5 Best Wood Paints and When To Use Them


Wood is an exquisite material with a formidable range – it is used in building, making furniture, and setting up picket fences and decorations; the list is virtually endless. However, no matter the project you’re working on, you always want to give wood a vibrant, long-lasting finish by choosing the right paint. Unfortunately, in this oversaturated market, finding the right type of wood paint can be more challenging than you’d think; luckily, I’m here to help.

The best wood paints cater to a surface’s use, texture, and moisture exposure. It’s impossible to pinpoint a universally superior wood paint as different types cater to different purposes. E.g., while water-based paints are ideal for staircases, they are not the best paint for kitchen surfaces.

If you are new to wood painting and want to finish a DIY project, don’t worry. The following segments of this article will take you through all you need to know about wood paint, including factors to consider when choosing paint, the different types of wood paint, and the best brands on the market. Let’s explore.

Types of Wood Paints

The adaptability of wood allows it to react well to various types of paint as long as you apply a primer coat before commencing painting. However, the myriad types of paint you can choose between may pose a challenge when picking the best one to give your wood project an elegant finish. 

Water-Based Paint

Water-based paints are the most popular wood paints since they are easy to use.

As the name suggests, water-based paints contain color pigments suspended in water, the main component, as its carrier. Due to this composition, the paints are easy to clean up. You don’t have to worry about the mess when using them in your project. 

You can clean up the paint spills solely with water. The same applies to paint brushes; dip them in water, and they’ll be good as new. Similarly, if you want to thin your water-based paint, you should add water until the texture agrees with you.

One of the main advantages of water-based paints is the time they take to dry after applying them to your wood. They dry for around three hours, much faster than other paint types. So, you are bound to complete your project sooner than if you were to opt for another alternative.

However, there is a downside to water-based paints. They are less durable than other wood paints since they fade easily. Consequently, they are not a popular choice for exterior wood coating.

Nonetheless, you could apply a top coat when using water-based paints to increase their durability in harsh exterior environments.

Oil-Based Paints

A lot of people prefer oil-based wood paints due to their impeccable qualities.

The paints typically consist of paint pigments contained in drying oils. Oil-based paints also feature organic turpentine as part of the solution, which gives them the appropriate viscosity. Therefore, to thin the paint, you can add turpentine and other organic solvents such as white spirit.

Oil-based wood paints are popular for their durability. Once applied and dried, they last for ages, making them perfect for exterior environments. The color gives you a smooth glossy or elegant matte finish, depending on your preference. You do not have to apply a top coat when using oil-based paints.

For a smooth finish and optimal results, use a quality paint brush or sprayer instead of a roller when using oil-based paints.

Despite their numerous qualities, there are a few disadvantages of oil-based paints. Foremost, the paints take longer to dry up. You may have to wait a whole day before your wood project is ready.

Similarly, they are hard to clean. If you make a mess using oil-based paints, you must clean it up using mineral spirits immediately after painting. Hesitating to clean up could be daunting as tidying dried-up oil paint is nearly impossible.

Latex Paints

Latex paints are similar to water-based paints. However, latex paints feature an additional feature, acrylic resin, which causes the paint to dry slower than water-based paints. They are also more durable, making them ideal for exterior wood painting projects.

Due to these properties, latex paints are usually purchased in bulk and used in large projects. They are easier to work with and clean than oil-based wood paints.

However, the paints are not as smooth and durable as their oil-based counterparts. They wear off relatively quickly and are likely to show brush strokes on the final product.

To avoid the brush strokes appearing in your wood when using latex paints, you should add Floetrol to the paint. When using the additive, you can choose between a range of finishes, from matte to glossy. Wood surfaces painted glossy do not need an additional coat of latex paint, while matte finishes require a topcoat.

Chalk Paints

Chalk paints are a kind of water-based paint that is mostly used to decorate furniture.

The paint is easy to prepare and use. It comes in powdered form, and users are instructed to add water to the paint beforehand. The chalky paint improves your wood’s aesthetics by giving it a vintage look. 

However, when applying chalk paint, you must use a top coat to prevent it from peeling off. The susceptibility to flaking makes the paint unsuitable for most exterior surfaces.

Acrylic Craft Paint

As the name suggests, acrylic paints are reserved for artists making artwork such as paintings on wooden canvas.

Acrylic craft paints are water-based since you must add water to utilize them. However, once they dry out, they become water-resistant. Nonetheless, the water component makes the paint easy to clean and rub off; thus, it is unnecessary to wear gloves when handling it.

Since it is an artist’s paint, acrylic craft paints come in various colors to meet your painting needs. The versatility is furthered as the paint allows you to create an independent color by mixing any available shades.

Factors To Consider When Picking Wood Paint

Once you are familiar with the different types of wood paints, you still have to ascertain which ones fit your project. Choosing the best wood paint goes beyond a selection of color. 

You have to consider a paint’s composition, purpose, and basis. Various wood paints are tailored for different surfaces, ranging from wood flooring to the frequently used dining table and chairs.

Here are some factors you should keep in mind when buying wood paint:

  • Frequency of use.
  • Water exposure.
  • Location.
  • Style.

Frequency of Use

Considering how often you use a particular piece of furniture or woodwork is essential when picking the right paint.

Consider using water-based wood paints for rarely used furnishings such as side tables. The paint option is perfect for such furniture since it is cheaper than most other options.

Nonetheless, you should apply at least two wood paint coatings to ensure an elegant finish.

On the other hand, frequently used wooden furniture such as chairs and tables require sturdier paint. Therefore, you should use oil-based paints with glossy or matte finishes to enhance their aesthetics. The strong wood coating provided by this paint option protects the furniture from chipping off, ensuring a long-lasting effect.

Water Exposure

Some furniture, such as kitchen and bathroom cabinets, are constantly exposed to moisture from cooking or cleaning activities. Such exposure may culminate in an accumulation of dew marks which may ruin the material. 

Using water-based wood paints is not feasible in these circumstances since they would contribute to water accumulation and subsequent flaking of the woodworks. 

Therefore, you should opt for a gloss oil-based paint. These paints are moisture-resistant and have a non-porous finish that prevents moisture absorption. Similarly, the gloss finish ensures a smooth furniture surface, facilitating cleaning.

Location 

Interior and exterior woodworks require different levels of protection. Exterior furniture like outdoor seats, doors, and window panes are exposed to humidity, sunlight, and other weather conditions that might cause their paint to chip off. 

Therefore, it is essential to pick a strong wood paint that remains intact in the face of extreme weather conditions.

In this regard, oil-based wood paints are perfect for your exterior furniture. These paints provide a firm wood coating that offers apt protection. Whether faced with heavy rainfall, humidity, or unbearable sunlight, oil-based paints do not get chipped off your exterior furniture.

Style

When building wooden furniture, your desired final look is greatly influenced by the type of paint you choose. Different types of paint give your wood project distinct finishes.

If you are looking for an archaic look for your indoor furniture, chalk paints will do the trick. The paint is commonly used to style furniture, producing a weathered effect on wood. Use chalk paints if you want your furniture to stand out with an elegant vintage look.

Latex and oil-based wood paints give your furniture an elegant matte finish. This look is popular with dressers, sideboards, and other bedroom furniture as it creates a distressed look.

The range of oil-based wood paints extends to smooth furniture finishes. This look is popular with chairs, tables, and other frequently used furniture.

Consider your taste and sense of style, and pick the paint that appeals most to you.

Best Wood Paints: Top Picks

Now that we have explored the different types of wood paints and when to use them, let’s get more specific and look into the best brands in the market.

Several paint manufacturers produce and distribute different types of wood paints, which vary in quality and affordability. 

Here are some of the best wood paints you can find on Amazon:

Best for Exterior Furnishing: Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Topside Paint

This oil-based paint is the perfect paint for your exterior furnishings. You can use it to paint your porch, gazebo, benches, or any other outdoor furnishings.

The Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint has a durable, abrasion-resistant coating that protects your furnishings and woodworks from adverse weather conditions. The protective features are accompanied by superior gloss retention, giving your furniture a smooth, elegant finish.

The product ensures your woodworks maintain a stylish look while protecting them from adverse weather conditions.

Pros

  • Dries fast. The paint dries within 2 hours after application. This quick-drying component makes the paint convenient since you can finish your project quickly.
  • Protective features. The paint has a durable coating to protect your furnishings from weather conditions. You don’t have to apply an additional layer when you use it.
  • Easy to use. Using a brush or spray, you can easily apply the paint to your woodwork. All you have to do is open the can.

Cons

  • Strong smell. The paint has a strong scent that might trigger your allergies. Ensure you use it in a well-ventilated room.
  • Hard to clean. If you spill the paint or make a mess while painting, you will have difficulty cleaning up.

Best for Interior Furnishing: Zinsser Bulls Eye Zero Primer-Sealer

The water-based paint is ideal for a lot of interior DIY projects. You can use it to repurpose your furniture, cabinets, and other interior furniture. You can also use it on your floors.

No matter the furnishing, Zinsser Bulls Eye Zero Primer-Sealer’s color retention capabilities guarantee a beautiful smooth finish. Similarly, the paint can seal surface problems such as water damage to allow for painting without repairs.

Pros

  • Versatility. The paint is useful in both interior and exterior furnishings.
  • Fast dry time. The paint dries within 45 minutes of application. This brief dry time allows you to apply a top coating to enhance protection.
  • Smooth finish. The paint dries evenly to give your furnishing an upscale look. It can transform your wood project from dull to appealing.

Cons

  • It needs a top coat. After applying the product to your woodwork, you must add a clear coat. This is time-consuming and ends up using a lot of paint.

Best Styling Paint: Country Chic All-in-One Decor Paint

The Country Chic All-in-One Decor Paint is just what everyone seeking to fulfill their home décor needs.

The chalk paint contains primer and top coat, allowing it to paint over any surface without prepping it. You don’t have to prime or sand your wood before application.

If you want to add vintage charm to your wooden furniture, Country Chic All-in-One Decor Paint revamps your woodwork, giving it an elegant matte finish in one coat.

Pros

  • Easy to use. The product is really simple to use. You don’t need to prepare your wood for painting. You only need a brush to spread the paint evenly across your woodwork.
  • Easy to wash off. If you make a mess when painting using chalk paint, don’t worry. All you need is soap and water to clean any spill.
  • Efficient. The product only needs one coat to style your woodwork. Therefore, you use a little paint for a large surface area.

Cons

  • Requires an additional layer. The paint needs a topcoat such as a varnish to ensure it lasts.
  • Limited use. You can only use the product on interior furnishings.

Best Paint for Artists: Caliart Acrylic Paint Set

If you’re an artist working on wood surfaces, you will surely benefit from investing in this quality paint set.

The acrylic kit comes in 24 bottles of classic, rich, premium paints that allow you to paint smoothly, scrapbook, or create any other type of art. The paint quality enables the production of excellent finishes on wood surfaces.

The paints also come in a storage box that enables you to remain organized by keeping your supplies in a convenient location.

Pros

  • Non-toxic. The acrylic paint is water-based; hence it does not have any toxins. It is therefore safe for artists of all ages to use.
  • Rich colors. The paint colors have rich pigments that give every painting life. The colors contribute to the wooden paintings’ aesthetics and durability.
  • 100% refund. Although the product’s quality is guaranteed, you can return the paint kit and get a refund if you are unhappy with it.

Cons

  • Small size. The paint kit is small and cannot be used for mega projects.

Best Paint for Cabinets: INSL-X Cabinet Coat Trim & Cabinet Enamel

The latex paint is perfect for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

It is water-resistant and has a semi-gloss finish, making it easier to wipe any moisture off the wooden surfaces. The paint does not chip or accumulate stains.

For an ever-fresh-looking cabinet, use this product.

Pros

  • Efficient. The paint has remarkable adhesion qualities that enable it to stick to wood surfaces without primer. 
  • Accessories. The product comes with components that are helpful in its use. It includes a can opener and a stir stick used in painting.
  • Gloss finish. The paint ensures a smooth, attractive finish to your wood cabinets.

Cons

  • Multiple coats. The paint goes thin, so it is necessary to paint several coats to protect your cabinets. 

Key Takeaways

Numerous types of wood paint exist, and finding a universally superior variety is nearly impossible. Different paints have unique characteristics that make them usable in different scenarios. Considering a couple of essential factors can help you determine what paint best suits your wood project.

Jedediah Arnold

Jedediah has been working with epoxy resin for a couple of years. When he started, he wanted to share everything he learned as he learned it which continues.

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