Can You Paint Over Finished Wood?

If you’re considering painting over finished wood, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account before getting started. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make sure your project is a success.

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Yes, you can paint over finished wood, but it may not always give you the results you’re looking for. The new paint may not adhere properly and could end up peeling or chipping. It’s also important to note that painting over finished wood will likely change the color and appearance of the wood. If you’re not prepared for this, it’s best to avoid painting altogether.

What is Finished Wood?

Finished wood is wood that has been treated with a sealant, stain, or paint. This type of wood is often used for furniture, trim, and molding. While finished wood can be more durable and easier to clean than unfinished wood, it may not always be the best choice for painting.

The Different Types of Finished Wood

There are three major types of finished wood you may encounter when deciding whether or not to paint: varnish, shellac, and polyurethane. Each has different properties that make it more or less suitable for painting.

Varnish is a durable finish that can withstand a fair amount of wear and tear. It’s also easy to apply, making it a good choice for DIY projects. However, varnish can yellow over time, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a long-lasting finish.

Shellac is another popular finish for woodworking projects. It’s more durable than varnish and won’t yellow over time. However, shellac can be difficult to apply evenly, so it’s not the best choice for novice DIYers.

Polyurethane is the most durable type of finish, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like floors and tabletops. However, polyurethane can be tricky to apply, so it’s best left to the pros.

Can You Paint Over Finished Wood?

You can paint over a finished wood surface as long as it’s in good condition and you prepare it properly. If the finish is chipped or peeling, sand it off before painting. Once you’ve repaired any damage and sanded the surface, apply a primer designed for use on wood, then paint with the color of your choice.

How to Paint Over Finished Wood

It is possible to paint over finished wood, but it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that the paint will adhere properly. First, sand the surface of the wood to create a rough surface for the paint to grip. Next, apply a primer designed for use on finished wood. Once the primer is dry, you can then apply your chosen paint color.


Yes, you can paint over finished wood, but the results will not always be perfect. If the wood is already painted, you may need to sand or prime it first before painting. If the wood is stained, you may need to use a primer that will block out the stain before painting. Either way, it is best to test a small area first to see how the new paint will look.