The Best Paint For Different Types Of Wood

Do you have a painting project that includes wood surfaces? It can be hard to find a paint that really settles into wood in a way that looks good and ages well. Wood is an adaptable surface that can take almost any kind of paint, but you may have better results with certain types.

Want a pro tip? Always prime your painting surface first before moving on to your paint of choice. So, let’s explore the best paints for different types of wood surfaces to help narrow down your most viable options depending on your project.

Know the Vocabulary of Paint

There is a certain vocabulary that you need to know before selecting the best paint for different types of wood surfaces. There are a few different types of paint, including water-based paint and oil-paint. Water-based paint is usually sold in home centers, paint stores, and big box stores. It has a few different finishes: latex, milk, or chalk. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, are either alkyd-based (synthetic) or plant-oil-based. It too comes in a few sheens, namely flat (matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss.

Always Use A Good Primer

Another thing to be cognizant of is that you always need to use a stain-blocking primer when you are going to paint wood. This will help to create a final look that is cohesive. Choose a higher quality primer if possible, even if you aren’t going to use better quality paint. It’s important to match the base of the primer with the base of the paint you’ll use.

Oil-based primers will do a better job of sealing the wood and blocking severe discoloration.

What is the Best Paint for Wood Furniture?

Does a piece of your wood furniture need a facelift? No problem! If you’re going to paint wood furniture, you want to use an alkyd-based oil paint. This is perfect for tables and chairs that are used frequently, as the paint is less likely to dent, scratch, or mark. It has a flexible surface so that it can deal with the wear and tear of daily life as well.

This is also a paint that dries really quickly, so you won’t have to worry about furniture being out of commission for too long. To get the best results, opt for something with at least a semi-gloss finish.

What is the Best Paint for Wood Cabinets?

Similarly, the best paint for wood cabinets is also alkyd-based oil paint. Whether they are in the kitchen or the bathroom, wood cabinets are used frequently and are exposed to a lot of moisture. Alkyd-based oil paint will help to prevent warping, bubbling, and mold growth. You’ll want to choose at least semi-gloss here as well because it is non-porous, meaning it won’t fade, weather, or turn yellow over time.

If you have wooden cabinets in drier areas of your home, like the bedroom, then use a traditional latex paint. This is inexpensive and easy to use, making it perfect for children’s rooms, living rooms, and even offices. Most often, flat to satin sheens will look best in these spaces, but they are harder to clean. You will have to weigh the finish versus how much cleaning you want to do.

What Is the Best Paint for Wood Trim?

When you are painting interior trim, you want to think about how many scuffs and dents it is going to get. Whether you are painting door casing, windows trim, ceiling trip, or baseboards, they are going to get some action. Use oil-based paint to help prevent flaws. Trim is extremely noticeable in most homes, especially if you use a lighter paint on the walls, so you’ll want to use an alkyd paint. This will help prevent the “yellowing” that is common in older homes, even on the molding.

If you have pets or children and know that you will be cleaning your trim, you want to go for something with a glossy finish.

For more ornate or decorative trim, you will want to use a traditional latex paint. This will show off all of the beautiful details of your trim and helps to completely cover even the most ornate trim. Use a flat to a satin sheen for the best results, but only in areas where you don't need to clean all that often. If you do need to clean, then use a glossier paint.

What Is the Best Paint for Wood Flooring?

Let’s be honest, floors take the most abuse out of any surface in our homes, whether you wear work boots, tennis shoes, or high heels. So, to protect them, you’ll want to use a paint that can stand up to the challenge. Alkyd-based paint is the best paint to use here because it is hard enough to withstand some damage. Choosing a plant-based oil paint is also an option when looking for good results, but it is more expensive. You will clean your floors often, so you want to use something that is at least semi-gloss if not high gloss. This will also just look better in most homes.

Remember you will need to paint the adhesive and seaming on the floor too, so test there.

What Is the Best Paint for Wooden Objects?

If you have ordinary wooden objects that you need to paint, use a plant-based oil paint. This is the best option to capture little details and create a lasting product like a photo frame. Plant-oil paint dries softer and looks a little bit more expensive, elevating almost anything that it touches.

Additionally, this is great because it doesn’t smell, which makes your craft project a little easier on the nose.

In Conclusion: Always Spot Test

No matter what type of paint you are using, it’s best to spot test to ensure the paint you selected looks good and settles nicely. If possible, spot test in places that are less conspicuous and more  hidden to see how it will dry and wear. Try to scratch the surface of the test to see how it lasts. Most wooden surfaces can be sanded down and repainted, but not always, so be careful! It’s always best to spot test first, and if you’re happy with the results, grab your brush and paint away! 


Painting glossary: Know your painting lingo | Better Homes and Gardens

The Best Paint Primer Options for DIYers (Buyer's Guide) | Bob Vila

Everything You Need to Know About Alkyd Paint |

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