A fairly common question in the DIY/Home Improvement community is, “Can you paint over stain?” There are a lot of how-to articles and social-media posts about painting over stained wood, and while most of them have a couple of the steps correct, a lot of it is oversimplified and may actually cause you to damage your wood. The simple answer is YES! It’s somewhat unusual, but it’s definitely not brain surgery. The most important thing to realize when painting a stained piece of wood is that ALL stains bleed, and this is something that we must address. This post will walk you through painting over any stain with 5 Simple Steps!
1. Prepare the wood you are going to paint
When painting, it is always a good idea to protect the area you are painting in. Be sure to use drop clothes, and clear the area of other items before you begin. If the item is multiple pieces, this is when you want to disassemble it and safely store any hardware until this process is complete. The next step is cleaning your wood. A lot of people skip this step, but oils and dirt are going to greatly hinder the sanding process in the next step. One great choice, and arguably the industry standard, is TSP. Follow the instructions on whatever cleaner you use and then move on to filling any chips or cracks. You can use any wood filler to fix these unsightly defects in your wood. Now, let your patches dry, and move on to step 2!
2. Degloss or sand
Here, we are trying to remove any sealers, varnishes, or other shiny coatings. You can choose to use a deglosser, or simply sand. When using deglossers, be sure to follow the directions on the bottle closely. This stuff is extremely dangerous, and can cause damage to yourself as well as your pets. It will save loads of time however, and with simple safety precautions, there is nothing to worry about! The more time-consuming, but safer option, is sanding! Start with a 120-150 grit sandpaper, and sand until the wood is smooth and no longer shiny. The amount of sanding necessary depends wholly on the state of the wood, and the amount of gloss present. If the wood was never varnished, the only thing you need to do during this step is sand down any rough bits. Time to move on to the most important step!
3. Prime the wood with a STAIN-BLOCKING primer
No matter what kind of stain or what color of stain your wood has, you MUST prime with a stain-blocking or stain-killing primer. For light stains, Kilz Original is a great choice, as it generally won’t need more than one coat. For heavier, dark stains, you’ll have to bring in the big guns. BIN White Shellac primer is a top-of-the line Primer that should cover most any stain in a single coat. When priming your wood, you MAY need to use more than one coat. If that happens to be the case, be sure to wait for each coat to dry, then sand between coats. After sanding, clean up your dust and apply the next coat! Be sure to use even brush strokes or a sprayer, as some brush strokes will be visible when the piece is complete.
4. Let’s get Caulking
Before you cleaned and primed your wood, you may not have noticed a few of the unsightly cracks that may now show up. This is when you want to use some kind of quality painter’s caulk to fill in all of these cracks! Why now, and not before sanding? Dry caulk cannot be sanded, and many of the cracks may not have been visible during that step. When caulking, use a dripping wet rag to wipe away all of the excess caulk, remove any visible water, and allow the piece to fully dry. You are finally ready to move onto what you came here for… PAINTING!
5. Paint and enjoy!
Now that you have fully prepared your wood, it is time to move on to the best part. When painting your primed wood, use as many coats as is necessary to get your desired effect. Between coats, be sure to lightly sand with a 220 grit or finer sandpaper and wipe off any dust. Continue until your piece is complete!
If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to make that old piece of furniture or newly uncovered hardwood floor look incredible! Be sure to invest in quality gear and take safety into account. While this is a safe and fun process, some of the chemicals can be quite nasty. Follow the product’s instructions and paint away!