Can I Paint Over Stained Wood?

One of the most questions raised is “Can I paint over stained wood?”. Many people are wondering if the traditional varnished wood can be painted for a more modern and solid look.

We will answer this question in this post, so continue reading below.

Strip or Not to Strip Wood

Whether a stained wood requires stripping or not actually depends whether the wood was varnished or not. A varnished wood has a smooth feel, while unvarnished wood retains some roughness.

Yes, a stained wood can be painted. There are many methods to paint stained wood and it depends on the state of the wood, stain used, and whether you are painting it or not. If you are painting the wood, it is important to ensure that the new paint should adhere to the old surface.

Stripping Varnish

A stained wood that has been varnished should be stripped. You can find stripping products in local hardware or home improvement stores that work great. Before you start, you need to prepare the things you need including metal picks, putty knives, plenty of rags, and proper ventilation.

If the wood furniture or item can be moved, you can take the work to your porch or garage.

If not, you can lay down drop cloths for floor protection, masking off adjacent areas with a painter’s tape. Get the work done right by taking your time. Removing the varnish will definitely save you from the stress and hassle in the long run.

Cleaning with TSP

If the wood furniture piece is not varnished, a good cleaning is still needed. You can use a TSP cleaning agent that is available at most home improvement stores.

Simply follow the usage directions on the label of the bottle. Move the wood furniture to your garage or outdoors for greater ventilation. If not, prevent damaging the walls and flooring by ensuring you won’t get the excess TSP off and spill.

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After cleaning, allow it to dry thoroughly. Sand the wood surface and thoroughly brush away any remaining dust.

Applying Primer

Applying an shellac or oil-based primer is an important step when you want to paint over a stained wood. A stain is actually oil-based and latex primers will not adhere properly.

You will need to let the primer dry for about two days. Shellac primer dries in just a couple of hours, and for best results, allow it to dry overnight. Stain colors can seep through paint, so you can ask your paint supplier to tint the primer with a similar color like the stain you are painting over.

The major advantage of using a shellac primer is easier painting using a latex paint. If you want to use an oil-based primer, you need to rough up the surface so the latex paint will adhere better.

Ready to Paint

You are now ready to paint the stained wood. It is best to use latex-based paint. Some people like oil paint because of the shine it provides, but it takes a longer time to dry.

You need to take time and use oil if you are painting doors, trims, cabinets, and bathrooms. You will get a glossy look and it is more durable. Use two coats, and so as the primer. Dark stains are more challenging to cover.


Yes, you can paint over a stained wood. Stripping is important if the stained wood has been varnished. It is important to take time stripping off the varnish and applying paint for best results.

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  • August 25, 2019
  • DIY