You have bought a new wooden piece of furniture, but its color doesn’t match the rest of the décor. Now, investing in another piece is out of the question.

So, can you paint over painted wood?

The process is helpful even for old furniture and crown moldings where the old paint is still present. What’s more, you do not have to remove all of the existing paint to do it.

In this guide, I will tell you step-by-step how to go through the entire process. So, let’s get to it.

Can You Paint Over Painted Wood?

Yes! It is possible, but you must prepare the surface. If you’re wondering, “Can you paint over painted wood without sanding” you can do that. But sanding and primer ensure the fresh paint sticks to the surface. You can only skip this if there is no visible damage or peeling.

Tools and Materials You Need to Repaint an Already Painted Wood

  • Trisodium phosphate or TSP (Na₃PO₄)
  • Fine to medium grit sandpaper (180-grit and 220-grit)
  • A high adhesion primer
  • Acrylic-latex paint
  • Random orbital sander
  • Tack cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket
  • Hearing protection and eyewear
  • Shop vacuum
  • Paintbrush (2½-inch)
  • Liner and paint tray
  • Canvas drop cloth
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Roller assembly with foam cover
  • Paint additives, like Floetrol, Penetrol, etc

Preparing Painted Wood for Repairs: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

The First thing you need to consider when painting over an already painted wood is that the surface is smooth. This ensures that the repainted wooden surface looks good.

Sanding also makes the surface coarse enough so that the fresh paint sticks to it better. So, to help you achieve a smoother outcome with a glossy finish for painting wood, we have designed this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Cover the work surface from paint spills

Before you begin the process, you need to prepare the wooden surface first. Also, you do not want to spill paint all over the place as it will be difficult to remove them later.

So, cover the floor and other areas with plastic sheeting. Then lay the canvas drop cloth over the plastic sheeting to stop the floor from getting wet by the paint.

You can even use contractor’s paper instead of plastic sheeting. The canvas drop cloth adds a non-slip surface that helps contain the mess better.

Step 2: Clean the wooden surface

The next step we recommend is to cover your eyes, ears, and hands. Put on the eye and hearing protection and the rubber gloves before you start cleaning the wood surface.

Now, mix the TSP solution with warm water in a proportion that the manufacturer recommends. Dip a piece of cloth in the solution and then squeeze it dry.

Then wipe down the wood with the cloth. This will remove all the impurities, like dirt, grime, and oils, from the surface.

Once done, dip another clean cloth in a separate clean and warm water and wipe the wood once more. Now, wait for it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Sand the flat areas of the wood

Before sanding the wood, you must wear a dust mask or respirator and hearing protection. This will protect you from inhaling the dust particles and the loud noise.

Use the random orbital sander and the fine grit sandpaper (180-grit) to smooth the surface. Do not go overboard with it, as you do not want to strip the wood of all of its previous coatings and stains. You just need to smooth the area enough for the fresh paint to bond.

Step 4: Sand the uneven corners

If you are preparing wooden furniture, moving the sandpaper with your hands is better than using the random orbital sander. This will be more convenient since you can sand along with the shape of the furniture.

Step 5: Clean off the sanding dust

Now, use the shop vacuum to clear off all the dust from the sanding. You can use a brush attachment with the vacuum, but avoid using a blower. Or else, it will just spread the dust around, making a bigger mess.

Use a bag and a filter with the vacuum to reduce the amount of airborne dust. After vacuuming, use a cotton rag or tack cloth soaked in water to remove the remaining dust. Here’s more on cleaning wooden surfaces after sanding.

Step 6: Apply the primer to the wood

Before you apply the adhesive primer, mix it well. Then use a roller or a brush to apply it to the wooden surface. Wait till it dries completely. (Find out which roller best suits you between 1/2 inch nap vs ⅜ nap roller in our guide. )

If the primer appears transparent on the wood, apply at least two coats. After drying, the primer on the wood will feel chalky, but you don’t need to worry. It will become smooth once you apply the paint.

Step 7: Sand down the primer coat

Next, sand down between the coats. Sand down the first coat of primer before you start applying the paint. Use the 220-grit sandpaper but make sure to sand lightly. Otherwise, you can damage the primer.

Once more, use the vacuum brush to dust off the debris from the sanding and gently swipe the wooden piece with the tack cloth.

Step 8: Apply the paint using a brush or roller

If you notice any uneven surfaces even after this, then it is better to use a paintbrush for the painting. This is normal for furniture, crown molding, and casing trim. However, you will need a high-density roller for handling large, flat areas.

Dab the end of the bristles into the paint but do not dip it. Gently drag the paintbrush around the wooden surface using short strokes.

You need to apply strokes parallel to the wooden grain. If you apply the paint with the roller, use the paint tray liner. Pour only 4 ounces of paint into the tray.

You have a wide selection to pick from paint, but remember painting furniture with wall paint may require special considerations, so you better stick to the right product.

Step 9: Sand and paint one last time

If you want a smoother coat, you need to repeat the sanding and painting steps. When you apply the first paint, it can cause bumps and inconsistencies. But should you sand between coats of paint?

Sanding it will remove that. Use the 220-grit sandpaper by hand and gently rub it across the wooden surface. You can even attach the sandpaper to the orbital sander and run it gently across.

Different Ways to Prepare Stained Wood for Further Painting

You can bring any woodwork to life by applying fresh paint on the stained surface, but simply applying it will not do. You need to know how to prepare the wood first so that the paint can do its job perfectly.

Hiring a professional contractor for paint jobs can be expensive, and that’s why you want to do it yourself. However, this can cause a lot of stress if you are not aware of how to do it right.

It becomes trickier when you apply the paint over an already stained or painted woodwork. That’s why we have enlisted the different methods involved in the process.

Now that you know how to prepare the wood for painting, you should also know the different ways of doing it.

1. Primer

A high-quality adhesive primer is an absolute necessity, and you need to apply it before the paint. This will seal the wooden material so that the paint only covers the surface without getting soaked into the material.

This is a vital step of the process, especially when painting old wooden surfaces. Primer also helps the paint stick to the surface better and drastically enhances the appearance of the area.

You can easily change the old color of the wooden surface with this as well. You can even increase the lifespan of the wood if you apply alkyd-based primer as it has preservative resins.

However, always remember to let the primer dry completely before painting.

2. Sanding and cleaning

Sanding and cleaning is another essential part of painting woodwork, and you may need to repeat this process multiple times.

With this process, you can make the surface even for it to look good but coarse enough so the paint sticks to it. You have to sand the surface until it appears dull.

However, the process produces a lot of dust, making it challenging to apply the paint. This is why you need to give the surface a good wipe after sanding.

3. Scraping

Sometimes, when dealing with older woodwork, you have to scrape. This is to remove the layers of the varnish or previous paint so that you can apply the fresh paint. If you try to apply the paint before this, the result will not be as good.

Also, wood surfaces have peeled-off areas when it turns old. Scraping these will help you avoid any paint flakes from the loose paint. To get rid of the loose paint, you can use various tools, like a sanding tool, a hook scraper, or a putty knife.

4. Patching

After many years, your old wooden painted furniture or crown molding may display gaps, deep scratch marks, or holes.

When you plan to paint these, you might first want to eliminate these imperfections. Or else they will still be visible after the painting.

You can use wood crack filler epoxy to cure the imperfections and fill the gaps in the wooden surface. Some wood filler also works great for this. There is no limit to how much you can use, so you can apply as much as needed.

Read also: Best cordless nailer for crown molding.

Is It Necessary to Sand the Surface First?

Let’s be honest here! Nobody likes sanding. It takes a lot of work, is noisy, and creates a lot of dust which you have to clean afterward, but it is necessary. Many of you will want to avoid sanding at all costs.

You can apply fresh paint on an already painted or stained wood without sanding the surface. However, look at the wood for any dents, scratches, holes, or gaps. You need to ensure that the wooden area is not damaged from prolonged use.

If the area you plan to paint has no such issues, you can go ahead without sanding the surface. You can paint varnished doors or other wooden surfaces without sanding. However, keep in mind that proper cleaning and the use of a suitable primer are still essential for ensuring good adhesion and a long-lasting finish.

There is also another case that may require you to sand on the wooden surface. You need to ensure that there is no peeling paint on the deck.

If the paint is peeling off, you must sand it to remove the loose paint. Otherwise, it will prevent the freshly applied paint from sticking to it.

Sanding Between Coats

While painting over painted wood, you often need to repeat the sanding process between the painting. Initially, you can start with 180-grit sandpaper, but you will need sandpaper with a coarser grit as you apply paint.

This is why using 220-grit sandpaper while sanding the primer and in between coats is recommended. A trick is to spray a fine water mist over the surface after sanding. This will increase the grain.

Also, always sand or paint in the direction of the wooden grains to prevent any damage to the surface.

What is a Primer, and How to Prime the Surface?

A primer, also known as an undercoat, protects the wooden surface and helps the paint stick to it better. You need to apply the primer to the surface before the fresh paint.

This is necessary whether you apply the paint for the first time or on an already painted surface. Once the primer dries out completely, you can apply the new paint on top of it. This will produce a smoother texture that looks good.

The only trick here is to choose the primer since you will not always know which paint was previously used on the wood. You also need to know if the wood was previously finished or if it has a top coat.

This is why you need a primer that does the job in all cases. A solid adhesive primer will stick to any surface and help you paint smoothly.(Here’s our guide on the best spray primer).

Should You Consider Paint Additives?

The problem with paint is that it can get sticky, making it difficult to drag the brush. That is why you cannot take too long while painting. If you think you cannot do it fast enough, a paint additive is your best solution.

Consider using Floetrol and Penetrol, as these are the most popular additives in the market. You will be surprised how smooth the brush strokes will become once you apply the additives.

However, do not keep a fan or heating vent running while you paint. Also, avoid painting in direct sunlight as it will dry the paint faster than you can stroke the brush.

Explore our guide on the top workbench finish for surface coatings and protection methods to enhance your workbench’s longevity and functionality.


How to paint furniture that is already painted?

You can paint over an already painted furniture if the previous work is not good or the old paint is peeling off. To do this, you need to prepare the wooden surface first and then apply a primer and use a latex-based or chalk paint. We do not recommend chalk paint as such, although if you must use it, we have a guide for you on “how can you keep chalk paint from scratching.

How to stop paint from peeling on wood?

You can prevent or remove the old paint via pressure wash. Then scrape and sand the surface to give it a smooth finish. Clear the dust, give it a good wipe, and let it dry out completely. Now, apply a recoat on the areas where you noticed the peeling paint.

Is sanding painted wood before repainting necessary?

No. It is unnecessary to sand before repainting painted wood furniture, but it helps. Sanding smoothens the wooden surface and removes any signs of imperfection, like dents, paint peeling, etc. So, when you reapply the fresh paint, it enhances the appearance of the woodwork.

How to keep paint from chipping off wood?

If you want to prevent the new paint from chipping off the wood, sand it well before starting the process. Applying adhesive primer will ensure that the paint sticks to the surface. This is necessary when using regular latex paint and prevents the paint from being soaked up.

Can you paint over painted wood?

Yes, you can apply fresh paint over an already painted wooden surface or furniture, given you take the necessary steps. You have to be careful when painting over a finished wood surface. Gently sand the surface to remove any loose paint and smooth the imperfections. After that, apply any oil-based paint over an adhesive prime.

How do you paint over white painted wood?

You need to use latex-based or chalk paint over a white painted wooden surface. Even acrylic paint and oil-based paints work great on wood. However, you need to sand the surface to smoothen it properly. After that, you can apply any paint over the smooth surface. To make the paint stick better, apply an adhesive primer before painting.

How do you paint over black painted wood?

To paint over a black wooden surface or furniture, you need a shellac primer to seal the surface. After that, you can apply the paint that you want. Next, you have to apply another coat of satin wax on top of it. This will ensure good color quality and a long-lasting outcome.

Can you paint over old paint?

Yes, you can, and there are many ways to do it. If the fresh paint is also latex, you can directly paint it. If you use oil-based or water-based paint, you must prepare the wood by sanding and applying primer. Use an oil-based or water-based, non-toxic paint.

Can you prime over paint?

Yes, you can use a high-quality primer to cover the old paint, but you must apply fresh paint afterward. You need the primer to ensure the color lasts when painting on previously painted wood. You can even use the new paint and primer combo, which is more convenient.

See: Can you spray paint over latex paint and Can you use white base paint without tint?


With the right tools and surface preparation, you can bring your old wooden furniture, crown, and moldings to life. You can even change the color of a newly bought piece of furniture to match your décor.

However, if you do not prepare the surface and follow the proper steps, the paint might appear uneven and even begin to peel off. This is the reason you might ask, “can you paint over painted wood?

Just follow the steps thoroughly mentioned here, from scraping the old paints to sanding the imperfections away. Afterward, apply a quality adhesive primer, and you can apply the fresh paint without worrying.

If you mess up at this step, don’t worry! You can always repeat the process from scratch. But remember to sand and add primer before reapplying the paint.