How to Use Water-Based Wood Paint & Finish

Written by ryan lawrence
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How to Use Water-Based Wood Paint & Finish
Use shellac primer on stained wood. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

You probably know that wood requires a primer base coat before it accepts paint properly. However, you might not know which type of primer to use. Water-based latex primers work well with bare wood, but they do not bond with finished wood. An oil-based primer bonds to stain, but it won't accept a water-based finish. If you wish to use a water-based wood paint and finish, you need to prepare the wood properly before you finish it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pressure washer
  • Tack cloth
  • Nylon paintbrush
  • Polyester paintbrush
  • Water-based primer
  • Shellac primer
  • China brush
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Water-based paint
  • Water-based sealer
  • Roller frame
  • Nap roller cover

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  1. 1

    Remove dust from the wood, or the water-based finishes will not adhere. Wipe interior wood with sticky tack cloths. Rinse exterior wood, using a high pressure washer. Let exterior wood dry for a day.

  2. 2

    Coat bare wood with water-based latex primer, using a synthetic brush. Use nylon brushes on coarse surfaces and polyester brushes on slick surfaces. Water-based primers won't adhere to stained wood; use shellac primers on this type of wood. Apply shellac primer using a china brush. Let the wood dry for two hours.

  3. 3

    Clean the brush. Use water to wash synthetic brushes, and use denatured alcohol to wash china brushes.

  4. 4

    Coat the primed wood with paint. Choose the correct paint for the surface. Water-based latex paint is standard for interior wood doors and trim. Choose a water-based deck paint for decks. Finish wood floors with an acrylic floor paint. Coat wood furniture with acrylic enamel.

  5. 5

    Wash the brush.

  6. 6

    Apply a water-based sealer finish to decks, floors and furniture, using the clean brush. You do not need to apply sealer to other wood surfaces.

Tips and warnings

  • Acrylics are water-based.
  • You can use a roller to apply water-based primers and paints to larger wood surfaces.

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