One of my pet peeves is when furniture paint companies say that you do not need to do any prep with their paint. That is not true! You do have to do some prep. Sometimes a lot of prep and sometimes a little. I have used Annie Sloan chalk paint for years, which is a very high standard chalk paint line, and even with that paint I do some prepping. Sometimes quite a bit of prepping. I find that it just depends on the piece. So don't believe when you hear people say you don't have to prep! Properly prepping your furniture before painting will help the paint to adhere and help it to last years. Also prep is important to prevent bleed through.
The wood samples below are just a few samples of the kind of furniture that I always do EXTRA prep on. No matter what kind of paint I am using.
First I remove all the hardware, sometimes I remove doors & hinges, it just depends on the piece.
Second, vacuum cobwebs.
Third, do any repairs that are required. Most of the time there will be holes that will need to be filled in. If you are changing your hardware and will have different holes, now is the time to do that. Check to make sure your drawers are gliding smoothly. In old furniture the drawers tend to give issues so sand them if you need to smooth them down. Check to make sure the legs are still structurally sound.
Fourth, cleaning - you want to clean everything.
You can use different cleaners. Krud Kutter is a good cleaner to use and you can buy it here at my affiliate link. You can also use danatured alcohol, mineral spirits, vinegar, TSP. The least you should do it clean with some Dawn soap. AT least do that.
Fifth, rinse off the cleaners with warm water. If you used Krud Kutter or some strong cleaners, you can do a denatured alcohol rinse to get rid of the solutions. Then just do a quick wipe with warm water.
Sixth, now do scuff sanding. Just enough so the paint can grip. You can use a 220 grit sandpaper. If there is any type of sheen to your furniture, glossy look, etc. you want to scuff sand. It lets your paint have something to grip too instead of just gliding right off your furniture. Not all furniture needs to be scuff sanded, but many pieces do need it.
Seventh, get rid of the sanding dust. Brush it all off with a big paint brush and use a tack cloth to get all the rest of the particles.
Eighth, shellac or primer. This is a great primer to use. If you click that link it will take you to my affiliate link where you can see my favorite brand. If you are using an oil based paint then you should use an oil based primer. If you are using a water based paint then you can use a water based primer or an oil based or shellac based. I tend to use the clear shellac primers most of the time, unless I am using metallic paint. Under the Modern Masters metallic paints I use a latex primer. Zinsser makes a shellac based primer that is really good. You can also use a primer that is oil based that can be tinted.
If the wood has any redness to it, like mahogany, I will put on at least 2 coats of shellac. Often times too this kind of wood is very shiny with many coats of lacquer on it. So you want to make sure your paint in going to stick. So I shellac which helps with preventing bleed through. Knotty pine needs shellac. Also, when I paint pieces that are resin. Which is often the furniture from the 60's and 70's. It is not wood but a form of plastic. I always shellac that kind of furniture. Remember, you are applying these primers after you have scuff sanded.
Shellac is what I use often because I do a lot of distressing. When you distress you want to take the paint off to show the wood underneath. I used the clear shellac so I can then still see the wood underneath for distressing. Shellac is great for preventing bleed through also. So are the oil primers. Anything that is shellac based or oil based is much better then a water based primer. If the shellac is not working, then use an oil primer on top of the shellac.
Let your primers sit for 24-48 hrs before you paint.
Let's say you did not put on a primer before painting and now you notice bleed through. You will be ok. Now is the time to apply the shellac primer in the area where the bleed through is happening. Put on a good coat of the primer. There are times when I have had to put on 2 coats of primer. Let that dry really well and then finish painting your piece. Make sure you pay attention to drying times on the cans. It is really important to follow the instructions.
When I paint with General Finishes milk paint, I will use the Zinsser 123 water based primer.
The furniture types that I always shellac and or primer: