How to Paint Mahogany Furniture

Mahogany wood’s beauty distinguishes it from other types of wood. On top of its rich dark color, mahogany is known for its durability.

Nevertheless, if you have recently picked up a used mahogany piece of furniture to flip, or if you have an old mahogany piece that you would like to breathe new life into for your home, you may be interested in painting the furniture. 

Painting mahogany wood can be more challenging than other types of wood. Knowing the rules of thumb to follow is key. 

In this post, we’ll go over how to paint mahogany furniture.


Before painting mahogany furniture, you should prep the piece by sanding it down, and most importantly, using a shellac-based primer. 

Mahogany has high tannin content. If the wood is not first prepped with a stain-blocking primer, these tannins can bleed through your paint job.

How To Paint Mahogany Furniture

Tools and supplies

  • Stain-blocking primer (a shellac-based primer is recommended)
  • Paint (chalk, milk, latex, or oil-based paint; practically any furniture paint)
  • Sandpaper (220-grit)
  • Drop cloths (to cover the floor)
  • Lint-free or microfiber cloth
  • Painter’s tape (to cover any areas that you don’t want to be painted)
  • Paintbrush 
  • Dish soap, Simple Green or another one of the many furniture cleaning solutions
  • Top coat (optional)
  • Wood filler (if needed for repairing any dents or scratches)

Step 1: Clean The Furniture

Grease and grime typically build up on furniture over years of use, making it difficult for paint to stick to the surface of the furniture. Cleaning the furniture is an essential step in painting wood furniture of any kind. 

Start by preparing a cleaning mixture of hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Alternatively, you can use a dash of simple green in a small pale of water.

Soak a lint-free or microfiber cloth in the cleaning mixture. 

Wring your cloth out a bit so that it’s not sopping wet and wipe down the furniture to remove grease and grime. Wait for the furniture to dry before sanding it. Although the dry time of wet furniture largely depends on your climate, furniture can usually dry in less than an hour. 

If your mahogany furniture has gouges and nicks, consider filling them with wood filler first before sanding.

Step 2: Sand The Wood

Use 220-grit sandpaper (or a power sander) to sand the entire surface of the furniture. Sanding the furniture will create a rough texture in the wood that the primer can easily “grip” to. 

Gently rub your sandpaper along the wood grain if possible, or use a palm sander for greater efficiency. 

Once done with sanding, use a clean, damp cloth to clean the surface of any wood dust. You may also the soap and water solution to wipe down the furniture a second time. 

For areas that you don’t want to be sanded and/or painted, use painter’s tape to cover them. 

Step 3: Prime The Wood

An important step in painting mahogany furniture is to prime it with a stain-blocking primer.

Mahogany has a high tannin content. Tannins are essentially the natural sap found in certain woods such as mahogany, and they can easily bleed through paint if the furniture isn’t prepped with stain-blocking primer first. 

Shellac-based primer is great for preventing the tannins from bleeding through to the surface. This particular type of primer is designed to combat tannins and other stains. It traps in odors as well. 

Apply the shellac-based primer evenly on the sanded surface with a paintbrush or a paint sprayer.

Lightly sand down the primed furniture surface (once it has fully dried). This can help to diminish brush strokes that make the painted surface look uneven. However, you should only use fine sandpaper (250 grit+) 

Step 4: Paint The Furniture

After the last coat of primer dries, you can finally paint your mahogany furniture.

With a clean paintbrush or roller, apply the paint to the primed surface evenly. Read the product label to know how much time should pass before applying a new coat, but generally, you shouldn’t need to wait more than an hour. 

Be sure to apply two coats of paint for the best coverage. 

After applying the last coat of paint, allow it to cure before using your painted mahogany furniture. Read the paint’s label for its cure time. 

You may use a topcoat if you want added protection for your painted furniture.

Painting Mahogany Furniture With Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is extremely popular. The soft matte finish that chalk paint furniture can achieve is very attractive to many. It’s easy to distress too.

Aside from its matte finish, chalk paint is very easy to work with. The consistency of chalk paint makes it less likely to drip, making it easier to apply on vertical surfaces compared to other types of paint.

Additionally, it’s water-based, which makes cleaning your brushes easier. You only need to use soap and water- no need to use mineral spirits.

Usually, chalk paint doesn’t require much prep work. But with mahogany furniture, you cannot cut any corners. Although many chalk paint brands claim that you don’t need to use primer, for mahogany furniture, and any other furniture high in tannins, applying a stain-blocking primer first is a must. 

Additionally, apply at least two coats of chalk paint on your mahogany furniture. A brush with nylon bristles or a synthetic brush works best for chalk paint. Still, a using regular all-purpose paintbrush with chalk paint will work with no issues.

Unlike most paints, chalk paint lacks a sealer. As such, chalk paint needs a top coat to sufficiently protect it. A wax, polyacrylic, polyurethane, or varnish top coat works great to protect chalk paint.

Can You Paint Mahogany Wood White?

You can paint mahogany wood white. However, with white paint, it is more important than ever to use a shellac-based primer first since tannin stains are particularly noticeable on white paint. To avoid yellow stains from coming through white paint, shellac-based primer is a must.

While you can use any type of white paint on your mahogany furniture, a water-based one would be ideal. These paints are less prone to yellowing over time. 

If you’re planning to use a top coat, make sure that you use one that doesn’t yellow over time. Oil-based top coats are known to change their hue from clear to slightly amber or yellow.

Similar to paint, water-based top coats (e.g. water-based polyethylene) are less prone to yellowing over time. 

Other than that, painting mahogany wood white should follow the same procedures as painting it with any other color. 



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