14 Mistakes On Painting Wood Furniture and How To Avoid

Make mistakes while painting? You probably recognize it: you have dreaded painting the wood on your home for ages.

Because once you start doing it, you naturally want to do it right. If you don’t do it right, you’ll run into problems in no time.

It won’t be pretty, or the paint gets air bubbles or even discolors. Worst case scenario, the paint peels off, and you need to start over.

In this blog article, I write about the most common mistakes when painting wooden surfaces, such as frames, doors, walls, bulkheads, wind springs, et cetera, as I often encounter in practice.

Do not worry. If you’ve read this blog article, you’re well on becoming an expert. Then you know the most common mistakes while painting so you can tackle your painting job well.

And let me tell you in advance: good preparation is half the battle.

1. Sanding before cleaning the wood

The first is more common than you might think. And it’s instantly catastrophic.

Many people think that you should sand first and only then clean. You sand off the dirt, don’t you? No. That’s a terrible miss.

Sanding is no more than damaging the surface to get good adhesion to the paint.

You can sand microscopic grooves in the substrate with sandpaper; paint adheres better to a rough surface than to a smooth surface.

If you have not cleaned the surface first, you will sand all the grease and dirt into the grooves and will never be able to get it out completely.

Then the surface seems clean, but it is not. The result: your paint doesn’t adhere well because of the grease and dirt. And chances are you can start over.

2. Not cleaning all the wood surface

This mistake also fits with this: do not clean the surface. There’s no need for that.

Without cleaning the surface first, giving it a little sanding, and then painting it will only lead to trouble.

As you have just read, cleaning is crucial for good paint adhesion.

3. The wrong cleaning agent

And if you are already going to clean: use the right product. For example, some people use white spirit or all-purpose cleaner as a cleaning agent; this is the wrong choice.

White spirit distributes the dirt over the surface to be painted, leaving a greasy layer behind. Turpentine is, therefore, not a cleaning agent but a diluent.

The same problem arises when using certain all-purpose cleaners that give the surface a bit of shine after cleaning.

They achieve that shine with greasy additives and can therefore also cause detachment of your carefully applied paint.

Good cleaning agents are the agents that are specially made for cleaning paintwork.

These agents clean and degrease the surface 100% without leaving any traces of the cleaning agent itself.

4. Too much sanding

Sanding after cleaning, of course, is good. But sanding too much, too long, or too hard results in much extra work.

Sanding with large sanders seems to go faster but often involves much more work afterward. If you sand too much, especially sanders, you will quickly go through the old paint layer.

Then you must treat the bare wood and sanded spots with primer, which must dry again, and you still have to sand before you can paint. That takes extra time and extra work.

Does the existing paintwork of your windows or doors need a new coat of paint, and does the old paint layer have no peeling parts or cracks yet? Then you are lucky.

All you have to do is thoroughly clean it before lightly sanding it. So don’t go through the paint! Light sanding means you sand the coat of paint matt so that the new coat of paint adheres well.

That is enough. Your surface is completely ready for the new paint job.

5. Not Sanding the wood surface

And the opposite of ‘too much sanding’ is, of course: ‘not sanding.’ Some people don’t think sanding is necessary. Not smart.

Do I have to explain that after the previous story?

6. Painting in too humid weather

Cleaning and sanding are one; a little cooperation from the weather is two.

Painting in the rain is nothing, but damp weather without rain is not exactly good for your painting.

In humid weather, there is a good chance that condensation will form on the surface you want to paint. This is guaranteed to lead to detachment and matting of the paint layer.

We are at or below the “dew point” when condensation happens. When the relative humidity reaches 100%, that is the dew point.

I recommend always painting at a maximum humidity of 85%. By using these safety margins, you are guaranteed to get an excellent piece of painting. Indicate whether the humidity is too high or low enough.

7. Painting in too hot weather

Painting in too hot weather is also a common mistake.

The paint will dry far too quickly if the temperature is too high. In that case, the paint will not have time to flow, which can produce ugly results.

For example, visible brush strokes and application of the brush. But that’s not all. Poor flow also shortens the life of the paint.

Painting in the sun is often completely disastrous for the quality of the paintwork. Air bubbles form in the paint, and there is certainly no question of flow.

So do not paint in too hot weather and not in the sun! And oh yes: the sun sometimes wants to turn, so what you paint in the shade in the morning may well be in the blazing sun in the afternoon. And that’s just a shame about your job.

Between 59 °F and 77 °F is the best range for painting. The paint shines in this situation.

8. Paint too thick

Okay, then we’ve cleaned, sanded, and weather. So you don’t make that mistake anymore. But the paint itself also requires some attention.

Straight from the can to the wood? I do not think so. Sometimes the paint is too thick; in other words: the paint has too high a viscosity.

It isn’t easy to process, doesn’t flow well, and doesn’t look like anything when it’s dry.

Before painting, you must make sure your paint is the right thickness. When it’s cold, paint is thicker than when it’s hot, so you have to thin it.

You must, of course, do this with a thinner that is suitable for the paint you use. With synthetic paints or solvent-based paints, this is usually white spirit.

With water-based paints, you can use water or acrylic thinner. The correct application viscosity is achieved when the paint is easy to process and flows well.

9. Paint wood without primer

Another painting mistake: don’t use a primer. Why would you?

For example, to avoid standing wood fibers, there is no smooth appearance and poor coverage.

You usually get an ugly end without primer on the bare-sanded wood. It can also adversely affect the adhesion of the paint.

Always use a primer with bare wood.

Another advantage is: that primer is easy to sand. So you can paint the next (final) layer on a nice smooth surface.

10. Same color primer as the topcoat

It seems smart: use the same color of primer as the topcoat. But it has a big disadvantage: you can’t see where you’ve been when painting!

Especially in the twilight or in the shade, it is much more difficult to deliver a nice piece of painting.

I always recommend that the color of the primer differs at least a few shades from the topcoat.

This way, you have a good view of what you have already treated and what has not yet.

11. Incorrect primer color for difficult-to-cover colors

Poor coverage is a common complaint. Most of the time, this is because cheap paint doesn’t have enough pigment.

But even with good quality paint, you can run into that problem. The mistake many people make is using the wrong color of the primer.

Bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow are difficult to cover because they contain bright pigments.

That does not mean all red, orange, and yellow colors are difficult to cover, but the clear ones do. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple: choose the right color of the primer.

Standard primer is available in some colors. Depending on the color of the topcoat you want to use, choose the best shade of primer for a perfectly opaque result.

Color FinishColor Primer
Yellow, Orange, Bright Green, Bright RedWhite
RedLight gray
Dark greenDark gray

12. Using the wrong brush or roller

The same applies to a painting job: use the right tools. Cheap brushes and rollers may have an attractive price, but generally, they do not provide an attractive result.

The wrong brush can cause streaks in the paintwork and leave hairs in the paint. That usually means a lot more work and an ugly result.

The same goes for rollers a bit. An incorrect roller can leave ‘roller bits’ in the paint layer or disrupt the flow.

So do not only ensure a decent quality but also that you are looking for ‘the right brush for the right job for an excellent result.

  • You do not apply a stain with a round brush and a roller but with a flat (wide) brush.
  • You paint the frames with a good round brush. Not a flat brush and certainly not a disposable brush!
  • You do the sauce of walls with a wall paint roller.
  • To coat a concrete floor, use a roller made for coatings (2K roller).

13. Paint not stirred well

Applying the paint directly from the jar to your wood is not a good idea. Constantly stir well first.

When the paint isn’t mixed right, it doesn’t cover as well, has the wrong level of gloss, doesn’t flow as it should, and has the wrong viscosity.

So much trouble. Stirring: little effort, great pleasure.

Pigments and fillers are solid particles that ‘float’ in the paint during storage; these particles will fall to the can’s bottom.

Other liquid additives, such as siccative (dryer), will float to the surface. Before you start using paint, you must therefore stir well.

The solid particles and liquids will mix with the rest, and the paint will regain its original properties.

Stir the paint thoroughly with a flat wooden stirring stick from bottom to top. Do this for at least a minute and scrape the bottom a few times. Then you know for sure that all ingredients are well mixed.

14. Painting with bad paint

That speaks for itself. However, many people go wrong with this.

Nobody wants bad paint on the wooden furniture of their house. Not only do you have to paint more often to keep it beautiful.

Bad paint protects less, meaning the underlying wood is more likely to rot.

Unfortunately, more and more private labels are coming onto the market with particularly poor quality.

You see this a lot, especially in bigger hardware and budget stores. Do you know why the price is so low?

You can reduce the cost with cheap raw materials, many fillers, thinners, and little pigment. Nice and cheap, but then you have nothing.

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