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How to paint wood veneer

Updated February 21, 2017

Wood veneer is created when very thin slices of wood---usually less than 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick---are glued on to wood panels or particle board. The veneer gives the surface a better appearance and makes it look like solid wood. Painting wood veneer is not hard. The key is prepping it correctly and using the right primer. A good paint job is not something that can be completed in a few hours. It usually takes several hours for each coat to thoroughly dry. For best results, take your time. This will ensure that the paint job lasts for years.

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Glue down any wood veneer that has started to come off. Any wood veneer that is cracked, buckled or damaged in some way needs to be replaced. This will give you a smooth surface to start with.

Remove any hardware, such as hinges, knobs or pulls, and set aside.

Clean the surface with detergent and water. Don't overly saturate the wood veneer with water.

Lightly sand the surface with 150-grit sandpaper. Do not sand through the veneer. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust before moving to the next step.

Cover floor with newspaper or a dust sheet and mask off adjoining surfaces with painter's tape.

Apply a thin coat of primer and allow it to dry. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat.

Lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This will remove any blemishes and give the next coat a surface to adhere to. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Apply a second coat of primer and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. You want to wait longer after applying paint than between coats of primer.

Lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Apply a thin coat of paint. Allow paint to dry between coats according to the recommended guidelines supplied by the manufacturer.

Once the paint is dry, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Apply a second coat of paint and allow to dry.

Wait at least 24 to 48 hours. Then, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Apply several coats of varnish to protect the paint.

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Things You'll Need

  • Detergent and water
  • 150-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum or tack cloth
  • Dust sheet or newspapers
  • Painter's tape
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Varnish

About the Author

Darcy Logan has been a full-time writer since 2004. Before writing, she worked for several years as an English and special education teacher. Logan published her first book, "The Secret of Success is Not a Secret," and several education workbooks under the name Darcy Andries. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in special education from Middle Tennessee State University.

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