How to Paint Over Dark Stained Wood

Shelley Marie
Give old sinks a new look with paint.

Painting dark stained wood can brighten up your home and cover any scratches or imperfections in the wood. Since most paints won't completely cover the dark stain and prevent it from bleeding into the surface, a stain-killing primer is necessary. They smooth out the area, block the stain and provide an adhesive surface for the paint. Following the primer with enamel paint provides a hard, durable finish that can withstand most conditions and cleans up easily.

Step 1

Clean the wood thoroughly with a bucket of hot, soapy water and a sponge or cloth. Rinse the wood with clean water and dry it with a towel.

Step 2

Fill any holes or dents with wood putty and a putty knife. Scrape off any excess and allow it to dry completely. Sand the patched areas with 150-grit sandpaper and wipe off any dust with a damp cloth.

Step 3

Mask any areas that you want to protect from paint with painter's tape. Remove any hardware with a screwdriver and keep it in a safe place. Lay down a drop cloth if needed.

Step 4

Paint the wood surface with stain-killing primer in a color that is similar to the final paint color. Use a high-quality paint brush and paint with smooth, fluid strokes, overlapping each stroke. Cover the dark stain completely with the primer. Allow it to dry for the time specified on the can.

Step 5

Paint the primed wood with an enamel paint using a high-quality paint brush. Use smooth, fluid strokes and overlap each stroke until the whole area is painted. Allow the enamel to dry completely. Apply another coat to cover any remaining dark areas, if needed.


Select compatible paint and primer formulas, such as water-based or oil-based for both.


Keep kids and pets out of the area until the paint dries.