How Do I Paint Wood

How Do I Paint Wood?

Have you ever caught yourself gazing at your old, tired, and weathered wooden furniture and frames?

Are you wondering whether you can save yourself a few quid by bringing your wooden surfaces back to life with a fresh lick of paint?

Well, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can. In fact, painting wood is one of the most popular ways to upcycle old wood.

I’ve personally helped with lots of wooden upcycling projects, and I have years of experience decorating wooden surfaces.

In this blog, I’ll share my step-by-step guide to painting wood and tell you what tools and materials you’ll need for the job. Not only that, but I’ll delve into what type of paint you’ll need for the job and whether you can paint wood without a primer.

Let’s begin!

Man holding a paintbrush and painting wood

How Do I Paint Wood For Beginners?

When it comes to painting wooden surfaces, it’s not much different to painting walls. So whether it’s your skirting boards, windows, doors, garden shed, or fence, you’ll be able to paint your wooden surfaces with a little bit of DIY savvy.

Just follow the steps below for painting woodwork:

Wood Painting Materials

To paint wood, you’ll need to grab the following materials. You can purchase these from any local DIY store in your area.

  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • 220 fine grade sandpaper
  • Caulk
  • Wood Filler
  • Primer
  • Decorator’s Tape
  • Paint suitable for use on wood

Wood Painting Tools

Also, you’ll need to have the following tools available:

  • Paint brushes
  • Scrapper
  • Putty knife
  • Rollers
  • Paint trays
  • Drop cloths
  • Stirring stick

How Do You Prepare Wood For Painting?

As with any painting task, preparation is crucial to a good-quality finish. 

If you fail to prepare your surface before painting, you’re setting yourself up for a low-quality finish.

Here is all the prep work you’ll need to complete:

  1. The first step for preparing wooden surfaces for painting is to clean the surface. Take your sponge and use warm, soapy water to clean any dust, dirt, and grime off the wood.
  2. Take your 120-grit sandpaper and begin sanding down the wood. After sanding the surface for a while, switch to the fine-grade sandpaper and lightly sand the surface with this sandpaper.
  3. Next, you need to fill the surface to prepare the wood for painting. Press the filler into any cracks, holes, or imperfections in the wood using your putty knife. After you have filled the wood, smooth out the filler with the putty knife. Once the filler has dried, gently sand the surface until it’s smooth.
  4. The final step to prepare your wood for painting is priming the surface. Apply your primer onto the wood using either a brush or a roller. After the primer dries, the wooden surface is ready to paint.

How To Paint Wood Like A Pro?

If you followed all of the above steps, your wood is now prepared and primed, ready for paint.

Let’s begin:

  1. Crack open your tins of paint and give it a stir with your stirring stick. Stirring your paint ensures it is consistent and easy to apply.
  2. Pour some of your paint into your paint trays ready to be used.
  3. Take your brush and begin cutting in the edges of the surface. You’ll want to cut in about 2 inches of the edges. Leaving this much space will help the edges to blend in with the rest of the paint coat.
  4. Once you finish cutting in the edges, you can use a roller to paint the larger areas of your surface. When you apply the paint, you want to work in consistent strokes to ensure a uniform finish.
  5. After you have painted the first coat of paint on the wood, allow it to dry.
  6. After it’s dried, you need to apply the second coat of paint. After the second coat of paint is dry, you can enjoy your newly painted wood.

If any of the above steps feel a little too advanced for you, you can always contact a professional painter and decorator for help.

Painted wooden surface next to a tin of paint with a paint brush

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Wood?

Acrylic and oil-based paints are my favourite paints to use when painting wooden surfaces.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these paints:

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints are the most popular type of wood paint. They are a water-based paint and provide an excellent finish for painting wooden surfaces.

Here’s the pros of using acrylic paints to paint wood:

  • They are less toxic than oil-based paints because they are water-based. As a result, they are a safer option for painting wood.
  • Water-based paints are easier to clean up. So, when it comes to cleaning your paintbrush and roller, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

Here are the cons:

  • Water-based paints are less durable than oil-based paints.
  • Acrylic paints are thinner than oil-based paints, which makes it harder to get a smooth finish when you apply them to a surface.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints are also a popular choice for painting wood surfaces.

Let’s take a look at the pros of using oil-based paints to paint wood:

  • Oil-based paints have a longer open time. That means they stay wet longer than water-based paints, making them easier to apply because you’ll have more time to work them into the surface.
  • Oil-based paints have better moisture resistance than water-based paints. As a result, they provide a more durable finish for wooden surfaces regularly exposed to moisture, such as kitchen cabinets.

Now, the cons:

  • Oil-based paints contain more VOCs (the toxic fumes released from paints) than water-based paints. So, even though they will provide a quality paint finish, they’ll bring a strong odour with them also.
  • They have a longer drying time than water-based paints, so you’ll have to wait longer before you can move your furniture back into your newly painted room.

You can purchase these paints from your local DIY store in a range of finishes, including:

  • Matte
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss
  • Gloss
Wooden surface being painted with a roller and white paint

Painting Over Old Paint On Wood

When repainting already painted wood surfaces, the process is pretty much the same as painting bare wood.

When painting over already painted wood, you might be able to skip applying a primer depending on the condition of the wood finishes. However, you’ll probably need a little advice from a painter before making that judgement call.

Apart from that, the preparation steps are the same, and you’ll still need to apply two coats of paint when you paint wooden surfaces that are alreadypainted.

Paint brush next to a tin of paint used to paint a wooden door

Painting Bare Wood Without Primer

Always use a primer before painting bare wood.

Applying primers to bare wood helps to seal the surface, which makes it easier to paint the wood. That’s because sealing the wood will ensure the paint is not rapidly absorbed into the wood, resulting in a more even wood finish.

Also, when you prime wooden surfaces, it provides an extra layer of protection for the paint against things like staining and scuffs.

On the other hand, here’s what will happen if you don’t prime bare wood before painting:        

  • Due to the different grain variations of wood, paint will be absorbed at different rates, making it harder to get a uniform finish.
  • You’ll need to apply more coats than necessary.
  • You’ll run into adhesion problems when painting onto bare wood without a primer. As a result, the paint won’t cure correctly on the surface, leading to cracks and peeling paint.