how to paint over stained wood

Painting Over Stained Wood – Covering Up Old Paint Stains

This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.

If you have an old piece of wooden furniture that has seen better days, restoring it with the right paint is a possibility. If the wood is stained or damaged and you want to restore it to its original beauty, then there are ways to achieve this. The following guide on painting over stained wood will teach you everything you need to know about how to bring back the glory in an old and stained piece of wood. This can work well for antiques or sentimental furniture pieces that have lost their beauty. Follow our guide below on how to paint over wood with stains.



Can You Paint Over Stains on Wood?

Painting over stained wood is something that can be achieved with the right products and techniques. You dont need a professional to restore stained wood by painting over it – this is something that you can easily achieve by yourself. As long as you take the time to prepare the wood correctly, and use the right paint stain products, then you can absolutely cover old stains and restore the beauty in the wood. Want to know how to paint over stained wood? We have outlined the process briefly below.

painting over stained wood


Preparing the Wood

The first thing to do is getting the wood and workspace prepared. Start by laying down plastic or newspaper sheeting to catch any unwanted paint drips. You can also use tape to cover off any precise areas that you dont want to get paint on. This is important for furniture. For some types of furniture, you should also remove the fittings and hardware, like handles or hinges, to make painting around these areas easier.

Then you will need to get the surface properly cleaned. Wash the wood completely with soap and water to get rid of any dirt on the surface. Dry it off and make sure that there is no dust or dirt on the wood to affect the adhesion of the paint. Trisodium phosphate cleaner can be used to clean off any particularly greasy or oily patches on the wood. If the wooden surface has been varnished, you should try to remove the varnish first. Otherwise, you can also roughen it up a little bit with some sandpaper or steel wool to help the paint to adhere.

Next, it’s time to sand the surface. Use a 150 grit sandpaper to do this, following the grain of the wood as you sand it down. Do not use circular sanding motions. Once this is done, be sure to clean up any dust. Finally, you can use a deglosser to wipe off the finish that may be on the wooden surface. Leave the wood to dry properly after this. Sometimes you will also need to fill in holes or cracks. This can simply be done with a wood filler.


Priming the Wood

Adding a layer of primer is a good idea before painting. This will help the paint to adhere to the wood better, providing a stronger and longer-lasting surface. There are many different primer options available, so which one is best to use before painting over stained wood?

Basically, if the topcoat you choose is oil-based, then using an oil-based primer is best. If the topcoat is water-based, then choose a water-based primer. Oil-based primers are typically more common for things like woodwork, doors, and wood finishes. Water-based options work well for painting walls and ceilings. Water-based primers are faster drying which results in a quicker turnaround time for the whole job. While oil-based primers take very long to dry, you do get a better layer of strength and protection in the coat. This makes oil-based primers a good option for outdoor use where more durability is required.

Primers can also come in a range of different colors. While most people will choose grey or white primers, it is a good idea to use one that has a similar color to the top coat you will be painting. Doing this will help to avoid a bleeding effect that you often get from a stain. This is particularly important if the stain is dark.

For very messy and badly stained surfaces, you should try to use a stain-blocking primer. This will stop any strong marks and stains from showing through – leaving you with a clear finish to paint over. Applying primer is best done with a roller or foam brush to get a smooth and even finish without any marks.

painting stained wood


Adding Caulking

When painting over stained wood, you might want to caulk after the primer has been laid down. This is not always necessary though depending on the state of the wood. When painting stained wood, you often dont see the cracks in it until the paint has covered the dark stain and the cracks become clear. Applying caulk will run into the cracks, seal them, and provide an even coat for painting.

After adding the caulking, use a fine wet cloth to wipe away any excess. Wipe away the excess water and let the wood dry fully before starting to paint.

can you paint over stain


Paint Stained Wood

Once the surface is cleaned, prepared, and primed, you are now ready for painting stained wood. Just make sure that the surface is completely dry before painting. Carefully paint the wood, getting a smooth and even finish with each coat. It should take about two to three coats depending on the paint you use and the effect you want. Always cover the primer completely on the first coast. Be sure that each coat is properly dried before painting on the next one.


Adding the Topcoat

Now that the wood is painted, you are nearly there. When you paint stain surfaces, applying a layer of sealant or topcoat is recommended. There are various options available, but a polyurethane coating is often best. This provides a clear and protective finish for all kinds of surfaces. For easy application, polyurethane can be applied with a spray can. This can also be waxed for a shiner finish.


Equipment Needed for Painting Over Stained Wood

  • Protective sheeting – usually plastic or a tarp to protect the area from paint drips
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • A paint roller or foam brush
  • A tack cloth that is made for use with wood
  • The right primer for your surface
  • A good quality paint – this must be suitable for the wood and primer
  • A final coating for a protective finish. Polyurethane is a good option

paint over stain



Painting Over Stained Wood Without Sanding

When starting a new painting job over a wooden surface, the sanding stage can be a real hassle. Sanding takes lots of time and energy. It can also cause a dusty mess. So, can you paint over stain wood without having to sand it down first? To save time and effort, a product called deglosser can be used. This is also referred to as liquid sandpaper which helps to prepare the surface. Below are some reasons to use a deglosser instead of sandpaper.


Saves Time

Instead of spending long hours sanding down the wooden surface, you can save loads of time by using a deglosser. A deglosser will have the surface prepared in about 20 minutes. This product is also great for getting into details and tricky areas. Simply wipe on the deglosser, leave it for a few minutes, and wipe the surface clean with a cloth. Now the wood is ready for priming.



Sanding a big project creates a lot of mess. Whether you are doing this indoors or outdoors, you will create loads of dust that will go everywhere. This can be really challenging to clean up, as the fine dust can go everywhere. With a liquid deglosser, there is no mess or dust to clean up while still providing the same effect as sandpaper.


Saves Money

Even though it is way easier to use, the cost of a bottle of deglosser is really affordable. You also only need a very small amount which will go a long way – which means that you won’t have to buy loads of sandpaper.


Easy to Use

The major advantage of a deglosser is that it is so convenient and easy to use. No need for a labor-intensive sanding job, just apply the deglosser to the wood surface and it will coat the wood nicely.

paint stained wood



Which Wood Surfaces Work Well With Deglossing?

We know how many advantages deglossing provides, but can you use it over any type of wood? Deglossing can be widely applied, but it is particularly useful for difficult to reach surfaces, such as cabinets, cupboards, and detailed trims.



First, take any fittings and doors off the cabinet before deglossing. Then coat the entire cabinet surface in deglosser. This can work over dark or light wood with a paint or stain over it.


Trims and Moldings

A deglosser is the best choice for these kinds of items because of how small and intricate they can be. These are tricky to sand and work well with deglosser. Particularly when they have been under a lot of wear and tear.



Deglosser is a good solution for protecting detailed furniture. Many furniture items may contain carvings or detailed handiwork – something that is difficult to sand down effectively.



When deglossing doors, take off any handle and fittings first. Coat the door thoroughly in deglosser and spread it evenly over all the areas of the door.



Safety Considerations When Using Deglosser

When using a deglosser before you paint stained wood, always be careful. This is because deglosser is a chemical substance that could have certain toxic properties. Some good precautionary steps include:

  • Wear protective gloves to avoid direct skin contact
  • Wearing a respirator mask is a good idea to avoid inhaling fumes
  • Wear protective goggles to protect your eyes
  • Try to work in a space that has plenty of airflow to avoid the fumes

paint stain



Frequently Asked Questions


Do You Need to Sand Before Painting Over Stained Wood?

This depends on the wood finish. If a good primer is used and the wooden surface is not damaged, then you don’t have to sand the surface. However, sanding is recommended to ensure great adhesion.


What Paint to Use When Painting Stained Wood?

Oil-based paints are often preferred thanks to their good durability and adhesion. However, water-based paints are also good. Spray paints can even be used depending on the conditions. Often latex paints and primers work best over water-based stains.


Can Acrylic Paints be Used for Painting Stains?

Acrylic paints are versatile and can be used to paint over stains. Just make sure that the surface is sanded down and properly prepared.


Can You Use Chalk Paint to Paint Over Stained Wood?

Chalk paint is a good option for painting over various wooden surfaces – particularly furniture. You get an attractive matte finish that works well over wood stains.


Knowing how to paint over wood with stains is a great skill to have. This is an easy way to bring new life to old or damaged furniture. Follow our complete guide above on how to paint over stained wood to achieve great results each time.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *