Pressed wood is a combination of pulp, wood chips and glue pressed together to form a solid piece of wood. The material is used in the construction of furniture and as a substitute for plywood. Painting pressed wood is not like painting solid pieces of wood. The proper procedures must be followed to ensure the paint sticks to the surface and the wood is sealed correctly.
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A base coat must be applied to pressed board to ensure that the top coat covers the wood properly. Use an inexpensive white or gray primer as the first coat. Pressed wood is porous and absorbs paint quickly. You will have to apply more than one coat of primer to seal the wood, because the first coat will be absorbed by the wood. Ensure you have a solid color after applying the primer. It can take as many as four coats to get a solid color of primer. If you allow the wood to show through the primer coat, the imperfections can be seen through the finish paint. Let each coat dry before applying an additional primer coat.
Staining pressed board is not the best medium or process to use. The way pressed board is constructed will cause the stain to blotch and produce different stain colors when applied. If you want a brown color, use a brown paint instead of stain. No matter how dark the stain you choose, it will create the same discoloring problems in the pressed wood.
You can use oil-based paint, but this type of paint has its disadvantages when painting pressed wood. Oil-based paint takes a long time to dry. Another disadvantage occurs because of the chemicals used to make the oil-based paint. The makeup causes the paint to be adsorbed into the pressed board, even if you use a primer coat. Over time, the paint will completely absorb into the pressed wood.
Acrylic paint is a better medium to use when restoring or painting pressed wood. The paint has better adhesive properties than the other paints. The acrylic paint also has quicker drying properties. It takes less coats, because this type of paint does not absorb easily into the pressed wood. You also have as many color choices as you do with oil-based paint. Since the primer coat sealed the pressed board, you can use an indoor/outdoor acrylic paint to finish the wood.