How to Paint Over Water-Sealed Wood

A water-seal repels water drops.
A water-seal repels water drops. (Image: Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Water-sealed wood has been sealed with a chemical substance that prevents water from soaking in. This is an especially important feature on bare exterior wood that is going to be exposed to the elements. Paint can be applied to water sealers, but the drying time of the sealer itself is the most important part of this task. For best results, prime the water-sealed wood first. Use either a latex-based or an oil-based primer as your first coat of paint before applying the finishing coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Primer
  • Brush or roller

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Refer to the specific drying times of your brand of water sealant. Commonly, allow one full week of drying before applying an oil-based paint, and wait 45 days before applying a latex-based paint. These are not hard and fast rules, and every water seal manufacturer has its own formula and its own restrictions.

Apply primer to the water-sealed wood with a brush or a roller. Brush or roll the paint in the direction of the wood grain. Adhere to the painting guidelines for your particular paint for using either an oil-based primer or a latex-based primer. Allow the primer to dry fully before painting. Most latex-based primers will dry in about four hours, while most oil-based primers must dry overnight.

Paint a finish coat over the primer with a roller or a brush. Follow the grain pattern of the wood as you paint. Let the paint dry completely, and add a second coat if you want a deeper or darker color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Oil-based primers have long been considered the gold standard for undercoatings. However, modern latex primers now rival the best oil-based primers for protection and durability. The main difference between the two primers is during clean-up. Oil-based primers will need chemical solvents to be removed from brushes and rollers. Latex primers will wash up in soap and water. An oil-based primer might give slightly better protection over a sealer, but the cleaning hassle afterward might not be worth the trouble.

References

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