The right choice of paint can transform any wood project from looking finished to being perfect. But for that to happen, you must know what kind of paint to use on wood.

Ideally, this depends on the kind of project you are working on, the type of wood involved, the condition of the wood’s surface, and your personal preferences.

Paying careful attention to these factors should help you find the best paint for your wood. This article looks at the various types of paint available for use on wood.

It also reviews the best types of wood paint on the market and provides some useful tips and guides on using these products for great results.

What’s the best paint for wood?

Latex paint is the best paint to use on wood because it is water-based and therefore dries quickly. It also has low levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which means it is less harmful to the environment. Latex paint also tends to be more affordable than other types of paints.

However, causal factors such as your project requirements can make using a different kind of paint inevitable. So the essential thing is to understand your project to determine what works best for you.

5 Types of Paint for Wood to Use in Your Project

Painting supplies for wood

Various types of paint are available with different characteristics, making them suitable for different applications.

Knowing the different types of paint available and their distinguishing characteristics can help you to know where to look and choose the best paint for your needs.

1. Oil-based paint – longest drying paint used for wood

As the name suggests, oil-based paint consists of paint pigments suspended in a drying oil such as linseed oil. This type of paint is typically slow-drying because it contains oil as the base or solvent. But you can still make oil paint dry faster if you wish.

In addition to the oil, these paints may also contain an organic, typically mineral turpentine added to modify the viscosity of the paint. Similarly, you can add an organic solvent such as white spirit or turpentine to oil-based paints if you want thin them.

Oil-based paints are generally the glossiest of all paint types, and varnish may be added to increase their glossiness. Many professional painters and experienced DIYers choose oil-based paint because of its known durability.

The oil in its makeup helps create a smooth surface when the paint is dry, forming a nice glossy or satin finish that repels water and resists scratching.

In most cases, your project will not require a topcoat if it is completed with oil-based paint, provided that you use a high-quality paintbrush or paint sprayer to apply it.

This is because oil paints are naturally shiny and create a luxurious appearance on their own. Additionally, brushes, rollers, and other items used to apply oil-based paints require cleaning with mineral spirits immediately after completing the project.

Oil paints are tough to remove and even more challenging when dry. So cleaning them sooner can simplify your work.

What We Liked Most

  • Oil-based paints are more durable than acrylics or watercolors, and they can last for many years without fading.
  • They produce a very smooth finish that is less likely to show brushstrokes than other types of paint.
  • Oil-based paints are opaque, which means they can be used to cover up previous layers of paint.


  • They take longer to dry than other types of paint, so you have to be patient when painting with them.
  • Oil paints are more toxic than other paints

2. Water-based paint

Water-based paint consists of paint pigments and binders suspended in water as the carrier or solvent. These paints are perhaps the easiest to use and clean up because of the water in their makeup, so that you can clean them with water.

Additionally, thinning water-based paints simply requires adding water and mixing to the desired consistency.

Among the main advantages of water-based paints is their quick drying time. Water-based paints dry pretty fast compared to their oil-based cousins, which often means completing a project sooner.

On the flipside, water-based paints tend to be less durable than oil paints. So they are not always the favorite choice for exterior applications.

However, advancements in paint formulations continue to create various exterior-grade water-based paints with significant durability. You can also often apply a topcoat to make these paint coats last longer in harsher environments.

What We Liked Most

  • Easy to apply;
  • Creates a smooth finish;
  • Dries quickly;
  • Affordable.


  • Water-based paint is not as durable as oil-based paint and may not last as long;
  • It may not be suitable for certain surfaces, such as MDF boards

3. Latex paint – the best paint type for wood

Like water-based paints, latex paints contain water as a base in their makeup. They, however, dry slower than water-based paints due to the acrylic resin in their makeup.

Latex paints are also typically purchased in large quantities hence more suitable for large projects. Ideally, it is easier to work with and clean latex paint than oil paint.

But the resulting coat is often less durable than an oil-based paint coat. These paints are also more likely to show brush strokes on the finished product.

But you can always add a Floetrol substance to your paint to eliminate the visibility of paintbrush marks on the painted surface. You can choose from various sheen levels of latex paint, from matte and satin finishes to gloss and semi-gloss.

The shinier surface, the less likely you are to need a topcoat. However, matte and satin finishes require a topcoat to make them more durable and achieve a more upscale look.

What We Liked Most

  • Latex paint is easy to clean up.
  • Latex paint is relatively cheap.
  • Latex paint dries quickly and doesn’t require a lot of ventilation.
  • Latex paint is available in a wide range of colors and finishes.
  • Latex paint can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.


  • Latex paint is not as durable as oil paint and may not hold up as well over time.
  • Latex paint may also be more susceptible to fading and staining than oil paint.

4. Acrylic paint

Acrylic paints are often set aside for artistic or small projects, such as painting portraits on wooden boards or canvas.

They consist of pigments suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and silicone oils, plasticizers, stabilizers, defoamers, or metal soaps.

The fast-drying formula of most acrylic paints is usually water-based, but the paints become resistant to water when dry. They are easy to clean with soap and water because they are water-soluble.

The paint is also completely non-toxic and cleans easily from hands, so you usually do not need to wear a pair of hand gloves when handling it.

Other than being non-toxic, acrylic paints have almost zero odor, making them ideal for people with smell sensitivities or allergies.

You can find acrylic paints in a wide range of colors, decorative options, and finishes—so they are pretty versatile. Furthermore, you can easily create custom colors and finishes by mixing acrylic paints.

Whatever option you choose, acrylics are among the easiest kinds of paint to use. They allow you to create special effects using different colors and materials. And you can reuse brushes as many times as you want with acrylic paint.

Most acrylic paint are also inexpensive, so you can purchase them in large quantities to match the scope and size of your projects.

What We Liked Most

  • Acrylic paint is easy to use and clean up.
  • Acrylic craft paint dries quickly, so you can apply successive layers very quickly.
  • The colors are bright and intense, and they dry to a matte finish.
  • Acrylic paint is waterproof when dry, so it’s great for painting outdoors or on surfaces that will be exposed to water.
  • Acrylic craft paint can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, paper, wood, metal, and plastic.


  • Acrylic paint can be toxic if ingested.
  • The fumes from acrylic craft paint can be harmful, so it’s best to avoid using it in a poorly ventilated area.
  • Acrylic paint is not as durable as oil-based paint, so it may not be the best choice for projects that need to last a long time.
  • Acrylic can be difficult to remove once it dries, so make sure you test your chosen method of removal on a small area before starting your project.

5. Chalk paint

Milk or chalk paint is a form of water-based paint that may be applied over just about any surface. This paint type requires minimal preparation and easily achieves a distressed finish.

You must, however, apply a top coat over the paint to avoid flaking. Chalk paint is different from standard water-based paint in that it can look and feel like chalk, forming a distressed, matte finish that some people love.

This uniqueness makes chalk paint desirable, especially when used on the sole item of attraction in a room, like a furniture. Chalk paint is easy to use and produces a subtle and slightly archaic look or weathered effect on wood surfaces.

You can use the paint for wooden headboards, coat racks, or cupboards to create excellent vintage finishes. Perhaps the main advantage of using chalk paint is its minimal preparation.

You do not necessarily need to prep the surface much before painting because chalk paint adheres to almost any surface. Also, chalk paint is water resistant which makes it easy to use on most surfaces.

What We Liked Most

  • Chalk paint is a great option if you want to give your furniture a vintage look.
  • It’s very versatile and can be used to paint a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and plastic.
  • Chalk paint is easy to apply and doesn’t require any priming or sanding.
  • It has a matte finish that gives furniture a rustic appearance.
  • The paint is also water-based and non-toxic, making it safe for both indoor and outdoor use.


  • Chalk paint is difficult to work with – it’s thick, and dries quickly, so it’s hard to get a smooth finish.
  • It can be tough to find a color you like since the paint is opaque – most other paints are semi-transparent or translucent, so you can see the underlying surface.
  • The finishes are not very durable and can chip and scratch easily.
  • It’s also quite expensive compared to other types of paint.

Best Paint for Wood Reviews

Our Top Picks

After knowing the various types of wood paint available on the market, it is time to narrow down to specific paints under the different categories.

Various manufacturers make and sell different types of paint, and not all brands are equal. They vary in quality, reliability, and price. So you will need to know which brand and formula are best for your wood project.

Thankfully, we have done the legwork and sampled the very best options for every imaginable scenario. Here are the best paints for various woodwork applications.

1. Best paint for exterior wood – Cuprinol 5244438 Garden Shades Exterior Woodcare

Cuprinol paint is formulated to work for every exterior wood surface. As the name suggests, this paint dries pretty quickly, letting you complete your woodwork project in less time than most paints on the market.

It comes in various types; watercolor and spray paint, but our appetite for a classic look and feel led us to fall in love with the watercolor.

Still, the variety means you can choose the finish that appeals best to you.

On the other side, this product contains benzisothiazolone, and has an odor formulation that makes it unsuitable for use in living spaces where people and pets interact. The toxic fumes emitted could hurt your family’s health by causing allergic reactions.

What We Liked Most

  • The quick-drying formula makes this paint pleasant and convenient to use.It’s self-undercoating, so you don’t need to spend the additional effort of an extra coating.
  • It’s self-undercoating, so you don’t need to spend the additional effort of an extra coating.
  • The formula is non-yellowing. This means your chosen color will remain true in the long run.
  • The paint is easy to apply and goes on with minimal runs or drip, if any.
  • It’s viscous, ensuring nice and even coverage.

What Could Be Improved

  • Even though the manufacturer recommends just one coat, two coats provide better coverage.
  • May cause allergic reactions

2. Premium watercolor paint for wood – Rust-Oleum 365930 Floor Coating Base Coat Black Quart

Rust-Oleum 365930 Floor Coating Base Coat Black Quart
  • Home base coat requires the use of Rust-Oleum home top coat in a semi-gloss or matte finish (Sold separately)
  • For interior use on any bare, stained, sealed or previously coated surfaces such as ceramic tile, porcelain tile, concrete, hard wood, laminate, vinyl and linoleum
  • Water-Based formula that requires no stripping, sanding or priming
  • Apply Rust-Oleum home base coat, wait 6 hours, then apply Rust-Oleum home top coat, allow 24 hours following top coat application before walking on floor
  • Remove caulk and wax from floor before applying coating for best results

Here is one of the most versatile wood paint; you can use it on any kind of surface. This Painter’s Touch from Rust-Oleum is specially formulated to work for indoor and outdoor applications.

This quality liberates you, allowing you to use the paint for any wood project without being restricted to a specific environment.

The powerful acrylic resin in this water-based formula helps create a robust paint coat resilient enough to withstand extreme weather conditions. It also does an excellent job of protecting your project from chipping and blusters.

Because the formula is water-based, it boasts very low toxicity levels, making it safe to use within living spaces. The paint is also low odor, so it will not affect you if you have related sensitivities.

What We Liked Most

  • This paint is quick-drying, so it is ideal to use if you are pressed for time. It takes only 30 minutes to cure.
  • This product is easy to use
  • It looks great and can transform your wood project. You can apply this paint smoothly and comfortably onto the surfaces of any place and anywhere.
  • Can be used for both interior and exterior applications, making it a one-stop solution for your painting needs.
  • Dries to form a smooth, magnificent finish, giving your wood an upscale look.

What Could Be Improved

  • The product can go bad if you leave it open for months. This can limit how long you can keep it with you once opened.

3. Best acrylic paint for wood – ARTEZA Acrylic Paint, Arteza Set 14 Colors

ARTEZA Acrylic Paint Set 14 Colors, 120 ml, 4.06 oz. Tubes W/ Storage Box, Rich Pigments, Non-Fading, Nontoxic, Art Supplies for Artists and Hobby Painters
  • Exciting Selection of Artist-Quality Colors: Whether you’re new to acrylic painting or a seasoned artist, colors like Lemon Yellow, Phthalo Blue & Crimson Red will set fire to your imagination.
  • Rich, Vivid Pigments: Your premium acrylic paint kit features smooth, highly pigmented color to produce true, consistent shades. Ideal for canvas painting, these colors won’t fade over time.
  • Certified Safe & Non-Toxic: No need to worry about toxicity with our acrylic paints. They’re ACMI-certified safe for your complete peace of mind.
  • Designed and Created by Artists: Here at Arteza, we are passionate about creating products that inspire. For us, art is an expression of the human experience. That’s why we work to make our art supplies accessible to all people.
  • Art Supplies for Everyone: Arteza was built on providing quality painting, drawing & art supplies for all ages and levels. Find tons of arts and crafts accessories, paint sets, drawing supplies, and more for all your general needs as an artist.

This acrylic paint set gives you up to 14 chic colors for your artistic wood project. There could be no better way to awaken the artist within you.

The paints allow you to produce excellent finishes on wood with numerous colors to choose from. You can also create custom colors reflecting your personality by blending more than one color.

Arteza Acrylic paint’s compact storage box helps keep you organized while ensuring everything is in one convenient location.

Every paint tube in this set contains rich pigments that are non-fading, so your project can remain beautiful for years to come.

The paints are also non-toxic, so you can freely explore your artistic skills without worrying about them affecting your health on contact.

What We Liked Most About these Wood Paint types

  • The extremely high quality of these paints ensures durability.
  • They are ACMI-certified as non-toxic, so they present no risk to your health.
  • The paint is formulated to be used on any wood surface.
  • The richly pigmented colors ensure better coverage.

What Could Be Improved

  • The paints are unsuitable for large projects

4. Best paint for finished wood – Rust-Oleum Brands 285140 Linen White Chalked

Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint 30 oz, 30 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Linen White
  • Use on a variety of interior surfaces like wood, metal, ceramic, canvas and easily distress to create a vintage look
  • Low-odor, latex formula allows for easy clean up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in just 30 minutes and covers up to 150 sq. ft.; one-coat coverage allows projects to be completed easily
  • Excellent adhesion and easy application with minimal prep
  • Dries to an ultra-matte velvety, smooth finish

If you want to adorn your wooden furniture with some rustic charm, this chalk paint from Rust-Oleum may be perfect for you. The beautiful part is that you do not have to strip down the existing finish on those wooden pieces.

This furniture paint adheres to virtually any surface without requiring priming or sanding. This means it saves you the time you could otherwise spend priming, sanding, or stripping down the wood.

It also saves you the cost that would otherwise go into buying a primer. No wood finishing product could be more helpful than that.

The rich formula of this chalk paint means you need only one coat to sufficiently revamp your wooden chairs, desks, wardrobes, and more with a nice matte finish.

What We Liked Most

  • This paint is easy to use. You just need to brush it onto the wood surface evenly and let it dry. If you want a smooth feel to the painted surface, scuff sand it with fine-grit sandpaper when dry.
  • This paint is available in various colors for you to choose from.
  • The water-based formula ensures the product is low order and is non-toxic.
  • One-coat coverage ensures the little amount of paint is enough for a large project.

What Could Be Improved

  • The paint requires a topcoat such as lacquer, polyurethane, or varnish to last.
  • It is designed for interior use only.

5. Best high gloss paint for wood – Rust-Oleum 245210 Universal All Surface Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum 245210 Universal All Surface Spray Paint, 12 oz, Satin White
  • Works on virtually any surface including wood, plastic, metal, fiberglass, concrete, wicker, vinyl and more
  • Oil-based formula with excellent adhesion prevents rust, resists fading and chipping for a long lasting finish
  • Fast drying formula dries to the touch in 30 minutes and covers up to 15 sq ft per can
  • Prevents rust and corrosion for enhanced durability
  • Satin finish provides a low-sheen look on surfaces

This Rust-Oleum paint is the best option for professional painters and DIY enthusiasts who are partial to shinier finishes. The oil-based formula of this spray paint ensures it dries to form a glossy surface on any wood surface.

The spray mechanism makes it easy to apply and ensures even coverage even for a beginner. You can complete the project much more quickly, especially since there are no messy paintbrushes or rollers to deal with.

This spray paint is highly durable, thanks to its oil-based formula that dries to form a glossy sheen on your wood surface. No wonder it’s the best furniture spray paint. The shiny surface offers significant scratch resistance and resists moisture. This helps keep the finished surface looking pristine for longer.

What We Liked Most

  • The paint is highly durable due to its oil-based formula.
  • The spray can option means no paintbrushes or paint rollers to clean after the application.
  • Spraying also ensures more control over the amount of paint going onto the wood surface. This helps you achieve an even finish more easily.
  • The paint forms a rich, attractive finish on wood surfaces.
  • The product is one of the fastest drying oil paints. It dries to the touch in 30 minutes.

What Could Be Improved

  • The oil-based formula contains more volatile organic solvents (VOCs) than water-based paints. This gives it a relatively higher toxicity profile.

6. Best paint for unfinished wood – Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint by Renaissance DIY

Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint by Renaissance DIY, 32 oz (Quart), 32 Fl Oz, White
  • GREAT RESULTS - Superior coverage, usually 1 to 2 coats with Amazing adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces; little-to-no prep work required (just clean first)
  • FURNITURE, CABINETS & MORE- Formulated specifically for furniture, cabinets & home decor; can be used for craft and art projects as well
  • INTERIOR / EXTERIOR- Works great for interior and exterior projects alike. For exterior projects, simply use a marine finish topcoat like our Polytique It before applying the clear wax
  • SILKY CHALKY SMOOTH FINISH- Dries within 30 minutes to a contemporary finish with our clear wax or a chalky matte finish that is easy to distress (if desired), yet exceptionally durable
  • ECO-FRIENDLY & SAFE TO USE - Low Odor. Ultra-low VOC, hypoallergenic with virtually no smell

This Renaissance chalk paint boasts superior coverage, with just one to two coats being adequate for any wood project. It is formulated to adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, so it should work perfectly for your unfinished wood.

If you are not a fan of all the prep work involved in finishing a piece of wood, then you are in luck with this paint. It requires little to no sanding or priming at all. It is formulated to adhere to the wood irrespective of its surface condition.

We particularly love how this paint works great for exterior projects as it does for interior surfaces. This makes it a go-to solution for all your painting needs. Just remember to apply a marine-grade topcoat over the paint for exterior projects.

What We Liked Most

  • The paint dries within 30 minutes, which is pretty quick for the drying time of any paint.
  • The silky, chalky finish exudes a contemporary feel when a clear wax is applied over the paint coat.
  • Thanks to its water-based formula, the Renaissance chalk furniture paint is eco-friendly and safe to use.
  • It is a low odor, so you can use it without wearing a respirator.
  • It is ultra-low VOC and hypoallergenic, so it will not trigger allergic reactions from people with sensitivities.

What Could Be Improved

  • You cannot use this paint outdoors successfully without an exterior-grade topcoat.

7. Best chalk paint for wood paneling – Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint

This Rust-Oleum product is the best chalk paint for interior surfaces. It works great for metal, canvas, ceramic, and wood. And you can easily distress it to create a classic, vintage look.

It cleans up very easily with soap and water, making your clean-up ritual after completing the project stress-free. The paint is available in various colors, so you are sure to find what you love the most.

Any color you choose dries to an ultra-matte finish that you can lock in with clear wax to make it even more durable and shiny. The quick-drying formula of this paint can help you finish your project in less time, so you can get onto other things.

Depending on your preferred application method, you can go for a brush-on or spray version. The spray version makes the application even simpler as it gives you more control over the amount of paint going onto your wood.

You can achieve even coverage with little effort.

What We Liked Most

  • This product requires little surface preparation to use.
  • You do not need any special skill or elaborate training to use the paint properly. It easily adheres to wood surfaces and dries into a flawless finish.
  • Forms a beautiful sheen after drying.
  • Has a low VOC formula, making it safe to use.

What Could Be Improved

  • You may need as many as 3 coats of this paint to achieve the desired coverage, especially in cold environments.

8. Most durable paint for wood – KILZ 10211 Not Available Exterior Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint

KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint, Exterior, White, 1 Gallon
1,524 Reviews
KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint, Exterior, White, 1 Gallon
  • A good exterior paint offers coverage and protection against the elements, while adding beauty to outdoor structures. This is an all purpose exterior paint resists cracking, peeling and blistering.
  • This paint features a unique water/oil base formula for exceptional adhesion, versatility, and longevity in varied conditions.
  • Use on vertical exterior wood surfaces as well as masonry, stucco, and sanded glossy surfaces. Remove peeling paint, mill glaze, loose wood fibers, dirt, and debris before painting.
  • This paint dries to the touch in 2-3 hours. Allow 6 to 8 hours of drying prior to recoating.
  • This is a 1-gallon can of KILZ Exterior Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint in white. For use on properly prepared exterior vertical wood surfaces.

This KILZ paint represents the best exterior paint technology. It is expertly formulated to protect your wood against the sun’s harmful UV rays, rain, snow, and every other weather element likely to damage your wood outside.

It dries to form a firm coat that is resistant to chipping, cracking, or blistering. This quality helps make your projects more stable and permanent.

This exterior paint is perhaps the most uniquely formulated of all options reviewed here. Its unique formula consists of an oil and water base, giving you the best of both worlds.

This unique quality ensures superior durability as the paint coat seamlessly adjusts with changes in temperature.

It also offers superior coverage. A single can of this paint will adequately cover up to 200 square feet.

You can get away with a whopping 500 square feet per gallon for nonporous surfaces.

What We Liked Most

  • It offers great value for the money with superior coverage. One gallon can cover a vast.
  • The paint offers protection against the elements.
  • It consists of an oil and water base, offering the best of both bases and superior adhesion to any wood type.
  • The paint coat adjusts to changes in weather, making it weatherproof.

What Could Be Improved

  • This KILZ paint is not ideal for use on hardwood floors. It does not hold up well to fit traffic, so you should not use it to paint floors.

9. Best water-based paint for wood – Rustins-Quick Dry Small Job Gloss Paint Oxford Blue 250ml

If you are working on a small paint job, this is the ideal paint to buy. It is specifically formulated for small painting projects such as remodeling your wooden doors or windows. It can also be an excellent choice for painting your kids’ toys.

It is a hard-wearing paint that guarantees longevity. Once you put the coat on, it stays on for a long time.

We love how it comes in a wide range of vibrant colors, allowing you to choose your favorite color or one that blends best with your project.

This paint has a powerful formula that works both indoors and out. So you can use it on any project regardless of the location.

The high gloss coat that it forms is sure to resist moisture and prevent your wood from water damage.

What We Liked Most

  • This paint is highly durable.
  • It is usable on both interior and exterior projects.
  • It dries to the touch in just 30 minutes and completes drying in two hours.
  • It offers superior coverage with just one coat when you prepare the surface well.
  • The paint colors are vibrant and do not fade over time.
  • The water-based formula is non-toxic and has a low odor.
  • The paint conforms to the 1995 Toys (Safety) Regulations, so it is ideal for use on your kid’s furniture and toys.

What Could Be Improved

  • This product is unideal for large projects

Best Paint for Wood Comparison Table

Related Post: Best Black Paint for Wooden Furniture

What Paint is Best for Wood: Selection Criteria

Paints come in different types suited for different applications. This means there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to paints.

Additionally, the market has dozens of brands with competing offerings, so it is essential to know how to weed out the rest to get your best pick.

That said, here is some help on identifying the right paint for your needs.

– Location

Is your project based inside or outside the house? This may sound obvious, but it is essential to ensure the paint you are choosing is specifically designed for that environment.

Exterior grade paints are typically flexible, with significant UV resistance. This flexibility may not be ideal for indoor applications. Such paint coat may not have the strength and scratch resistance required indoors.

Similarly, interior grade paints will not last outdoors. They are designed to be rigid and robust enough to withstand the constant impact associated with indoor environments.

However, they lack the flexibility and weather resistance required outdoors. So, if your project is based indoors, ensure the paint is formulated for indoor use.

Similarly, if you have an outdoor project, ensure the paint is specifically designed for exterior use.

– Sheen level

This may often come down to personal preferences. If you prefer a shiny surface, you may be better off with oil-based or enamel paint. Oil paints are naturally shiny and do not rely on a topcoat for their shine.

If you want a matte look, various water-based options may suit your needs. For a vintage or rustic appearance, milk paint or chalk paint is your best choice.

So first identify the sheen you want, then go shopping for wooden paints that offer such sheens.

– Project type

The nature of your project directly determines the type of paint to use on wood.

While some paints are uniquely formulated to work across various surfaces, some wood projects will be better with specific paint types—your personal preferences notwithstanding.

Let us break it down.

a) Wooden furniture

For wooden furniture, the right choice of paint depends mainly on the finished look you want. Go for chalk pain specifically if you want to create a distressed look on your furniture.

But ensure you apply a clear coat such as wax or varnish to protect the surface.

Latex paint is ideal for any indoor furniture, including dining tables, chairs, wardrobes, cabinets, headboards, dressers, TV stands, and everything in between, if you want a matte finish.

The paint offers significant resilience to withstand occasional use. For outdoor furniture, oil-based pains may be best. They offer glossier sheens that will cause moisture to bead on the surface rather than get absorbed.

This property can go a long way in protecting your wood from water damage.

b) Wooden trims

Trims tend to receive a great deal of abuse over the course of their life, so they require the best kind of paint for wood that can withstand scratching without showing scuff marks on the surface.

Oil-based paints excel in this regard. Go for any premium oil-based paint with scratch resistance explicitly stated on the label.

c) Wooden floors

Oil-based paint on a wooden floor

Floors take the most abuse of all wooden surfaces. As such, they require the most resilient paint types formulated specifically to withstand foot traffic. 

If you want the most durable wood floor paint, you can’t go wrong with Latex and oil-based paints. Indeed, the more premium, the better. 

If you’re painting wood steps, here’s a review of the best paint for stairs.

d) Unfinished wood

Ideally, unfinished wood should work with any paint type as long as you prepare the surface properly. However, if you do not intend to use a primer separately, consider going for paints with the best adhesion properties. 

Latex and water-based paints tend to be the best for bare wood. Suppose you can find a paint and primer blend, the better.

These paint and primer in one option offer the best results, whether they are water-based or oil-based.  

e) Finished wood

When painting a piece of wood that already has a finish, you need to use paint that perfectly adheres to different surfaces. Chalk paints tend to excel in this regard. 

However, if you do not like the matte look of chalk paints, go for oil-based paints instead. They will give you a glossy finish and superior adherence to the finished wooden surface. 

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Tips for Painting Wood

Once you have the right paint for the job, it is still essential that you do the work correctly to get the desired outcome. Here are some tips to help you get your right foot forward. 

1. Use a primer 

Priming the wood before painting helps ensure better adhesion. The role of a primer is to make the paint stick better and be durable. You want your paint job to last, and a primer helps you achieve just that.

Some paints are naturally more durable than others. Still, it helps to use a primer to make the coat even more long-lasting, whether the wood is finished or unfinished. Such results help save you time and money in the long run.

2. Follow the direction of the grain

You are always advised to follow the grain when sanding, staining or painting wooden surfaces. There is a good reason for that. It helps ensure that any marks created or left during the exercise are aligned with the wood grain.

That way, they seamlessly hide as part of the grain pattern. This is a perfect way to achieve professional-looking results.

3. Get high-quality brushes

The quality of your tools directly influences the outcome of your paint job. High-quality brushes do an excellent job and remain usable for ages.

They are especially crucial for applying oil-based paints that do not work too well with paint rollers.

The last thing you want is a paintbrush that will leave broken pieces of its bristles all you’re your project. This can make the work more challenging and the outcome less than perfect.

4. Add a protective coat

Some paint types, such as oil-based varieties, are naturally glossy and durable. However, chalk paint and other matte finishes are not as glossy and maybe less durable without a protective topcoat.

So always add a clear coat on top of such paint coats to prolong their service lives. 


Can you paint wood?

You can always paint any wood with oil, acrylic, or mixed media paints with great success. However, ensure you properly prep the wooden surface before painting.

Can I use oil-based paint on wood?

Yes, oil-based paints are among the best paint types for wood. They are the ideal choice, especially when painting finished wood. Their glossy finishes offer superior scratch resistance, water resistance, and durability.

What is the best paint for wood shelves?

The best paint for bookshelves is latex water-based. Oil-based paint is typically durable and strong but can contain strong odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can linger around the space for a long time.

What type of paint to use on wood furniture?

It is best to use latex paint for wood furniture. You can go for satin or semi-gloss options for the finish. Oil paint can also offer superior results for pressed wood furniture. In both cases, ensure you apply a compatible primer before painting.

Can you use latex paint on wood?

Yes, you can paint your wood with any latex paint like the one you find at local home improvement stores. This paint type is one of the easiest to work with when painting furniture. Latex paints, however, does not offer as much durability as oil-based paint.

Final Thoughts: Paint types for wood

From the foregoing, you can use various kinds of paint on wood depending on the project you are working on. This article has provided you with the various paint types available to choose from.

The article has also provided a detailed review of multiple leading options to help you find the best paint for your next project. We hope this helps. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

You can as well read more on: What is the Best Paint For Wood Crafts?