The Room of Varnished Wood

It was like a scene from an old movie. Dark, old, standing outside the flow of time. It could be described as the Dark Ages of rooms, all because of the varnished wood. Nobody today wants to live in a house that seems like it came from when their grandparents were kids. If you have varnished wood in your house, it could be time to prepare the room for painting and change up the look. You’re not the only one with this problem either.

painting over wood varnish

Many people encounter this exact problem with their houses and furniture. They want to bring their house into the 21st century, but without tearing it apart. The best part is, you don’t have to throw away or replace all the varnished wood. The biggest question is whether or not you can paint over varnished wood. Read on to find out how you can do it!

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Wood Varnish: Can You Paint Over It?

The short answer: yes. There is a big misconception where you can’t paint over varnished wood when, actually, you can. People looking for a more contemporary look often ask about painting over clear finished wood. Common requests involve doors, built-in cabinets, chair rails, and baseboard and crown molding. While possible, painting over wood varnish comes with good and bad news.

painting part of a house that has wood varnish

The good news is that painting over varnished wood is possible using either oil or water-based paints. You can replace the older, darker look with something new, vibrant, or whatever you want, like some cool graffiti art if it’s your style. So while it can be done, it does have its own share of issues. 

The bad news is it involves a laborious, multi-step process to ensure a good result, like the amount of time that goes into painting a room. Working with wood can lead to its own problems too. If the wood has problems, such as dry rot, you may need to hire a carpenter. You can learn about some of the common woodworking that needs doing on paint jobs. It may take some time to do, but the results can be worth the effort. For now, let’s look at the process of how you can paint over varnished wood.

staining a deck using a brush

How To Paint Wood Varnish For Pro’s or DIY

Follow this quick outline for a successful project:

  1. Wash all surfaces with a trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution to clean contaminants off of the surface. Skipping this step can cause the sandpaper to foul more frequently!
  2. Sand all surfaces with fine sandpaper until the finish is thoroughly and uniformly hazed. This gives the surface texture for the primer to stick to. Make sure to sand in the direction of the grain.
  3. Wipe off dust with tack cloth. This is important because painting over the dust can cause imperfections and prevent the paint from sticking as well.
  4. Prime using a quality oil-based primer, then lightly sand dried primer to remove any brush marks.
  5. Wipe surface with a tack cloth.
  6. Caulk all gaps along joints and walls as this won’t have been done before.
  7. Paint with two coats of your selected paint.

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Vanishing Varnished Wood

Goodbye varnished wood, hello glorious new paint job! Giving your house a makeover really makes it your home because you put part of yourself into it. If you’re putting yourself into it, you’ll want it to be a good job whether you DIY or hire a professional. Speaking of wood, have you thought about painting your deck? Update your home and bring it into the present. Doing this will cost money, so know how much it’ll cost before you dive in.

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