Wet Wood

How to Paint Wet Wood – Step-by-Step Guide


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When it comes to the question of “can you paint wet wood,” the first answer that pops up in your mind is “No!”

The truth is very different though. It is not uncommon for some people to paint over wet wood. Now, the thing is, wet wood can be painted over. But the results won’t be as great as they would be when your wood is completely dry.

Before we jump into how to paint wet wood, you should know that moisture in wood does not make for a good surface for you to paint over.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible for you to wait for the wood to dry. Following the steps mentioned in the blog will help you to paint over wet wood easily.

Steps to painting wet wood

Before we begin to get into the steps to answer your “can you paint wet wood” question, you will need:

  • A bunch of paper towels.
  • Water-based paint.
  • Newspapers.
  • A paintbrush.
  • A table fan (optional).

Step 1: Dry the wood

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The first step is to try and dry the wet wood. Before moving forward to other steps, remember you cannot paint a soaking wet wood piece.

A damp or wet wood piece can be painted over. But, before you start painting, you will need to make sure that the surface is as dry as possible.

You can make use of paper towels or napkins to dry the wood. Dab and wipe the wood to get the moisture out. Next, you can make use of an electric fan.

Positioning the fan towards the wet wood will help you to dry the wood a little faster. But this is optional.

If you do not have a fan, you can make use of the paper towels. These paper towels will help you dry out the wood enough to make it appropriate to paint it over.

Step 2: Checking the Moisture Content

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Once you have finished drying off the wet piece, you should check the moisture content in the wood.

Also, remember that the wetness of the wood can become a hindrance. If the wood is too wet, you may start to see the paint drip.

The paint will not stick on the surface as well. So, you can touch the wood to check the moisture content of the wood you have. If you have access to a moisture measuring tool or meter, you should use that to check.

The interior wood’s moisture content should not be more than 12%, and 15% for the exterior surfaces.

If you don’t have a measuring meter, you can depend on your judgment. Just make sure that your wood piece is not too wet.

Step 3: Spread out the Newspapers

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You can even make use of newspapers or sheets that cover the surface you’ll paint on. That said, make sure that you have two layers, at least.

Using a layer of sheets below the wooden piece you want to paint will help you to avoid nasty stains. This means you should use sheets that don’t allow the paint to travel onto the surface.

Step 4: Painting the wet wood

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The next and final part of the can you paint wet wood question is to apply the paint on the wood piece.

Make sure that you cover every part of the wood that you want to paint. Start by stirring the water-based paint, and then apply the coat. Once you finish, leave the wooden piece to dry.

When you see that the paint has dried, check thoroughly. Once you’re sure, you can apply another coat of paint to it.

And that’s it. You clean up and use the wood piece.

What else to know about wet wood?

Since the short answer to the “can you paint wet wood?” question, is yes. But then again, the issue is that the wetness will get in the way. So, if you want to paint over wet wood and want to see reasonably good results, here are some things to remember:

  1. Water-based paints are not waterproof. Although it has some waterproofing properties, it does not 100% waterproofing. If you want to make sure that the paint is not damaged due to water, so add some waterproofing additive.
  2. When you look for the right paints to answer your can you paint wet wood question, then oil-based paints are not the option. Oil-based paints will be repelled by the water in the wood. Water and oil don’t mix well, we all know that. Also, oil-based paints will not bond well with wet surfaces, even if the surface is just damp.
  3. You may have to go over different coats of paint on your wet wood. Since water does not really offer a better surface for painting, some spots may not turn out well. Two coats are necessary. But if you’re not happy with it, you should apply a few more coats.
  4. Your paint can fall off. Since there’s water on the surface, it can fall off anytime. Painting over wet surfaces is just a short-term fix.
  5. When looking for the right answers to can you paint wet wood question, you should check the wood. All you need to do is drop some water (droplets) or paint on the wood to check if it is dry enough. If the water or paint gets absorbed, then the wood is dry enough for you to paint over.
  6. Also, you may not be able to tell how long would a particular type of wood will take to dry. Different types of wood and how they are cut will play a role in the drying of the wood.


When people wonder, can you paint wet wood, they think the answer is straight-up no. But the truth is, you can.

With that in mind, it does not come without risks. The above blog post highlights the important risks of painting over a wet wooden piece.

If you have an intricate wood project, which is wet, you can switch up your game by changing to thinner brushes to paint. Slim brushes help you get into the intricate nooks and crannies.