Can You Paint Over Stain? (Different Types of Stain)

You can paint over most paints and primers. But, can you paint over stain?

You can paint over stain as long as the stain wasn’t sealed with a moisture-resistant sealant. This is because stains don’t have any chemical or resin in the paint formula that can repel paint.

However, you’ll need to do some prep work before you can paint over the stain. The stain coating needs to be sanded, cleaned, and primed before it is painted over. This is to allow the paint to stick and dry properly.

But that’s not all. There is more to know about painting over stain and this post digs right into the topic. So let’s dive in.

Does Paint Stick To Stain?

Paint sticks to stain, but not every type of stain. Paints stick to water-based stains because water-based stains don’t have chemicals or resins that can repel paint. As such, paints will easily bite into and stick to water-based stains.

Painting over an oil-based stain is harder because paints don’t stick to oil-based stains. Oil-based stains have a high volume of chemicals and resins that will not let the paint stick.

Oil-based stains have a natural glossy and hard finish that will prevent paints from biting or sticking properly. To paint over an oil-based stain, you’ll have to sand the stain first. Then apply a few coats of primer so the paint can bite into the primer coating and stick well.

Also, paints don’t stick to sealing stains like gel, lacquer, and varnish. These stains have moisture-resistant properties meaning that moisture (either oil or water) will not stick to the stain. Since all paints are water- or oil-based, the paint will not stick to a sealing stain regardless of the type.

To apply paint over sealing stain, you need to remove the sealing stain first and then prime the surface for the paint to stick properly.

To know if the paint will stick to stain, you can use the alcohol test. Dampen a rag with alcohol and use it to wipe the stain. If the stain comes off, it is water-based and can be painted over. If the stain doesn’t come off, it’s oil-based and you’ll have to remove or sand it before painting.

You can also check the container of the stain to know if it’s an oil-based, water-based, or sealing stain.

Related Read: Can You Stain Over Paint?

Can You Paint Over Stain Without Priming or Sanding?

Can You Paint Over Stain Without Priming or Sanding?

You can paint over a stain without priming or sanding as long as the stain is water-based. This is because water-based stains have a very low volume of chemicals. As a result, the stain isn’t as hard as oil-based stain and doesn’t have a natural sealant or glossy layer. So paint will stick properly to a water-based stain without sanding or priming.

However, if you paint over a stain without sanding or priming, the finish will not come out smooth even if the stain is water-based. This is because the stain will have been affected by dust, grime, and dents. Sanding helps to remove all these from the stain. Without sanding them off, the paint will be affected and the finish will come out rough.

Also, priming helps seal and cover holes, cracks, and imperfections in the stain. Without sealing these, the paint when applied will be sucked and this will lead to paint wastage, thick coats, and a longer dry-time.

Never paint over an oil-based or sealing stain without sanding and priming first. Paint will not stick to oil-based and sealing stains because these stains are hard and usually moisture-resistant. So to paint over oil-based and sealing stains, it’s compulsory to sand and prime first.

Related Read: Paint vs Stain

Do You Have To Remove Stain Before Painting?

You don’t have to remove stain before painting. You should only remove the stain if the stain will prevent proper paint adhesion.

For instance, if you want to paint over a lacquer stain, you’ll need to remove the stain before painting. Lacquer stain is moisture-resistant and will prevent the paint from sticking properly.

If paint over a water-based stain, you don’t need to remove the stain since water-based stains don’t have any chemical or natural top coat that can repel paint.

You don’t have to remove the existing stain entirely even if it’s an oil-based stain. You can simply sand the stain to abrade it. When you sand, you create tiny pores and scratches in the stain that the paint can bite into when applied.

How To Paint Over Stain?

Here are the tools that you need:

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • A paint scraper
  • Paint stripper
  • Rags
  • A paint mixer or turning stick
  • A paint bucket
  • Portable vacuum
  • A paintbrush

Here is a quick rundown of steps you need to take:

  1. Find out what type of stain is on the surface
  2. Remove the stain (this step is for oil-based and sealing stains)
  3. Sand the surface with medium-grit sandpaper
  4. Apply two coats of paint primer
  5. Apply two to three coats of paint over the stain

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Find Out What Type Of Stain Is On The Surface

Find Out What Type Of Stain Is On The Surface

The first step is to determine the type of stain you want to paint over. When you know the type of stain, you’ll know how to prep it for paint application. To know what type of stain it is, use the alcohol test.

Pour some alcohol on a clean rag and use the cloth to wipe the stain. If you see the stain come off on the cloth, the stain is water-based. If the paint doesn’t come off, it’s an oil-based stain or sealing stain.

2. Remove The Stain (Only For Oil-Based Stain)

Remove The Stain

This step is only for oil-based and sealing stains. Also, if the stain is sealed with a top coat or sealant like polyurethane, you need to remove it even if it is water-based.

Removing stain is difficult because stain penetrates deep into the material. So it might be impossible to remove all the stain. Luckily, you don’t have to remove all of it. You just need to remove enough so the paint can bite into and stick properly.

To remove the stain, use a paint stripping compound. Apply two thick coats of paint stripping paste on the stain and leave it for a few minutes. The paint stripper will soak into the stain and after about 10 minutes, scrape it off with a paint scraper.

3. Sand The Surface

Sand The Surface

After removing the stain, you need to sand the surface using medium-grit sandpaper, 150-grit will do the trick. This step isn’t optional and should be carried out even if you want to paint over a water-based stain. Sanding helps to remove imperfections on the surface so the finish can come out smooth.

After sanding with medium-grit sandpaper, you need to even out the surface using fine-grit sandpaper. After sanding, there will be dust on the surface. You need to vacuum the dust so the paint isn’t affected.

4. Apply Two Coats of Paint Primer

Apply Two Coats of Paint Primer

If are using water-based paint, use latex or water-based paint primer. If you’ll be applying an oil-based paint, use an oil-based or enamel primer.

Two coats of primer are enough to cover and seal the stained surface. Allow each primer coating to dry enough before re-coating. When both coats are dry, you should apply the paint.

5. Apply The Paint

Apply The Paint

Use a paintbrush to apply the paint over the stain. Allow each coat to dry before the next. Also, don’t apply heavy or thick coats or the paint will take forever to dry.

You can also spray the paint if required. When the paint has been applied, leave it for at least 24 hours to dry before sealing it.

Types of Stains You Can Paint Over?

Types of Stains You Can Paint Over

There are a lot of different types of stains available. So, can you paint over all of them? Let’s see.

Can You Put An Oil-Based Paint Over Water-Based Stain?

You can put oil-based paint over water-based stain because water-based stains don’t have any chemical or top coat that will repel the oil-based paint. Also, since water-based stains dry smooth and fine, you can use oil-based paint over it without applying a primer.

However, you’ll need to sand the water-based stain before putting an oil-based paint over it to allow the paint to stick and come out smooth.

Can You Put A Water-based Paint Over Oil-Based Stain?

You can’t put water-based paint over an oil-based stain because oil-based stains have a natural glossy layer that will prevent the water-based paint from sticking. So, to put water-based paint over an oil-based stain, you’ll have to remove and sand the oil-based stain first.

Wood Stain

You can paint over wood stain but the paint will not stick well. This is because wood stain penetrates wood very deeply. So the paint will not adhere to the wood. Rather, the paint will sit on the stain, which will not allow proper paint adhesion.

Also, since the paint will stay on the wood stain, it can be easily wiped off or removed. So before you can paint over the wood stain, it’s advised to strip, sand, and prime first.

Gel Stain

You can’t paint over gel stain because gel stain is a moisture-resistant finish that will prevent any type of paint from sticking. Also, gel stain has a very slick surface. If you paint over gel stain, the paint will come off in weeks. Like oil-based stains, you need to remove the gel stain before you can paint over it.

Miniwax Stain

You can paint over miniwax stain only if you prep the stained surface first. Miniwax is an oil-based stain, you need to remove the Miniwax finish before painting over it. You can remove Miniwax stain using a paint stripper, scraper, or a solvent.

Concrete Stain

You can apply paint over a concrete stain but the finish will come out rough. However, concrete stains are usually water-based, so you can easily paint over them.

But to achieve a smooth finish, you’ll need to sand and prime the concrete stain before painting over it. This will also let the paint last longer.

Deck Stain

You can’t paint over deck stain unless you remove the deck stain first. This is because deck stains are exterior stains meaning that the stain is moisture-resistant, hard, and weather resistant. Therefore, paint can’t stick to such type of stain unless you remove the stain first.

So, when painting over an oil-based stain deck only use exterior paint. If you use regular latex or acrylic paint over a deck, the finish will not last long.

Stains That You Can’t Paint Over

Don’t paint over the following types of stains:

  • Oil-based stains
  • Exterior stains
  • Deck stains
  • Sealing stains like gel, lacquer, and varnish
  • Sealed stain – This means a stain that is sealed with a top coat.

Final Words

Overall, you can paint over stain. All you need to do to achieve good paint binding and a smooth finish is to prep the stained surface properly.

For water-based stains, ensure to clean and sand the stained surface lightly to allow the paint to stick and come out smooth.

For oil-based stains and sealants, you need to remove or strip the stain first so the paint can bite into the stain and stick properly.

Leave a Comment