How To Paint Over Finished Wood

Painting over finished wood poses a few problems if done incorrectly. The finish offers little for new paint to adhere to, and sometimes comes through new paint if not properly blocked with a paint primer. The good news is that the finish doesn't have to be removed.

Dull a glossy wood finish before painting.

It just needs minor preparation, after repairing any open cracks, seams or joints.

  1. Lay a painter's drop cloth beneath the wood surface to be painted.

  2. Sand the wood finish with 100-grit sandpaper until the finish is dulled and roughed up a little. This provides more surface area where the paint can adhere.

  3. Fill all wood cracks, joints or seams with caulk. Fill unwanted holes in the wood's surface with paintable wood putty, using a putty knife. Allow the caulk and putty to dry 24 hours.

  4. Sand the putty smooth with 100-grit sandpaper. Remove all dust with a tack cloth.

  5. Apply a coat of stain-blocking wood primer over the surface of the wood, using a paintbrush and a mini roller. Load a paint tray with primer, then dip the brush and roller into the paint. Paint the corners of the wood with the paintbrush and the larger areas with the mini roller.

  6. Clean the painting tools. Wait 24 hours for the primer to dry.

  7. Sand the primer coat lightly with 120-grit sandpaper, just enough so the surface is smooth. Avoid sanding so much that the primer comes off.

  8. Apply a coat of finish paint as you did the primer. Wait 24 hours for the paint to dry. Apply a second coat. Wash out your paint tools.

  9. Tip

    Watch for paint runs or drips throughout the process, and fix them with the brush or roller.