Is it Possible to Apply Paint Over Stained Wood?

Image to show that you can paint over stained wood

Painting unlike staining, covers the underneath surface entirely. However, the question is, is it possible to apply paint over stained wood?  Yes! You can paint over different stained wood surfaces like kitchen cabinets, tables, stained wood fences, and so much more.

One important thing that you need to do before painting your stained wood surface is to clean the wood surface to ensure that your top paint coat adheres to the surface

How to Paint Over Stained Wood            

We have said earlier that it is okay to paint over stained wood; even so, there are a few steps that you need to undertake as a preparation for painting. Such steps include:

Cleaning of The Wood Surface

Cleaning is the very first important step in preparing a wood surface for painting. When you clean, you remove foreign substances like dust particles, dirt, grease, and any other materials that may hamper the effectiveness of your paint. There are several compounds that you can use for cleaning from soap and water, mineral spirits, and trisodium phosphate (TSP) if your surface contains grease and oils.

Remove Possible Gloss on the Surface

In many cases, you will realize that stained woods have a coating of glossy varnishes or polyurethane. It is a bad idea to have your painting done over a glossy surface because the paint will not stick to the surface well enough. If that happens, there can only be one result-the paint will peel off, crack or chip.

In a bid to help your paint adhere to the surface, use sandpaper to rough up the glossy surface without necessarily removing the stain. If wood sanding is not your thing, consider using a deglosser.

Clean the Sanded or Deglossed Surface Again

Another round of cleaning the surface following the removal of the glossy layer is essential. In case you used the sandpaper, then ensure that you wipe away all the sand dust. Failure to remove the dust will be bad news for you because if it mixes with your pain, you will end up with a rough, bumpy surface.

A vacuum clean can also clean the sand dust particles.

Conduct Mini Repair

It is common to find that the surface of the sanded wood has scratches, nicks, and splits. One of the best ways of repairing the cracks on the surface of stained lumber small or large is using wood fillers. Using wood fillers to repair these cracks restores the surface to a level one. 

After filling, you should consider re-sanding to level out the surface such that it is ready for the next step.


If possible, you need to apply a wood primer to the surface of your stained lumber. There are different types of primers that you can use to prepare your wooden surface for painting. Such types of primers include water-based latex primers or even oil-based ones.

In case your paint is oil-based, we recommend that you use an oil-based primer. Do the same if your paint is water-based.

If you have time on your side, apply the primer using a roller for evenness. Afterward, use a brush to remove all the roller marks from your surface. If your final coat (paint) won’t be white, ensure that the primer you use is of similar color to the paint you intend to use ultimately.

After priming, let your primed wooden surface to dry thoroughly before moving to the next step to ensure the best results possible.

Paint Your Stained Wood Surface

After carrying out all the above steps, it’s time to paint your surface. Use the paint that you bought for this project, whether it is oil-based, water-based latex, or spray paint to paint over your stained wood surface.

For the best results possible, we recommend that you use two coats of paint on your project. Allow your paint time to dry completely before adding the top and final layer.

Add Top Coat Where Necessary

As much as this might not be necessary, especially if you use a top-quality paint, adding a polyurethane layer to finish off work would be a good move. Alternatively, you can use wood wax to add some shine to your painted wood.

Here is a video highlighting how you can paint over stained wood

The Conclusion

Can you paint over stained wood?

If you need some answer to the question, can you paint over stained wood? Now you have it. And, it is a YES- it is okay to paint over stained wood. Wood painting is one good way of giving your structure like tables, cabinets, and wood doors a beautiful finish. 

Painting over stain does more than just beautifying your wooden structures; it offers protection, among other benefits.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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