Skip to Content

How To Paint Already Painted Wood

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. 

Erin painting with small foam roller with green paint on already painting wainscoting.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy.

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.

small foam roller painted over painted wood.

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)

Krud kutter, Sherwin Williams Emerald Paint, small foam roller, paint tray, paint brush and painter's tape.

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.

white closet cubby with hooks.

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!

oak kitchen cabinets before painted white and then painted green and white.

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.

man removing hardware hooks with drill before painting begins of painted mudroom closet cubby.

Step 2: Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the old paint job and surface.

hand holding 220 sandpaper with deglosser and painted wood cubby in background.

Step 3: Remove dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum.

hand holding dyson vacuum cleaning wood shelves.

Step 4: Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted.

painter's tape, sandpaper and Krud kutter used to wipe down painted wood.

Step 5: Tape out any areas and add a drop cloth.

frog painter's tape on wood floor around white painted wood.

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.

2.5" synthetic brush with green paint painting small areas of closet cubby.

Step 7: Use our favorite type of foam roller and mini paint trays to apply a thin layer of the Emerald paint in semi-gloss. Don’t worry if the first coat of paint is splotchy.

first layer of green paint on top of white painted wood with small foam roller and brush.

Step 8: Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.

wood shelves with first coat of green paint on them.

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.

fully green painted closet cubby.

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

dirty painted white wood shelf.

Here is our finished repainted cubby. The paint really was all the space needed to feel fresh again.

 

items hanging in finished painted cubby mudroom closet.

Free Printable instructions:

Yield: Repainted Painted Wood Cubby

How To Paint Already Painted Wood

white painted wood closet cubby and after green painted wood closet cubby.

Learn how to repaint already painted wood. See how this wooden cubby was repainted a nice blue-green paint color.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost under $100

Materials

Instructions

  1. Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the old paint job and surface.
  2. Remove dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum
  3. Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted.
  4. Tape out any areas and add a drop cloth.
  5. Use a brush to trim out areas that are hard to reach.
  6. Use a small foam roller and mini paint trays to apply a thin layer of the Emerald paint in semi-gloss.
  7. Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.
  8. 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.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Follow us on Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

We are so happy that we chose to just repaint the painted wood cubby.

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Instructions