Painting can be hard. However, it’s very rewarding and one of the easiest home improvement projects to DIY.

Painting over stained wood is a slow and boring process, but don’t let it stop you. The outcome can be awesome if you have some time, effort, and patience.

What if the home you moved into already had stained wood? Can you paint over stained wood doors and windows? You can, but if you want it to look good and last a long time, you need to do it right.

You might be wondering – what kind of paint do you use on stained wood? We got the answer to this question, and many others, in this guide.

Can You Paint Over a Stain?

Can-You-Paint-Over-a-Stain What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Stained wood can look pretty cool, but it’s not for everyone. If you want to paint over it, can you? The answer depends on the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to the project and your skill level.

Stained wood can have a thin, protective topcoat, which makes it more durable and easier to wash. The coat could be polyurethane, varnish, oil-finish, or lacquer. It could also be water-based or oil-based.

Chances are, you probably don’t know exactly how the topcoat was made. Unless, of course, you manufactured the wood yourself. Here are some universal tips that will give you the best possible outcome.

Can-You-Paint-Over-a-Stain1 What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

The varnish used as the topcoat can contain paint-repelling elements. As a result, latex paint won’t be able to stick to the wood. You need to dull, clean, and prime the surface before you get to painting. Then, seal the surface with shellac primer. That prevents tannins from bleeding through the new coat of paint.

Ultimately, the process will differ based on the stain, the condition of the wood, and whether or not you’re working with furniture. If you can do everything right, the paint will look great and last you a long time.

Prepare the Wood Before You Paint Over the Stain

Varnished wood needs to be stripped first. If the wood is old, you might not be able to tell if it’s varnished. Run your hand over the wood to feel if it’s smooth or not. Unvarnished wood will feel rough.

If you want your paint to adhere to the wood well, you need to do a few things beforehand.

Stripping varnish

Stripping-varnish What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

For this step, you will need putty knives, metal picks, rags, and a well-ventilated space. If the wood can be moved (for example furniture), take it outside or to the garage. If you can’t move the wood, protect the floor with drop cloths and mask off adjacent areas with tape.

Getting the varnish off is a necessary process. It will take a few days to finish the job.

Clean the surface

Clean-the-surface What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Clean the wood. Remove any signs of dirt, dust, grease, and polish. Use a strong pre-paint cleaner. For example, you can mix TSP powder with hot water.

Dry the surface

Dry-the-surface What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

The surface needs to dry completely before the next step.

Put on safety goggles and gloves. Turn on a fan or any other type of ventilation. Dissolve a quarter cup of trisodium phosphate in one gallon of warm water.

Get a sponge and wet it in the mixture. Wipe the surface with the sponge. The sponge will soak up all the dirt and grime. Keep going until the surface is clean. Then, let it dry.


Dull What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Use 80 to 120 grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge to sand the surface. This process will dull the sheen and create a more suitable texture for the primer to adhere to. If there is no clear coating on the wood, it will remove the “mill glaze” and open the wood up for the primer.

After sanding, wipe down the surface with a cloth to remove all the dust.


stain-blocking-primer What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

If you’re priming a clear-coated surface, you’ll need an adhesion-promoting primer. If you’re working with wood that doesn’t have a clear finish or can’t act as a barrier between the wood and the primer, use a stain-blocking primer. If you want the best results, use a primer that solves both of these issues.

Painting over old wood will require filling cracks and holes and repairing chipped edges. Make these repairs after the primer has dried. Primer makes it easier for paint and filling materials, such as plastic wood or sparkling compound, to adhere to the wood.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood?

The answer depends on whether the stain is water-based or oil-based. It also depends on the kind of paint you want to use. The combination of oil-based paint over a water-based stain will do the job well. Water-based paint over an oil-based stain, however, will not work.

Latex primer and paint for painting over a water-based wood stain

Latex-primer What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Paint adheres well over water-based stains, so those are easier to deal with. Apply a water-based latex primer with a brush or a roller after the above steps. Ask the store where you bought the primer to tint it to a similar color as the paint. Then, apply a coat of latex paint over the primer. Wait for the first coat to dry overnight, and apply another coat.

Oil paint for painting over an oil-based wood stain

oil-based-sand-ing What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Oil paint has an attractive shine, but it takes much longer to dry. If you’re working with wooden cabinets, doors, trim, or bathrooms, consider taking the extra time and using oil paint. The results will be more durable and attractive. The wood will look nice and glossy.

Sand the surface with sandpaper and prime with an oil-based primer or “123” latex primer. Apply two coats of primer. Remember that the darker stains will be harder to cover.

oil-based-primer What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

Oil paint doesn’t really leave brush strokes, but it’s harder to work with. It also has deadly fumes, so you must work in a well-ventilated area.

oil-based-paint What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stained Wood (Answered)

To summarize, oil-based paint needs extra ventilation and more drying time than water-based paint. It also contains more volatile organic compounds. It does, however, offer better results.

Ending thoughts on what kind of paint do you use on stained wood?

Painting over stained wood can give your furniture a new and fresh look. You can make your home look more modern if you want, or rustic and vintage. Painting is an easy and effective tool, if only you know how to do it right.

You can paint over any stain as long as you follow the priming procedure. Use the correct stain-blocking primer to make the process easier.

We hope that this guide has been helpful! You can now embark on your wood-painting journey equipped with the right materials.

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