Top five tools {Furniture upcycling for beginners}

When looking at the world of furniture upcycling, I really am just a novice. I’ve been learning best by trial and error so far, which includes what tools to use. For those of you who know me and have read my previous blogs, I love a bargain (drummed in over time from the husband) and anything I can do for minimal cost. This also stems into my upcycling.

There are a few tools and gadgets which you may spend a little more on than normal but they’re also some bits you can just get lying around at home. So I have written this blog for people who have no idea where to start, just as I did. With a few basic concepts and the key things you need, this blog is a little hand in the right direction. Heres a little shot of my space in the garage. It may look a bit messy, but it does the job.



Sandpaper comes in various different grades and you will need to vary your grade depending on what you are trying to achieve. A coarse grade sandpaper with grit of 40 to 80, will ideally be used when trying to take paint or stain off your piece. You may also want to use this to help mould the shape of your furniture, but be careful as you can’t un- sand something! A fine-grade has 150 to 220 grit and is good to use lightly for polishing your furniture. The basics are, the lower the grade, the more its going to sand off. Remember to always brush down your furniture after sanding and before painting.

You can also pick up an electric sander, if you have a large piece to work on or your trying to strip back to original wood. These vary in price but are well worth the investment after you’ve worked your bingo wings the manual way. I picked up this Bosch Multi sander for £39.99 which I love.

Bosch Multi Sander - Homebase
Bosch Multi Sander – Homebase


This sounds so silly, but this is my favourite tool. Have you got an old PJ top, which has seen better days? You can use this to upcycle furniture. Its good to wipe down your furniture before, during and after you’ve finished. It helps get any dirt or dust off but also at the end once everything is dry, give your piece a good rub. It will polish up your furniture nicely and give it a little gleam. This works well when you use chalk based paint and doesn’t cost you a penny.

Masking Tape

Not only does masking tape help with keeping those edges tidy, it can be used to help style your painting. Fancy a geometric style cupboard? Creating the shape out of the masking tape will help give you those really defined edges. Or for a more simple design, how about have a pop of colour on the bottom of your dining chairs? Just wrap some tape around the top edge of where you want to colour and get painting. Be sure that the paint is dry, before taking off the tape. I know its hard to wait, but its worth it.



Ok, I know this is a pretty obvious but hear me out. This is one tool which I will pay a little more for as it really does have a impact. Having good quality brushes will help you improve your overall finish. You won’t run the risk of odd bristles making it on your furniture and you will have a much smoother finish. I do like Harris brushes which you can pick up from most DIY stores. Its key to have different sizes as all furniture is in different sizes and you may need smaller ones to get into those hard to reach places.

Look after your brushes by thoroughly washing these after in warm, soapy water. Another little tip is wrap the brush in cling film after to keep the bristles all neatly together.



Once you’ve finished painting your piece you will need to apply some sort of finish to help protect it. The two normal are varnish and wax. Varnishing will normally give the piece a slight shine at the end but if you want to keep the chalky look to the furniture, I would recommend using a matt varnish.

Wax finishes are probably my favourite but can leave marks if your not careful. I wouldn’t recommend waxing something you are going to use a lot as you don’t want the wax to get on to your clothes. You can brush or rub it on and comes in various different colours, such as white, brown and clear. I love Annie Sloane and Grand Illusion waxes. They cost a little more but a tin will last ages.


I have left paint off because that’s kind of a given and really varies depending on what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes spray paints can be better to give you a really good quick covering. I love chalk paints as they act as a primer and give really good cover quickly. What I would recommend is if you are going to use any old paint, add a primer underneath first. This will give the piece a much better finish.

Here are a few of my recent upcycle projects.

Kitchen edited-2img_2750OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_0998

Until next time,

Emma x


Author: Emma White

Welcome to Apogee Interiors, a blog all about Interior Styling and Lifestyle written by Emma White. I'm beyond passionate about all things home. Interiors is what I love and this shines through my site. My taste ranges from scandi to raw industrial, so don't fear to challenge me. I want to show people how to enjoy designing and decorating your home. With hints and tips along the way. So far, I have learnt everything through trial and error, fellow bloggers and the odd book. My motto is be brave and embrace your creativity. If you love what you've done, it will look good to everyone through your passion. I hope you enjoy reading. Please get in touch about anything in the world of interiors!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.