How to Paint Over Stained Wood

Painted wood can add a great deal of personality to any room in your house. However, you may have already realized that painting wood chips easily is difficult to cover up. It is possible to paint over stained wood with certain products and techniques. However, the results vary depending on the type of stain used on the wood flooring or furniture.

If the correct preparation has not been carried out, then this may not work, and the surface of the wood could become ruined.

Here we have a guide on preparing a painted surface for what was once stained wood.

Step 1: Cleaning

Preparation can differ between an average paint job and a spectacular one. The key to a great paint job starts with the surface you’re beginning with. It must be clean and dry.

The stained wood should be cleaned to remove any loose dirt and debris. Ensure that the dust is removed between cracks in the boards, preventing paint from sticking to them properly.

Use a dry duster to remove surface dust from the stained wood. This will ensure that the surface is not contaminated with foreign objects, particularly if you paint over stained wood. A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment will work well for this purpose.

To ensure that your stained wood is clean, prepare it by washing it thoroughly using a cleaner or degreaser. Once you’ve finished, leave it for a few hours before continuing.

Step 2: Sanding

Sanding is required if there are any nicks or chips in the wood. If the stain seeped deep into the wood grain, you might have to go over it again with sandpaper. Use fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit) to smooth out the entire floor or furniture piece.

Inspect your work and continue sanding until all nicks are filled in, and the surface is smooth. If you have an electric sander, this process will be much easier.

Be careful not to inhale any sawdust that comes off, and always wear a face mask. This step not only helps the paint stick better, but it will also give an even appearance after you paint.

Step 3: Clean Off All the Dust

No matter how careful you are when sanding, wood dust will always be. That dust will be your enemy in painting, as it prevents the paint from adhering well.

If you see any dust particles after sanding, use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac and filter out as much debris as possible. This should be done outside or in a space that can easily and quickly be cleaned.

After this has been completed, wipe the stained wood with a cloth. This will remove any remaining surface dust and ensure no grit or dirt particles remain.

Step 4: Add Masking Tape

Next, you will need to add masking tape to the area. When painting stained wood, it’s important to ensure that all edges are covered to prevent any overspill in your stained wood. It is also essential that this protective layer doesn’t touch the surface of the wood itself, so take care when applying it.

Step 5: Applying Primer

Now you are ready to prime your stained wood floor or furniture piece. Be sure to purchase a good-quality wood sealer that can be used on both hard and soft woods.

You will need two coats of this product to ensure that the paint will adhere evenly. Apply one coat with a high-quality bristle brush, and let it dry for at least an hour before applying a second coat.

Step 6: Painting

Apply semi-gloss paint to the stained wood. You will need one coat of this product, which may take two coats for complete coverage.

Give your paint a few coats to get a nice, even color. Stained wood is often porous and uneven, so the paint may take a while to dry. Be patient and allow sufficient time for this before your project.

Step 7: Remove Mask

Once you’ve finished painting, simply remove the masking tape, and voila.

This should not take more than a day, depending on the size and condition of the floor or furniture piece. Remember, you must let the primer and paint dry for 24 hours.

You now have beautifully stained wood with a fresh new coat of paint. Job well done!

Step 8: Apply a Clear Coat Over Your Paint (Optional)

You can apply a clear coat or wax over your newly painted floor or furniture piece to make it shine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use Over Stained Wood?

You can use either latex or oil-based paint over stained wood. Latex paint is the simplest to work with and securely attaches to the wood surface. It is also less likely to yellow over time.

Oil-based paint will provide a more durable finish, but it can be difficult to apply evenly. When painting over a water-based wood stain, use a latex primer. This will help the paint adhere properly and prevent the color from bleeding.

After the primer has dried, you can apply a top coat of paint using a brush or roller. For best results, choose a paint color similar to the stain. This will help to camouflage any imperfections in the finish.

What Happens If You Paint Over Stained Wood?

Many people assume that they need to strip the stain off before painting, but this is not always the case. If the wood is not glossy, the paint will have no problem adhering to it.

If the wood is too rough in some places, then you will only need to sand it. However, if the stain is glossy, you will need to use a primer before painting. This will help create a smooth surface to which the paint can adhere.

So, whether or not you need to strip the stain off before painting depends on the type of stain and the level of glossiness. In either case, a little preparation will go a long way towards ensuring a smooth and successful paint job.


Stained wood can be difficult to paint, but it can be done with the right preparation and techniques. Be sure to sand and prime the wood before painting, and use a good-quality sealer. Apply several coats of paint for even coverage, and remove the masking tape once finished.

If you want, you can also apply a clear coat or wax to make your project shine. You can transform stained wood into a beautifully painted surface with little effort.