How to Refurbish a Desk

After months of sitting at our kitchen counter, hunched over our laptops, we’ve finally accepted it: We're long overdue to create a WFH setup that’s actually comfortable. The first step? A proper desk. We teamed up with Ford to show you how to upcycle an old wooden desk with help from the 2021 Ford F-150. Thanks to the available Tailgate Work Surface and the available Pro Power Onboard, which allows you to charge up all your tools using the mobile generator, this truck is here to make this easy weekend DIY even easier. See the full instructions below for how to transform a tattered desk to look like new. For even more inspiration, check out our full list of summer projects here.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  • ½ gal. oil-based primer
  • ½ gal. interior latex paint of desired color and finish
  • Power sander
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush

Step 2: Sand Desk

Roughing up the surface in this way will help the new paint stick. Pro tip: Always sand with the grain of the wood and pay attention to corners and hard-to-reach areas of the desk. Sand any rotten or broken spots until you reach smooth, healthy wood.

Step 3: Wipe Clean

If dust is still clinging to the surface of the desk after sanding, then it could lead to a rough paint job. Wipe all the sawdust off before applying any primer.

Step 4: Prime and Let Dry

There are three kinds of primer: oil, pigmented shellac and latex. Different primers work better on different surfaces, so the kind of primer you choose should be based on the material your desk is made of. If your desk is made of unfinished, weathered, varnished wood or wood that bleeds tannins, such as cedar, you should opt for an oil-based primer. Use a latex-based primer if you are painting pine, brick or concrete. Try a pigmented shellac primer for dealing with water, tannin or smoke stains.

Step 5: Paint

Avoid paints with a flat finish because the surface will then be hard to clean. Any paint that has a glossy finish will be aesthetically pleasing and easy to wash. Use the paintbrush to paint the crevices first. Next, use a foam roller on the flat surfaces of the desk. The foam roller will save you time and prevent brush strokes from being visible.

angela pares

VP, Design + Branded Content

Angela Pares is the VP of Design + Branded Content at Gallery Media Group, where she oversees the ideation and execution of sponsored content campaigns across PureWow, ONE37pm and...