How to Paint a Wooden Box


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Decorative wooden boxes are a great way to add style and hidden storage to a small space. There are tonnes of ways to decorate them which make them super versatile. 

A common question you may have when decorating wooden boxes is: what paint do you use? 

I love using spray paint because it gives me the smoothest finish but you can also use acrylic and latex paint.

I’ll be spray-painting my wooden box in this post.

I’ve had this box on hand for years and have been meaning to give it a major upgrade. I’m so glad I finally got around to upcycling it. 

For this project, you’ll just need a few simple supplies and materials and then I’ll show you how to spray paint the wooden box and add major style. 

(The post contains some affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. Read full disclosure here.)

If you prefer video, you can follow the step-by-step video below (Project starts at the 3:52 mark):

Easy DIY Painted Wooden Box

Materials Needed for Your Painted Wooden Box:

How to Paint a Wooden Box


Step 1: Fill in the imprint on the top of the box with spackling

I needed to fill in the design on the top of the box so I’d have a smooth surface to work with. I applied 3 layers of spackling, letting it dry completely between each coat. 

I also sanded down the spackling in between the layers. Once it was smooth enough to my liking, I moved on to the next step.

This step is of course dependent on whether your box has a design. If not, you can go straight to the second step. 

Step 2: Lightly sand the entire surface of the box

Using medium grit sandpaper, I sanded the entire surface of the box using a circular motion. The box had a light varnish on it so sanding it removed this coating. 

I then wiped the box with a microfibre cloth to remove the dust

If the box you’re using is natural wood and doesn’t have a finish, you may not need to sand it. 

Step 3: Spray with primer

Next, I lightly sprayed each side of the box with one coat of white primer, letting it dry in between coats. 

Step 4: Spray paint your box 

Once the entire box was dry, I spray-painted each side of the box with 2 coats of the chalk paint. 

So, you’ll see I messed up here. #slapsforehead

Instead of using the same technique of spraying the side facing up one at a time, I tried to speed up the process by spraying multiple sides vertically. I also accidently pressed the nozzle too hard so too much paint came out. 

Quick tip: The ideal way to spray paint anything is to apply several LIGHT coats, letting it dry in between. Sometimes we’re tempted to get full coverage on the first go and, depending on what you’re painting, that can spell disaster.  So be patient.

Because I sprayed the box too heavily, the paint on the sides that were vertical began to drip…badly.

To fix this, I took a paper towel and lightly dabbed away the excess paint while it was still wet and then once it dried, I sanded down any rough parts that remained. 

Then, I continued spraying the box, one side at a time and letting it dry between coats. I think I did about 3 lights coats on each side in the end. 

Step 5: Spray paint the decorative legs

I got several packs of these super cute decorative legs on Amazon years ago and have been waiting to use them on a project. 

While my box was drying, I gave the legs a quick coat of gold spray paint – it took only one coat. 

After 24 hours, I sprayed the legs with clear sealant so the gold wouldn’t fade.

Step 6: Attach the legs to the wooden box

To attach the legs to the box, I used my glue gun. I applied the glue to the inside of the base of the legs and placed it on the box and held it in place for a few seconds. 

The legs have 2 holes for screws so that’s also an option. But note that the package doesn’t come with screws.

I didn’t add glue to the entire inside of the legs because I didn’t want glue on the sides of the box… in case I decide to remove the legs and repaint the box at some point. 

I hope that makes sense.

Step 7: Add a knob or decorative piece to the top of the box

I initially thought to leave the box as is but felt it was still lacking. 

I decided to add something to the top to complement the legs so I needed something round. I tested 2 wooden beads and a cover I saved from a small lotion bottle I got many years ago.

I decided the cover was the perfect shape! I gave it a makeover with the same gold spraypaint. Then I glued it onto the box. 

I made sure to apply the glue closer to the inner rim of the cover so that there wouldn’t be any glue visible once I stuck it down. 

And there she is! Isn’t she pretty??! I think it has a kinda Parisian effect. What do you think?

You can save this project directly to Pinterest for future reference.

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  1. I loved what you did to the box and your color choices.
    Just wondering for the legs…is there a certain size you needed for you box?
    It seems like you could go to big or to small for the corners.

    1. Thanks much, Paula! I think those legs only come in that size. But yes, in general, I think you can technically go bigger, it’ll just come up the sides more. Let me know if you try it on a similar box.

  2. This is so cute and refreshing! Love that you found a use for the lotion bottle top. Makes me feel better about saving all my little bits of hardware lol.

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