Can You Paint Over Stained Wood?

Painting over wood can be an inexpensive way of updating an old piece of furniture. However, you may have wondered if the wood is stained, can you still paint over it?

Some surface preparations, such as stains, can make it harder for the paint to adhere to the surface.

You can paint over stained wood. However, you need to prepare the surface beforehand to ensure that the paint sticks to the surface.

Preparing the Surface

Firstly, you need to prepare the wood and get rid of any dirt that could impact the quality of the paint. Wash the wood with soap and water to get rid of any dirt or dust. Then, wipe the surface down with a tack cloth. 

Whenever you wipe stained wood, you should use a tack cloth, a wiping cloth that is sticky enough to pick up dust particles and remnants of debris. This creates a much smoother base for painting and staining.

After the wood is washed and dried, you need to sand it with 150-grit sandpaper. You don’t need to take off all of the stain, but you need to create a rough surface that will allow the paint to stick to the wood. When sanding, go with the grain to avoid creating hatches.

Once done sanding, wipe down the wood with tack cloth again to collect the sanding particles. Some experts recommend using a deglosser, a type of heavy solvent that also dissolves stains after sanding.

Finally, take care of any imperfections or damage to the wood. Fill in any holes and rip out nails and screws that could mar the surface. Then you are ready to take out the brush.

Painting and Priming

Before painting stained wood, you need to prime the surface. Getting a stain-killing primer will improve your results, particularly if you are painting over a dark stain. 

Once the primer is dry, you are finally ready to paint. You can paint wood with latex or oil-based paint. Latex paint is easier to work with and does not leave an unpleasant residue or smell, but oil-based paint is more durable, making it a better choice for high-traffic areas. 

Applying two thin coats of paint will help it last longer. However, you will need to let the paint dry completely in between coats. Paint on wood can take a very long time to dry, sometimes overnight, but patience is worth it to avoid damaging the surface.


You can paint over stained wood as an easy solution to updating old wooden furnishings in your home.

Painting over stained wood requires extensive prep work, including cleaning, sanding, and priming. So, be sure that you have the right tools on hand before doing so.

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