How To Paint Over Stained Wood

A home will not be complete without wood decorations. Indeed, these decorations are now becoming one of the trending styles of most homes. Some of the wooden furniture that you can buy in the market are already stained and good for display. But what if you want it to match the other decors in your house? You will need to paint over stained wood.


Paint over stained wood

Paint over stained wood

Painting over a stained wood does not need to be a tough process. In fact, it is a task anyone can do. But before you start with the task, you need to equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge. Here’s how to paint over stained wood.

Here are the following tools and items to use when painting over stained wood:


how to paint over stained wood paint

Which color you choose to paint over stained wood?

Choose a color that you think will match the wall paint of your home and/or the decors of the room. The biggest mistake you will make is to choose the wrong paint color as you might have to redo the task.


how to paint over stained wood primer

Always use primer when you paint over stained wood

Very important to apply before painting, a primer ensures that you have good adhesion of paint to the wood. It’ll increase the paint’s durability, too.

Trisodium Phosphate

Trisodium Phosphate is used to clear the oil off the wood when cleaning. You can buy this in the nearest local shop or in an online store.

Top Coat (Optional)

A top coat can provide protection and help give a vibrant color to the paint you will apply.

Other things that you will need are the following:

  • Rags - to remove dust and some stains from the wood before it gets cleaned thoroughly
  • Vacuum Cleaner - for removing most of the dust
  • Soap and Water - to clean the wood before it gets painted
  • Sheet or Tarp - to cover the work area to avoid spillage on other areas that don’t need paint
  • Garbage Bag - for cleaning up everything that needs disposal
  • Gloves - to keep your hands clean when painting, and to avoid direct contact with the chemicals that will be used when painting
  • Face Mask - recommended when applying paint to avoid inhaling chemicals

Step-By-Step Instructions

Once you have everything you need, you can proceed to work. Follow the steps below:

Step 1 - Remove Hardware and Prepare your Work Area

The first thing that you need to do is to prepare the stained wood. Remove any hardware from the wood like the knob. Don’t forget to cover your work area with a sheet, tarp, or any piece of fabric.

how to paint over stained wood - tarp

Cover your work area with a sheet, tarp, or any piece of fabric

Step 2 - Clean Thoroughly

How to Paint Over Stained Wood - clean

Choose proper way for specific circumstance

Your stained wood should not have dust or any other dirt that might interfere with your work. You can just easily clean it with soap and water. If you have a wood stain stripper, you can use that as well. It will make the cleaning easier since you just have to apply it. If you fail to do any of these, then tiny debris or dust might mix with your paint.

If there is too much oil on the wood, it may require more cleaning. You can use trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove these oils from the wood. Just be careful in using it since it is toxic.

Step 3 - Remove the Varnish

Make sure to remove any gloss or varnish on the stained wood. Otherwise, the paint won’t be able to properly hold on to the surface of your wood. This may also result in cracking or peeling of paint. Just simply rough up the glossy surface. You can use the regular or liquid sandpaper or a paint deglosser.

Step 4 - Clean the Sanding Dust

Since you’ve removed the gloss on the wood, you need to clean the sanding dust off it. You can do so by using a vacuum cleaner then clearing the remaining specks using a tack cloth.

Step 5 - Repair Damages

Fix any damages you find with your wooden furniture. You can repair the scratches and spots with a wood filter. Two coats are recommended for most. Don’t forget to sand and clean the surface right after.

Step 6 - Apply the Primer

After all the cleaning is done, you can start to paint the wood with a primer. Use a primer that will suit the paint you’ve chosen. If you plan on using an oil-based paint, match it with an oil-based primer. A water-based latex paint should be paired with a water-based latex primer. You should also match the primer to your final paint color. Make sure to choose the best quality primer.

You need an extra brush and a roller brush to apply the primer evenly. You also need another brush to clean the roller marks. Take note that primers take a while to dry. Allow an extra day to make sure it will dry thoroughly before you go to the next step. You can skip this step if your paint already includes a primer.

Step 7 - Apply The Paint

You can already paint the wood after priming. For best results, use a quality paint. It can be an oil-based, water-based, latex or a spray paint. To get the full protection for your wood, you may need two coats of paint. Always make sure to dry the first coat before applying the next one.

Step 8 - Apply a Top Coat

You no longer have to use a top coat if you use a high-quality paint. But if you’re not using it, you should paint a topcoat of polyurethane over the wood. You can use a paste wax for the last touch to enhance the paint’s color.

Helpful Tips To Remember

While painting stained wood, it pays to give attention to your health, too. Here are safety tips as well as other advice that you can use while doing this task.

  • When doing this task, don’t forget to wear your safety gear. Use gloves, face mask, and goggles to protect yourself from chemicals. It’s a fundamental tip everyone should follow as paint, primer and wood stain removers can contain some harmful chemicals.
  • Choose a well-ventilated area for tasks like this. Ventilated areas can lessen your exposure to chemicals, which can affect your respiratory health.
  • In painting your stained wood, the most critical part is the cleaning process. Make sure to use the right equipment to clean your wooden furniture. Reach out to the nooks and corners of the furniture. Don’t leave any spot undusted.
  • If you want to store your used paint, I also wrote an article "How Long Does Paint Last In A can.”
  • If you want some ways to open your paint can, I also had a reliable guide on "How To Open A Paint Can?"


We hope that this guide has helped you in your task of painting stained wood. The most important thing you should avoid is to damage the wood. So work carefully while you’re cleaning and painting on it.

Have you successfully painted a stained wood? What are your struggles? Share with us your challenges and problems so that we can help you further. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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