Rustoleum enamel paint dries to form a hard, often glossy finish primarily suited for metals. This protective coat is expertly formulated to protect various surfaces from the harsh weather elements that typically characterize the outdoor environment.

But can Rustoleum be used on wood surfaces? Using Rustoleum paint for wood craft projects would be an excellent way to transfer these protective qualities to furniture and other wooden items.

Read along to learn the following;

  • Can you paint wood with Rustoleum?
  • How to apply Rustoleum on wood Surfaces.
  • Does rustoleum need primer?
  • What is rustoleum used for?

Can Rustoleum Be Used on Wood?

Even though Rustoleum is primarily designed for metals, you can paint wood with it as long as you prepare the wood surface properly. Consider using an oil-based Rustoleum product to get the best results.

You will want to sand down the wood surface and wipe away the sanding dust with a tack cloth or damp lint-free rag. Once the surface is dry, apply an oil-based primer, preferably from the same brand—Rustoleum.

The company has a wide range of wood finishing products for various applications that you can choose from. So you can optimize your results by choosing both the paint and primer from the same Rustoleum brand.

Priming is usually not required when painting and weatherproofing metal surfaces, but it is essential when using the paint on wood.

The rust rusty metal primer helps the paint adhere to the wood surface properly and create a durable, protective coat.

How to Paint Wood with Rustoleum Enamel Paint

When preparing to paint wood with Rustoleum metal paint, the first thing is to decide whether to go for a brush-on paint or the spray can option.

You can research individual product properties under the Rustoleum umbrella to see which option appeals to you the most.

Ideally, all the Rustoleum products do an excellent job, provided that you follow the correct procedure. So whichever option you choose should depend on preference and not necessarily the superiority of one product type over the other. 

Supplies to apply Rustoleum on wood

  • Rustoleum metal paint 
  • Protective clothing 
  • Paintbrush or roller 
  • Tarp 
  • Tack cloth
  • Painter’s tape 
  • Hand gloves 
  • Mineral spirits

Using Rustoleum on Wood: the Procedure

Rustoleum requires proper surface preparation to work correctly. As already mentioned, you must sand down the wood surface and coat it with an oil-based primer before applying the paint.

Let’s look at the procedure step by step.

Step 1: Prepare the workspace 

Always lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to cover the floor in your workspace when working with paints, stains, or any chemicals that might spill and mess up the place.

The other ritual when painting is to mask the edges or areas of the wood where you do not want the paint. Use a painter’s tape for this purpose. It will keep the edges clean and your work looking professional.

You may also want to wear long-sleeved, protective clothing that you do not mind getting the paint on. Additionally, use a pair of hand gloves to protect your hands from staining.

And if you are sensitive to the paint’s smell, consider wearing a respirator.

Step 2: Sand it down

Start the surface preparation by sanding. Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand down the wood surface, making it clean and smooth to the touch.

Often, 180–220 grit sandpaper tends to provide optimal results. So you can try either of these medium grit options for your project. Keep a light touch and scuff the wood along the direction of the wood grain.

If your wooden surface was previously painted and you are having trouble clearing the surface, we have a guide on how to remove primer paint.

Step 3: Clean the surface

Once you are done sanding, you can use a dry paintbrush to remove the excess wood dust. Then wipe it clean with a tack cloth or damp rag to remove every bit of the debris.

If you opt for a damp rag, ensure you wring it thoroughly to remove the excess water. You do not want to wet the wood, as that may raise the grain undesirably.

After cleaning, let the sanded wood dry for a few minutes before applying primer to it. Here’s a detailed guide on cleaning wood after sanding.

Step 4: Apply the primer

Apply an oil-based primer to help ensure the Rustoleum paint sticks better onto the wood and creates a durable, protective coat.

Consider applying a generous amount of the primer, but be sure to keep it even across the entire surface without missing a spot.

An acrylic latex bonding primer tends to do an excellent job here, so it is worth considering. You can rususe a high-quality paintbrush or paint roller to apply the primer, whichever works better for you.

Once you finish priming the wood, let the primer dry completely. Usually, this should be a minimum of three hours and longer if the weather is suboptimal.

This step is essential in creating a durable finish when painting wood with Rustoleum metal paint. The primer will go a long way in ensuring the paint adheres better to the sanded wood surface and lasts longer.

While the clean metal primer dries, consider washing the paintbrush with mineral spirits, so the primer does not dry on its bristles, potentially clogging and damaging them.

Step 5: Prepare the Rustoleum paint for wood

Once the primed wood surface is completely dry, it can accept the paint. First, open the paint can and stir it thoroughly with a clean stick to mix it into a uniform product.

Paints consist of pigments that typically settle at the bottom of the container during storage. Therefore, you need to stir the paint before using it to redistribute the colorant throughout the liquid and create a homogenous product.

Otherwise, you could end up with unsightly patches of color on your project.

Step 6: Apply the Rustoleum for wood

As soon as you finish stirring the Rustoleum oil-based paint, apply it to the primed wood using the clean paintbrush or paint roller.

If you chose a spray option instead, use the spray can to apply an even coat of the paint on your project directly. Ensure you cover every inch of the wood surface with an even coat of paint. And, always shake the spray can well before spraying it.

Once done, allow the painted wood to dry for at least two hours or, as the manufacturer recommends on the product use instruction.

Step 7: Apply successive coats of Rustoleum wood paint

The first coat may take several hours to a full day to dry. You will need to be patient and allow it to dry entirely by giving it all the drying time it needs. Well, you could be wondering, can you paint over painted wood?

Once the drying is complete, examine the painted wood and add more coats if necessary. Usually, you may want to apply two to three even coats of paint for adequate coverage.

You will need to allow each coat to dry for the recommended amount of time before adding the next. In any case, ensure you apply more coats until you are happy with the finish.

You may consider scuff-sanding between coats with fine-grit sandpaper for added grip. Always let each coat dry completely before sanding it, and keep a light touch as you sand between coats of paint (Here’s how to sand between coats of paint).

Do I Need to Prime Before Using Rustoleum?

Priming is usually not needed when using Rust Oleum paint on metal surfaces. However, when painting wood with Rust Oleum, you must prime the wood before applying the paint over it to create a durable finish.

The primer helps the paint stick better and last longer. The oil-based primer also covers up any gaps or pores in the wood, sealing them to prevent tannin bleeding from the wood over time.

Tannins can bleed through the coat of paint, damaging its aesthetics. If the wood has any old stains on it, priming will help cover them and keep them from being visible through the topcoat.

Is Rustoleum Spray Paint Good for Wood?

Rustoleum spray paint is an excellent alternative to the standard Rustoleum metal or latex paint available in gallons or large cans. It sticks on pretty well and works well with any wood type or wooden materials.

Spray paint also has ease of application as an added advantage. It is generally easier to achieve better coverage with spray paint than with a brush or roller.

Read: The best interior floor paint

What Happens If You Use Rustoleum Metal Paint on Wood?

Using Rustoleum oil-based paint on wood can give the wood a rich, luxurious finish. The paint also helps seal the wood, protecting it from moisture and water damage.

Rustoleum paint products come in various colors, so you can choose your preferred color or what will mesh with your overall décor.

Can You Use Rustoleum on Stained Wood?

Yes, Rustoleum oil-based paint can be used over stained wood as long as you perform proper wood preparation before painting. You need to sand the wood and prime it to ensure the desired outcome.

The primer is essential in helping the oil-based paint adhere to the stained wood surface better. Shellac or an oil-based paint primer should do the job.

Benefits of Rustoleum Enamel Paint on Wood

Aside from protecting your surface, Rustoleum enamel on wood also offers the following added advantages;

Hiding defects on wood

The Rustoleum paint does an excellent job at hiding surface inconsistencies and defects present on the wood. This can be an effective way to breathe fresh life into an older piece of wood.

A brightened look

Painting wood with Rustoleum gives it an instant facelift. The paint typically dries to form a glossy finish that gives the wood a brightened and livelier appearance in various metallic tones, including silver, bronze, gold, and copper.

Recommended reading: Spray painting furniture gold.

Food Safe

While Rust-Oleum enamel paint is generally not promoted as food-safe, it is important to note that specific Rust-Oleum products are designed for use on surfaces that come into contact with food, such as countertops and kitchen appliances. Obviously, you’re wondering, is enamel paint food safe? Well, these products are typically labeled as food-safe or suitable for food contact.

Useful Tips for Painting Wood with Rustoleum Metal Paint

You need to follow a few best practices to get the most out of your Rustoleum metal paint for wood. Here are some. 

  • Always perform proper wood preparation and use a primer when painting wood with Rustoleum oil-based paint. 
  • Check the wood’s moisture content and ensure it is sufficiently dry before painting it.
  • Always use multiple thin layers of paint instead of thick ones. Keep each coat thin enough to ensure it dries quickly (Check our guide on the best way to thin Rustoleum).
  • Ensure that each coat of primer and paint dries completely before applying the subsequent one.
  • Always move your paintbrush from top to bottom when painting vertical sections of wood to collect any dripping paint.
  • Read the product instructions and follow them for the best results.
  • Always sand the wood surface gently when going to paint with Rustoleum products. 

Final Thoughts on Using Rustoleum Protective Enamel on Wood

Rustoleum paint can provide great results when used on wood correctly. Always start by choosing the correct product—in this case, an oil or shellac-based primer will be essential for prepping the wood surface for painting. 

We hope that this tutorial helps you achieve the desired results in your next Rustoleum painting project. Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or observations. 

3 thoughts on “Rustoleum on Wood: Can Rustoleum Be Used On Wood”

  1. You mentioned a latex bonding primer and an oil based primer…. which do you think provides a longer and greater protection to outdoor wood furniture?

  2. Well being blonde I sanded my outdoor wood platform but did not use a primer and use rust oleum satin. So now what? Should I start over and use a primer and get paint for wood surfaces? Or wait until platform needs repainting again?


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