Can You Use Enamel Paint on Wood? (How-To)

You can use enamel paint on different surfaces. But, can you use enamel paint on wood? 

You can use enamel paint on wood. It gives the wood a hard, glossy, and durable finish. Enamel paint is also easy to clean from wooden surfaces.

Enamel paint forms a firm and durable finish when it dries. It’s one of the best paint for outdoor furniture, stairs, and gates. It provides a smooth, shiny, and rigid finish to wooden surfaces. Enamel paint also protects wood from moisture.

But, that’s not all. We have included everything you need to know about using enamel paint on wood. Check it out. 

How Long Does Enamel Paint Last On Wood?

Enamel paints last many years on a wooden surface if applied properly. The durability of enamel paint depends on the conditions of the surface that is applied, and where the material is placed. For instance, wooden surfaces placed in shade will last longer than wood placed outdoors. 

Painting wood surfaces with enamel paints can be a good investment for many seasons. Enamel paint is more durable than other types of paint, and it’s easier to maintain. You can clean dirt over enamel paint surfaces with water without affecting the paint. Enamel paint will also protect the wood from water damage because it creates a waterproof layer over the surface. 

However, the interior surfaces can hold enamel paints for longer durations. That’s because they don’t come in contact with environmental changes. The surfaces placed outside are exposed to weather conditions, and over time, the enamel paint becomes harder and gets cracks in the surface. Exposure to heat causes the hardening of enamel paint.

Low maintenance of outdoor surfaces can also lead to the short life of enamel paints. So, it is mandatory to clean the paint at regular intervals properly. If the enamel paint starts chipping off, you must re-paint the patch so it doesn’t get extended.

Related Read: Can You Use Metal Paint on Wood?

Can You Apply Enamel Paint Over Varnish Wood?

You can use enamel paint over varnish wood if you apply it correctly. You have to prep the varnished surfaces before you apply the enamel paint. 

Enamel is a thick paint with high adhesion properties that can stick to several surfaces. But prepping the surface is always beneficial for the surface. Preparing the surface will allow the enamel paint to adhere better to the varnish already applied to the wood.

So, if you have any old wood surface with varnish, don’t apply enamel paint directly over it. Instead, prep the surface first by sanding it with 220-grit sandpaper.

Then clean the surface and ensure no sanding residue remains; otherwise, it will affect the paint. After that, apply a thin layer of primer over the surface to make it gummier. After the primer dries, you can apply the enamel paint.

Avoid applying thick coats of enamel paint as it can cause dripping of the paint and can cause a wavy surface or formation of air bubbles. Always be cautious while painting and keep the process slow and steady to get good results.

How To Apply Enamel Paint To Wood?

Painting wood with enamel can be tricky if you don’t prep the surface. Some people don’t prefer to prep the surface, which causes less durability of enamel paint.

1. Sand The Wood

Before applying enamel to wood, you have to sand the wood surface.

To achieve the perfect, professional, polished finish on your furniture, you must sand them before painting. Start by sanding off any ridges or uneven elevations using fine-grit sandpaper. This will smooth out the edges and give a nice creased look once it is finished.

After sanding off the surface, clean the surface using a microfiber tack rag to get rid of dust and debris.

2. Apply Primer On The Wooden Surface

Apply primer to the wooden surface so the enamel paint can stick better.

Next, apply primer. Primer prepares the surfaces for enamel topcoats. A coat of primer will remove the cracks and imperfections on the wooden surface, providing enamel with a smooth base to stick to.

Primer also increases the adhesion strength of the enamel paint. Apply 2 coats of primer, and wait for each coat to dry before applying the next one. 

Related Read: Does Enamel Paint Need Primer?

3. Sand and Clean The Primer

Clean and clean the primer

After the second coat of primer has dried, sand the surface to remove any imperfection from the primer coat.

Clean the surface with a microfiber rag again to get rid of the dust. 

4. Apply The Enamel Paint

Apply the enamel paint.

Using a good quality paint brush apply thin coats of enamel paint. Avoid thick coats, so don’t dip the brush too much into the paint.

Let the first layer dry, sand it, and then apply the next coat. You should apply 2-3 coats of enamel paint on wood.

Can You Use Metal Enamel Paint On Wood?

You can use enamel paint on different surfaces, including wood furniture. However, You need to prep the wood before applying metal enamel paint to get good results.

The formula of metal enamel paint is almost identical to the standard enamel paint — it just has additional rust protection additives. These rust protection additives prevent metal surfaces from getting oxidized. Plus, rust protection additives don’t cause any harm to wood surfaces. 

However, you must prepare the wood first to apply this enamel to the surface. To apply metal paint over wood, you need to sand the surface, apply 2 coats of primer, sand again, then apply the metal enamel paint.

Also, apply the metal enamel in a well-ventilated area so that it can dry faster and provide a smooth and shiny finish.

Related Read: Can You Apply Enamel Over Latex Paint?

Can You Use Oil-Based Enamel Paint On Wood?

Oil-based enamel is best for wood surfaces. It has proven durability in different weather conditions. It also provides an excellent finish on wood surfaces with its glossy coating. Unlike water-based paints, it has excellent durability and doesn’t chip.

Oil-based enamel is one of the best enamel types regarding durability and final finish. Plus, oil-based paint has better adhesion properties compared to water-based or spray-able enamels.

Earlier, the oil-based enamels used to take 1-2 days to fully dry. But now, with some developments, companies have made a quick-dry oil-based enamel paints. It takes 2-3 hours for oil-based enamel paint to dry on wood.

When oil-based paints get completely dry, they provide a much harder finish than other types of enamels. Once the paint is appropriately hardened, it can last up to many years. Oil-based enamels are resistant to mildew too.

Oil-based enamel paint is recommended for high-traffic surfaces such as cabinets, stairs, kitchen, living room products, doors, etc. 

Related Read: Can You Use Enamel Paint on Plastic?


Do You Need To Use Primer Before Applying Enamel Paint on Wood?

You need to prime the wood surface before you apply enamel paint. However, some enamel paint types have primer in their formula, so you don’t need to apply it before.

Is Enamel Paint Made For Metal or Wood?

Enamel paint is a universal paint that can be applied on metal, wood, and plastic surfaces.

How Many Coats of Enamel Paint on Wood?

You need to apply 2-3 coats of enamel paint on the wood. Applying 1 coat of enamel paint won’t give the wood enough protection and applying more than 3 coats will turn the finish sticky. So, 3 coats of enamel paint on wood is the maximum. 


Enamel is an excellent choice if you’re looking for durability and protection. It has a nearly perfect finish, so it can be used over almost any surface, whether wood, metal, glass, or plastic. Additionally, their high adhesion properties mean that enamels won’t chip or peel off as other paints might.

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