What is the Best Paint For Wood? Use for Furniture, Crafts, and More (2024)

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Painting wood serves a dual purpose: it not only elevates the wood’s visual appeal but also shields it from the unforgiving elements. Nevertheless, selecting the appropriate paint is paramount, as a misjudgment can mar your project, potentially leading to irreversible harm. 

Upon extensive testing, I’ve identified the finest wood paints available, ensuring you make the perfect selection for your specific undertaking.

Premium Option
KILZ 10211
Editor’s Choice
Rust-Oleum 285140
Budget Option
Rust-Oleum 245210
KILZ 10211
Rust-Oleum 285140
Rust-Oleum 245210
• Good adhesion
• Weatherproof
• Exterior use
• Innovative formula
• Matte finish
• Vintage look
• Excellent adhesion
• Velvety finish
• Spray can version
• Versatile
• Fast drying
• Satin finish
Premium Option
KILZ 10211
KILZ 10211
• Good adhesion
• Weatherproof
• Exterior use
• Innovative formula
Editor’s Choice
Rust-Oleum 285140
Rust-Oleum 285140
• Matte finish
• Vintage look
• Excellent adhesion
• Velvety finish
Budget Option
Rust-Oleum 245210
Rust-Oleum 245210
• Spray can version
• Versatile
• Fast drying
• Satin finish

Reviews of the Top Paints for Wood

1. Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint

This Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalk Paint could be just what you need to give your wooden furniture that weathered or vintage look you’ve been going for. 

What I like about this paint for furniture is that it doesn’t need to be primed or sanded before application, so you may use it on almost any surface. It eliminates spending additional time sanding, stripping, or priming the wood.

It also prevents you from having to spend money on a primer. Any wood finish can’t top that on the market. It only takes one coat of this chalk paint to completely transform the look of your old wooden furniture into a sophisticated matte sheen.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint

As far as exterior paints go, this KILZ is as good as it gets. It has been specially prepared to withstand the sun’s ultraviolet rays and rain, snow, and any other inclement weather that can ruin your wood if you leave it outside.

When this coating dries, it becomes impressively sturdy, staying intact without chipping, breaking, or forming blisters. What makes it stand out is its unique blend of oil and water, which allows it to excel in both dry and wet situations. 

I particularly appreciate how this paint can withstand fluctuating temperatures while effectively safeguarding surfaces. Additionally, the KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint can coat 200 square feet with just one can and up to 500 square feet each gallon for nonporous surfaces.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Rust-Oleum 245210 Universal All Surface Spray Paint

For those who like a glossier finish, this Rust-Oleum 245210 is a perfect choice. Its oil-based recipe guarantees a glossy finish on almost any wood surface after the paint dries.

Its spray function makes it simple to apply, even for novices, and guarantees uniform application. You can get the job done much more quickly without having to deal with messy paintbrushes or rollers.

It makes the surface both attractive and long-lasting. The shiny exterior is very scratch- and water-resistant, which aids in extending the time that the polished surface retains its clean appearance.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint by Renaissance DIY

One or two applications of this Renaissance chalk furniture paint are all needed to cover any wood surface. It is designed to stick to various substrates and should serve you well.

If you despise the tedious preparation process required before applying the final touches, this particular paint is an ideal choice. Say goodbye to the hassle of sanding and priming, as this paint is specifically designed to adhere to wood surfaces in any condition.

Moreover, this Retique It Chalk Paint by Renaissance DIY also performs well on both inside and exterior surfaces. Since this is the case, it’s an excellent option for any painting job. Remember to seal the paint with a marine-grade finish when working on an outdoor project.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. ARTEZA Acrylic Paint, Arteza Set 14 Colors

You can use up to 14 stylish hues with this acrylic craft paint set, making it ideal for any creative woodworker. Besides, you may use this paint to create beautiful wood finishes, and a wide variety of colors are available. 

By combining different hues, you can make new shades that are uniquely you. Also, we like that the small box that Arteza paint comes in is excellent for keeping all your paint supplies in one place. 

All of the colors in this Arteza Acrylic 14-Color Paint Set are made with high-quality pigments to avoid fading. In addition, the paints are safe for human touch, allowing you to experiment with your artistic abilities without fear of harming yourself.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. Rust-Oleum 365930 Floor Coating Base Coat Black Quart

Here I have one of the most adaptable wood stains we’ve tested. You can use the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch on just about every surface indoors or outdoors.

This water-based composition contains a potent acrylic resin, which aids in producing a durable layer to survive severe climate changes. Your task will also be well-protected from chips and blusters, which makes it ideal for painting wood that is heavily used indoors.

The formula of Rust-Oleum 365930 has low toxicity, and its water base make it the best choice if you paint wood indoors. The paint has a minimal odor, so those with chemical sensitivity need not worry.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint

Liquitex specializes in crafting paints, and when it comes to tackling wooden DIY projects, their heavy-duty paint shines. What sets it apart is the robust acrylic formula it’s crafted from, which delivers top-notch finish quality. It’s a solid choice for your woodworking endeavors.

This paint has impressive and remarkable qualities. Its advanced formula not only sticks exceptionally well to wood surfaces but also brings out vibrant, eye-catching colors. Plus, it’s safe for both kids and pets, and its low odor makes it a superb choice for indoor projects.

The Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint doesn’t fade or yellow over time thanks to the formulation. It’s also impervious to moisture after it dries.

What i Like

What i Don't Like

Paint for Wood Buyer’s Guide

Sheen and Finish

Enamel paint or oil-based paint is your best bet for a glossy finish. Because of their inherent luster, oil or enamel paint need no varnish to seem shiny.

You can achieve many matte finishes with water-based products. Chalk or milk paint is ideal if you’re going for a more traditional, old-fashioned look.

First, decide on the level of shine you’re after, and then look for paints explicitly made for wood that you can apply in that manner.

Satinwood Paint

Due to its more moderate sheen and ability to retain its brightness for longer than gloss, satinwood paint quickly replaces gloss as the finish of choice for woodwork.

Gloss Paint

Gloss paint is a long-lasting choice that provides a glossy sheen to surfaces like doors, window frames, and baseboards.

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint protects high-wear areas like skirting boards from everyday damage while leaving a subtle, soft, and extremely low-sheen surface on the wood.

Type of Paint

Oil-Based

oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is the best paint for wood for many DIYers. I’m familiar with it because it claims to provide a protective layer over wood for years. As a result of the high-quality finishes it offers, oil paint is likewise highly recommended by us. 

Pros

Cons

Water-Based

close up view Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

The components of water-based paint, including the pigments and the binder, are suspended in a water-based solvent. Since water is an integral part of their composition, these paints are among the most user- and cleanup-friendly options available.

Also, you can thin water-based paints by mixing water and blending to the appropriate consistency.

Pros

Cons

Latex

Painting Furniture with Latex Paint

Water is also a component of latex, similar to water-based paints. However, because they contain acrylic resin, they dry more slowly than water-based paints.

Larger projects are better suited to the bulk buying of water-based latex paint. Latex paint is more user- and cleaner-friendly than oil paint.

Pros

Cons

Chalk

dresser with chalk paint

Paints made from milk or chalk are water-based paint that you can use on any surface. You can get tremendously aged look with this paint in almost no time.

However, a top coat is necessary to prevent the paint from flaking. When dry, chalk paint can have the look and feel of actual chalk, creating a soft, matte surface that is highly coveted by some.

Due to its singularity, chalk paint is appealing, mainly when applied to the focal point of a room, like a piece of furniture. Using chalk paint on wooden surfaces is simple and results in a delicate, slightly antique look or aged impact.

Pros

Cons

Acrylic

preparing acrylic paint

Acrylic paints are more commonly reserved for more creative or smaller undertakings, such as creating portraits on canvas or wooden boards. Metal soaps, pigments, defoamers, silicone oils, stabilizers, plasticizers, and stabilizers comprise these paints.

Acrylic paints are water-based, but their fast-drying formula makes them water-resistant once dried. Because they dissolve in water, washing them is as simple as wiping them down with soap and water.

Pros

Cons

Type of Project

The best wood paint to use is one that suits your specific job. Even if you like one kind of paint to another, some wood projects are better off with a paint specifically designed to work with those materials.

Wooden Trims

The trims in your home have taken a beating over the years, so you need to paint them with the best paint for the wood so that the scratches don’t show. This is where oil-based paints shine. Pick a high-quality oil-based paint whose label states that it is scratch-resistant.

Wooden Furniture

Ultimately, the aesthetic you’re going for should guide your decision to paint for furniture. If you want your furniture to look aged and worn, chalk paint is the way to go.

Protecting the surface with a clear finish, such as varnish or wax, is essential. Latex paint is your best bet if you’re looking for a matte finish on your indoor furniture. This includes TV stands, dining tables, dressers, chairs, headboards, cabinets, wardrobes, and more.

The paint is highly durable so it can tolerate occasional use. Oil-based finishes may be the best option for outdoor furniture. They have glossier sheens, so water beads on the surface instead of soaking in.

This quality can significantly reduce the likelihood of water damage to your wood.

Pressed-Wood Furniture

Plywood and MDF [1] are commonly used to create furniture, and this type of wood is known as “pressed wood furniture” because of the veneer it provides. 

It was designed to look like it had been around for centuries. Ensure the pressed surface is slightly laminated before you start painting.

painting fence with KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Pain

You shouldn’t over-laminate because that could cause the underlying surface to show through the paint. The first step is a meticulous sand-laminating of the character.

Laminating with too much force will expose the wood’s veneer, so be careful. To over-laminate would be to risk ruining the layers of the wood used in the smokescreen, which is already reasonably delicate.

First, you better use the best oil-based primer. Priming with oil ensures the best paint adhesion and coverage. Before you start sanding, give the primer plenty of time to dry completely.

Before applying any paint, sand the surface very lightly. Check the primer’s application instructions to see if it’s dry. For optimal results, wait 24 hours after priming to apply paint. Applying latex paint on pressed furniture is also a great idea.

Wooden Floors

The most significant wear and tear is made to floors made of wood. Therefore, they need the most durable varieties to endure constant foot activity.

floor painted with Rust-Oleum 365930

Oil-based and latex paints are your best bet if you want a long-lasting finish on your wood floors. More premium is always preferable.

Finished Wood

A paint with excellent adhesion properties is essential when painting pre-finished wood. In general, chalk paints perform admirably in this area.

Oil paints are a great alternative if you prefer chalk paint’s matte finish, oil-based paints are a great alternative. They attach well to wood surfaces and leave them looking shiny.

Unfinished Wood

As long as you adequately prepare untreated wood, any paint should adhere to it. If you don’t plan on using a primer, however, it is recommended that you choose paints with excellent adhesion capabilities.

Latex or water-based paints are your best bet if you paint over raw wood. It will be ideal if you happen onto a combination of primer and paint.

Whether you like water- or oil-based paint, the all-in-one options provide superior results.

Bare Wood

Water-based latex is ideal for freshly sanded, varnish-free, and painted wooden surfaces. Choose a glossy latex paint when painting with water. 

Wooden surfaces painted using water-based paints are much simpler to care for afterward. It’s also a warranty on the furniture’s longevity. Latex wood paint will dry to a flat finish if the furniture is left unfinished.

Preparation

Gather newspapers or dustsheets to protect surfaces you don’t want spattering put on your safety glasses and gloves, and open all the windows and doors to provide adequate ventilation.

Look over your surface carefully; does it require stripping? Must it be sanded, or can it wait? Is it sanitary? Paint will take well and dry even if the surface is as clean and smooth as possible.

To get a good paint job, you must first clean the surface thoroughly of any dust, grime, grease, or other contaminants that could prevent the paint from sticking.

You should use a wood primer to improve paint adherence, create a durable paint job, and protect the wood before painting it unless the paint you’re using already includes primer in the formulation or is a self-undercoat, as do a handful of the paints shown below.

Location

Do you plan on working indoors or outside for your project? It may seem like a no-brainer, but you should check to ensure the paint you use is made for that particular setting.

The best paint for wood designed for the outdoors tend to be pliable and resistant to the sun’s rays. It’s possible that this adaptability isn’t suitable for use inside. That paint job might need to be more durable or scratch-proof for use inside.

Similarly, you can’t use paint meant for indoors or outside. They are built to endure the frequent light impacts common in enclosed spaces.

Yet they aren’t adaptable enough for outdoor use and can’t withstand the elements. For this reason, you should only use paint designed for indoor usage if your project will take place inside.

It’s also essential to utilize paint meant for outdoor applications while working on an outdoor project.

The Process of Painting Wooden Surfaces

Our tests shows that the first brushstroke is often the hardest when you’re just starting in the art of painting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze to create beautiful works of art.

Deciding how to begin painting a wooden surface depends on determining what paints you can use. This is an incorrect interpretation. The type of paint to apply to the wood depends on the piece’s dimensions and shape.

Paint designed for outdoor hardwood surfaces is the best option for painting a coffee table that you can keep indoors. The painting process will move more quickly, and the paint will dry more quickly if you do this. 

The most basic principle in painting is to use an old cloth or sheet as a drop cloth to catch any paint that might spill off the painted surface.

Paint in a spray can or other similar container is recommended to simplify the job of painting. A simple action of pointing the sprayer at the wooden surface and releasing the paint is required to paint it with an airless sprayer.

It’s normal for aged wooden furniture to have minor scuffs and scratches. Get a scratch eraser or pen to cover up dings and dents. This is a wise investment if you paint a lot, this is a wise investment because it will save you money.

While spray paint is the way to go, more giant paint cans are available for various uses.

Since the surface area you’ll be painting on furniture is vast, a jumbo-sized can of paint is your best bet. The use of a paintbrush also facilitates covering more ground with color and the use of a damp cloth can help with easy cleaning.

While painting may seem easy, it should not be quick. You risk getting a less-than-stellar result if you try to rush things.

Tips & Tricks in Wood Painting

Consider Using a Primer

You can achieve better adherence to the wood by priming it first. A primer’s purpose is to strengthen the paint’s bond with the surface and extend its life. A primer is essential to ensure that your paint finish holds up over time.

Naturally, certain paints will last longer than others. Whether the surface is unfinished or finished, a primer will help the coat last longer. Such findings aid long-term time and financial savings.

Follow the Wood Grain’s Direction

When sanding, staining, or painting a wooden surface, it is essential to work with the grain. There’s a valid explanation for this fact. Marks made or left during the application are more likely to be in the same direction as the wood’s grain if this accessory is used.

They can blend in perfectly with the wood’s natural grain. This is the best method for producing polished, expert output.

Use High-Quality Paintbrushes

The finished product of your painting project will reflect the caliber of your tools. Premium brushes get the job done right and last for years. Particularly useful for oil-derived paints that don’t spread properly with rollers.

You don’t want a paintbrush whose bristles keep breaking off and scattering over your masterpiece. For better or worse, it can make the task harder to complete.

Apply Protective Coating

Some paints, like oil-derived paints, are inherently glossy and long-lasting. However, without a protective coating, other matte finishes and chalk paint are not as shiny and may not be as durable.

Therefore, you should always apply a clear coat over such paint layers to extend their durability.

Other Tips

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time to avoid finding things stuck where they shouldn’t. In particular, after painting, wait for the paint to dry before closing any doors or windows. 

Finally, choose high-quality brushes so that you don’t end up with bristles glued to your baseboards.

Removing Paint from Wood

There are many methods for peeling paint off of wood. No matter how long-lasting a paint claims to be, it eventually wears off a surface. The price tag will be established by the strategy used for paint removal. 

Almost every technique for removing paint involves purchasing supplies from a hardware store. Use a sander to remove the paint if you are not concerned about damaging the furniture. 

In addition, there are paint-grinding products available. You can use heat guns to gently loosen paint layers, which you can remove by hand.

More articles for you: 

FAQ

Is it okay to use wall paint on wood furniture?

Ordinary paints for walls can’t handle the wear and tear of a couch. Most of the time, water-based acrylics, acrylic-alkyds, or even urethane-modified alkyds make up the best paints for wood.

Do you always need a primer for wood painting?

It is recommended to use an oil-based primer before finishing various types of wood, including redwood and cedarwood. This will penetrate the wood thoroughly and stop any subsequent paint from leaving traces.

Can you use oil-based products to finish wood?

Oil-based paints can be used without worry as a wood treatment. The two most common types of paint, water-based and oil-based, both work well on wooden surfaces. But before you go ahead and use oil-based paint, you’ll need to prime the surface.

Is it possible to seal oil-based paints?

You can use oil-derived paints without worry as a wood treatment. The two most common types of paint, water- and oil-based, work well on wooden surfaces. But before you go ahead and use oil-based paint, you’ll need to prime the surface.

How can you tell if a wooden surface is painted with an oil-based paint?

Use an alcohol-soaked Q-tip to determine whether latex paint was used, and rub a Q-tip from left to right across a wooden surface. Durable oil-based paints are also tricky to remove. You must apply oil-based primer to the surface before any other paint for wood.

What is the recommended paint for shelves?

Latex water-based paint is ideal for shelving books. While oil-derived paints are long-lasting and sturdy, they also have the potential to off-gas noxious fumes and VOCs into the air for days after application.

My Top Pick For the Best Paint for Wood:
Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint

The best paint for wood is the Rust-Oleum 285140. During testing, it consistently provided an ultra-matte finish, and it can be easily distressed for a vintage look and dries to a smooth, hard finish. 

The paint can also be reapplied after a light sanding and sealed with a clear wax to protect the surface.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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