Painting Over Varnished Wood: Top Things To Know

If you have some sets of furniture with varnished wood, then you can do the makeover by painting over varnished wood of your own.

This is a DIY project that many homeowners mostly doubt, though it is very easy.

Painting over varnished wood needs the most appropriate methods and materials. That’s the secret.

Everyone can use oil, which is the best part, whether oil-based paint or water-based paint.

Painting Over Varnished Wood Without Sanding

Most of the time, varnished wood furniture needs sanding before repainting. The result is satisfying, indeed.

But, many people don’t bother sanding varnished wood furniture because they feel certain they can repaint it very well.

It is recommended to use chalk paint for the best protection over the surface in the long term. After the chalk paint application, the top coat is recommended for a better result.

Preparing the surface with a bonding primer before sanding the furniture is another good way to deliver the best result.

What’s the best way to paint over varnished wood?

First, trim the varnished wood surface by using 220 grit sandpaper after cleaning the surface. It ensures the primer adheres.

Then, vacuum the sanding until it is very clean. There should be no dust at all. Use a refinishing cloth to wipe them down.

Afterward, prime the surface with a blocked stain. Make sure the drying process is based on the primer’s recommendation. Dry the primer and paint it with any paint, whether it is oil-based or water-based.

Those who want to use liquid sandpaper might face a longer process. It removes the varnish only. Yet, the result isn’t as smooth as using common sandpaper.

Remember that too rough sandpaper can cause the wooden furniture to scratch. There will be marks on the surface. Of course, it will impact the finish in the end.

The easy way to do this is not to try and take all of the varnishes off and down to bare wood. Instead, you want to scratch the surface enough to allow your next coat of paint to stick to it.

It is better to avoid using deglosser on particleboard. The wood can swell due to the moisturizer within the deglosser. It is only suitable for even wooden furniture.

The Necessity of Priming Varnished Wood Before Painting

Almost all kinds of paint jobs require primer.

This is particularly when users don’t sand varnished wood. When users don’t apply primer, then there will be flaws in the varnished wood. Besides, users will have to repaint the varnished wooden furniture, and the overall cost will be higher than expected.

The best primer for any varnished wood is oil-based primer. This kind of primer can keep tannins away.

Besides, any primer can adhere well with either water or oil-based primer.

Priming varnished wood once is mostly enough unless the varnished wood is in dark color. It requires two times priming before the surface is ready to be painted.

Stripping Varnish Before Painting

Before painting, stripping varnish can allow the applied stain to adhere. Stripping is much easier than sanding when it comes to removing old paint.

Whatever the method, the residue should be removed completely from the surfaces to ensure excellent finishing.

It is important to remember that the surface should be clean from the residue, whether by vacuuming or wiping with a tack cloth. The tack cloth is very beneficial for removing residue around the chisel.

Then pour the stain into a clean bowl. Pick the brush and dip it into the stain.

Begin with corners and edges before staining the overall surfaces.

Apply two coats at the minimum to gain the desired result. Don’t put on the second layer until the first one is dry.

Sealing with transparent varnish is the next thing after finishing the job. It will result in durable results, whether it is matte or glossy.

Oil-Based Painting Over The Varnished Wood Furniture

Varnished wood furniture can get covered with any paint, whether it is an oil-based painting or even water-based paint.

But, varnished wood furniture will reveal its best look with water-based paint.

Don’t doubt to coat oil-based primer with acrylic paint that has the best quality.

Related: Varnish Over Oiled Wood

Painting Over Stained And Varnished Wood; How To Do It

The paint can adhere to stained wood whenever its surface is already prepared. Use a household cleaner to clean the surface.

Afterward, remove the varnish by using sandpaper. Sanding can rough the surface up so it can hold the primer.

Using deglosser, as was mentioned previously, is also worth trying. Yet, deglosser is common among those who must paint over the big varnished wood surface.

Of course, complete protection is a necessity for those who use this chemical substance.

However, painting varnished wood over straightly can prevent the varnish from adhering to the paint.

Even if the painting is applied more than once, the result may not be satisfying.

So, there is no other choice than sanding or removing with deglosser paint over the varnished wood.

Best Paint For Varnished Wood

Many agree that water-based paint, mostly acrylic, is the best for varnished wooden furniture.

Choices vary between low and high gloss finishes. Some people prefer low gloss because it can cover flaws much better.

But, its major drawback is its high effort in cleaning.

For the most rewarding result, satin finishing is recommended. Cleaning will be effortless, and it is glossy enough to make the surface look elegant.

Related: Can You Varnish Over Varnish?

Painting Varnished Wood Flawlessly

Now, let’s discuss how to paint varnished wood flawlessly. Users mostly prefer to use a roller for painting bigger areas.

Painting is much easier and results much softer than using a brush.

However, there is nothing wrong with using a paintbrush, as long as users can cover the whole painting area very well.

However, painting without priming is fine, though it is much better to prime and paint instead of only priming.

Painting wood: tips from the paint specialist

Along with the answers to the most common questions about painting wood, here are a few more tips from our paint specialist painting wood:

  • Never work in hot weather in full sun
  • Only thin the paint if the paint is noticeably too thick
  • Always use the recommended brushes and rollers to apply the correct film thickness
  • Always ensure a clean and grease-free surface before you start sanding
  • Provide at least 3 layers of paint on bare wood
  • Use the correct fillers for wood repairs
  • Put on a mask with much sanding
  • Two topcoats are not necessary with high-gloss paint. For high-gloss paint, use a matching primer.

Painting on outdoor varnished wood

Is it necessary to first scrape, burn, bite, and sand off the old layer of clear coat? Or, can we put varnish on top of a clear coat that has been sanded?

You can paint over varnish on an outdoor surface, but things will likely go wrong.

When it is decided to paint a frame, window, or door that has been varnished in an opaque way, there is only one good way to do it.

After cleaning and sanding the wood well, remove any varnish already on it. Then, prime and topcoat the wood twice.

This method is also needed for pickling that is clear. When there isn’t much color in the paint, you must take it off before you can paint over it.

This doesn’t work for stains that are called “opaque.” Clear or transparent layers don’t stick well enough to the substrate, so they must be removed before painting opaque layers.

Adhesion in paint over varnished wood – bonding reaction

This is explained in the next section. Attachment can take place in different ways. This sticking together is done by anchoring to a roughened or porous substrate.

The paint can get between the wood’s fibers or into the wood’s cells.

The paint sticks to the surface. When the surface is roughened, like by sanding, the area of the surface is increased.

We also know about “physical adhesion.” This is a type of connection that can be called “sticking.”

When the molecules of two different things, like paint and wood, get close, they attract each other. This is also called sticking.

We finally know how chemicals bond. This type of adhesion happens when the paint reacts with the surface.

One kind of paint that does this is silicate paint. Silicone sealant on glass also forms a chemical bond. The less pigment or filler a paint product has, the less it sticks to other things.

Primers are usually matte and have a lot of filler and pigment in them for a reason. The better the bond, the more dry matter there is.

Anchoring is only one part of bonding. In reality, bonding is more about physical interaction and, very rarely, a chemical reaction.

But physical interaction is the most important thing to remember when trying to stick paint to a surface.

There is little or no pigment or filler in clear coats and other transparent paints. Because of this, this type of paint doesn’t stick as well as opaque paints. This is and always has been a weak link in a paint system.

When the paint is exposed to water and physical stress, it is more likely to get damaged. Because of this, clear coats should be taken off before painting.

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