Choosing a Color
Study the surrounding color scheme and room design where your folding table lives. You may want to make the table a focal piece by painting it a bold accent color and contrasting that with chairs in a different color, or you can paint the table to blend into the room and instead create subtle texture with the type of paint your choose and the application method. Cooler colors, like blues, greens and white hues, open up and energize a room, while warm yellows, reds and oranges create an enveloping, cozy feel.
Preparing to Paint
Prepare your folding table before painting for better results. Clean the table thoroughly with mild soap and a scrub brush. Use wood cleaner if the table is made of wood. Wipe the table down and let it dry completely. Purchase appropriate paint and primer for your folding table. Some folding tables have a stop, vinyl top, so use vinyl or latex paint; it's a bit flexible and won't crack if properly sealed. Purchase primer for an even color and finish, and a clear sealant to preserve your paint job. When ready to paint, place a drop cloth below and around the table and over any furniture. Tape down the edges of the table top if you want to paint it a different color than the legs.
Prime the table with the white primer, using a back and forth motion with a large brush for the bigger areas and smaller brush for corners and details. Prime only the legs if you're painting the top a different color. Let the table dry completely overnight. Apply the paint to the legs as you did the primer. Let it dry completely overnight. Remove the tape from the table top. Apply primer to the top and let it dry overnight. Apply a coat of paint the next day using the same technique as with the legs. Let the paint dry completely. Apply a clear sealant to the entire table for protection from wear and tear.
Tips and Variations
Avoid painting folding joints and hardware--if they're not visible--so that the table won't stick while folding and unfolding. If you want to add texture to your paint job, use a faux finish technique, like rag rolling, or a pattern application, like herringbone, in a lighter wash on top of a base coat. For a lacquered look, apply several layers of high-gloss paint. If you'd like a no-paint alternative for a folding table makeover, apply contact paper, wallpaper or decals to it. Use a large image of something like a bird or flower, or use small decals to create a repeating motif.