Do you need to prime before painting furniture? How to save time when painting.

This is the question I get asked the most. Do you need to prime before painting furniture? So with our modern paint, there are only two reasons why you would prime before painting. The first reason is adhesion. The second reason to prime would be to stop the bleed-through of wood tannins, Saving you time painting so let’s jump straight in.

bare wood cabinet doors

Priming for adhesion.

Let’s start by checking the surface we are going to paint. Is it shiny?  If it is shiny, we need to work out why. Has it got a varnish or lacquer on it which could be sanded? Or is it a man-made surface such as a laminate veneer or melamine?

This is varnish/lacquer and can be sanded.

If it is lacquered or varnished you can scuff sand after cleaning with a degreaser such as TSP Alternative. Your aim is to de-gloss the surface, to make it matte-looking. You can then go ahead and paint. See this blog post where this method was used.

I have a video showing you how on IGTV

If it is a man-made surface such as melamine or veneer ( wood veneers can be sanded and falls into the above category) Plastic like melamine and Thermafoil and laminate ( think Ikea furniture) will need an extra step. For these types of surfaces, you will need to clean, scuff sand if possible, and add a coat of Ultra Grip before applying your paint. 

Ultra Grip adhesion primer.

Ultra Grip is an adhesion primer from Fusion. It is made of 100% Acrylic resin (the stuff in paint that makes it stick) apply in thin coats with a damp applicator pad or sponge. Using a brush can create texture and a little of this product goes a long way. It needs to dry overnight for best results before applying your paint.

If I wanted adhesion and I was painting a dark wood to a light paint I would use Whitson’s adhesion Primer. It is a great quality white adhesion primer giving you a light coloured base to paint from.

Priming to stop wood bleed through / wood tannins/knots.

The second reason you would need to prime when using Fusion Mineral Paint is to stop knots or wood bleeding through the paint. This can happen with red coloured woods and oil knots. For this you will need a shellac based primer. This is the only stain block that works effectively with wood bleed through. It completely seals it in and stops it migrating through the paint.

Zinnser Bin stain blocker

I would recommend Zinnser Bin in the Red can in comes in a spraycan too which can be useful for just knotting. Apply a couple thin coats, it dries very fast so there isn’t much waiting time before you can paint over. You would still need to do the usual prep before using this product of cleaning and scuff sanding.

Saving time painting furniture

When I had the shop I painted all day 5 days a week and I rarely had to get the Zinnser out. I would maybe bust the can out once every 6 months or so. Checking if you need it first will save you so much time! This applies to both reasons you would use a primer for. Saving time painting.

Gold leaf a before and after.
This was red oak and needed stain block

If you think your piece may bleed test it by adding a thin coat of white paint in a spot that looks suspect. Wait 10 mins or so and see if the white paint has change colour. If so bust out the can, if not proceed with caution keeping a spray can on hand for spot control.

Despite it being metal this didn’t need Ultra Grip .. alway test first!

This metal piping was a big job and I thought it may need to be Ultra Gripped before painting. After testing first by painting a few coats of paint on a day later I couldn’t scratch it off! So testing first will help. Saving you time painting! Watch the video of that test.

Just for your reference here is Fusions Prep card to take a look at.

Hope that helps

Sarah X

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