Can You Paint Over Stain? (Most Comprehensive Guide)

This page contains affiliate links and we earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

We have prepared this guide on the most asked query, “can you paint over stain,” where we have discussed every detail.

Painting is a challenging but ultimately satisfying do-it-yourself task. Painting over wood stains may be a bother, and the lengthy procedure only adds to the frustration.

Investing the necessary time, work, and patience in staining and painting stained wood will be worth it. Don’t spend a fortune on a contractor fixing discolored wood you’ve been staring at since you moved in.

Instead, use your painting skills and tackle the problem on your own. Here, we have come up with a detailed guide on the query “can you paint over stain” that will hopefully help you with the painting job of a stained surface quickly.

Can You Paint Over Stain?

While the aesthetic of stained wood is lovely, a fresh coat of paint on your decks or cabinets may breathe new life into your house. Is it possible to paint over a stain?

The appropriate response depends on various factors, including the amount of time and expertise you have available to devote to the project.


There are a few different ways to paint over stained wood, depending on whose stain you’re using and if or not your project is a piece of furniture.

Reasons For Painting Over Stains

Wood is best enhanced by staining; however, painting may be necessary if the stain fails to do so.
Some people may wish to redecorate their living room but are adamant about keeping their favorite dining room table.

If you want to give your bedroom a facelift but aren’t in a position to purchase completely new furnishings, there are a few options.

Painting wood with stains on the outside of your house has a lot of benefits. If your deck looks a little shabby, or your stained fence could use a coat of brilliant white paint, it is time to do something about it.

There are numerous reasons to paint over both exterior and interior stains, no matter where they are located. To help you out, we’ll go over both methods:

Interior Stain

When it comes to painting furniture, you have a wide range of possibilities, from a semi-gloss finish to a matte finish for a farmhouse aesthetic.

To paint over matte-stained furniture, you only need to do some minor sanding and apply primer to the surface. Polyurethane or varnish are often used to give the furniture its shiny appearance.

Before, painting over a glossy layer of wood meant choosing between two unpleasant possibilities.

Sifting through noxious chemicals with a metal scraper is a nasty and time-consuming procedure; sanding the furniture down is also time-consuming and messy.

Both choices were sufficient grounds for abandoning the entire endeavor. That’s all gone now. Liquid sandpaper has made it possible to remove glossy topcoats in just a few minutes, keeping the option of painting furniture with stains much more enticing.

Exterior Stain

This includes staining outside surfaces like decks, fences, and siding. It’s effortless to paint over outside wood that has been stained, as most stain treatments don’t have slick polyurethane coatings that make painting difficult.

What’s the point of painting the deck or the siding in the first place? Additionally, painting aged wood is a great technique to keep it from deteriorating.

Only a limited amount of protection is provided by stains and sealers, which permeate the wood. The wood is protected from humidity and harmful UV rays by a layer of paint.

Exterior paint can often be applied on stained fences, siding, trim, and decking after they have been cleaned and carefully sanded.

Stains that are oil-based do not necessitate the use of a primer or other additional chemical treatments.

What Is Existing On The Surface?

An appropriate primer or sealer will likely be able to handle the current finish on your wood object, whether it’s a varnish stain with pigmentation or wood dye that’s been lacquered.

It is clear from the stated information that the current finish of your wood object is the most important aspect in deciding the quality of any new paint coatings that may be applied.

The best way to ensure a high-quality new paint job is to remove the existing one altogether. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Varnish Stripping: A good varnish stripper can quickly remove varnished coverings and, sometimes, wood dyes from wood surfaces.
  • Heat Stripping: To remove the old varnish, first soften it using a heat gun and then scrape it off with a scraper. Wood dyes will not be removed, but varnish or stain will.
  • Chemical Stripping: It’s a bit of a last-ditch effort. Using chemicals for the removal of deep-penetrating wood dyes isn’t recommended since the chemicals can leak into the wood, which can lead to problems in the future. In addition, most chemicals are harmful to the environment.
  • Sand, It Off: A range of sandpaper grades and a little more effort than the options listed above can be used to sand off the complete surface layer. It’s possible to remove any varnish coverings with this method, but sanding away colors that have absorbed into the wood could take weeks or even months. A mechanical sander is, of course, an option.

Keep Reading: Complete Differences Between Painting Vs Staining

Type Of Paint You Can Use On Stained Wood

Remember that oil and water don’t mix is a good rule of thumb when painting stained wood. A water-based primer is preferable for painting over a water-based stain, as it will better cling to the surface that has stains and avoid peeling or cracking of the finished product.

The painting procedure becomes a little trickier with oil-based stain and polyurethane topcoats. When painting over an oil-based stain, you’ll need to apply trisodium phosphate, or TSP, in order to remove it.

With TSP, oil-based stain stains can be degreased and painted over since it breaks up the oil of the stain. A water-contained primer and latex paint can be used after this treatment.

Required Items For Painting Over Stain

  • 150 Grit Sandpaper: You can’t do anything without it. Preparing the wood for painting is what this is for. A sponge or sandpaper brick can make sanding harder on your hands, making the process more comfortable. Consider purchasing a sheet sander if you need to get the job done faster.
  • Primer: Using an excellent-quality paint primer helps the paint dry faster so that the paint doesn’t soak into the wood. You’ll need fewer coats of paint if you apply primer first because it hides imperfections.
  • Tarps: To tidy your work area, you’ll want to invest in at least one tarp.
  • Tack Cloth: Woodworkers may save a lot of money by using this unique fabric developed just for them. You’ll need a set to remove the dust and paint off the wood.
  • Paintbrushes: Get several foam paint brushes and rollers for your project. For the priming and painting stages, you’ll need new brushes.
  • Polycrylic Protective Finish: There is no substitute for a good ending. Go for a well-known brand with a quick-drying time and long shelf life.

Painting Strategies For Water-Based Stains

Overpainting oil-based stains are substantially more complex than oil-based stains are. When using these stains, it’s essential to remember that wood grains will still be visible on the furniture.

There is no need to employ solvents in order to remove them. To cover water-based stains, follow these instructions.


To get started, here’s what you need to do first. Before sanding and painting, we must thoroughly clean our stained wood furniture or another job.

Before we begin, thoroughly clean the area with warm, soapy water to eliminate any dust, filth, or cobwebs. No paint job is more certain of failure than one in which an unintentional cobweb or dirty area is painted over.

Make sure you have the best furniture to work with by cleaning it! We know you want to skip this step, but we’re here to tell you it’s not worth the risk.

When painting over stained wood, the most critical step is to clean the surface thoroughly. Phase two is to let your project dry completely before moving on to the next step.


The wood will need to be sanded to 150 grit before painting. This is the proper procedure. To avoid crosshatched patterns, you’ll need to sand with the grain.

There is no need to remove the stain but to prepare the surface for another paint. When you begin painting, this ensures that the paint adheres to the surface and produces the most remarkable results.

Several points allow you to skip this stage. But even with those colors, a quick sanding can still be beneficial. It’s time to get to work on the repairs after that.


When you were scrubbing, did you notice a crack? What if the drawer got caught while you were sanding? These projects should be tackled as soon as possible. What’s the reason for this?

To begin the painting job, you must be certain that it is completely dry. It’s possible to chip or scratch your new paintwork if you have to make repairs after the fact.

Make any last-minute corrections or changes to your product before painting to give yourself plenty of time to do so.


The primer should be applied once all repairs have been completed. Everyone talks about primers if you’ve been opting for DIY for any length of time, but what exactly do they do?

In addition to preparing the wood for painting, primer coats also serve to protect it. In contrast to the ultimate “top” coat, these are known as undercoats.

Primer improves paint’s adhesion and increases your project’s overall durability. It’s time to get down to business.

Start Painting

When it comes to painting, it is recommended that you apply several layers for optimal results.
In order to achieve the most outstanding final appearance, it’s critical that you paint along the grain of the wood at all times.

As a bonus, this will keep the wood from being damaged if you ever decide to get rid of the paint for a new look or refresh. The paint should be completely dry between layers.

This prevents fisheyes or bubbles from forming as the paint layers dry over one another. It also helps to keep your paintwork from cracking.

You can add a topcoat or leave the finished paintwork naked after all of your treatments have dried. It all comes down to how much traffic your ultimate product will receive.

Most of the steps are the same if you’re painting over an oil-based stain. On the other hand, oil-based stains necessitate using solvents to get a rod of the stain.

Keep Reading: Gallon Of Paint Weigh & How To Calculate It

Painting Strategy For Oil-Based Stains

Here, things become a little more complicated. Water-based stains may be scrubbed out considerably more quickly than oil-based stains can.

They coat the wood and keep it watertight and scuff-resistant by remaining on top of it. Painting over these blemishes might be difficult due to the nature of the stains.

We’ll need to remove the top coat of the oil-contained stain entirely before we can paint over these blemishes.


As with water-based stains, the first stage is the same for oil paint. If you’re going to paint furniture, make sure it’s clean and all set for the painting.

Check out those hard-to-reach locations where dust has accumulated over time, not after you’ve painted over an entire area of cobwebs.


Work with solvents in a community workspace or your personal garage with powerful ventilation if you’re comfortable doing so.

Generally, ensure all windows and fans are set to full blast. Skin, eye, and lung damage can result from exposure to these solvents’ volatile vapors.

You don’t need to try to overcome this by brute force or grit. Having a respirator or mask on hand is a good idea when dealing with these solvents.

You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container to apply the solvent. Let the solvent sink in for a time before cleaning up any residual solvent or discoloration.

When working with solvents, here’s some helpful advice. Set a timer because the chemicals require time to get absorbed by the wood for an extended period, and you don’t want them around any longer than necessary.

To keep track of how long these solvents need to operate, you can use a smartphone, microwave, or oven. In this way, you won’t lose track of time. It’s time for the wood to be prepped for paint.

Prime And Then, Paint

Afterward, you’ll have the closest thing to raw wood you can get. Apply the primer and allow it to penetrate the wood before moving on to the next step.

Although oil-based stains are more challenging to get rid of paint than water-based stains, they can still be used. Furniture can be given a new lease of life if the correct tools and a well-ventilated workspace are available.


A topcoat isn’t required, but it never hurts to have one around just in case. For exterior jobs, topcoats protect the paint from external elements and the effects of the sun and moisture.

Sealing a paint job with polyurethane is quite effective. Once dried, the liquid polymer creates a sturdy barrier between the environment and whatever is being protected.

Polyurethane is available in semi-gloss, satin, and gloss sheens and can be used on both interior and outdoor surfaces.

Avoid using polyurethanes for a truly matte finish unless you’re willing to accept any degree of gloss in your final product.

When painting with water-based paint, don’t forget to apply a finish layer of water-based polyurethane as well. On water-based paints, oil-contained polyurethane may leave behind a yellowish sheen.

While brushing on polyurethane might be tedious, utilizing polyacrylic as the upper coat can save you time and effort.

In order to acquire an even coat of polyacrylic, you must work rapidly because of the fast drying time. Due to this, polycrylic is often applied in multiple thin coats.

There is one major advantage to Polycrilic: it is available in spray form, making it much easier when painting furniture with several uneven surfaces that would be difficult to coat with a paintbrush.

When it comes to safeguarding your wood, furniture wax is an excellent option. Like polyurethane, which is effectively a plastic covering on top of the wood, polycrylic serves as a protective layer.

Wood is protected from moisture and stains by furniture wax, which goes inside the wood and acts as a sealant. After it dries, the wood maintains its original appearance, even if the wax is applied with an initial gloss.

There are times when a topcoat is entirely superfluous. Because these items are rarely touched, they don’t require the further protection of a topcoat.

The same goes for surfaces painted with high or semi-glossed paint, as these finishes are usually sufficient to protect them.

Keep Reading: Guide On Required Coats Of Primer On Wooden

Shortcut Tips To Paint Stained Surface

“Can I paint over stain?” is a question that’s frequently asked. Chalk paint is here. When petroleum-contained paints took dominated the market, the use of chalk paint faded into obscurity.

As a result, chalk paint is once again in popularity, thanks to a shift away from petroleum materials and an interest in old designs. If you don’t use a topcoat, these paints will have a matte finish.

They also possess a pleasant feel about them, which appeals to a lot of individuals. These paints can be used to create both contemporary and traditional effects.

Compared to any of the other methods, this one is a lot simpler. Using one or two applications of chalk paint is all that is required. Really. Simple as that!

Chalk paint has a remarkable ability to attach to a wide variety of substrates. You don’t even need to sand, despite the fact that a light sanding might help the paint adhere better.

Another option is for the object to look like it was recovered from the farmyard rather than brand new. Applying a final layer of shellac or furniture wax will complete your piece’s rustic yet sophisticated look.

Final Verdict

That was all about the query “can you paint over stain” to help you with the painting job for stained surfaces. We have mainly focused on the wood surface because people mostly find themselves in a fix while painting a stained wooden surface.

Please follow the guidelines mentioned along with several processes for painting the stained surfaces. Follow the steps in detail, along with the safety measures.

Hope you will find the job easy if you follow the steps correctly without skipping any despite the temptation of skipping those. All the best.

Leave a Comment

Explore Us

Follow Us On:

About Us

House Whirl Logo White has a team of professional industry experts to help you find guides on painting, finishing, flooring, bathroom & kitchen to make your home look stunning. We have tested, researched & written hundreds of buying guides to help you select the top-notch & affordable products out there!

Disclosure is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to