how to paint plywood

How to Paint Plywood – The Beginner’s Guide to Painting Plywood

Picture this: You just inherited that long-awaited dining room table and matching chairs from your grandmother who downsized her house. It is your dream table, the best fit for your home! But… the pieces are worn from all the years of use! Your first thought might be to sand it down and re-varnish it. However, you will first need to check whether it was coated in polyurethane.

If so, your job might not be as laborious as you think. Painting over polyurethane is very possible, and this guide on how to paint over polyurethane will set you on the right path!

Please note that I am writing this article with my own personal suggestions.

How Much of a Challenge Is Painting Plywood?

A huge portion of our furniture is made from plywood. Home improvement stores sell ready-made dining tables and chairs, but they can be expensive if you want a custom-sized piece. If so, your only choice is to shop online or at salvage yards where new old stock dining room furniture can be found at a fraction of the price!

This being said, painting over polyurethane on wood surfaces does pose a challenge for some people as it seems more difficult than painting laminate or MDF. In this article, I hope to demystify this process and help those who are interested in tackling the project on their own. However, if you do feel that you would rather hire a professional service provider to paint over

What Kind of Paint Works on Plywood?

A word of advice: do not use regular latex paint as it will peel off very easily. I also would not recommend oil-based enamel or epoxy paints as they take way too long to dry and require a lot of sanding between coats. Instead, opt for an acrylic alkyd hybrid primer and topcoat. Alkyds are one of the best out there and offer great coverage and durability.

The two main brands you want to look out for are Benjamin Moore’s Aura ® Home Exterior Oil Based Primer & Paint (terrific quality, amazing customer service) and Sherwin Williams ProClassic Latex Hi-Build Prime, Top Coat.

Our Top Paint Pick: RUST-OLEUM Painter’s Touch

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint and Primer is a great choice that will be perfect for painting plywood furniture. It goes on really smooth and covers well with just one coat! Using the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover latex paint as an accent colour will truly make your piece stand out in any room! This expert line of paint provides up to 200 sq ft coverage per gallon.

Do You Need to Use Primer on Plywood?

We would recommend using a high-quality oil-based primer. It is best to use multiple thin coats of paint and not one thick coat as this will likely peel or crack down the road, so yes – we advise the use of primer!

This being said, you could try out our Sherwin Williams ProClassic Latex Hi-Build Primer for painting over polyurethane on plywood furniture pieces. This top pick is an alkyd enamel that offers superior coverage with up to 400 sq ft per gallon (that’s twice as much!) and dries in only 15 minutes!

However, if you decide to go with Benjamin Moore Aura ® Home Exterior Oil Based Primer & Paint, it does not actually require.

A Tutorial on How to Paint Plywood

Prepare Plywood for Painting

Before you start painting, it is important to remove the existing finish first. If there are any grease spots or marks, touch them up with paintable latex caulk after cleaning the surface! It is vital that your furniture does not have a shiny or slick look as this will prevent paint from adhering correctly. To do so if needed, sand your piece lightly using an orbital sander and 100-grit sandpaper. Use a dust mask at all times when sanding wood surfaces! After you are done, use a tack cloth to remove loose particles of dust before painting over polyurethane.

How to Paint Your Furniture Using Oil Based Prim & Sealer

Tape off your plywood table with blue painter’s tape and newspaper (or any other kind of paper) and place all your tools in one corner, such as paintbrushes and gloves, to make it easier for you when the painting is done.

Carefully cut in between each line using a small angled paintbrush. This will help to prevent paint from bleeding under the edges which can be a rather annoying clean-up job!

Fill in the Gaps (Optional)

If you want to make sure your paint job is smooth and even, you could use a foam roller with an extension handle for this purpose. Start at one corner of the surface and work in small sections before moving on to the next place. The key when filling in the gaps is to try not to overdo it as too much paint buildup can result in peeling.

Let Dry Completely (Optional)

Before applying your top coat, allow the primer to dry completely, which may take up to 12 hours depending on humidity levels. You could also speed up the process by using a fan or air-conditioner nearby so that moisture does not accumulate while it dries.

How to Apply the Top Coat

Do not apply the topcoat directly to the primer as this will cause wrinkling or bubbling. Stir up your paint thoroughly before applying it, because after a few minutes the paint will begin to thicken up! Cut in around each edge using a small angled brush, then carefully work on any details using a roller.

When you are done painting, allow at least 12 hours for the paint to dry completely. It is best if you can do it overnight so that no dust or particles accumulate over your newly painted plywood furniture! We suggest removing all tape and newspaper prior to this step to prevent damage. After everything has dried properly, give your piece another look-over and make sure there are no streaks visible.

Make It Edgeless (Optional)

You could also skip the primer and simply paint over your plywood with a topcoat. However, if you decide to do so, make sure it is an oil-based enamel as latex may cause bubbling on the surface of the wood after a few years!

A favourite amongst DIYers is Benjamin Moore Aura ® Home Exterior Oil Based Primer & Paint which only requires two thin coats to be applied to provide an opaque finish.

Smoothen Things Out

If your topcoat has a bit of texture, you could use a paintbrush with soft bristles to touch up any rough areas before applying a second layer. Work your way around the piece and always start by cutting in along each line so that you have a clean edge to follow.

When everything is looking good and dry, this would be a great time to apply any shoe or furniture protectors, as well as place, felt pads underneath the legs of your table. This will help prevent scratches from accumulating over time!

Periodic Maintenance & Cleaning

In order for your painting job to last as long as possible, it is recommended that you perform some periodic maintenance on it by wiping dirt and grime with a damp cloth

Wax On, Sand Off (Optional)

To wax or not to wax, that is the question! If you are looking for more of a matte finish then skip this step. However, if you want your paint job to have a slight sheen to it then use waterproof paste furniture wax

Please keep in mind that most modern paints contain special additives which help protect against UV rays so it may be unnecessary to apply another coating. Always test out any new products on an inconspicuous spot before applying them over the whole surface for maximum protection!

Always allow your topcoat to fully dry before putting anything on top of your piece of furniture, i.e., plates with hot food, drinks, etc. This will ensure that there is no permanent damage.

Prime Time

The next step is optional but can help protect against spills and every day wear & tear. The final product should be smooth, glossy, and slightly darker than the coat underneath to give it a nice two-toned effect.

Mix up your paint thoroughly, then apply in thin coats with either a paintbrush or roller. Use long strokes starting from opposite edges of your surface to avoid getting rid of any brush marks that may form over time. Allow each layer to dry completely (about two hours) before applying the next one.

Do not worry if this process takes you more than one day as many products require overnight exposure to fully cure. Once everything has hardened properly, you will know because there will no longer be an odour coming

Painting Your Masterpiece

Now that the hard part is over, let’s get down to the fun! For this step, you will need rollers in varying sizes which are available at your local hardware store.

You could also use special painting apparatuses called sprayers which are commonly found with exterior paint but beware of harmful chemicals and fumes!

For a matte finish, we recommend using a natural bristle brush whereas for a sheen we suggest using foam brushes . A natural bristle brush will help blend each stroke seamlessly into the existing layer whereas foam brushes will give you an even and opaque coat in just one swipe!

Frequently Asked Questions

Painting Heavyweight Items

Items such as pianos and chandeliers often require the use of scaffolding to reach high enough areas which may not be safe for DIYers so hire a professional or leave it up to someone more qualified!

Painting Wallpaper

If your wallpaper is made from fabric, we suggest using a steamer to avoid damaging it and making any unsightly stains

For stubborn spots that just refuse to budge you can also try using Goo Gone ® or Goof Off ®, both major brands in paint stripper. Use caution when applying these products though as they may discolour the surface underneath if left on too long! It is always best to test out these methods on an icons

Does Painting Plywood Make It Waterproof?

Since the outer layer of plywood is made from multiple layers of thin sheets, it may be waterproof already or can be treated to become water-resistant. You should still avoid placing liquids directly onto your surface since these areas are usually hidden and difficult to clean.

Painting Laminate aka Formica

This particular type of countertop material cannot be painted with standard enamel-based paints because it will bubble up beneath the paint coat. You can use a special primer first which contains chemicals that allow paint coats to stick better to its surface but these primers are not always available at local hardware stores so you might have t

Which Plywood Is Best for Painting?

You want to avoid using the cheap plywood found in most hardware stores as these are usually coated with a thin layer of wax or varnish which may prevent paint from sticking. A better option would be lauan, also called Manila hemp or Meranti, since this type contains fewer knots and is less likely to warp than other vari

When Should You Sand Down Plywood?

It is best to sand down plywood before painting it so that you do not run the risk of trapping any dirt between your surface and paint coat. This will ensure that even if there was a small imperfection it would still be hidden by either the old or new paint!

*Idea: For an added touch you can use

Do I Need to Seal Plywood Before Painting?

Sealing plywood before painting it is an optional step since this will only help create a smoother surface to work with . If you do wish to seal your plywood, we recommend using either oil-based or water-based sealants although water-based ones are better for the environment and slightly more versatile in terms of use!

Can I Use Wallpaper on Plywood?

Plywood does not enjoy warping so wallpaper will probably lay over top without much issue but it may damage easier than other surfaces when removing so always test out your method first! You can also use wallpaper glue if you want to ensure that no issues arise during its application which again, never hurts to try ou

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