Painting over old paint on wood
Do you want to change up painted wood in your home? But don’t want the hassle of completely stripping the paint? In our house, we have had several wood-painted projects that we have decided to change up the color or refresh with a new color. Here is how we painted over already painted wood in our home.
Can I paint over old paint on wood?
We will show you how we repainted our mudroom cubby and kitchen cabinets using these painting steps. If your original paint job was done well (and the wood was properly primed) you don’t need to strip and sand the old paint off. Make sure to inspect the surface you are painting fully.
When do you need to prime already painted wood?
You don’t always need to prime already painted wood. If the old paint is in great shape, doesn’t have chipping, and seems to adhere to the surface then you should be able to get away with following the steps we used to repaint our wood cubby.
If you are unsure of the type of paint used, finish or how it was sealed, you may want to consider using an adhesion primer (like water-based Kilz or Zinsser Bin). Just note, if we can avoid using oil-based primers and paints we normally do.
What paint not to use?
There are also primers and paints in one. We don’t recommend those for painting wood. For walls, we think certain brands work just fine. But with wood, I would always air on the side of caution.
What about painting latex over oil-based paint?
Some people will say as long as the paint is fully cured you should be okay. However, if you know you are painting over oil-based paint then I would use a primer so that you don’t end up with chipping and peeling paint.
Also, one thing to note is that you need to make sure that your paint is fully cured no matter what paint you are using. Fully cured paint can take up to thirty days. A good test is when you are able to scrub or clean the wood without ruining the paint job.
Not sure if you have oil paint on your original woodwork? Glidden shares how to do an oil paint test here. You can test a small area of the paint by rubbing denatured alcohol on a cotton ball to see if the paint comes off.
Do you need to strip paint before painting?
If you have peeling paint, you will need to scrape off paint and possibly use a paint stripper like Citri Peel. Sanding the surface before painting will also allow your primer and paint to start fresh. Just note that not all painted surfaces will need this to happen, but don’t skimp on prep if you have areas that are not in the best shape.
When you may want to sand and use a primer over painted wood
- The original surface is too glossy
- The quality of the original paint job is sloppy
- Going from a dark color to a very light one-priming may save you on the coats of paint you need
- New paint does not seem to adhere to the surface. You can test a small area as we did when we painted backsplash tile.
Supplies needed to repaint painted wood (that is in good shape)
How to Repaint Wood Shelves In Closet
For reference, the following painting project was painting over Sherwin Williams Proclassic in semi-gloss with Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in Semi-gloss. The blue-green paint color is Rookwood Sash Green.
White Painted Wood Cubby
Here is our closet mudroom closet painted with SW Proclassic Pure White after 6+ years of use.
As you can see this cubby has definitely had a little wear from a real family using it as their drop-off point. The paint job itself was in decent shape. The edges of some of the wood had worn off a little due to pulling baskets in and out. And the one shelf was definitely super dirty from shoes being there.
Can you use this method to also repaint painted cabinets?
Yes!! We also did this method to repaint our painted kitchen cabinets and I absolutely love the outcome! A year later, we haven’t had any chipping or peeling. The self-leveling paint (Emerald) is honestly amazing!
How to Paint Already Painted Wood
Step 1: Before you begin, remove hardware and/or fill holes with wood filler if you are not replacing with the same size hardware.
Step 2: Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the old paint job and surface.
Step 3: Remove dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum.
Step 4: Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted.
Step 5: Tape out any areas and add a drop cloth.
Step 6: Use a brush to trim out areas that are hard to reach. Since there is beadboard here, we had to also go into the creases of the board.
Step 8: Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.
Step 9: Let paint fully cure before adding back hardware and other accessories. We love trying to wait a week to not mess up our smooth new paint job.
A few things to note about our wood repainting
- At our local paint store, they actually said we could just scuff up the paint surface with a green Scotchbrite sponge and not even sand since our original paint job was in such good shape.
- We only lightly scuff the surface with sandpaper and really didn’t think it was that much extra work.
- We always suggest taking pictures of your project to the actual paint store in order to discuss the project with them. Once you find a few places you trust, you will always go back to them for advice.
- Don’t just buy the cheapest paint. Make sure you are purchasing and using paint that is meant for wood.
- If you are unsure of the type of paint used originally, add a little extra prep with priming.
The “before” painted wood cubby
Here is our finished repainted cubby. The paint really was all the space needed to feel fresh again.
Free Printable instructions:
- Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the old paint job and surface.
- Remove dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum
- Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted.
- Tape out any areas and add a drop cloth.
- Use a brush to trim out areas that are hard to reach.
- Use a small foam roller and mini paint trays to apply a thin layer of the Emerald paint in semi-gloss.
- Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.
- Let paint fully cure before adding back hardware and other accessories. We love trying to wait a week to not mess up our smooth new paint job.
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