Brushing on bright red enamel paint on a old wooden school desk.

Enamel Paint


Enamel Paint Can Be Applied Right over an Old Finish on Wood Furniture

Enamel paint is an excellent choice for finishing wood furniture. Applying enamel to furniture is usually referred to as “Enameling.” Applying enamel paints to furniture produces a durable and attractive finish.

The nice thing about enamel paint is that it can easily be used on brand new furniture, antique furniture, damaged furniture, or cheap furniture that has many blemishes. If a piece of furniture has a dark stain or if it has an ugly wood grain pattern, a few layers of colored enamel paint will take care of the problem.

Enamel Paint is not the same as Latex Paint that is Used to Paint Walls

For the novice, it is easy to confuse enamel paint with wall paint. It looks very similar to wall paint because it comes in the same type of metal can. The only obvious differences are the words “enamel” or “latex” on the packaging. But when applied, enamel paint dries much harder and stronger than typical latex wall paints. Enamel is sometimes used to paint trim, but it is typically not used to paint walls.

Similar to wall paint, enamel paint comes in oil-based and water-based varieties. The best type to use on furniture is the oil-based variety because it dries to a harder finish. Enamel also comes in a few different finishes. The most common is satin, but it also comes in high-gloss, semi-gloss, matte and flat. It is possible to find pre-mixed enamel paint colors at hardware and paint stores, but most venues that sell enamel paints can mix specific colors. Enamel paint also comes in a spray can.

Benefits of Enamel:

  • It can be applied right over an old finish (as long as the wood has not been waxed).
  • It is relatively inexpensive.
  • It can transform an ugly piece of furniture into something spectacular.
  • It can produce many different effects.
  • It is available in two varieties: spray and brush-on.
  • It can be easily applied to either small or large pieces of furniture.


Enameled furniture creates a look that goes well with almost any type of décor. It can produce a contemporary or an antique look. The appearance of a piece of furniture can be modified depending on the chosen enamel color and finish.

Why Choose Enamel?

Enamel paint is not the best choice in every situation, but it is a finish that provides a protective barrier, a nice color, and a hard coating that will last for many years. Enamel can be wiped clean with a damp cloth without causing damage to the furniture. When a specific color of enamel is applied to wood furniture, the color will stay bright and true for the life of the furniture – unless it is exposed to unusual environmental conditions. It is a finish that can be used on furniture that will be placed either indoors or outdoors. The only real downside to enamel paints is that they take longer to dry than other types of finishes. But the wait is worthwhile for the unique look enameling produces!

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