How to Paint a Dollhouse

paint brushes

If you've just received your first wooden dollhouse kit, you're probably excited about choosing fun and exciting paint colors. We don't blame you--figuring out a dollhouse color palette is one of the best parts about personalizing your dollhouse. 

Of course, there are so many colors to choose from--as well as lots of kinds of paints, too. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, which is why we put together this post about how to paint a dollhouse. Here's what you need to know about nailing the dollhouse painting.

Dollhouse Paint Schemes

Just like when it comes to your real house, you can paint your dollhouse an almost endless spectrum of colors. 

Of course, you can choose any combination of colors you like. If you have a period house (Victorian, Georgian, etc.), it's worth checking out images of real houses from that time period if you want to conform to traditionally used paint schemes. Your local library or a quick web search can help you research dollhouse paint schemes for your home's era.

Another great tool to use is an online color palette generator. It can share complementary color schemes for almost any shade imaginable. There are lots of free tools you can use online--just two are Coolors and Adobe Color Wheel

Dollhouse Paint Supplies to Have on Hand

Anyone who's put together a wooden dollhouse kit knows that there are a seemingly endless amount of dollhouse building supplies needed to get the job done. And paint tools are part of that list. Before you start, here is everything you'll want on hand beyond the actual paint:

  • Paint brushes in a variety of sizes
  • Work clothes and/or an apron
  • Wood glue
  • Fine glasspaper (grade 0 or 00) or fine sandpaper (grade 220)
  • Paper towels
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Interior plastic filler
  • Orange stick
  • Spray on primer
  • Emery board
  • X Acto knife
  • Bright colored paint tape

The Best Dollhouse Paint for Your Dollhouse Kit

Your dollhouse kit instructions should have a recommendation about the best paints to use. If not, here are some tips on finding the best dollhouse paint:

  • Emulsion paint: interior walls and ceilings
  • Satin, eggshell, and semi-glass latex paint: Exterior walls, doors, window frames, and roofs
  • Eggshell and flat latex paint: Interior walls
  • Specialty acrylic craft wood paints: works on any wood surface on your dollhouse

Avoid using gloss paints on anything but the front door of your dollhouse, as they tend to look too shiny on a dollhouse. 

How to Paint a Dollhouse

Now that you chose your paint, it's time to apply those lovely colors. Like a real house, there's some prep work you'll want to do before you paint your dollhouse. Here's the steps to follow:

  1. Remove any Plexiglass components, doors, and windows before you start painting.
  2. Assemble the dollhouse shell first if the instructions recommend it. Use a quality wood glue and avoid using a hot glue gun. Paint smaller components (doors, trim, windows, railings, etc.) separately before you install them into your dollhouse. If your instructions don't specify, you can choose to paint before or after assembly based on your personal preference and the complexity of your dollhouse kit.
  3. Tape off any parts you don't want to paint. Use an X Acto knife to create clean edges.
  4. Sand each piece of wood with glasspaper or sandpaper until the wood is smooth. The first coat tends to pull out the most wood bits, making sanding an essential step.
  5. Use an orange stick to fill in any cracks with wood fill or spackle. Don't skip this step--you'd be surprised at how noticeable small imperfections will appear later. Regular spackle like you use for your house is great; just fill in the crack, let it dry, and smooth with sandpaper.
  6. Sand over the areas you filled in and then use a microfiber cloth to sweep away any dust. Use an emery board to sand down small or hard-to-reach areas.
  7. Consider using a primer on surfaces. While this step isn't completely necessary, many pros recommend it. 
  8. Apply your first coat of paint after the primer dries.
  9. Lightly sand the painted surfaces once they dry. Then apply the second coat of paint. 
  10. Apply a third coat of paint after the second coat dries. Make sure to sand between the second and third coats of paint. (Avoid sanding after the final coat of paint.)

Dollhouse Painting Tips

Here are a few tips to make painting a dollhouse kit go smoothly:

  • Use a variety of brush sizes. This is especially important when it comes to getting into tiny nooks and crannies.
  • Be on the lookout for any drips and use paper towels to sop them up ASAP.
  • Flat white interior latex paint can work as a primer--and you can later mix it with acrylic or craft paint to create your own colors.
  • Small sample paints from hardware stores tend to be less expensive than craft paints from hobby stores and work just as well.
  • Remember that the glossier the paint, the more imperfections will show.
  • Dry fit your house before you paint to make sure each part properly fits together. 
  • Never prime or paint any surface you later wish to stain.
  • Buy the best quality brushes you can afford. Flat cut artist brushes with white or synthetic brushes tend to work really well.
  • You can use a foam brush to paint large areas. Just make sure to use a different brush for each coat of paint--foam brushes tend to pick up small bits of wood during each application.
  • Thinner coats of paint lay best.
  • If you plan on wallpapering your dollhouse, apply flat white paint to the interior walls. Doing this gives a better surface color for the dollhouse wallpaper.
  • Always work from top to bottom when you paint a dollhouse.

We hope this post helped you get a handle on how to paint a dollhouse. If you have any tried-and-true dollhouse painting tips, please share them in the comments below!


  • Erin Angel

    I will be working on my first dollhouse and I thank you for your excellent information and tips. I will be sure to follow them and look forward to the end result.

  • Mischa

    Thanks for compiling this! My first kit is arriving this week, and this makes me feel a lot more confident about painting it!

  • KAren bAtchelor

    I am building a dollhouse from scratch from a house plan I love and can use any tips☮️

  • Brenda

    My 1st dollhouse is coming soon an researching before I start. Thank you for this much needed information!

  • Paula Fortucci

    Thank you for your article. I have a wooden dollhouse for 30yrs. My ex did a great job on the roof. I had to sand #and numbers he put on the exterior walls with a black marker. I’m not so crafty but I’m going to do my best with your information. Thanks again

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