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Painting over stained wood. It’s become both an exterior painting and interior painting conundrum. Individuals are often so puzzled about whether or not you can paint over stained wood (also known as gum wood). It really does seem as if that might be a no-no when it comes to a DIY painting project. But the thing is, if you do it the right way, painting over stained wood can work out quite nicely. You just prepare yourself with the proper tools and materials to know how to execute this project. And that’s why we’re here! So, without further adieu, let’s dig right into can you paint over stained wood?

Prep is essential for painting over stained wood

As with any DIY project, it’s best to do some research prior to beginning to ensure things go smoothly. The big issue with skipping over the prep when it comes to painting over stained wood is that if it’s not prepped sufficiently, tannins from the stain can bleed through the fresh paint. So, this is where you want to familiarize yourself with the stain prior to painting.

Any decent wood stain doesn’t just stick to the surface, it actually sinks into the grain itself changing the hue. You can usually determine what type of stain was used on the wood in question simply by testing it. If you sprinkle some water over the wood and it beads up after a moment, it was stained with an oil based stain. It’s a bit of a different process when it comes painting over stained wood that’s oil based. But don’t worry, we’ll catch you up on all that too!

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Painting over stained wood 

Wondering how to paint over stained wood? There are a few steps you want to take prior to starting your painting. We’ll break it down step-by-step for you.

  • Firstly, you want to give the wood surface — whether that be a deck, fence, table, staircase or piece of furniture, a good cleaning. Use soapy water to remove any dirt, dust or grim.
  • Then, you’ll want to work to dull the stain. This step involves getting out your sandpaper (about 150 grit) and lightly sanding in the direction of the grain. Brush away any excess dust.
  • The next step to prepare for painting over stained wood is to use a deglosser or liquid sander. Deglosser actually works to dull an old finish. If the wood is super rough, irregular, pitted or scratched, using only deglosser won’t get the job done properly. You need to really go to town with your sanding if your stained wood is irregular. If it’s quite smooth and you want to dull the stained finish, put on your safety goggles and gloves and simply wipe down your wooden surface with a small amount of deglosser on a rag. Allow the deglosser to dry for 10 minutes before moving on.
  • Once your deglosser is dry and you spot any major imperfections to the wood, you can go in with wood filler and sand down to make it smooth.
  • Then once you have completed all these steps, you can go in with your primer! Which is the last step prior to painting.
  • From there you can apply two coats of your chosen interior or exterior paint colour. Be sure to do two coats for optimal coverage and to wait until the next day to apply your second coat.

Painting over stained wood if it’s an oil based stain 

The process is a little bit different when you’re looking to cover an oil based stain with paint. Prior to the priming and painting, there is additional prep work required. We’ll walk you through the final steps prior to painting over stained wood that was an oil based stain:

  • Of course, you want to be sure to have your protective goggles and gloves on as well as proper ventilation in the area that you’re working in.
  • Then you’ll want to dissolve a heavy duty cleaner, like Trisodium Phosphate into a gallon of warm water. How trisodium phosphate works is that it’s an inorganic compound which produces an alkaline solution when dissolved in water. It works as a heavy duty cleaner and stain remover. So, using the trisodium phosphate will help to really get in there and penetrate that oil based stain prior to painting.
  • You can dip a sponge or rag into the solution and cleanse the surface of your wood. Repeat this process if you want the best results.
  • Then you can sand all rough areas of the wood and be sure to wipe it clean afterwards.
  • When you’re choosing a primer to use for painting over stained wood, it’s best to choose an oil based primer. That way you’ll be ensured that it will adhere better to glossy or previously stained surfaces.
  • Once you’ve applied your primer, you can go in with your interior or exterior paint. Again, for optimal results, apply two coats.
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Can you paint over gum wood? 

Lastly, a lot of the time when people are thinking about painting over stained wood, they often wonder if they can paint over gum wood as well. In case you aren’t aware, gum wood is simply a kind of wood that’s used in cabinetry, panels, trim, furniture, doors and often used to make plywood. It can often be orange in colour, which a lot of people grow tired of over time.

The answer is, you can definitely paint over gum wood. Simply follow the steps we’ve laid out for you: prep, sand, prime and then two coats of paint! It’s really as easy as that and you’ll find your stained or gum wood instantly revitalized and modernized.

If you’re confused about picking out the right colour for your interior painting or exterior painting when it comes to painting over stained wood, allow us to help! If you’re painting a deck, white is huge right now in terms of exterior painting trends. Woodland White is a good place to start. Another great option for deck painting or fence painting is grey this season. Greyhound is a beautiful grey that’s not too light. Rich browns are all the rage as well if you’re painting wood. Check out Butternut Brown for a rich and bold brown.

More interesting blogs related to ” Can You Paint Over Stained Wood? “:

  1. Painting Over Stained Wood And Gumwood
  2. How Much Does It Cost To Paint A House Exterior In Canada?
  3. 5 Ways Professional Painting Can Save You Money
  4. How to Skim Coat Drywall After Wallpaper

Want someone else to handle all the interior painting or exterior painting work for you? It sounds like you might be looking for some tried and true professional painters to get you through! Give us a call at 416.494.9095 or email [email protected] for a FREE quote or visit our website https://www.homepainterstoronto.com/

Brian Young - Home Painters Toronto

From The Owner & Founder


Hello and welcome!

I’m both deeply honoured and flattered you are considering using our services.

Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, our painters take their jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

At Home Painters our mission is to paint homeowners’ dreams, and make your painting experience last a lifetime!
I look forward to hopefully meeting you one day, as it brings me tremendous joy to make homeowner’s dreams come true.



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