Twenty Businesses You Can Start Tomorrow


Twenty Businesses You Can Start Tomorrow

Only those with money, special skills and a lot of luck can start a successful business, right?

The fact is there are myriad enterprises waiting to be hatched that don’t require gobs of capital and fancy degrees. We’re not talking about the next Google, Microsoft or General Electric here, but tidy, profit-generating outfits all the same. Better yet, you get to bust down those cubicle walls and be your own boss.



The Best Franchises To Buy In 2015

Launch Gallery

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To canvass for ideas, we teamed up with Adams Business (a unit of F+W Media), publisher of The Start Your Own Business Bible, released this month. The book contains 501 “new ventures you can launch today,” each with its own breakdown—including the startup funding required (as little as $500 in some cases), an overview of the product or service, the typical fee structure, initial equipment needed, hidden costs, operational tips and more—to give budding entrepreneurs an idea of what they’re getting into. (Author Richard Walsh was unavailable for comment.)

In Pictures: 20 Businesses You Can Start Tomorrow

Here are 20 of the more compelling, easy-to-start businesses, spanning a range of industries, customer segments and initial funding needs. Some are quirkier than others, and all are within reach for those with a healthy supply of common sense and determination. And, yes, luck always helps.

These Businesses Require Between $5,000 and $15,000 In Startup Costs

Networking Services

Description: With the unemployment rate at 9.1%, you’ll find a wide market of people clamoring for a leg up. Give it to them by organizing a series of small after-work mixers at a local hotel and advertise them on a regular basis. Supply a few light refreshments and a speaker, and then let people mingle.

Fees: admission fee. Offer discounts to those who leave their business cards so you can build a mailing list.

Tools of the Trade: Phone, computer, database software.

Tip: Works well in a metropolitan area where you can hold multiple mixers a month in different locations.

Hidden Costs: List rental fees and insurance.

Online Internet Researcher

Description: You’re surfing the Web daily. Why not get paid for it?

Fees: $45 per hour to start. Increase your hourly rate as you develop your reputation.

Tools of the Trade: Computer and high-speed internet access.

Tip: Focus one or two types of information so that you can get deliver meaningful results quickly.

Hidden Costs: Initial marketing efforts.

WATCH: John Paul DeJorias’ Steps To Starting Up



Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business


Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business

wrote this on
Jul 9

Every week I talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. I spend time with both complete newbies and seasoned veterans, and everything in between.

I have a pretty fantastic job.

One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses.

Newbies love to know which mistakes are common so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about things they wish they had known or had done differently.

This weekend I was at the World Domination Summit in Portland with 3,000 ambitious people, and this topic came up dozens of times. “What do you wish you had done differently?” “What mistakes do people make starting out?” “I wish I hadn’t…”

So I put together a summary of the mistakes people shared with me, combined with the mistakes we see being made every week through our work with new entrepreneurs at Fizzle and elsewhere.

Here are the Top 10 biggest mistakes made when starting an online business:

Download the Updated Guide:
Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business

All 10 mistakes explained
Resources and links to address each mistake
Some of our favorite quotes from amazing entrepreneurs
Over 35 page full color guide
Free to download

1. Waiting too long to launch a product/service

When you start blogging or podcasting to build an audience, it’s easy to get stuck on the content “hamster wheel” for months or years without ever offering something for sale.

There are a few reasons this happens.

Some people are waiting for some magic audience size “1,000 subscribers” or maybe “10,000 visitors” or whatever your number might be.

Some people just can’t find the time to blog or podcast or make videos AND to build a product at the same time. It’s tough.

Some people simply talk themselves out of creating a product because they’re afraid no one will buy it. They don’t want to fail after putting in so much time creating content.

Whatever the reason, this is a fatal trap. If you’re building a business, you need to address the biggest risk head-on. The biggest risk you’ll face as a business is in creating something no one will pay for.

Plus, you need practice at building and launching products. Your first one might not be all that good. The sooner you put something out there, the closer you get to sustainable revenue.

Mistake #1: waiting too long to launch a product or service. Tweet This Image

2. Solving an unimportant problem

If the problem your business solves is important enough, you won’t even have to look for customers. Imagine if you had a cure for cancer, for example.

Businesses fail all the time because they try to solve a problem nobody really cares about. If you put your product or idea out there and nobody buys it, there’s a good chance you should look for a more important problem, not a bigger audience.

Mistake #2: Solving an unimportant problem. Tweet This Image

3. Not really listening to customers

How do you know if the problem you solve is important enough?

Listen to your customers. Really listen to them.

Don’t just listen to the customers who provide validation. Listen to the ones who ask for refunds or buy your product but don’t use it. Listen to the people who tell you they won’t buy, and find out why.

Don’t just pay lip service to your customers. You don’t have all the answers, they do. There’s a reason why “the customer is always right,” because without customers you don’t have a business.

Mistake #3: Not really listening to customers. Tweet This Image

4. Not being different enough

In most markets, customers have different options to choose from. If your business has competition, you have to give your potential customers a reason to choose your offering over another.

I see this all the time with new bloggers. They jump into a popular topic and essentially mimic or copy what other popular bloggers are already doing. I suppose they think “if it works for them, maybe it will work for me.”

But think about it from the reader or customer perspective. If they find your blog, they’ll be asking themselves “why is this blog worth spending any time on?” You have to answer that question quickly and clearly, before they click the back button.

You can’t expect to grow an audience by being an inferior version of some other better known site. Even if your site or product is arguably better than the competition, “better” is subjective.

Instead of simply trying to be better, you need to be different. Then, when someone asks why your site or product is worth her attention, your answer will be objective and easy to understand.

Mistake #4: Not being different enough. Tweet This Image

5. Choosing a topic you don’t care about

Whatever you choose to focus your business on, you’re going to need deep subject knowledge, fresh creativity, and unwavering stamina.

There will be competition who cares more about the topic than you do. How can you compete if the gap between your love of a topic and your competitors’ is wide?

This doesn’t mean your business has to be your #1 “passion” or life’s work (most of us don’t have one single passion in life), but don’t make things impossible by choosing something you don’t care about.

If you love your topic, stamina won’t be an issue. If you love your topic, creativity will flow, and influence will be easier to build.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -Howard Thurman

Mistake #5: Choosing a topic you don’t care about. Tweet This Image

6. Starting with vastly wrong expectations

This won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick.

Building a successful business is a massive undertaking. You probably can’t do it while traveling the world. If you have a full-time job, it will be much, much harder.

If your plan involves four-hour workweeks, or if your timeline is measured in weeks or months, you will probably fail.

These are the hard truths that people rarely talk about. Overnight successes don’t exist. Your original plan will probably have to be completely re-written, maybe multiple times.

Ask yourself: will building this business still be worth it if it takes years to get there? What if building the business is harder and more stressful than your current job?

Talk to some entrepreneurs who have achieved something close to what you want to achieve. Ask them what it really took. Ask them about stress and timelines and giving up. Ask them not to sugarcoat it. Really listen. Then ask yourself if you’re prepared for your own version of that.

Mistake #5: starting with vastly wrong expectations. Tweet This Image

7. Spending too much time thinking and not enough doing

Not much to say here that isn’t perfectly summed up in this quote:

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
-Thomas Edison

If your ratio of thinking-to-doing is anything less than 80% doing, think again do more.

As Chase likes to say, entrepreneurs have two modes, CEO mode and worker-bee mode. In a one-person business, you have to be both.

Mistake #7: Too much thinking, not enough doing. Tweet This Image

8. Going it alone

The only reason my business exists today is because other entrepreneur friends wouldn’t let me quit. Seriously, I tried to throw in the towel and start over with something else, but they wouldn’t let me. They talked me out of it.

No one can succeed in business alone. You need people to make it work. Your customers are people, your suppliers are people, your service providers are people.

Most importantly, you need support from other entrepreneurs who are at similar stages as you are, and from others with more experience.

The more connected you become with other entrepreneurs, the more normal your quest becomes. You’ll no longer feel crazy or alone, and you’ll realize that we all face obstacles just like you’re facing.

The entrepreneurs who talked me out of quitting were part of a little group that met weekly to hold each other accountable. It didn’t cost any of us a thing, other than an hour of our time each week, but it turned out to be the most valuable resource I ever used in my business.

Reach out to another entrepreneur or two, and ask them to meet weekly. Share your struggles and goals, and review your progress each week. This simple process is so powerful.

Mistake #8: Going it alone. Tweet This Image

9. Confusing “blog” with “business”

Repeat after me: a blog isn’t a business. A blog isn’t a business.

A blog is an incredible platform for sharing your ideas, connecting with people and growing an audience. The same is true of podcasting, YouTubing, or any other place you might publish content for free.

Giving away free content isn’t a business. It’s a tool for building influence. Don’t count on turning that influence into sponsorships or advertising dollars. You’ll need a more direct plan for earning an income if you want your blog or podcast to pay off.

See point #1 above about launching a product/service.

Mistake #9: Confusing a blog with a business. Tweet This Image

Not starting at all

This is perhaps the biggest mistake of all. Don’t be that friend who talks and talks about starting a business for years and never does anything thing about it.

It’s easy to get so worried about all the possible mistakes that you never get started at all. But that’s the only way to guarantee failure.
Starting a business isn’t a sure thing — it takes guts and intelligence and heart and hustle — but you will get better over time ONLY if you start.

The best way to ensure you’ll succeed is simply this: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the process. So dive in, get started and find a community to support you… because you are not alone.

Mistake #10: Not starting at all. Tweet This Image

What would you add to this list?

This is my list, from what I hear and see in the entrepreneurial world. Is your list different?

What things do you wish you had done differently?

What mistakes do you see new entrepreneurs making?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. You might just help someone avoid a big mistake. If you think this list is helpful, please pass it along!

PS: and be sure to checkout the PDF guide about these top 10 mistakes »

Download the Updated Guide:
Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business



All 10 mistakes explained
Resources and links to address each mistake
Some of our favorite quotes from amazing entrepreneurs
Over 35 page full color guide
Free to download



4 Steps to Starting an Online Business – Bplans Blog

4 Steps to Starting an Online Business

In many ways, starting an online business is similar to starting a brick-and-mortar store. You’ll plan your business, organize your funding, produce your product, and get to work. But, there are unique aspects of running an online-only business that would-be entrepreneurs need to consider.

I’ve laid out a few of the various types of online businesses that you might be interested in starting, both those based around existing platforms like Etsy and eBay, and self-hosted eCommerce sites. We’ll also go over the process for starting an online business, and the steps you’ll need to take to get your business up and running.

In addition, you’ll find links throughout this article to other Bplans articles, which you’ll definitely want to check out. They’ll help you go into more detail about the different aspects of starting your online business, such as setting up your website and how to register your business name.

The different types of online businesses:

Wondering what type of online business to start? There are a few different options, and the best type to start will largely depend on your specific business, and what it is you’re selling.

An eCommerce site:

An eCommerce site is the most direct form of online business you can start; with a self-hosted eCommerce site, you will be selling your goods and services directly to your customers, without a “go-between” such as eBay or Etsy (we’ll get to those more later).

The best part about a direct eCommerce site is the level of control you have over your store. You’ll be able to customize virtually all the options when setting up your own eCommerce site, such as the complete look and feel of your store, but this flexibility makes the process that much more complicated, too.

Your biggest considerations with an eCommerce site will be setting up your website to offer the best user experience. Choosing the right web design is crucial, as is making sure that your shopping cart software is well-suited for your business. Be sure to check out the various shopping cart options available—from Shopify to X-Cart and many more.

An Etsy store:

An Etsy store is, by comparison, relatively easy to set up. The format of an Etsy store remains relatively similar store to store, though you will have the ability to customize your layout a little. However, all customers will buy through the Etsy interface, and the legwork to get your site up and running is minimal. This may be a positive or a negative to you, depending on how much control you wish to maintain over your site.

The biggest consideration, aside from the lack of flexibility? Etsy is a site for creative types, and focuses on handmade items. Now, if you sell handcrafted goods, resell vintage items, create and sell your art, and so on, you’ll fit in on Etsy no problem—in fact, it might be perfect for you.

But, if what you’re selling will be mass-produced, you’ll want to steer clear; although Etsy has recently made it clear that while they allow their sellers to potentially partner with outside businesses to make their products, mass-produced goods are not welcomed on Etsy.

An eBay store

Similar to Etsy, starting an eBay store has some significant advantages, which are also at the same time potential downsides. As with Etsy, you won’t have to set up a website, customize your online storefront, or choose a shopping cart software—when you use eBay to sell your products, that’s all included.

However this means, like Etsy, that your customers will have to go through eBay to buy from you, and you’ll also have little control over the visual layout of your store. As with Etsy, this may be a pro or a con for you, depending on your business.

Unlike Etsy, there is no stipulation with eBay stores that the goods be handcrafted or vintage resale. However, there are still certain items that are prohibited, so make sure to look into the details of selling on eBay before you decide that it’s the right choice.

A site with no physical goods sold

That’s all fine and good, but what if you’re not selling physical goods, but rather consulting or other services?

If your business still needs to accept payment via your site, you’re most likely better off setting up your own website, with a very simplistic shopping cart software. However, Etsy is home to plenty of web design businesses, for example, so this platform isn’t altogether out of the question.

Steps to starting an online business:

1. Plan your business

Like any business, you’ll need a plan. Your planning process should include thorough market analysis, plans for how you’ll fund product production, and perhaps a SWOT analysis to begin your planning process.

2. Write your business plan

Once you’ve done a bit of preliminary planning, it’s time to write your business plan. Unless you’re asking for funding from the bank, an investor, or have a similar “business plan event” coming up, you’re better off sticking to a lean business plan. A lean plan is quicker and easier to write, and distills your plan down to the essentials.

3. Register your domain name and set up your website

If you’ve chosen to set up your own eCommerce site outside of a platform such as eBay or Etsy, you’ll want to make sure your chosen domain name is available and ready for use. Once you’ve secured it, the process of setting up your business website begins. You can choose to outsource this to a professional, or DIY it with our handy guide.

4. Make it legal

There are a few steps you’ll have to take to make sure your business is legal. While generally speaking, the same rules apply for online businesses as brick-and-mortar businesses, there are a few subtle differences:

Read up on online business regulations

The most important distinction when it comes to doing business online versus in person is online business law. These laws regard the distribution of your customers personal information, as well as other privacy and intellectual property regulations. The SBA gives a thorough rundown of the specifics of online business law, so make sure to brush up on them before you start your online business.

Visit your secretary of state’s website for state-specific requirements

State specific requirements will, naturally, vary state by state. For instance, you’ll be required to collect state sales tax from your customers. Visit your local secretary of state office’s website for more information on compliance at a state level.

Learn about tax obligations for running an online business

Do you operate your business from your home? If you run an online business, it’s likely. As such, you may be eligible for certain tax deductions. You’ll additionally be required to pay income tax, so before setting up your online business, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer and make sure that you’re all covered going forward.

Ultimately, starting an online business is very similar to starting a business with a physical storefront. The planning and legal aspects remain similar; while you may not be faced with the prospect of finding a retail location, you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got a solid plan for your business, a great website, and have dotted all your i’s and crossed your t’s before you start selling.

However, while starting an online business does involve some initial legwork, the low cost of overhead and flexibility of the platform make starting an online business a great choice for many entrepreneurs.

Do you have questions on starting an online business, or tips to offer fellow entrepreneurs?


How to start an online business for just £20

How to start an online business for just £20

Can you start a successful online business for just £20? Photograph: Alamy

Supported by


David Lenehan

Thursday 18 July 2013

Last modified on Tuesday 29 December 2015 13.58 GMT

It is no secret that having an online presence is a great way of drumming up sales for a small business, and trading online will allow you to attract new customers. Unfortunately for many small businesses, the idea of e-commerce can be daunting. There is a myth that suggests trading online is expensive and that you really need to employ an agency to build and run a custom website. The reality is that you can build a successful online business from as little as £20 per month. I did.

I joined the family company, Northern Industrial, in 2007. The company had been trading for almost 30 years and had been successful at providing an industrial electronic repair service to local textile manufacturers. The extent of our trade across borders was a weaving company in Dundee. At first it was difficult to see the way forward with many textile manufacturers moving production abroad. It wasn’t realistic to expect people to send faulty circuit boards halfway around the world for repair.

Towards the end of 2007, one of our best customers decided to shift production to India. Since most of the machines were no longer required, the production manager asked us if we would like to purchase the spare parts from the machines for £600. We purchased the boards thinking they would be useful for parts for our repairs. Sadly, I didn’t consider where we would store all these parts and soon my office was full of circuit boards. I spent the next three months climbing over parts to get to my desk. Something had to change.

One evening, I decided to list a couple of the spare parts on eBay to see if anyone would buy them. I would like to say the parts went like hotcakes and it was an overnight success, but sadly they didn’t. Thankfully, I decided to try again with slightly different listing text and managed to sell one of the spare parts for the grand sum of £100. One down and only 200 to go. At this rate, I would be able to see my desk in three years.

At this point, I was confident that people were searching for these parts and decided that we needed our own website. I contacted a few local web developers who all came back with quotes ranging from £4,000 to £8,000. Being a proud northerner, it was more than I was willing to gamble and I decided to put the whole thing on the backburner. Searching the internet one wet afternoon I discovered a hosted e-commerce solution for just £20 per month.

I spent an evening playing with the host’s online demonstration. After 10 minutes, I worked out how to change the website template, pictures and text. In my haste, however, 10 minutes later I had to discover how to recover a broken website by opening and reading the manual for the first time. My wife will testify that this isn’t something I do often. I was amazed how easy the program was to use. It is just like using MS Publisher or Google Docs and requires no knowledge of HTML coding.

Then I spent some time reading around the subject area of SEO (search engine optimisation) and online marketing. There is loads of free information on the web and a great support community. It turns out that one of the great things about an off-the-peg package is that all the SEO basics are already in place and are constantly updated as Google requirements change. For example, you don’t need to worry about the URL structure being correct or your product missing the title tag or H1 tag. All you need to really worry about is selecting the right search terms and creating interesting and valuable content that uses the terms on each page. Once people find great content they are likely to share it.

I spent the next week writing content and adding the products on my site, nicontrols.com, following a crib sheet I downloaded from the Google webmaster tools forum. It took hours as writing has never been my strong point, but at the end of the week, we had a very basic online store. Being a complete novice, I hadn’t realised that I had been changing a live website until I tried launching the site the following bank holiday weekend. Returning to work on Tuesday, I found an email from a company in Australia who had found my website and were interested in purchasing two of the circuit boards. The following week we received two inquires and then eight the week after that. The inquiries have grown exponentially from there.

Over the past five years, Northern Industrial has grown 40% each year and now has customers all over the world and more than £9m worth of stock. We have supplied the Pirelli factory in Argentina, a beverage factory in South Africa, the US Air Force, and an oil rig off the coast of India. Not bad for a small family company starting off with a £19.99 website.

David J Lenehan is director of business development at Northern Industrial.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here.


How to Start an Event Planning Business With No Money

How to Start an Event Planning Business With No Money

Is this the year you learn how to start your event planning business?

Haaappy New Year!

WOW, it’s a new year with so many possibilities, dreams and fun ahead.

I spent a great holiday season with friends and family and enjoyed a lot of good food, a few too many drinks, a beautiful ceremony on Christmas Eve and lots and lots of games. We played Cards Against Humanity and laughed our asses off for hours. If you ever decide to play it, be warned that it’s not for kids or the faint of heart.

While I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I love creating a new vision for the year and have dedicated this year to love and laughter. And lots of it!

What does the new year hold for you?

How To Start An Event Planning Business 

Is this the year you learn how to start an event planning business so you have your dream job and get paid to plan events?

But, are you getting stopped in your tracks because you have a tight budget?

In today’s video, learn how to start an event planning business with no money. And, if you have money to fund your new business venture, these tips are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Tweet it! “Most people overestimate what they can do in 1 year & underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” @billgates @eventblueprint

You may have a tight budget but that shouldn’t stop you from starting your event planning business, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have options. It just means it’s going to take a little creativity. Use these 5 tips and let me know how they worked for you.

If you like this content, be sure to like it and share it.

And then, let me know what’s stopping you from starting your event planning business? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t worked?

Please share your stories in the comments.

As always, thanks for joining me each week and for sharing your experiences. I love hearing from you!

Discover How To Get Paying Event Clients Here!


How to start an online based business from scratch and No Money – AWN

How to start an online based business from scratch and No Money

Ever wonder how top online producers would start an online based business if they had to start from scratch and no money?

We thought this would be helpful or those of you wondering where to start if you’re looking to start and online based business or if you feel stuck and don’t know how to get the ball rolling.

So I decided to get my business partner, Michael Cocan, and my first marketing mentor Jeff Buchanan, on a hangout discussing what we would do.

Not knowing each others answers we had very similar thought processes…

The common theme was to start small…

Get some kind of result first.

Whether that’s getting your first lead, your first sale, or making your first website. Start small.

Record that result using some kind of screen recording software like Camtasia or ScreenCast-o-matic.

And promote that as a free “How To” lesson.

Then sell a product related to that lesson that will help people achieve the same result for themselves.


Easy right?

To some, this may be a little overwhelming and you may not understand exactly how to start an online based business but want to.

If that sounds like you, then check out my free video where I show you how you can start your own online based business for about the cost of a trip to Starbucks.

Click here to learn more


If you’re trying to get better results in your current business, make sure you watch the entire hangout at the top of this post to gain better insight and have more clarity on what needs to be done in order to start having a successful online based business.

Let me know in the comments below if this helped you in any way or if you’re having trouble getting started with your business and I would love to help if I can

-Tim Chesonis

PS. if you found this post helpful and valuable in some way, share this post with someone who you believe would help. Thanks!

25 Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

25 Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

Are there really businesses you can start for less than $100?

Laurie Davis started the dating website eFlirt.com with $50 and a Twitter account, reports Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed. Her successful enterprise has been profiled by the New York Times, The Washington Post, Good Morning America, and many other media outlets.

Starting something online may be an obvious choice, but the variety of businesses you can start for less than $100 might surprise you. Some can be started with no investment other than your time. The key is to find the lowest-cost way to make a sale and then parlay your profits into the next step. Some entrepreneurs have bootstrapped their way to millions using this basic formula.

You’ll have to decide for yourself when to “formalize” your company by creating a legal structure like an LLC, buying liability insurance, and such. For advice on these matters you can meet with volunteers at SCORE, and there are even places to get inexpensive legal help. Meanwhile, why not pull out a $100 bill and take a look at what you can do with it.

Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

Auto Parts

To demonstrate the range of potential businesses you can start for less than $100, we begin with an unlikely one.

Steve Farmer, upon graduating from college, decided to start a business wholesaling collision parts. He says, “Within two weeks, I had started my own business with $50 and built it up and ran it for almost three years.”

He used his car until he could afford a truck, and bootstrapped his way to success. Eventually, he sold that business, starting a new one, this time a specialty candy store, his new company’s website reports.

ClickBank E-Products

To start a digital products business with no investment, open an account at ClickBank.com for free and promote a few items on your Facebook page or blog.

Once you earn a few commissions, you can pay the $49.95 fee to start a vendor account. Then, create a PDF e-book on any topic you know well (or can research), and you can start selling immediately.

ClickBank takes $1 plus 7.5 percent of each sale, but you set the price and decide how much you want to share with the thousands of affiliates who can also sell your product (50 percent is common).

Some vendors claim to have made tens of millions of dollars in sales through ClickBank.

Used Books

When you see a textbook at a rummage sale, visit Bookscouter.com using your smartphone.

See what buyers are paying, and then offer half of that or less. The big margins are in textbooks, but online buyers accept many types of used books, and often pay for shipping with a printable label.

Retailing them yourself on Amazon.com is another option. On The Abundant Wife website, one woman tells of selling books from around her house for $371.14 on Amazon — a good way to start with nothing.

Once you learn the market, you can parlay your profits into expansion, perhaps doing some online arbitrage by buying cheap used books from eBay auctions to sell to the big online vendors.

House Painting

In many states, like Florida for example, you do not need a license to be a painting contractor. And if you start with indoor painting, you can get by with a minimum of equipment.

You can learn some helpful tips from YouTube videos on house painting, free Home Depot workshops, and some practice painting around your own home. Matt Shoup tells U.S. News & World Report he started with $100 and went door-to-door, eventually building a painting business with annual revenues of $2.5 million.

Window Cleaning

Another one of the businesses you can start for less than $100 is a window cleaning business. However, to efficiently clean big retail store windows you may need more than $100 worth of equipment.

So start with homes and basic tools, and parlay your revenue into better ones.

You can learn the business online from any one of a number of tutorials.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitters charge as much as $100 for overnight stays, and $20 is typical for a 20-minute visit.

You can start by offering your services to friends and family and use the profits to build your professional credentials, perhaps by joining an organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

To grow this business into a large income, you’ll eventually need employees or sub-contractors.

Taxi Service

With ride-sharing platforms like Uber, you can turn the car you already own into a business today without spending a dollar.

If all goes well, you might parlay the money you make into a regular taxi or chauffeur service.

Of course, once again, your goal if you want bigger profits is to eventually hire employees or sub-contractors.


Tutoring is also one of the businesses you can start for less than $100. It used to be more difficult to market your tutoring services, but online platforms make it easier than ever.

If you’re able to help students with academic subjects, sign up with a website like Tutor.com. If you prefer to tutor people on a wider variety of subjects, like chess, sports, cooking, or singing, try Wysant.com.

Tutors commonly charge up to $50 per hour, and although these websites take a healthy cut of that, they provide a no-cost way to start. From there you can build a local clientele and start hiring others to work for your business.

Tour Guide Service

Again, the Internet has made all the difference in lowering the barriers to starting a business.

Forget about business cards (at least at first) or trying to get travel agencies to recommend your guide service. If you know an area well, you simply sign up with a website like Vayable.com and let them find your customers for a cut of the revenue.

Once you know the ropes and make some money, you can encourage returning visitors to come to you (and your new employees) directly.

Tax Preparation

What better (and cheaper) way to learn a business than to get paid for your training?

Search “tax preparation no experience” on job websites like Indeed.com. You’ll find plenty of companies willing to train you for jobs preparing tax returns (at least during tax season). Once you have a season under your belt, it’s time to strike out on your own.

You can start from home to keep costs low, and bootstrap your way into a multi-employee office in time.

Flooring Business

Toby Woodward has been in the flooring business for twenty-five years. He tells Construction News, “I started my business with $50 and a box of business cards.” His company, Aladdin Floors, started out doing just installation in order to avoid the need to invest in inventory.

Again, the lesson is clear: Look for the low-cost entry point and parlay revenues into expanding the business.

Cleaning Service

Again, think of the low-cost entry point to keep your startup costs under $100. You can clean houses with all of the supplies and equipment you already use for cleaning your own home, and then invest profits into specialized equipment for other clients.

Carrie H Johnson was divorced and living in low-income housing when she started a cleaning business with friends, she explains on her website. She built it into a multimillion dollar business with 165 employees.

Flea Market Vending

Flea markets are alive and well in many places around the country, and you can locate the ones closest to you with an online guide.

To start on a budget, find a market that lets you pay for a space by the day (often less than $20). While you’re there, look around for a low-cost niche you can invest your profit into.

What profit? That’s what you made by selling everything in your house that you otherwise would have given away or dumped at a rummage sale.

eBay Sales

Anyone can start on eBay for less than $100.

Start by selling things around the house that you no longer need. With the money you raise, you can look for a niche. For example, some vendors hit rummage sales and thrift stores for cheap goods they can resell.

Others buy in bulk from places like Liquidation.com and then sell items individually on eBay.

Homemade Soaps

If you can read and follow the directions of an online soap-making tutorial, you can gain some basic knowledge of the soap making craft. It involves relatively few materials and tools. To make soap you mix various forms of oil with lye and scents. A basic mold for 12 bars can be bought on Amazon for under $10.

Of course, you can’t compete with mass-manufactured soaps, so you’ll want to make specialty products. Finding a new scent or creative approach to packaging and marketing will help. You can sell to friends initially, or invest in a booth at a flea market or craft show.

What’s the potential? Anne-Marie Faiola turned her soap making hobby into a multimillion-dollar business.

Grocery Delivery

If you own a car you have what you need to start delivering groceries. While Webvan and others have failed to make grocery delivery work on a large scale, there is a market for small timers, as evidenced by the many shopping services that are online now.

To make delivery affordable for the customer and efficient enough for you to make a decent profit, you may have to service a very limited area. You might start by approaching elderly residents in a housing complex, promising delivery just two days per week in order to process as many orders as you can at once.

To keep payment processing simple, get a PayPal card reader, which attaches to your smartphone. PayPal takes just 2.7 percent of each swipe, with no hidden fees.

Errand Service

An errand service can be a natural business to tie into grocery delivery, or vice versa. Once again, if you already have a car you’re ready to get started. People often need someone to check on their dog at home, or run to the store if they are homebound.

To start with almost no cost, and to get a feel for what kind of work the business might involve, sign up with TaskRabbit.com, an online platform that connects people who need errands done with those willing to do them for an agreed-upon price. This eliminates the need to spend money on marketing yourself (at least at first).

You might discover a particular niche that suits you and is profitable. For example, if you get a lot of calls to bring pets to vet appointments, you might reposition yourself as a pet taxi service.

Freelance Bartending

You can learn how to mix any one of thousands of drinks with a free online cocktail guide, but to get hired as a freelance bartender it helps to have real experience. That doesn’t have to require a job though. You might volunteer to tend bar for charity events — a good way to get experience and market yourself to potential paying clients.

Entrepreneur.com reports the startup costs of freelance bartending at “under $2,000.” But you can keep it under $100 if you start with clients who have the necessary equipment or by bartending for parties where expectations are minimal. Entrepreneur.com says you can make “up to $300 per day when you tally up your wages and tips.”

The next step is hiring help at $10 per hour and billing clients $25 per hour for them.

Dog Training

This is one of those businesses you probably wouldn’t get into without previous experience. On the other hand, you can get an idea of tsomrhe skills needed online from the television personality and dog whisperer, Cesar Milan. There are also many dog training tutorials on YouTube. A stint at a local pet store might help too, and you’ll at least make minimum wage while you get your education and experience.

You can start the business at home to keep costs low. Pet owners can bring their dogs there as well as anyplace else. To build your reputation offer, to train the dogs of friends for free or at a discount, and be sure to get testimonials to put on your (eventual) website.

Drop-Shipped Products

What makes drop shipping so attractive is exactly what lands it on this list; there are no big startup costs or expensive investments in inventory. You can sell products online, collect payment, pay suppliers, and let them send out the products — even using your company logo if you like.

There are many  drop-ship product suppliers online. Some provide a variety of products, or, if you’re going to specialize in one product or product line, you can locate a manufacturer that drop-ships. Just do your research and be sure you’ve found a reputable company.

A website is one way to make sales, although not the only way. You can also sell on auction sites like eBay.com.

Social Media Management

Businesses need help managing their social media presence.

In particular, they need to tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook in order to raise awareness of their companies and promote their products. You may already know how to use these and many other social media platforms.

Learn a little more with online tutorials on how to become a social media consultant. Then contact everyone you know to see if they need this valuable service. Scaling up will require hiring others at some point, so you can focus on getting new clients.

Startup cost? Zero.

Virtual Assistant

If you have a phone, a computer, and Internet access, you can be a virtual assistant (VA). This is one of the hot new businesses you can start for less than $100

The work can be very different with each client, but may include preparing reports, researching, editing, social media management, appointment-setting and many other services.

On her website, VA Amy Andrews says “I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a great work-at-home opportunity and something many people could do.”

Of course, to make it into more than a decent freelance income, your goal will have to be to hire others at some point.

Scrap Metal Recycling

A search of your garage and shed might be all you need to start a scrap metal recycling business. It’s one of those businesses you can start for less than $100.

Copper and aluminum are the most valuable of the common metals, and almost every community has one or more scrap metal buyers. Once you’ve made your first sale, start looking for new supplies.

You can find all the advice you need in an online scrap metal discussion forum. How big can you grow a business like this? Stephen Greer went to Hong Kong with almost nothing after college and built a scrap metal recycling business worth $250 million, according to his book, ” Starting from Scrap: An Entrepreneurial Success Story.”


Okay, so you know enough about a subject to advise others, but you don’t have the money to properly launch a consulting business. Start anyhow!

Spend $10 for business cards from a low-cost provider. Put up a website for $60 for the first year with a domain and website hosting package.

Once you have a few customers who value your knowledge more than a fancy presentation, you can spend some of your profits to build a more professional organization.

Logo Design

If you’re artistically inclined, designing logos is a relatively simple business to start. You can service the high-end, doing very unique logos, or provide low-cost designs that start from templates and are modified to suit the client.

One of the easiest ways to get started is on Fiverr.com. A look at the stats for the logo designers there shows the size of the market. The top rated logo designer has over 6,000 customer reviews.

Fiverr.com takes a dollar of each $5 sale, so you might wonder how sellers make money. It’s all about the extra services. Many of the logo designers there keep it really simple for a basic sale (add a company name to a template), but offer extra services that can add $100 or more to an order.

Find that first sale with little or no capital investment and then use the profit to expand. That’s how you start a business for less than $100.

Do you have a low-cost startup story to share? Are you aware of other businesses you can start for less than $100?

Painter Photo via Shutterstock



8 Musts to Start Your Business With Little to No Capital

8 Musts to Start Your Business With Little to No Capital

September 2, 2014

Entrepreneurs will often have amazing business ideas, but they put them on hold due to a lack of capital. They assume that their idea will never get far off the ground unless they have major funding behind them. 

It seems that every day there is a new startup receiving millions of dollars from venture capital firms, but what you don’t hear about is the several startup failures that burn through millions of dollars only to fizzle out and shut their doors forever.


5 Ways for Bootstrapped Startups to Get Through the First Year

Maverick Startup (Book)

If your idea and plan of execution aren’t well thought out from the beginning, no amount of money can turn it into a winner. Have a great idea but very little money? Don’t let that stop you! Yes, there will be ridiculously long days with little to no sleep. Yes, you are going to be stressed. But those that want it bad enough will make it.

Here are eight tips that can help you get your idea off the ground with limited funds.

1. Build your business around what you know. Instead of venturing off into uncharted territory, make sure that you build your business around your skills and knowledge. The less you have to rely on outside sources the better. When your business is built around your own personal expertise you can eliminate consultants and outside assistance. 

Also, having that knowledge is sometimes all that is needed to successfully take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

2. Tell everyone you know what you are doing. Inform your family, friends, business contacts and past colleagues about your new business. Call, send emails and make your new venture known on your social-media profiles. Your friends and family members can help you spread the word, and past business contacts can introduce your brand to their professional contacts as well. This type of grassroots marketing can help introduce your company to a much larger audience.

3. Avoid unnecessary expenses. You are going to have plenty of expenses, and there are some that just can’t be avoided. What you can avoid though is overspending. Take something as simple as business cards. You could drop $1,000 on 500 metal business cards that give off the “cool” factor, or you could spend $10 on 500 traditional business cards. Being frugal in the beginning can be the difference between success and a failed business.

4. Don’t get buried in credit card debt. There is a smart way and a suicidal way to use credit when starting a business. New computers, office furniture, phones and supplies can all quickly add up. Instead of purchasing everything at once and throwing it all on a credit card, use your company’s revenue to finance your expenses. Eliminating the stress and burden of debt will greatly increase the chances of creating a successful business. 

Related: Funding Your Business on Your Own? Learn From These 7 Entrepreneurs

5. Make sure your receivables policy won’t sink you. If your business is a retail operation then this isn’t going to apply, but if you are providing services such as consulting or products to retailers you need to make sure that your payment policy is well thought out. Can you remain above water with net-15 or net-30 terms? Don’t base your receivables on what you think your customers will want. Base them on what is going to make your business operate successfully.

6. Build up sweat equity. When I first started my business I worked around the clock, handling every aspect of the business as well as the marketing and growth. All of the hard work and long days that you put in isn’t for nothing. You are building a brand and your hard work is essentially increasing the value of your business. Your sweat equity will come into play if you ever decide to sell off a piece of your company or take on a partner.

7. Take advantage of free advertising and marketing. There are several ways to generate a buzz for your business without breaking the bank. Social media is a great way to gain exposure and interact with potential customers. You can also reach out to local media and offer your expertise.

Make as many local media contacts as you can and be extremely responsive with their requests. This can lead to them to branding you as the local authority, generating plenty of free press for your business. 

8. Get ready to hustle. Hard work is an absolute necessity, but when you are starting a business with little to no capital then you must be prepared to dedicate everything you have into making the business a success. This might mean cold calling, handling customer support, dealing with billing and accounting, and every other working part of your business. You will wear many hats and it will require the majority of your time and energy if you are to make it.

Don’t let limited capital prevent you from taking a great idea and running with it. Will it be difficult and will you have some stressful situations? Of course, but that is part of entrepreneurship.

Have you started a business with sweat equity alone? If so, let us know about your experiences in the comments section below.

Related: 7 Illusions to Shed in the First 100 Days of Your Startup

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How to Start a Small Business in a Few Hours

How to Start a Small Business in a Few Hours

Starting a business is surprisingly simple–you just need to take the first step. Here’s how to get through the administrative hurdles faster than you think.

By Jeff Haden

Jeff Haden is a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, and contributing editor for Inc. Full bio



A neighbor had been talking about starting a business for at least six months. Whenever I saw him, that’s all he talked about. Eventually, I got tired of it.

“What the heck are you waiting for?” I finally asked.

It turns out, he thought the process of starting a business was really complicated. “I don’t want to go through all that stuff,” he said, “unless I’m absolutely sure my idea is perfect.” Like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, he was stalling because he was intimidated by the apparent complexity of the administrative and legal tasks involved in starting a business.

So I bet him lunch that we could take care of all that in less than three hours.

Keep in mind, I’m only talking about setting yourself up to do business: I’m not talking about writing a business plan (although if that’s what you want to do, here’s a comprehensive guide to writing a business plan), sourcing financing, developing a marketing plan, etc.

The goal is to get off square one and get on to the fun stuff.

Here’s how:

1. Get over the company-name thing.

Many people agonize endlessly over dreaming up the perfect company name. Don’t. If you’re waiting until you come up with the perfect name, you’re also waiting to start making money.

Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don’t worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You’re putting those carts way before your business horse, too.

Just pick a name so you can get the administrative ball rolling.

Remember, your business can operate under a different name than your company name. (A “doing business as” form takes minutes to complete.) And you can change your company name later, if you like.

Editor’s Note: Looking for business loan solutions? If you would like information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:


What type of business financing are you interested in obtaining at this time?

Business loan

Cash advance against credit card income

Loan for equipment purchase

Equipment lease

Commercial mortgage loan

Approximately how much money are you seeking?

For what type of business are you seeking a loan?

What is the primary reason you are seeking this loan?

How long has your business been in operation?

Do you have any credit issues which may impact the amount of financing available to you?

What are your approximate total business revenues over the past 12 months?

Does your business currently accept credit cards as a form of payment?

What’s your zip code?

What’s your email address?

2. Get your Employer Identification number (EIN).

An EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business. You don’t need an EIN unless you will have employees or plan to form a partnership, LLC, or corporation.

But even if you don’t need an EIN, get one anyway: It’s free, takes minutes, and you can keep your Social Security number private and reduce the chance of identity theft, because if you don’t have an EIN, your SSN identifies your business for tax purposes.

Note: If you’re using an online legal service to set up an LLC or corporation, don’t use it to get your EIN. Instead, apply online at the IRS website. You’ll have your EIN in minutes.

Now it’s time to head to your locality’s administrative offices.

3. Register your trade name.

If you won’t operate under your own name, your locality may require you to register a trade name. In most cases, you’ll get approved on the spot.

4. Get your business license.

Your county or city will require a business license. The form takes minutes to fill out. Use your EIN instead of your Social Security number to identify your business (for privacy reasons if nothing else).

You may be asked to estimate annual gross receipts. Do your best to estimate accurately, but don’t agonize over it. You’re just providing an estimate.

5. Complete a business personal-property tax form (if necessary).

Businesses are taxed on “personal” property, just like individuals. Where I live, no form is required for the year the business is established.

If you are required to file a business personal-property tax form and you plan to work from home using computers, tools, etc., that you already own, you won’t need to list those items.

If you purchase tangible personal property during your first year in business, you will list those items when you file your business personal-property tax form the following year.

6. Ask your locality about other permits.

Every locality has different requirements. In my area, for example, a “home occupation permit” is required to verify that a business based in a home meets zoning requirements.

Your locality may require other permits. Ask. They’ll tell you.

7. Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).

A certificate of resale, also known as a seller’s permit, allows you to collect state sales tax on products sold. (There is no sales tax on services.)

If you will sell products, you need a seller’s permit. Your state department of taxation’s website has complete details, forms, etc., if you decide to apply online, but most localities have forms you can complete while you’re at their administrative offices.

8. Get a business bank account.

One of the easiest ways to screw up your business accounting and possibly run afoul of the IRS is to commingle personal and business funds (and transactions). Using a business account for all business transactions eliminates that possibility.

Get a business account using your business name and EIN, and only use that account for all business-related deposits, withdrawals, and transactions.

Pick a bank or credit union that is convenient. Check out your local credit unions; often they provide better deals than banks.

9. Set up a simple accounting spreadsheet.

Worry about business accounting software like QuickBooks later. For now, just create a spreadsheet on which you can enter money you spend and money you receive.

Bookkeeping is simple, at least at first. All you need are Revenue and Expenses columns; you can add line items as you go.

Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories, and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue. As long as you record everything you do now, creating a more formal system later will be fairly easy. It will also be more fun, because then you’ll have real data to enter.

And now you’re an entrepreneur, with all the documents to prove it.

(Oh. I didn’t have to pay for lunch.)

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


10 steps to starting a business – Startups.co.uk: Starting a business advice and business ideas

10 steps to starting a business

Starting a small is easy using our step-by-step guides. The 10 steps below will teach you how to start a business, taking you through each of the key stages of the start-up process – from evaluating your business idea and choosing a company name through to designing your business cards, developing a and, finally, getting ready to launch.

  • Starting a business? 7 things you need to do first
  • How to start a business: What you need to know


Key topics

  • No categories

1. Start-up business plan essentials: Testing your business idea

Field research is a key part of analysing your market and will help you build a successful business plan and brand. Here’s how to carry it out effectively…

2. Choosing the right business structure

Sole , partnership, limited company or LLP? We look at how to choose the right legal structure for your start-up

3. How to choose the perfect name for your business

Choosing the right start-up name is extremely important. Here’s a practical guide on how to pick out the best name to ultimately build a better business

4. How to create a logo that properly represents your business

Five fundamental points your logo should convey to your customers

5. Applying for a Start Up Loan: What to expect

Looking to raise finance for your new business? Join the 30,000 plus Start Up Loan recipients today…

6. How to choose an accountant

Tips from Startups on how to pick the number cruncher that’s right for your small business

7. What to consider when choosing office space for your business

What exactly do you need to consider when looking for the perfect premises?

8. How to save money on business software when starting out

John Paterson rounds up the free and low-cost options available to help you start your business

9. Red tape checklist: What your small business needs to know

Dealing with business red tape? Startups has complied the five key legal issues and how best to deal with them…

10. 3 key selling techniques that could help your start-up

What types of selling do you need to use? Startups covers a few of the most important selling techniques for your business

Starting a business? 7 things you need to do first

You’ve got a business idea but what are the next steps? Startups has compiled a launchpad guide to help you put the foundations in place for business success

How to start a business: What you need to know

Startups answers the key questions you should ask before starting your own business

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How to Shabby Chic Furniture for a Stunning Contemporary Look – Wood Finishes Direct

How to Shabby Chic Furniture for a Stunning Contemporary Look

Not so long ago interior decoration was all about chilly, bleak minimalism. It suited the times, born of a pre-recession zeitgeist where everyone and his dog were investing in property, wealth was king and money seemed to flow like water. Then came the credit crunch and the banking crisis… and everything changed.

Minimalist hotel-style décor took a few post-recession years to disappear altogether, but it has finally died a death. Which means we can start getting creative with our interiors again. Shabby chic and French country styling are hot. People all over the nation are collecting beautiful recycled, vintage, retro, up-cycled and found objects, creating their own fabulous paint effects and coming up with some truly awesome DIY decorative ideas.

Shabby Chic Furniture

Home is where the heart is. Décor is fun again. And we’re selling more craft-oriented wood finishing products than ever, testament to the nation’s new, softer, more environmentally responsible, less money-grabbing mood.

Décor these days is less about status, more about personality. So how, exactly, do you shabby chic your furniture and other wooden objects and achieve ‘the look’?

How to shabby chic furniture

Before we start talking about how to create shabby chic décor, let’s have a quick look at what you can transform and where to get it.

The brown furniture market has been in the doldrums for years but things are starting to move again, with more of us are looking for born-again vintage furniture bargains, many of which are still as cheap as chips.

You can pick up a lovely 1930s Art Deco wardrobe for less than £50, something with much more character than a brand new Ikea alternative. Or you could shabby chic chairs – how about a set of 1970s bistro-style chairs, or a mixed batch of kitchen chairs, each in a different style, easy to find for as little as a tenner each? Then there are shabby chic mirrors, with the frames transformed from gruesome gilded or dark wood nightmares into something cool, contemporary and stylish.

Your best source of all this interior décor treasure? Your local auction house, nearest furniture-focused charity shop or furniture recycling outlet, Freecycle community or Ebay.

Shabby Chic Decor

What about colour? Obviously you need to decide on the colours before you start. Most shabby chic stuff focuses on so-called ‘heritage’ colours like creamy whites, grey-whites, green-whites duck egg blues and pale greens, but there are no rules. Anything goes. You can either be bold and use two contrasting colours, or go for a subtle effect using toning colours for a softer look. It’s entirely up to you. It’s worth Googling ‘shabby chic furniture’ then clicking on Google images for inspiration. Alternatively, base your colour scheme on your soft furnishings or the colour of your walls.

DIY for cheap shabby chic – 8 simple steps to interior design heaven

You’ve found a piece of furniture you want to shabby chic. Here’s how.

  1. Prepare the wood – Remove the existing wood finish to create a key so your new paintwork will stick properly to the surface. If the wood has been polished with wax, a wire wool pad plus turps or white spirit should do the trick. If it’s varnished, use sandpaper or a good quality paint and varnish remover.
  2. Apply a coat of water-based acrylic primer – This simply gives your furniture a smoother finish, easier to work on. Because it’s a shabby chic project, you don’t need to be neat. Even if you’re rubbish at painting, you’ll be fine. Have fun!
  3. Apply two layers of paint – Next you need a couple of thin layers of coloured water based acrylic paint. Let the first layer dry completely before adding the next one. You can also gently sand the first layer with very fine sandpaper, say 180 grit, to provide a better finish.
  4. If you just want plain, painted wood, just seal the paint with acrylic varnish then carry out the final step below. Then you’re done. But there’s more. If you want to go the whole hog and get involved with actually distressing furniture, we’ll look at that next.
  5. Distressing your painted wooden furniture –  Distressing furniture also involves the first two  steps above. But instead of applying two coats of the same colour, you create a two-colour distressed finish where the second layer is rubbed away to reveal the first for a ‘natural’ wear and tear look. Again, acrylic water-based paint is perfect.
  6. Add your first colour and let it dry completely. Now for the clever bit. You simply dab streaks of clear furniture wax where you want the wood to look distressed. You can use a paintbrush to apply the wax, or cloth, or a small sponge – a kitchen sponge will do. Or even your fingers. The wax repels the second layer of paint, letting the base colour show through. You need to paint the second layer of paint over the whole thing, wax included. Let it dry, then wipe the furniture with a soft cotton cloth to take the paint off the waxed areas, leaving a brilliant effect that looks as though it’s just come out of a posh interior décor shop.
  7. Not distressed enough? You can attack the pre-painted furniture with wire wool or sandpaper, scrape it with a large nail or even bash it with a hammer to take off the paint as deep as wood level. If you go wrong, just paint over it, or wax and paint it again. The most difficult part of the job is to make the distressed effect random, avoiding creating a pattern of any kind. As natural pattern-seekers, humans find it difficult to ‘do’ random. But luckily it’s more or less impossible to get the shabby chic look wrong.
  8. And finally… the finish – All you need is some good quality clear wax furniture polish.This delivers a lovely lustre as well as protecting the surface. You don’t need varnish.

Creative ideas

You might want to create an entire shabby chic bedroom, with matching or contrasting paint jobs on your bed, wardrobe, chairs, dressing tables or even modern fitted wardrobes. You can even create the effect on wooden doors.

Shabby Chic Door

You may prefer to take it easy and mix ‘n’ match plain wooden furniture with distressed pieces for that popular eclectic look. You can use bold, bright Mediterranean and Mexican colours to make a big, bright impact. Or stick to cool, subtle shades, for example a collection of different blues, creams, lilacs or greens.

For a final splash of colour, you can add applique images. Here’s an idea: buy a second hand book about butterflies, ferns, birds or flowers from a charity shop. Cut out a handful of beautiful pictures, for example a host of gorgeous butterflies or a flock of birds. Glue them onto your furniture with PVA glue after you’ve completed the paint effects but before you wax it. If they stand out too much, paint a watered-down layer of your top coat colour to mute the colours and blend them in with the background. Then wax over the top once everything is 100% dry.

Shabby Chic Picture Frame

We have a whole department of wood finishing products dedicated to crafts. Why not visit and see what fires your imagination?

Tags: how to shabby chic furniture, shabby chic chairs, shabby chic decor, shabby chic ideas, shabby chic mirrors

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How do you paint pine furniture?


How do you paint pine furniture?

This dresser started life as all pine and with care has been transformed into a hand painted feature.

This is a long indepth article on how to paint pine furniture. It is written by professional furniture painters, and aimed at plucky DIY who want to have a go at doing this properly.

If you have patience and determination and a somewhat arty touch, you can do it! But so often on forums I see the life and the fun factor drain out of DIYers as their enthusiasm is hit by mistake after mistake, usually based on assumptions and tips from horrible TV shows, where best trade practice died long ago.

The basic error I think is getting stocked up with kit and kaboodle from a DIY shed and jumping straight in. Don’t do it! Don’t be one of the many who go with the crowd, only to see their investment in time and money turn to pooh.

The information here is read on average 12000 times a month, and is regularly updated, to ensure it remains the most relevant information online on this topic.

There is a lot to digest, because there is no single magic bullet that suits all cases, so you are welcome to print it off or bookmark the full story:

Before you start, decide what end result you are after.

– Get the products and tools you need to effectively and efficiently prepare pine – waxed, varnished, bare or painted – laminate effect… you can prepare them all for painting.

– Best brushes, sandpaper, paint to use

– The why, what, where, how…!

Most of the answers are here!

DIY or call a pro? We have you covered.

This article is aimed at plucky homeowners wanting to have a go, and also willing to have a bit of a read first, to get a fuller picture. Prepared, you can avoid wasting your time and money on basic (easily avoided) errors.

If time is against you, obviously you can call in a professional furniture painter They will give you a fixed price, and at the end of the job, present you with a finished piece of hand-painted furniture that makes you smile.

but if you want to do it yourself, this is where I hope I can make a bit of a difference

Thanks so much for recommending Langlows Patina. What a lovely finish. After using so many different products and being totally unsatisfied with the results, I won’t use anything else from now on. I also bought an orbital sander as a result of reading the info on your site. Am now researching eggshell finishes on painted furniture – am certain you will have something sensible to say !! More feedback from readers

Why paint pine furniture? Why not go and buy it ready painted?

It was a trip round John Lewis, that confirmed to me that furniture painting was going to keep a lot of people busy over the next few years! Consider that dresser above, well, I saw a shadow of that quality, factory sprayed, for over £1100. If you have one like that in pine, already, you can get it in showroom painted condition in a few days yourself.

Apart from the financials, if you are environmentally responsible,


one of the smartest things you can do these days is to paint pine furniture from a second hand store, or give a new lease of life to a piece you have had in the family for a while.


Upcycling rules! Re-working furniture is like recycling paint, use existing resources before creating any “new” alternative.

Older furniture is usually quite well constructed too, and deserves some love, especially those that were made with love! (The same applies to second hand kitchens!)

Even if a piece of pine furniture is a little out of touch with current tastes, and gone orange on you! for the sake of a few coats of paint or wax or varnish, a grim fashion statement can be updated and put back in the fashion game.

This pine table was all bare, orange and dull. But paintable.



Adopt a professional approach for a pro finish

If you aren’t happy with the end result, you aren’t alone.

The main mistake is usually buying the wrong products.

Just because you aren’t a professional, doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job. Pros use pro quality tools and paint, and being DIY doesn’t preclude you from buying and using trade quality products. So stock up with worthy kit!

In all honestly, I really don’t understand why anyone spends the money on rubbish in big DIY stores (or trade merchants for that matter) when for the same money or even less, you can use the right professional quality product.

If the reason for DIY hell on earth is, I don’t know what is available outside of B&Q, then you came to the right site to see how to invest financially, and wisely in some great tools and paints.

Coming up – which paints and then which tools and finally the good stuff, the painting process.

Correct paint for the finish or effect you are after

Before you think about shabby chic or distressing or conventional block colour, think about which type of paint you want to use, because all paint can be shabby chic-ed!

There are many furniture paint options, but the basic starting point for non professionals, I think, is either

-Chalk Paint – Water based, no petro-chemical odours. Apply straight on any surface, no prep required. It can be painted beautifully smooth (and left smooth, or it can be distressed), or it can be lashed on (and left nasty, or be distressed). Either way, once painted (and distressed , or not), you HAVE to protect the chalk paint, usually with wax.

Acrylic eggshell. The surface has to be cleaned, prepared and primed, but the actual top coats should be pleasant to apply, be low odour and easy to clean up afterwards. (Again, you can attack, I mean, distress a nicely painted surface. It can be sealed with a lacquer, or left, more to follow on protecting a finish.)

Oil eggshell over a thoroughly cleaned, prepared and primed surface. I like oil eggshell, but if you aren’t confident in your abilities, go acrylic eggshell. (Everything worth knowing about Oil v acrylic eggshell) Oil paint can be rubbed back and varnished if required. Generally though, the water based approach is favourite for paint effects.

Best paint for furniture

This is a much asked question. Give me a silver bullet answer, one paint that does it all. Oil based eggshell enamel! There you go, that is my answer. It has no context, best for what? etc.

There are choices, it is part of the furniture painter skill to specify the right paint for the job. But to keep it simple.

You can go round and round with this brand is better than that brand, and who would pay £x for that posh paint when you can get that high street brand paint for £x less 40%.

To save yourself headache and heartache, just think:

– the high street eggshell paints are shiny

– the posh eggshell paints are flatter

– chalk paint is different, quirky, and very cool, if the French look is your thing.

– all work well, all have limitations

– there really isn’t that much of a price difference between any of them, when you are talking small quantities of paint for the odd piece of furniture.

With that simplified view of the paint world you should find it easier to take your pick of some of these paint suitable for furniture .

Shabby chic or not shabby chic?

Before we go on to tools, a quick side turn down chalk paint lane.

As I said earlier, whatever paint you choose, you can either apply it conventionally, that is to say flat and even, in a block colour and leave it that way, or you shabby chic your beautiful paintwork with a judicious sanding. This wooden headboard was painted with a water based eggshell, I believe, and distressed.



It could have been painted conventionally, and over time, (a long time, hopefully) wear and tear would have shabby chic-ed it naturally. Or they could have used chalk paint from the outset, roughed up the edges to imitate wear and tear, and protected with wax.

To see what a professional can do, Lee Simone gives some brilliant advice on distressed paint finishes for furniture.

Regardless of skill level, it is purely a case of taste how you go about painting furniture and distressing it, or not. (And don’t underestimate the power of colour. The right colour can elevate a really naff piece of furniture into quite a nice feature.)

Painting 101 – Tools and products for preparing pine furniture

If you have been here before, the following offer may be relevant for you. If you are still feeling your way, though, keep on reading till you have a better idea of what is involved.

If you use chalk paint you won’t need any cleaning products. Just dust it down.

If you use conventional oil or acrylic or waterborne paints, you will need to make sure the surface is thoroughly degreased, clean and keyed/sanded.



To remove grease, try a cleaner that doesn’t hurt or burn you. Krudkutter Original was a good option, but is no longer available in the UK, and we have been moving over to * Fluxaf Pro Clean, it works very well, is biodegradable, a fraction of the price of KrudKutter, and most importantly is readily available. The tech support is straight from the chemists’ mouth too.

To remove wax, Pro Clean will serve you well. Mix it 1:1 with warm water, apply, leave to soak and it will probably dry to look like tea leaves. This is the wax broken down. Go at it with a good kitchen scourer.

Do wear gloves when using any degreaser. Even natural degreasing products are unable to differentiate between wax and your skin!

I cover abrasives further down.

Brushes – Why use a decent paint brush?

Would you buy a pair of running shoes that are 2 sizes too small? Equally, why would you buy a cruddy brush for your expensive paint? The better a brush holds its shape, the more paint it holds without running, the better balanced it is, then the more productive you will be – and the better the end result.



What is the best paint brush?

There isn’t a single brush that does everything 100% well, but there are certain brushes that do certain tasks better than others.

Best brush for acrylic eggshell

The American brushes pictured above are very popular, found in many a pro painter’s brush box, all tried and tested by contributors to this site, and will do you proud in acrylic eggshell.

-* 2.5″ angled sash marvel for emulsion & trim! .

Looking for a brilliant all round brush, made in the UK, that is a good price?

That would be the new phenomenon in brushes – the Fox.

The Fox Paint brush, Developed and Used by Traditional Painters

Traditional Painter and our Trade Corner associates know a bit about brushes.



Birth of a world beating British brush »

MyPaintBrush commissioned a traditional paint brush for modern paints, and Martin Guest our trusty kitchen and furniture painter in the W Midlands worked with a local brush-maker to develop what are now known as the Fox brushes. In a year, the group have produced, tested and released a revolutionary paint brush range that ticks many many boxes.

The bristles are super fine. The shape has been formed using literally new technology. Other brush makers can achieve the same shape, but with chemicals, which cause bristles to wear out prematurely. The Fox bristles are very robust and also seem to hold a fantastic amount of paint, but still cut a sharp straight line.

Although they are fine and soft, the bristles hold their shape and work in water-based, oil based and heavy shellac based paint. That is phenomenal. Full story on the Fox paint brush here.

As a range, they are genuinely a superlative all-round brush for everyone into painting – suitable for highest quality kitchen painting, furniture painting, super fast emulsioning, and they keep on working well in oil based eggshell, gloss… in chalk paint they are a 9/10.

Can you tell, we are proud of the Fox!And being made in the UK, they are very reasonable prices too. especially in bundles.

Best brush for chalk paint

I think the Wooster FTP is one the best conventional brushes for chalk paint. 2.5″ straight cut.



And this a * pure bristle brush for chalk paint AND wax.



Paint brush care

Taking care of brushes used in water-based paints can be as simple as washing out under a tap every couple of hours, before the paint goes off.

For a deeper clean, leave the brush in a pot of Krud kutter for an hour, or soak overnight if needed, and then wash out under a cool running tap. This will get most brushes perfectly clean.

When clean, flick the bristles out as dry as you can, shape the bristes with your fingers and lay it down somewhere safe on a piece of kitchen paper.

To minimise washing and waste and dirty tap water

Treat yourself to a * Brush Vest.

to keep the brush safe while in transit.

Or use the * Paint Brush Cover

Don’t clean your brush every day. Instead, at break times or overnight, place your brush in the cover.

It is designed for protecting bristles and keeping water based paint soft for a few days. It works well, designed for skinny brushes though. That is a Rembrandt, the stockier 2.5″ Fox won’t fit currently.

Store and Go! gel

This pot of gel will keep your water based AND oil based brushes in perfect condition for months. When you want a break or at the end of the day or at the end of a job, literally wipe off excess paint and dunk the brush into the gel. You can leave it an hour for lunch or with the lid on, 6 – 12 months, and when you come back, scrape gel off bristles into a scrap pot and carry on painting.


Paint doesn’t leach, it can’t.


Under £20, so much hassle saved, very eco friendly, the water savings are massive. What’s not to like!

Simple cleaning ensures a really nice synthetic paint brush will last you a long time and it will be a joy to use, and there should be some sense of peace of mind too, knowing that you are using the same kit that painters like me are using, rather than using cheapo brushes from B&Q that pros wouldn’t have much luck with either!

Paint conditioner in water based paints

Acrylic paint on woodwork gets a bad rap because people say it goes on stringy and you can’t get rid of brushmarks. That isn’t true.

IN CONVENTIONAL ACRYLIC PAINT, add Floetrol, up to 10%, instead of water. It is a colourless pure acrylic fluid, so does not diminish the qualities of conventional acrylic paints. ALso use a best brush!



IF USING COMPLEX WATER BORNE PAINTS JUST ADD WATER. If you are using a HI TECH PAINT, such as water-borne acrylates, please ask if it has been tested by the manufacturer before adding anything other than water.

Paint chemists will tell you that the Floetrol does extend the drying time of paint, which extends the curing time. This is sort of a moot point. New paint even if dry, needs to be left for about 2 weeks or so before it reaches full hardness. The small margin of extra time to be touch dry / cure overall, because of a conditioner, shouldn’t be cause for concern, just allow a bit longer.

Some decorators will tell you all conditioners are a waste of money! Thinking it through, at worst, if you add 10% Floetrol to most water based paint, you create 10% more usable paint. At best it will give you time to work the paint. And it will help the paint to lie flat with fewer / negligible brushmarks.

Where waste of time may apply, or rather, waste of a lot of time and money, is using XIM Latex Xtender. This is an alternative conditioner which some decorators are getting quite attached to. A few drops, keep topping up, turns the paint slippy and flows nicely. Be very careful in pure acrylic paint! It has been shown to discolour white Eico Alterior 100% acrylic paint. Floetrol has been proven not to do the same to the same paint.

XIM also contains an alcohol, which is sort of anathema to the durability of acrylic resin!

Paint conditioner in oil based paints

If you use oil paint, add Owatrol oil, up to 10%.

Again, with a bit of technique, the conditioner will help brushmarks flow out nicely. It does extend drying time, but having used a lot of it in Little Greene oil eggshell, this is not a problem.

A problem is extending the drying time of oil paints from the big trade players whose paint already takes much too long to dry anyway.

Good sandpaper

Abrasives have come a long way since Oakey sandpaper, the stuff that used to disintegrate and stink to high heaven when it got damp! Abranet is the way ahead, especially as it comes with such a simple starter kit that attaches to your Henry for instant professional dustless sanding!



Use 80 or 120 grade for rougher sanding.



Sanding between coats

If you use acrylic eggshell, on flat surfaces, sand between coats with 240 or 320 grade abranet, and your finish will be immaculate. On profiles use a spongy sanding pad, or if you have a lot to do, consider Mirka Gold Flex, which is a bit of a revelation for sanding edges without removing too much paint. (Mirka do provide many of the best sanding solutions on the market.)

Chalk paint can be sanded super glassy smooth, but really, there is no need to sand till you get to the first wax stage. It’s the Annie Sloan way and it really is much cleaner that way.

Across the range, Abranet is used on the roughest woodwork to the highest class autos. It is part of a dustless sanding system. I got started for with an Abranet starter kit which back in 2009 was between £25-£40. I have adopted the whole power sanding system too, but I still have this starter kit, and use it most days.

The system is a sanding block that plugs into your vacuum cleaner, plus some abrasives. Without seeing it, I know its a weird concept, but honestly, it has revolutionised decorating across the board. And this is what the basic kit looks like.



So you use the sanding block for flat areas, the dust goes straight down the tube into your vacuum. For fiddly bits, there are a variety of specialist sponges and blocks available, but for DIY to get the feel for it, the simplest option is an interface pad.

A starter kit comes with an interface pad, which is about 1/2″ thick foam with velcro. I take this pad off the sanding block and use it for sanding profiles.



Don’t bother cutting corners with other sandpaper, you will miss the whole point of Abranet and dustless sanding. (Dustless to the point that 90% + of dust should be captured at source. )

Exclusive Mirka offer

Traditional Painters work with Mirka, who we think are out-and-out fantastic company with a great ethos. They seem to like us too, and their distributors have put together an offer.

Readers of the Traditional Painter site can enjoy a tasty price on the Abranet Starter Kit – £33.07 delivered to your door

Also the Handy Kit for under £40 delivered. It is a great price, really.

Masking tape

So often I see demos on Youtube where a few pieces of masking tape in the right place would have raised the standard from sloppy DIY to thoughtful professional. 3M Scotch Blue 2090 is reliable and easy to get hold of. *Dolphin is also a reliable blue tape used by Traditional Painters and about half the price of the 3M range.



Don’t buy from a Dulux Decorator merchant though, price ways, they will pull your pants down, so to speak. Shop for tapes on-line for a much more reasonable price.

Floor protection

No point painting furniture and flooring.

A roll of lining paper works well, or a sheet of One Tuff if you like your floor protection tuff and fluff free. Cotton dust sheets or newspaper, nooooooooooo – that is making life hard for yourself.

Make time
You are also committing your free time to this project, because even with the best will in the world, no plug-and-play-and-leave machine can do the work for you. I don’t know about you, but there are only so many hours in a day, definitely not unlimited spare time.



I hope this run down of equipment will help you make your next purchases count and maximise the return on your money and time!

That is the kit, how do I actually paint pine furniture?

There are thousands of blogs and forums that talk about painting pine and painting pine furniture. I see a lot of misconceptions floating around, and home DIY painters especially, are getting in trouble, unnecessarily, following duff advice, or not understanding a few simple principles.

Painting pine properly is not super easy, but with a few thoughts in the forefront of your mind, any keen painter can achieve excellent results.

Rather than me talking in abstracts this links to an article I wrote that uses the exact same principles outlined above:

Paint a pine table with Little Greene paint & Mirka CEROS

When you have read that, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of the practical steps and the principles. However, there are lots of combinations of primers and paints for different surfaces, so by all means come back here, and below is a series of step by steps to paint varnished furniture, paint waxed furniture etc

Painting pine furniture the professional ways

When it comes to preparing pine furniture for painting, if you want a professional looking finish, there is no choice: it should be done to the best of your ability. When deciding which primers and finish paint to use on pine furniture, there is choice. Oil based or water based, or a combination of the two.

All the paints and products mentioned, I use them and stand by them (unless I say otherwise). Some suppliers are listed in the lower information section of the page.

Armed with a good paint brush, abranet abrasives, vacuum cleaner with brush attachment, decent paint, a few bits and bobs, and the tips and tricks below, you are good to go!

Oil based finish on pine furniture

I think the combination of water-based primer, oil based undercoat, oil-based eggshell is the solution numero uno that ticks all the boxes for the most durable and, in my opinion, the most beautiful traditional paint finish possible on timber:

Clean the pine– If woodwork is fairly clean, wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!) When it has evaporated off, sand with 120 or 180 grade Abranet abrasive paper, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.

Or, if the woodwork is waxy or filthy, . Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quicker and cleaner end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above. (See Annie Sloan chalk paint below if you cannot stand the prospect of too much preparation of waxy pine.)

Prime pine – Prime with Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer, which is water-based low VOC low odour. (The contents of the Blackfriars tin are in fact re-branded Classidur Universal Primer which historically adheres to any surface better than any other primer available to the decorating trade. It has a lot of body too.) Mythic Universal primer is on a par with the Blackfriars paint for this scenario. It is fantastic to apply, but because of its consistency, I would specify 2 coats of Mythic primer on new timber versus one of the Blackfriars.

For water based primer, use a Wooster Silver Tip, Proform Picasso, Rembrandt or Corona Knight brush to give yourself the best chance of a nice finish.

Undercoat – apply a coat of oil-based undercoat tinted to the colour of the top coat. (I use Little Greene oil undercoat, as it has body and dries as expected. I used to favour Dulux Trade undercoat for this sort of work, but I’m not confident with Dulux formulas these days.)

Fill – When the u/c has dried overnight ideally, do any filling of dents over the undercoat; sand smooth. 2-pack filler is most sensible choice.

Eggshell finish – Apply 2 coats of Little Greene Oil Eggshell, sanding between coats and cleaning with a tack rag. Prior to last coat, sand with 240 or 320 grade for a lovely finish.

Brush tip! If this is a one-off project, just buy one 2″ Wooster Alpha, for the whole job. Clean it out after priming in water-based. When you have finished with the oil u/c, if you have a little Brushmate vapour box, there’s no need to clean the brush out.

Finish with the undercoating, then use a scraper and piece of lining paper to get out as much paint as you can, then work the brush in to the eggshell. By the time you are onto the second coat of eggshell, the brush will be perfect.

Water-based finish on pine furniture

On unpainted timber, a combination of oil based primer, and water-based eggshell will get you very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine. It is based on what I have picked up from the most knowledgeable residential painter I have ever encountered, US painter, Jack Pauhl.

When starting from bare pine, please bear in mind that water-based primer and water-based topcoats will do little to disguise the grain of the wood. The finish will be tough, it is low odour and nice to apply, but 2 coats of a quick-drying oil-based primer like Zinsser Coverstain, although rather smelly, is the best start to a more solid water-based finish.

Prepare pine– Preparation is same as above ie If woodwork is fairly clean, wipe it thoroughly with a lint-free rag dampened with Krudkutter Original or white spirit or meths. (Not dripping!) Sand with 120 or 180 grade abranet, using a foam sanding pad for intricate areas.

Or, if the woodwork is waxy or filthy, . Krudkutter Original with scourers achieves a quicker and cleaner end result. Leave to dry overnight and then sand as above. (See Annie Sloan chalk paint below if you cannot stand the prospect of too much preparation of waxy pine.)

Knot and prime pine For a belt and braces approach, use Zinsser Aerosol to seal knots and then prime with Zinsser Cover Stain (oil-based paint) These are superb trade products that dry quickly. On small projects, you can have the surface sealed and primed twice in a day, ready for finishing the next day.

Fill over first coat of primer Now you can see the blemishes, do any filling, and sand smooth. (2 pack fillers are good bet.)

Re-prime Apply second coat of Zinsser Cover Stain.

Acrylic eggshell finish Sand the coverstain smooth with 180 abranet. It will sand down easily to a glassy finish. and apply 2 coats of acrylic eggshell, sanding with 240 or finer Abranet between coats.

If using Farrow and Ball Estate eggshell, which is an oil-water-borne hybrid, the correct approach is to apply one coat of F&B primer -undercoat over the coverstain! If you paint F&B eggshell straight over Coverstain, or any primer other than Farrow and Ball’s, they will not entertain your complaint if there are any issues. Slow drying, no drying, flaking, to name but 3 issues I have encountered or heard about.

As you can see, this approach with oil primer plus acrylic topcoats is a bit more thorough than the slap-it-on-quick technique that many people are lead to believe is the advantage of using water-based eggshell.

You need a really good technique to avoid brush marks in acrylic eggshell. I cover this elsewhere on the site under Brushes.

100% water-based products for painting pine furniture

100% acrylic water-based primer, brushing filler and water-based eggshell plus patience will achieve very close to a beautiful “oil-based” finish on pine using water-based products only! I developed this system on a 2011 project where absolutely no oil paint was allowed on site, but the finish on the woodwork had to be 5 star.

Prepare surface
Apply one coat Blackfriars Problem-Solving Primer or 2 coats Mythic Universal primer to seal surface and block stains from knots etc.
Apply 2 heavy coats of Acrylic Gesso, leave 24 hours and sand smooth with 180 grade Abranet.
Apply 1 primer undercoat, and 2 topcoats of acrylic eggshell.

That works!

The acrylic gesso is used by artists who prime canvas to create a super smooth substrate before painting. It is water-based and the consistency is like a cross between liquid filler and oil-based undercoat. ie it has body and builds up the surface to give a nice hard base for the rest of the water-based paints. It involves more work than priming with just an oil primer, (2 extra coats, extra sanding, extra time) but where customers with high expectations for quality require zero/low VOC, no/low odour paints, this is the way ahead.

Painting over previously painted furniture

Repainting over old oil paint, I would have no hesitation in recommending an all water-based approach ie 2 coats of Mythic Universal primer plus 2 coats of acrylic finish (Mythic semi gloss, or Little Greene acrylic eggshell, Sikkens BL Satura, to name but 3 that come with glowing references.)

The hard work for preparing a solid surface has already been done by the old oil paint, so as long as it is solid, you can achieve a really solid and durable finish, slightly more plastic sheeny than oil eggshell, but very acceptable in 95% of cases.

Painting waxy pine furniture with minimal preparation

Try Annie Sloan chalk paint for a real country look to your pine furniture. This is a very clever product that thrives on wax and grease. Minimal preparation required except on knots, which you need to seal with a couple of coats of aerosol Zinssser BIN.

Then apply 2 coats of chalk paint and seal with clear wax or varnish. This is how boy decorators use Annie Sloan Chalk paint.

You can tint the wax, or wipe on / rub off to reveal the backing colours, distress, age, or keep it conventional. See Cait at Carte Blanche for the full inside story and Annie Sloan supplies.

Painting laminate

Sometimes furniture is made up of different materials. The interior of a pine cupboard may have an easy wipe finish? Here is how to paint a laminate finish.



Furniture painter specialists to do the painting for you

If you would rather have a professional furniture painter transform a piece of furniture for you, contact one of these specialist furniture painters in your area. Trustworthy and switched on, they have their own slightly different approach to their work, but fundamentally, we all sing off the same hymn sheet. Correct material choice and thorough workmanship is the way to go.

For ready-reckoner budgeting, think in terms of £150 for a chest of drawers to £250 for a good size wardrobe for a flat paint finish. Nicky Hancock of HK Art or Martin Dunn are 2 craftsmen on the list who also offer fine-artistic additions, and most offer decorative paint finishes. If you have a suite of good quality furniture, it usually makes sense on every level to employ a pro, as you would be hard-pushed to replace one piece for the cost of the painting of the suite. If you have a one-off not-so-special piece of furniture, then experience says that it is probably a DIY project.

Extra tips

The ideal surface is new, unpainted timber. However, unpainted second-hand pieces will accumulate dirt and layers of wax etc which can fatally affect the adhesion of most paint. As a rule of thumb, with poor prep, all your good work could be for nought, so even though the primers available nowadays are really high performance, I don’t skimp on prep, and regardless of the primers I use, I try go the extra mile to get timber surfaces clean. Therefore,

As an alternative cleaning agent to white spirit or meths, or Langlow Wood Reviver or Liberon Wax Remover, try Krudkutter Original, which is an eco friendly biodegradable cleaner which decorators use to clean really dirty or waxy surfaces quicky. Wipe on with a scourer, leave for a few minutes, and while still damp, scrub down. Wipe with a lint free cloth like a Mirka microfibre. Repeat if necessary.)

Once cleaned down, the surface is ready for sanding. The aim of sanding is to provide a key for the paint, so 180 is minimum grade roughness you should use to prepare with. At the other extreme, don’t use coarse 60 grade – you don’t want to create ugly gouges and scratches. That doesn’t add character, that screams poor workmanship! I am practically down to only one type of abrasive, Abranet.

The conventional decorating specification for woodwork always starts, with kps – knot, prime stop.

If you have knots, (which can continue to exude resin for years afterwards) the text decorating books say to “knot” them ie traditionally you would seal the knots with shellac knotting (brown) or clear styptic knotting.

That is very old hat, and there are alternatives, which I now prefer.

Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer or Mythic Universal Primer These are high adhesion water-based primers that prime AND seal knots and stains. One coat Blackfriars or 2 coats of Mythic Universal Primer. (Be aware that if surfaces are in direct sunlight, knots can leak through any sealer).If in doubt, Zinsser BIN is about the last resort and if that fails ot seal a knot, there isn’t much left to do except drill out the knot and fill it

Zinsser Bullseye or other quick drying primers are user-friendly and have good stain-blocking abilities, just not as good as the 2 above options. However one option that has worked for me is to prepare and paint the whole surface first with a water-based primer. The dark shadow of knots will show through the white primer, and you seal those with a couple of sprays with aerosol Zinsser BIN.

Bear in mind that some knots will weep beyond the capabilities of any paint coating, and will literally lift the paint and break through it. The ultimate solution is to drill the knot out and fill it. Or view it as character!

If you are priming over factory lacquered pine, the lacquer coating should have had a stain blocker added to it, so knots should have been sealed in for good. However if you are priming with anything other than Blackfriars or Mythic primers, it might be a good idea to spot spray Zinsser BIN over visible knots.

All the above primers dry within minutes and can be overpainted the same day.

Types of filler
Fill any obvious holes with a 2-pack filler or wood stopper, but not a standard “poly” filler which is too soft.

You could use linseed oil putty or a plastic wood – . Wipe any excess putty or plastic wood off the surface with a rag. Putty skins over sufficiently overnight for painting. Use a chisel to level off plastic wood.

For cracked joints, I use acrylic caulk sparingly before the first top coat.

The extent of your filling is very subjective. I could skim and fill the grain of old pine furniture with Toupret Gras a Lacquer till it had a porcelain blemish free finish, but I think it is pointless and detracts from the fact it is pine. I fill obvious nail holes, and then make a judgement on where I stop. Judging by customers’ responses to the quality of my paintwork, so far, so good! Fillers and primers are getting quite complex bedfellows these days.


For an oil finish, after priming, you should either undercoat once, topcoat twice, 3 x topcoats. I am a big fan of tinting the undercoat as close to the top coat colour as possible. Dulux oil undercoat was as good as any under Little Greene or other oil eggshell finishes but I tend ot stick with LG now. (Mark at Broken Cross Decorators Merchants in Macclesfield or any merchant with a machine should be able to tint primers and undercoats to match whatever you need for topcoats.)

Next day, sand down well with 220 grade abrasive, clean off with vacuum/tack rag; apply acrylic caulk to joints, let it dry (2 hours is enough) then apply first topcoat of oil eggshell paint, dry overnight, sanding between coats with 320 grade abrasive, cleaning with vacuum and tack rag, repeat. Done

I now use Little Greene Paint Company exterior / interior oil based eggshell on furniture and kitchen units.

In general terms, water based eggshell paint still doesn’t do it for me when a 5 star finish is required on furniture that has never been painted before – UNLESS it is premium grade joinery. There is always a balance with “perfect” because, you have to decide, do you want this laminate-looking finish on a characterful piece of reclaimed pine? I know I don’t, but the laminate look is growing in popularity, so maybe I am out of touch!

Beware painting furniture in white oil paint The 2010 VOC regulations have thrown most of the paint industry into a tizz and they are having real trouble formulating white eggshell and gloss. Lots of evidence that it is prematurely yellowing, Dulux especially, as the highest profile manufacturer. Drying times have also extended.

Thus far, Little Greene oil eggshell still performs as expected, and in normal conditions, I have had no problems sanding down first coats of eggshell the following day.


Remember, this technique is great for reviving pine and oak furniture, a truly eco recycling strategy, but think long and hard before applying a hand-painted finish to an inlaid, veneered table and / or antique item. Better to sell them and buy a more modestly constructed piece for painting.