Painting Wood

Have you ever noticed when you get a manicure that they always buff your nails before applying the nail polish? The same is true when you paint wood. You want to rough up the surface area so that the paint has a better opportunity to stick. Do this with fine-grit sandpaper. (See below.)

SANDPAPER CHART

GRITS
MEANING
USED FOR

35-60
Coarse
Very heavy sanding, stripping, and roughing up the surface

80-120
Medium
Medium smoothing of the surface. Roughs up the surface so that paint can adhere. Removes smaller imperfections in surface.

150-180
Fine
Very light sanding and smoothing. Used for final sanding before buffing and/or finishing.

220-240
Very fine
Extremely light sanding and smoothing. Used for sanding between coats of stain or sealer. Gives a light buffing.

280-320
Extra fine
Even lighter sanding and smoothing. Used to remove tiny imperfections or dust spots before the finished coats of stain or sealer.

360-600
Super fine
Fine sanding and smoothing. More like buffing for a shiny finish (like you would use on your nails). This can be used to remove miniscule surface imperfections and tiny scratches.

How to prepare a wood surface for painting:

1. Apply wood filler to any area needing repair. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s label. You can also test an area by running your finger across it. If nothing sticks to your finger, it’s dry.

2. Once the wood filler has dried, sand the area with fine sandpaper (150 grit) until smooth or until it matches the surface of the wood.

3. Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

4. Apply paint. If you have wood that you would like to repaint, you may want to simply paint over the existing paint, which is good for a variety of projects. This simply requires cleaning the wood with soap and water before getting started, but don’t forget to lightly sand.
For more detailed projects, it is best to strip the wood and start fresh to avoid a thick, unattractive buildup. There are two main ways of doing this: heat stripping and chemical stripping.

TIP: Make sure that you always use primer before painting any surface. Because different surfaces (wall, wood, etc.) are all different, they soak up paint differently and, if not done properly, will leave you with an unfinished look, if you are varnishing wood, use a wood sealer to do the same job as primer.