Painting Over Stain

Author: Staff Writers

Learn how to paint over stain to refurbish any outdated room with tips for prepping the surface, priming, and selecting a topcoat.

Painting Over Wood Stain

Wood stain, unlike paint, has color that penetrates the wood below the surface. It is often covered with shellac or wax, much like wood paneling on walls. This shiny surface must be cleaned with trisodium phosphate in a bucket of water with a sponge. After this is rinsed off with water and allowed to dry, sand the shiny surface of the cabinets with coarse sandpaper to a dull finish and wipe off the sanded-off dust with a clean cloth. Paint with an oil-based primer, followed by two coats of semi-gloss or glossy paint of your choice of color. Between coats, allow to dry the amount of time advised on the can of each product. If necessary, use fine sandpaper to sand any bubbles or other defects in the dried paint coat, and wipe off the sanded dust before applying the next coat of paint.

Problem Stains and How to Paint Over Them

Determine what kind of stain is being dealt with. There are water-soluble stains and solvent-soluble stains, as well as stains from water, smoke, or tannins from the underlying wood itself. Water-soluble stains are those stains that can be washed off with a water-based cleaner. They should be sealed and primed with an alkyd, oil-based primer so that the stain does not seep through as it would with a latex water-based primer. Conversely, a solvent-soluble stain should be cleaned off with a solvent-based cleaner that can dissolve it, and primed with a good water-based primer/sealer product that the solvent-soluble stain cannot bleed through. Solvent based stains are those which will not wash off with water, such as grease or oil stains, and permanent waterproof marker stains, which can only be removed with a solvent. There are also other products in the paint store that can be used to clean off and prime special types of stains left by fire and water damage. There are even special products that protect the paint from tannins, which are pigments that seep through the paint from the wood itself. After you have selected and obtained the proper cleaner and primer/sealer for the type of stain you wish to cover, you can spot treat the affected area, then do the whole wall for a uniform look. Use the instructions on the labels of these products as your guide on how to prepare the surface of the wall for the product, how to apply it, and how much time to allow for drying.


Works Cited

The encyclopedia of wood
New York: Skyhorse Pub., 2007. Print.

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"Painting Over Stain." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

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