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DIY refurbishing: How to prepare wood surfaces for painting

Preparing a wood surface for paint
Preparing a wood surface for paint

Preparing your surface for painting is the first step in any refurbish project. Whether you’ve got an old dining table that needs a new look or a pair of end tables that need to freshened up, preparing wood for paint takes a few simple steps of preparation: cleaning, repairing, sanding and sealing.

Preparing Wood for Painting: Cleaning

Washing wood should be undertaken with the most sparing amount of water. You need to get the dirt and grime off your wood surface, but if you douse it in water, you risk raising the grain and warping the wood. Instead, use a damp rag or a degreaser to get off grease marks.

Preparing Wood for Painting: Repairing

After your wood chair or shelf is clean, the next step is to fill in any gouges or dents to make a more uniform surface for the paint to stick to. For wood furniture and walls, the best medium for this is spackling compound or wood filler. Both are cheap and easily found at any hardware store.

Preparing Wood for Painting: Sanding

With large flat surfaces, electric sanding can make quick work of the process of smoothing the wood. But for the angles, edges, curves and tight spaces, you’ll need to use sandpaper. Whether fine or coarse, the only kind that won’t kick up dust is waterproof sandpaper used with water.

Note: You may want to repeat this step with fine grain sandpaper after the primer.

Preparing Wood for Painting: Sealing

Sealing your wood surface is the final step before painting. Acrylic primer is water based and the most common choice, but you can also use an oil based wood primer with stain-blocking sealer for resinous knots if that’s an issue with your piece.

When the primer is dry, it’s time to paint!


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