How to Paint Over Burned Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

When inexperienced amateurs try to paint over burnt wood, bleed-through usually follows. If you apply paint directly over the top of wood blackened by fire, coverage will prove impossible. A primer base coat can permanently seal burnt wood; unfortunately, the wrong type of primer will prove ineffective. Learn the proper way to prepare burnt wood for a painted finish, or flaking and bleed-through may result.

Put on a dust mask. Remove flaking pieces of burnt wood by sanding with 80-grit sandpaper. Do not move the sander against the wood grain or severe damage may result.

Smooth the wood by sanding it with a finer 120-grit sandpaper.

Wipe the burnt wood with sticky tack cloths. Thoroughly remove all dust particles, or the stain-blocking shellac primer won't adhere.

Coat the blackened wood with a stain-blocking shellac primer, using either a roller or natural-bistled paintbrush. Let the burnt wood dry for two hours.

Add a second coat of shellac primer. Let the burnt wood dry for another two hours.

Wash your application tools with denatured alcohol.

Apply latex paint to the primed wood. Use a roller or nylon paintbrush.


Do not try to prime burnt wood using a latex or acrylic base coat, or bleed-through will result. Don't use an oil-based stain-blocking primer in place of a shellac one; latex paint won't bond to oil-based undercoats.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust mask
  • Power sander
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloths
  • Stain-blocking shellac primer
  • Roller frame
  • Nap roller cover
  • Natural-bristled paintbrush
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Latex paint
  • Nylon paintbrush
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.