush stroke direction. Say what?

Tip 1 for painting chair spindles

By using a round synthetic paintbrush like the one pictured below. I'm not trying to sell you paintbrushes here, just sharing how when I switched to using this brush, it rocked my spindle painting world! The silky fine bristles glide over the spindles with uniform coverage and leave no brush strokes behind.

Tip 2 for painting spindles

But the next thing that makes all the difference when painting spindles is thin coats. I don't mean thinning the paint but rather putting less paint on the brush and moving the paint over the spindles before redipping the brush. Start with a damp (not soaked) brush, it helps the paint glide over those spindles.

Thin coats of paint eliminate the build-up of paint in the tight ridges and help prevent dreaded paint drips. In the photo below you can see the chair after the first thin coat of paint.

Painting Chair Spindles After First Coat

Tip 3 for painting spindles

Brush the paint side-to-side. Seriously, it makes all the difference in eliminating brush strokes plus moves the paint from building up in the ridges.

So here's the scoop on the chair makeover

I painted the chair with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Old Violet, a pretty cornflower blue. The photo below doesn't capture the true paint color seen in person.

Chair Spindles Painted Old Violet

The photo below shows what the painted spindles look like after a matte topcoat, which we'll discuss further down in this post.

Chalk Paint Chair Spindles The Easy Way

What to do when sanding furniture indoors isn't an option

Many chalk paint brands say their paint doesn't require sanding but I ALWAYS err on the side of caution by going over the piece lightly with a sanding pad first. I want to give the paint that extra bite, especially considering I sell my pieces.

BUT having said that there are a few situations where sanding first isn't an option.
  • Require a dust-free zone when painting indoors
  • Wood is mahogany or cherry and opening the pores guarantees paint bleed
  • Has a glossy paint, lacquered, or melamine finish
  • Possibility it could have been painted with lead-based paint

In these cases always prime the furniture instead. I've tried several primers over the years and this is my go-to Primer.

Primed Chair Spindles The Easy Way

This particular old chair was made in the former Yugoslavia. It had been painted a glossy white that was chipping in some areas. Because I had no idea whether it had been painted with lead-based paint, I was not taking the risk of sanding.

Wood Spindle Chair Makers Stamp

What to do when there is paint resist

Like humans, some furniture can be more stubborn than others. Such was the case with this chair and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. I've never had this problem after priming a piece. I knew it wasn't the paint because I've used the Old Violet on this Vintage Farmhouse Cupboard and Art Deco Waterfall Sideboard.

After applying two coats of paint there was some paint resist on parts of the chair. The only thing I can think of is that when cleaning the chair I found candle wax drips in some areas. Despite removing the drips with a razor blade scraper perhaps there was still an ever so slight waxy residue left.

Regardless, if you ever come across this problem brush more primer over the paint and try again. Priming over the paint sealed whatever it was and I was able to get good coverage after that.

Topcoat for painted wooden chairs 

Kitchen chairs receive a lot of wear and tear, prone to spills, and get wiped often and so I prefer protecting the paint with a durable water-repellent top coat. Gator Hide is my go-to clear finish for chairs, tabletops, and children's furniture. I also love it because it provides a beautiful matte finish over chalk paint.

Easy Painted Chair Spindles Topcoat

Once the chalk paint is completely dry, apply three coats of the topcoat, waiting about two hours between each coat. It can be brushed on or applied with a sponge applicator. I use either but for this chair, I used the same round synthetic brush used to paint the spindles.

I should mention that the topcoat I used needs to cure for at least 48-hours before using the chair.

Easy Way To Topcoat Painted Chair Spindles

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions about this makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

Easy Way To Paint Chair Spindles Without A Sprayer

An Easy Way To Paint Chair Spindles

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  1. This was very helpful. I am new at painting and found these tips great.

    1. So glad you found them helpful, Jackie! Have fun on your furniture painting journey. 😊

  2. Loved reading your tips on painting spindles. Very helpful as I'm in the process of painting my stairs banisters and spindles with Frenchic chalk paint. Thank you

    1. You're welcome, Marie (great name by the way) 😉 Good luck with your stair banister & spindle painting and I'm so glad you found the tutorial helpful!

  3. I'm painting an old rocking chair that has spindles, enjoyed the tips. I'm using benjamin moore advance paint have you used it and does the tips still apply? Also do you paint the bottom of the rails?

  4. Absolutely! I've never used it for painting furniture because my preference is always chalk paint but the tips I share here would still apply. Yes, I always paint the underside of the rails and the chair seat for a finished look. I hope this helps!

  5. if you dont sand, how do you get an even finish over the chipped paint areas? Also, is gatorhide suitable for an outdoor rocking chair?

    1. Hi Elysia, well there are a couple of ways to even the chipped paint. You can get a lead test kit and if it comes back negative, then you're safe to go ahead and sand. Otherwise you could fill the grooves with a non-shrinking putty compound OR just go with the chippy paint for a more shabby chic look. As for Gator Hide being suitable for outdoors, I'm not 100% certain but after three coats it is a water-repellent clear coat. You may want to use an outdoor rated clear coat to be safe. I hope this helps!


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