How to Paint on Wood


Painting wood is not particularly difficult, but it does require some attention to detail and patience. Sloppily painted wood--with drips and brush marks--can be avoided simply by slowing down and not cutting any corners. Either oil-based or latex paints may be used on wood, but be sure to match the primer type--oil or latex--to the type of finish paint you intend to use for the best, most professional results.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper in 80-, 120-, and 180-grits
  • Tack cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • Paint
  • Sand the bare wood. Start with the coarse, 80-grit sandpaper to remove surface marks, then resand the entire surface with 120-grit paper, and finally 180-grit paper, which removes small scratches left behind by the previous papers.

  • Clean the wood with a tack cloth--a piece of cheesecloth impregnated with sticky resins that pick up sanding dust. Turn the tack cloth over as you work to keep a clean area against the surface of the wood for the most complete dust removal.

  • Apply a coat of stain-blocking primer. Follow the manufacturer's directions for application guidelines and drying time. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly.

  • Sand the primer coat very lightly with 180-grit sandpaper. Wipe the surface clean of dust with a tack cloth, turning it as you work as described in Step 2.

  • Paint the primed surface with a quality latex or oil-based paint and a brush made for the type of paint you use. Once the first coat is completely dry, add a second coat if the primer shows through the first coat or if the first coat is uneven in appearance.

Tips & Warnings

  • A specially formulated stain-blocking primer will hold back any blemishes or discoloration in the wood from seeping up through the finish paint's surface.
  • Primer bonds well with wood and provides a base that allows paint to adhere well, too, so take the time to paint a coat of primer on your poplar item before applying the final coat of paint.

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