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5 Tips for Using Metallic Furniture Paint Like a Pro

Add a little bling to your project with metallic furniture paint! I'll show you how to get a flawless finish with just a few simple tricks!

How to use metallic paint on wood

When you think of metallic paint, you probably imagine gold or silver, right? But now you can get it in every color of the rainbow! Transform your tired furniture with jewelry box colors ranging from ruby red to amethyst purple with a hint of sparkle and shine.

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Our living room is decorated with shades gray and white, and pops of bright color everywhere. A couple years ago, I refinished our dining table with gray wood stain to match the adjoining living room, but the lack of color makes the whole space look blah!

gray and white dining room

I plan to build a new mid-century modern inspired table in the future, but I decided to switch out the chairs now. These tulip chairs were exactly what I was looking for! They'll fit with the new style, and they're way more comfortable than the wooden ones.

white midcentury modern tulip chair next to gray wood table

The only problem is that the legs blend into the hardwood floors, and they don't give me the pop of color I'm craving. So I partnered up with Modern Masters to add some fun, colorful metallic furniture paint to these chairs!

I went with Green Apple, Pink Topaz, Glacier Blue and Amethyst Purple for my chair legs, to bring in the bright colors from the living room area rug. You can find the Modern Masters metallic paint in a wide range of colors at Ace Hardware, Joann and Lowe's, as well as Amazon.

colorful metallic furniture paint in green, purple, blue and pink

Metallic paint is a little different than your standard latex or acrylic paint, but it's easy to get a flawless finish with these tips and tricks!

Use metallic furniture paint as an accent

A little sparkle goes a long way! If you're intrigued by the sheen and color but don't want to make your home look like Versailles, try a metallic paint finish on a smaller project or part of a larger one. Chair legs and picture frames are great ways to add the metallic look to a room.

four chair bases in workshop painted a different metallic color

Pair metallics with neutral colors like black or white to highlight the shimmer without overpowering the whole piece. This DIY nightstand would be amazing with a silver or gold drawer front (you can also see the rug that inspired the colors for my chair legs underneath!)

DIY nightstand with white frame and curly maple drawer front on colorful rug

Use the proper base coat

A good solid base coat will disguise the grain on wood furniture and let the metallic finish shine! Modern Masters has two different primers, depending on the color you're using.

For the green and pink colors, I went with the warm tone primer. It looks like beige paint, and covered the wood grain of the chair legs nicely. This is the primer you would use under gold and bronze metallic paint as well.

warm tone primer for metallic furniture paint

Blue and purple are on the other side of the color wheel, so I used the cool tone primer for the remaining two chairs. This one is gray, and will help neutralize the warm tones of the wood and create the proper base coat for these colors. You can also use this primer under silver metallic paint.

applying cool tone primer to chair base before applying metallic paint

Before I applied the primer, I gave all these chair legs a quick sanding with 120 grit sandpaper to remove any clear coat that might prevent the paint from adhering properly. If your piece has intricate details, you may want to skip the sanding and try one of these other techniques for painting over polyurethane instead.

sanding the clear finish off chair legs before applying metallic paint

Get different effects with brushes and rollers

One of the cool things about metallic furniture paint is the variety of textures you can create with just a brush or a roller. You can create striations in the paint with brush strokes to mimic the look of real metal.

green metallic furniture paint on chair legs

For larger projects like walls, you can use the Modern Masters roller cover to create a uniform finish without lap marks. Pair it with their sea sponge roller in a different color or sheen for a cool two-toned effect! You can see this technique in action in the video below.

Brush in one direction

The magic in these metallic paints is the tiny particles of mica that give it that shine. The way those mica pigments are applied will change the effect, just like how velvet looks different depending on which way you brush it. You'll want to brush the metallic paint on in the same direction as the wood grain for the best results.

You can see this change in action on the blue chair. The color on the vertical legs looks completely different from the horizontal piece under the seat! I decided to brush on the horizontal part first, then create a clean line down the leg to separate the two sections.

blue metallic furniture paint on chair leg applied in two different directions to show how the mica pigments align in the paint

For most metallic painted furniture, you'll need at least two coats for the best coverage.

If you're painting furniture or a full wall with a roller, avoid making a W shape. Roll straight up and down, finishing each stroke at either the top or bottom of the wall each time. I'm not sure how metallic paint would look on textured walls, so test a small section to see if you like the effect first.

Apply a top coat to protect the surface

If you're painting high traffic furniture like these chair legs, you'll want to apply a protective finish. Not only will it help prevent scratches, but it also makes the surface more durable when cleaning. Modern Masters MasterClear is a polyurethane specifically made for metallic paint, so it doesn't dull the shimmer or fade over time.

applying Modern Masters MasterClear top coat to purple metallic paint on chair leg

Use a high quality brush with fine bristles, and try not to brush over areas you've already coated. The top coat will level out and create a smooth finish that will hold up to everyday abuse!

Finally, our dining room has that pop of color I've been craving! The different colors may not be to everyone's taste, but it makes me smile every time I walk into the room.

dining room chairs with metallic blue, pink, green and purple bases around a gray and white dining table

The metallic sheen gives the chairs an extra layer of depth that you can't get from regular paint. I really love how they all turned out!

midcentury modern chairs with different metallic paint colors

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use metallic paint on wood?

Yes, you can use metallic paint on any wood furniture piece, just like regular paint. Traditional sheens like silver and gold are most popular, but you can find a wide range of other colors. Just keep in mind that flat surfaces like a wood top are going to have a different effect compared to areas with intricate details.

Does metallic paint need a clear coat?

If you are painting furniture that gets a lot of wear and tear, it's best to apply a clear coat over the metallic paint to protect it from damage. Some people will opt to apply a clear glaze to give the piece an aged look that also provides protection. However, on a low traffic surface like a wall, a clear coat won't be necessary.

Are you thinking of updating your furniture with metallic paint? I'd love to hear about your next DIY projects in the comments below!

Sandra Collins

Friday 12th of March 2021

Love the colors but my choice would be the turquoise!

Linda Weeks

Thursday 4th of March 2021

good job! looks like the kind of paint that I need around my house! Thanky!


Thursday 4th of March 2021

always happy to learn about new types of paint. Thanks


Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

I’m always a sucker for pink! But all four of those colors are wonderful


Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

The pink metallic is such a fun color! It's one of my favorites too!

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