Can I Use Oil Paint on Wood?

There are times when a homeowner would like to improve some of the wooden furniture in their home. But, you may have wondered whether you can use oil paint on wooden furniture.

Yes, you can use oil paint on wood, but you must prepare it beforehand to prevent the wood from rotting.

Read on to find out more.

Choosing Your Wood

When using oil paints on wood, there are a couple of popular options, including birch and maple wood.

You can also use cheaper wood such as plywood. Whichever wood you use, it needs to be sealed and primed first. Even if you use laminated wood, you will still need to seal the surface to fill any cracks or pores.

Cleaning and Sanding

Cleaning and sanding wood before painting will ensure that the sealant sticks to the surface.

First, clean your wood with a washrag. Next, use sandpaper with fine grit and sand your wood smooth. Wipe the wood clean of dust after you have finished sanding it. Those dust particles can keep your sealant from adhering to the wood.

Seal the Wood

Next, you will need to seal the wood. This is an essential step since wood holds moisture very well and is porous. Without sealing your wood, the paint will get into the wood’s pores and result in rotting or bending. The sealant acts as a protective barrier as well as a drying agent.

There are a few options for sealing your wood. You can opt for a sealant that is either water-based or oil-based, such as linseed oil. You can also use gesso, which acts as both a sealant and a primer all in one.

If you use a water-based sealant, you will most likely need to apply multiple layers than you would with an oil-based sealant. However, water-based sealants dry quicker.

When you seal your wood, make sure to apply the sealant to both sides of the canvas. Also, carry out the sealing process in a well-ventilated area as some sealants are toxic.

Priming your Wood

Once sealing your wood, you then need to apply a primer.

To determine which kind of primer to apply, you need to look at the type of wood you have and which sealant you used. For example, some types of wood are difficult to get sealant to adhere to. At the same time, other primers will cause your oil paint to become discolored if applied over certain types of sealant. Consider this when choosing your primer.

An oil-based primer will stick to the surface of wood more effectively than a latex-based primer. However, it takes much longer to completely dry than the latex-based primer.

It’d be ideal for you to use an oil-based sealant with a latex-based primer on top for the fastest results.

If you used linseed oil as your sealing agent, you need to apply a latex-based primer. Whereas if you used lacquer to seal the wood, you could use either a latex-based or oil-based primer.

You can apply as many layers of primer as necessary to cover the wood canvas. The more coats you use, the more protected your canvas will be and the easier it will be to get your oil paints to stick to the wood.

Once your final coat of primer is dry, sand the wood a final time with a fine-grit sandpaper.

After sanding, you can now apply oil paint to your wood.


So there you have it. Yes, you can use oil paints on wood. However, it should also be clear that you need to prepare your wood before painting it with oil paints.

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