Tips and Techniques on How to Paint Wood (or Even a House)

Techniques and Tips to Paint like a Pro

Wood Painting
Wood Painting. Photo Olger Fallas Flickr

Painting techniques on wood can produce better finishing on your wood surface. It is usual to varnish wood rather than apply a paint coat over the surface. Varnish, a clear protective coating either glossy or matte, can give the wood a colored protection and sometimes will even enhance the wood grain and patterns. However, a good painting technique or applying paint on wood will be dependent on the surface and type of wood being treated.

How to Prepare an Unpainted Surface

If you are painting a surface for the first time, it is important to start by sanding the surface first. Sanding the surface with a 280-320 grit wet or dry sandpaper will smooth and prepare the surface for that first coat. Sanded particles are removed completely using a lint-free cloth soaked with paint thinner, as the humidity of the cloth will pick up all loose sand. Follow these steps for a great finish:

  1. Apply a coat of white alkyd undercoat and let it dry for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. An aluminum wood primer is recommended when the wood is to be exposed to moisture. This type of primer will fill the wood pores and cavities in the wood.
  3. Apply two coats of alkyd enamel to finish your surface.
  4. Apply the first layer of finish, satin, semi-gloss or gloss, and allow it to dry. Remember to sand in between coats for a smoother finish.

Note: If you use an oil-based primer, then you must use an oil-based paint. Oil-based paints and primers dry more slowly than do water-based paints and primers.

What to Do if You Are Repainting?

Ok, so what you need to know if you need to repaint an area? First of all, start by assessing the paint condition of the surface. If the paint is peeling, you must scrape it to remove old paint coats. Afterwards, the surface will need to be smoothed with 180 grit sandpaper to create a smoother surface.

Never attempt to paint an existing wood surface without preparing its surface. Applying a direct coat of paint over the old coating, will not work and eventually will tend to peel, especially if it has a glossy finish.

This painting technique needs to prepare the wooden surface first. Follow these simple steps to get your surface prepared:

  1. Improve your wood surface adhesion by sanding of applying one coat of undercoat.
  2. Sand gently only to create a grip on the surface to be painted. Use a 280 grit to sand the surface. Remember to verify that the paint being removed is not a lead-based paint. If it special and additional steps must be followed as only authorized contractors should be able to remove the lead-based paint and dispose of it following federal regulations.
  3. Remove loose particle as explained herein.
  4. Apply one coat of alkyd undercoat let it dry following manufacturers recommendations.
  5. Apply the topcoat let it dry and apply the first layer of finish, satin, semi-gloss or gloss, and allow it to dry. Sand in between coats for a smoother finish.

But How to Sand in between Coats?

We have indicated that proper sanding needs to be done either on an unpainted surface or over a painted wooden surface.

A correct painting technique will include sanding, starting with coarse grit sandpaper, followed by a medium grit and finishing with fine-grit sandpaper. A good tip and procedure is to spray a fine mist of water over the sanded surface that will raise the grain. Remember that the best way to sand is in the direction of the grain. Otherwise, it might damage your surface. If you choose to sand using an orbital sander; start with coarse and medium sandpapers and finalizing with fine sandpapers.