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Painting over varnished wood

Posted by Adrian
March 14th, 2012

Preparing to paint over varnish or old stained wood

I recently did a job that had new fire doors installed and because of this new door stops also had to be fitted, when the stops were fitted the paint came away with the old door stops. The paint had been applied over stained and varnished wood. You may have this in your home if it’s old enough, does the paint chip easily and reveal dark wood underneath? More than likely you have varnish or stained wood and painted over without the proper preparation. As you can see by the following picture it looked a bit of a mess.

The paint hadn’t adhered to the varnish underneath and simply flacked off, as you can see by the following quick video it wasn’t too much of a job to scrape the paint off due to lack of preparation when the varnish was painted over.

The following image shows the paint removed and prepared ready for the first coat of primer.

Once the paint was removed and I gave the surface a light rub down, I then applied Zinsser BIN primer to adhere and seal the varnish, as you can see by the image below.

I then applied a normal wood primer over the Zinsser BIN primer and over the new door stop, and the edges of the new door. Once the primer was dry I gave it a light rub down and then applied a coat of undercoat to the frame, stop and door.

The new door and frame are now ready to receive the final coat, a topcoat of satinwood.

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Posted in Decorating Tips, Video | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Painting over varnished wood”

  1. John mcandrew Says:

    I have a number of doors stairs and spindles plus skirting to paint in a finish coat of white satinwood all the mentioned items are presently painted with a dark varnish .would really appreciate your advice on how to prep and what type of paints and primers to use to stop the paint lifting of the varnish and weather to use oil or water based paints the info out there is confusing and decorators centres offered different advice.Hope you can help

    Date posted : July 10th, 2016 at 1:44 am
  2. Adrian Says:


    I would clean off any grease etc off of surfaces with a methylated spirit or white spirit, give it all a little rub down, not too much just to give it a slight key. Then give it a coat of Zinsser BIN, then a primer. I use a water based primer/undercoat for quickness of drying. Then if it is covered enough a topcoat, if not another primer/undercoat then a topcoat of satinwood. I prefer an oil based satinwood, but that’s personal preference.

    Date posted : July 10th, 2016 at 3:29 pm

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