How to Paint Over Stained Wood

By Jim Dugan

You can paint over stained wood if you apply the right bonding primer base, beforehand. Because stain is oil-based, it won’t adhere to water-based acrylic and latex paints. To ensure a lasting finish that won’t flake away, prime over the stained wood, using the correct materials.


If you try to paint over stain without priming it, flaking will prove imminent. Unfortunately, water-based acrylic and latex bonding primers won’t bond to stained wood. Apply a shellac primer to the wood before painting over the stain. Shellac primers are formulated to bond well to both water- and oil-based finishes.


Apply a latex paint to interior surfaces, such as doors, trim and baseboards. If you plan to paint stained siding and other exterior surfaces, use an acrylic latex paint. For surfaces that lie underfoot, such as stained wood floors and decks, choose either a deck or acrylic floor paint.


Synthetic paintbrushes are appropriate for applying any type of water-based primer or finish; they are not suited for use with shellac primers. Use a natural-bristled paintbrush to apply shellac primer to stained wood.

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