How to Seal Knotty Pine Walls Before Painting

The wood knots in knotty pine walls have resin in them, which can seep from the wood and ruin a paint job. It's difficult to remove the resin from a surface, especially after it hardens. You can avoid such problems by properly preparing a knotty pine surface before painting it. This includes covering the knots with a primer that fills pores in the wood and prevents resin seepage.

Things You'll Need

  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • 3-gallon bucket
  • Sponge
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Oil-based primer
  • Paint pan
  • Nylon bristle paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Natural fiber roller cover (optional)
  • Satin or semigloss latex paint
  • Nylon roller cover


    • 1

      Remove dirt and grime from a knotty pine wall with a degreaser, such as trisodium phosphate, commonly known as TSP. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when handling TSP. Dissolve a half-cup of TSP in 2 gallons of warm water in a 3-gallon bucket. Clean the wall with a sponge dampened with the TSP solution. Let the wall dry.

    • 2

      Lightly sand the wall with 220-grit sandpaper if the surface is glossy. Don't overdo the sanding; just roughen the surface so that the primer will stick to it. Wipe the wall with a dry rag to remove any dust left behind from sanding.

    • 3

      Pour the oil-based primer into a paint pan; make sure you have purchased one that prevents resins from bleeding through painted wood surfaces. Apply the primer to the wood knots with a nylon bristle paintbrush. Use a paint roller with a natural fiber cover to coat the entire wall if knots cover most of the surface.

    • 4

      Allow several hours for the primer to dry completely. Test for dryness by ensuring that the surface doesn't feel sticky.

    • 5

      Sand the areas you primed if they don't feel smooth after they dry. Remove dust from the sanded surfaces with a dry rag. Paint over the primer within a week to avoid a buildup of dust and dirt that interferes with the paint's adhesion.

    • 6

      Apply one coat of satin or semigloss latex paint to the wall with a roller that has a nylon cover. Add a second coat after the first one dries if the first coat doesn't completely cover the primer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Kilz and Zinsser brand oil-based primers help prevent resin seepage.
  • Natural fiber roller covers are made from mohair or lamb's wool blended with polyester.
  • A satin or semigloss latex paint creates a washable surface that's easy to clean.
  • Keep TSP powder and any TSP solution from coming into contact with your eyes and skin.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for properly ventilating a room when using oil-based primers and interior paints.
  • Wear a mask when sanding to avoid inhaling the dust.
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