Can Rust-Oleum Be Used on Wood? — Enamel, Spray Paint, & More

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Rustoleum Enamel Paint has been my trusted ally when it comes to guarding metal surfaces. When harsh weather tries to do its worst, this formula stands firm, delivering a tough, glossy barrier against nature’s most challenging elements.

Now, you might be wondering if RustOleum can be applied to wood. I’ve delved into this topic myself, and I’ve compiled everything you need to know before introducing Rustoleum to your woodworking projects.

Using Rust-Oleum Paint on Wood: Good or Not?

Rustoleum enamel is typically used for metal surfaces, but wood can be painted too. Before beginning the project, though, preparation is key. 

Sand down your wooden surface and wipe away any dust with a damp, lint-free rag or tack cloth. After ensuring that it’s dry, use an oil-based primer from Rust-Oleum. Priming won’t be necessary when painting metals or weatherproofing. 

Rust-Oleum 7780502 Stops Rust Protective Enamel Paint

However, it is critical to get lasting results on wood as it helps Rustoleum oil-based paint adhere correctly. Together they create tough protection against future wear and tear!

Important Considerations Before Painting Rust-Oleum on Wood

Type of Wood

When brushing on a fresh coat of Rustoleum paint on your wood furniture or floors, make sure you take into account the type of wood. 

Hardwood surfaces are prime candidates for an outstanding finish with minimal coats needed, but don’t forget about vertical surfaces that may require careful positioning during drying times! 

Poplar and pine  don’t typically show their grain too much, so a single layer often does the trick. But when working with oak, which innately has stunning grain, I’d advise putting in a bit more effort with multiple layers to get that full coverage.

Wood Preparation

Proper wood preparation is key. Sanding the wood along its grain and maintaining consistent pressure throughout delivers the most outstanding results.

sanding wood surface

Make sure to clean away all dust and shavings afterward as leaving residue behind could make staining or painting more difficult. For safety’s sake, wear a mask as well. This way, you’ll keep unwanted particles out of your mouth and nose.

Type of Rust-Oleum

When deciding what type of Rust-Oleum to use for your project, you have a wide selection. From Rust-Oleum spray paint cans to oil-based paint tins, there’s an option suitable for any wood or home task at hand. 


Are you prepared to delve into wood painting but uncertain about the distinction between a brush and a roller? Wondering if Rust-Oleum spray paint is a reliable choice?

Indeed, Rust-Oleum spray paint cans offer a user-friendly and convenient option for beginners venturing into the world of art, alleviating concerns about intricate techniques. However, caution is advised when utilizing them in confined areas.


The traditional way is using a Rustoleum oil-based paint can. Based on my experiences, it’s crucial to tread with caution here. Using the wrong brush or being a bit too heavy-handed can leave behind brush strokes that linger even after the Rust-Oleum dries.

Rust-Oleum 1974730-6PK Painter's Touch Latex

You can, however, select the best paint hue for you. I always choose a paint hue that not only complements my decor but also protects the wood from rust. Rust-Oleum offers a variety of paints like acrylic, floor paint, and paint pens. Choose wisely!

Testing First

Before you use any type of Rust-Oleum on wood, consider testing first. If you have a sample piece similar to the item being treated, great! 

Otherwise, head out and see if your local hardware store has something suitable. Alternatively, do a test at the bottom or corner of an object so that when treating floors, it won’t be visible after completion. 

Testing can help avoid unpleasant surprises, such as applying what is thought to be dark color only for it not to match with surrounding furniture once complete. Always sample and experiment with a few application techniques before settling on the final look. Trust me, it’s worth the extra effort!

How to Paint Wood with Rust-Oleum Paint

Supplies You’ll Need

Step #1: Prepare Your Work Area

tools for painting

Perform proper wood preparation and protect your workspace by laying down a drop/tack cloth or plastic sheeting before you start painting. 

Use painter’s tape to mask any areas where you don’t want paint, and dress in protective clothing – long-sleeved, with gloves for extra protection against staining. 

If the smell of paint irritates you, consider wearing a reliable respirator

Step #2: Sand the Wood & Clean the Surface

Starting with sanding is my go-to method when prepping wood for painting. I typically lean towards medium-grit sandpaper, either 180 or 220 fine-grit. But it’s essential to find what feels right for your project and hands.

To give a smooth feel, move in the same direction as with its grain pattern and use light pressure; then remove any debris like dust particles left behind by using a dry paintbrush or clean cloth. 

person holding sanding block

Don’t forget to wring out excess water from a damp rag before wiping down the wooden area so that it doesn’t raise on its own unnecessarily when drying after cleaning. 

Once all ready, wait just a few minutes more before applying your preferred oil-based primer coat onto this now an adequately prepared piece of wood!

Step #3: Apply the Primer

For a durable and protective coat, apply the Rustoleum oil-based primer to the wood. Use either a high-quality paintbrush or roller for even coverage without missing any spots. And a little tip from my experience: consider going for an acrylic latex bonding primer—it’s given me some truly impressive results for many projects.

Let the primed wood dry completely before moving on to painting; under ideal conditions, you should wait at least three hours but allow more time if it’s raining or cold out. 

Step #4: Ready and Apply Your Rust-Oleum Paint

After the wood is dry, it’s time to start painting! To ensure you don’t end up with blotchy patches of color on your project, open and stir your paint can thoroughly. 

applying paint primer on cabinet

That will ensure that all pigments are dispersed uniformly in the liquid so there won’t be any unexpected variations when you apply it. After giving the Rustoleum metal paint a good stir, it’s time to get painting. 

Use either a brush or roller for large areas, and if you opted for spray painting application, then give the can an energetic shake before coasting your project in color! Allow at least two hours of drying time once done.

Step #5: Apply Multiple Coats of Rust-Oleum (If Needed)

To achieve the perfect painted wood finish, patience is key. Start by giving your first coat ample drying time, this may take up to a full day. 

Then, add two or three coats of paint for even coverage and allow each one to dry completely before adding another layer. 

antique furniture painted with Rust-Oleum 285140

Light sanding with fine-grit paper between layers helps ensure added grip. When you are satisfied with the result, consider it a job well done!

Is Sanding Required Before Painting with Rust-Oleum?

For most surfaces, sanding is not necessary. However, Rustoleum Company suggests that for high gloss finishes, you can use medium grit sandpaper to lightly buff the surface before applying their products. 

It’s a process that will enhance adhesion and provide an even layer of coverage.

Can You Use Rust-Oleum Metal and Spray Paint on Stained and Unstained Wood?

Unfinished bare wood, stained, or painted surfaces all respond to Rust-Oleum because it’s an oil-based paint that protects the surface.

Painting Wood with Rust-Oleum Metal Paint: Tips & Tricks

For an outstanding result when you paint wood surface with Rustoleum oil-based paint, follow my tried and tested practices: 

restoring file cabinet with Rust-Oleum 7582838

Benefits of Rust-Oleum Paint on Wood

Hide Wood Defects

Breathing new life into old wooden furniture with RustOleum paint has been a game-changer for me. Its superior coverage can effortlessly mask those pesky imperfections, transforming the piece, be it bare or stained wood, into something that feels brand new.

Rust-Oleum Spray Paint

Brightens the Wood

With a few strokes of Rustoleum paint, you can quickly transform dull wood surfaces into vibrant metal works. 

Choose between silver sparkles, bronze warmth, and gold elegance to enhance surfaces with dazzling hues that will leave your projects looking brighter and better.


What surfaces can you use Rust-Oleum on?

You can use Rust-oleum on bare wood, stained wood, previously coated, and sealed surfaces. 

Will Rust-Oleum waterproof wood?

The Rust-Oleum oil-based paint forms an impenetrable barrier around wood surfaces, shielding them from water and preserving their longevity.


Now that you know that RustOleum can be used on wood, you can use it to upgrade your wood project and choose from their paint selection.  

Remember to use an oil-based primer to prepare any surface before applying RustOleum wood paint for amazing results! Follow these steps and advice for an outstanding outcome for each of your projects. 

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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