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What Paint to Use on Plywood? (How-to)

Paint roller and gloves on plywood

Plywood is used in so many applications that are just begging for a cool paint finish.

But with so many different paint options available, it’s hard to know which will give the best finish.

So, we’ve created a painting resource that will help you to decide on what paint to use on plywood projects.

The recommended paint for plywood is a water-based paint known as Acrylic-latex. This paint is easy to work with and provides a great finish. If you want durable paint that will last in an outdoor environment, then epoxy paints are a good option. The higher the quality the better the finish.

The key to a great finish is surface preparation.

Grades of Plywood

Stacks of plywood

Plywood comes in a variety of thicknesses and grades. The better the grade, the less work you’ll have to do to get a smooth finish. Unfortunately, lower-grade plywood has a lot of imperfections. Knots, chips, and nicks all need to be filled and sanded to achieve a uniform surface.

Once you have filled and sanded your plywood, give the wood a good brush to remove the sawdust, and then wipe it with a slightly damp cloth to remove the smallest particles.

Painting Plywood

Confused woman standing

Apply whichever paint you have selected with the best quality brush that you can afford, as this will ensure that you achieve an even finish. Always apply the paint in the direction the grain lies.

After the first coat, let it dry and check for any bubbles or imperfections. You may need to give the surface a light sand or a rub down with some steel wool. Wipe off any dust on the surface and apply the second coat after the first coat is thoroughly dry.

Two coats are usually enough to give good coverage and provide a great finish. But a third coat may be necessary if you’re not happy with the quality. Just be sure to let the previous coat dry before applying the next one.

This article and its contents are owned by Ready To DIY and was first published on 07/18/2022.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Plywood?

Red paint on roller on plywood

While you can paint directly onto wood when using acrylic paint, it is usually best to put down a coat of primer first.

This helps the paint to adhere to the plywood as well as prevents the paint from soaking into the wood veneer.

Acrylic paint is suitable for use on plywood. It’s recommended that a suitable primer is used to prepare the wood surface first. Sand the plywood to a smooth finish using 120 – 180 grit sandpaper. After wiping away the sawdust, apply a thin coat of primer to seal the wood.

To ensure that you obtain a perfectly smooth and blemish-free finish, prepare the surface properly. Depending on the grade of plywood, you may have to fill knots or cracks in the wood veneer.

Step 1. Surface Preparation

To fill any imperfections, use a good quality wood filler that matches the color of the wood veneer. Fill the holes and gaps with the wood filler and allow it to dry. Then, using medium-grit sandpaper, sand the filler flush with the surface of the wood.

Finish your sanding with a fine grit (180 grit) to achieve a silky-smooth finish. Wipe the sawdust away with a cloth and then apply a thin coat of primer.

Step 2. Prime the Surface

Once the primer has dried, check to see that it is smooth and that no bubbles have marred the surface. If there are bubbles or any imperfections, use fine sandpaper to smooth them down. Depending on how badly the primer bubbled, you may have to put on another coat and then repeat the sanding process until you achieve your desired surface finish.

When you’re happy with the finish and the primer is dry, you can apply your first coat of acrylic paint.

Apply Your Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints dry quite quickly, so apply your coats of paint quickly using a broad brush. The paint will usually dry within 20-30 minutes. You can then apply the next layer of paint after checking that the surface is no longer sticky.

Apply a Sealant

While you can leave the painted plywood as it is and allow it to naturally age, you can also finish the piece with a coat of sealant. The sealant will prevent the paint from chipping or peeling.

This article and its contents are owned by Ready To DIY and was first published on 07/18/2022.

Can You Use Chalk Paint on Plywood?

Confused woman standing

Chalk paint is a popular choice amongst DIY furniture restorers. Don’t confuse it with chalkboard paint, which is used for writing on.

This matte, chalky paint is great for giving wooden objects a rustic or distressed finish. So, if you are on the lookout for ways to give plywood a vintage, shabby-chic look, this is how you do it.

You can use chalk paint on plywood without surface preparation. The paint is applied in thicker coats than traditional paints and covers cracks and imperfections easily. You can even paint over plywood that has already been painted. If you want a smooth finish though, sanding will be required.

One of the benefits of using chalk paint is its ability to cover just about everything, quickly and easily.

Step 1. Surface Preparation

You don’t need to do a lot of surface preparation beyond a good clean and dust. If you want a smoother finish, sand the surface with 120-160 grit sandpaper.

Step 2. Paint the Surface

The paint goes on in a thick layer and covers whatever is underneath almost completely. Depending on what is on the plywood, you may be able to get away with only applying a single layer of paint.

Chalk paint is water-based, so your brushes are easily cleaned by running them under a tap after you have finished painting.

Step 3. Applying a Finish

It is not essential that you apply a finishing coat, but if you want, you can brush or rub on some finishing wax. This will seal the chalk paint and make it a little more durable.

If you do use wax, remember that it can take as long as 3 weeks to cure fully. So, you’ll have to be careful that you don’t bump into or scratch the surface until it’s ready.

Can You Use Masonry Paint on Plywood?

Red paint on plywood

Plywood is not ideal for outdoor use unless it is well-sealed and weatherproofed.

Masonry paint works extremely well on plywood whether you use a primer or not. Masonry paint adheres well to most porous surfaces. While the accepted wisdom is to prime plywood first before painting it, masonry paint just needs an extra coat or two, depending on how much is absorbed into the plywood.

Masonry paint is quite thick, so it covers the plywood very well.

Step 1. Surface Preparation

Very little surface preparation is required to paint the plywood with masonry paint. If you want a smooth finish, it’s a good idea to sand the plywood with 120 -160 grit sandpaper before applying a primer.

Step 2. Painting the Plywood

Using a broad brush, apply the masonry paint in the direction of the grain. The paint is fairly fast drying, so wait for 2 hours between coats to see how well the plywood is covered. Then apply a second coat.

Plywood without primer may need a third coat to get the best coverage and final finish.

It is not necessary to apply a top coat or a sealant as the masonry paint resists weathering very well.

Can You Use Epoxy Paint on Plywood?

Confused woman standing

Epoxy paint is one of the toughest and most durable paints available. It can be used for floors and areas that receive a lot of wear and tear.

Epoxy paints are good for use on plywood, so long as the surface is properly prepared. An acrylic latex primer is applied first and when dry, the epoxy paint can be applied. The wood should be sanded and cleaned first. Once the primer dries, the two-part epoxy paint is applied and left to dry.

Applying epoxy paint is different from the application process followed with other paints.

Step 1. Sand the Plywood

Surface preparation is the key to getting a smooth epoxy finish. As epoxy paint will not adhere to surfaces that are not clean and smooth, it’s essential that you sand your plywood first before attempting to prime it.

Once the plywood is sanded, brush away any sawdust and then use a damp cloth to remove any particles left behind. For the best results, vacuum the plywood before wiping it with a damp cloth.

Step 2. Prime the Plywood

Once the plywood is sanded and cleaned, it’s best to apply the primer in a dust-free environment. This will prevent any unwanted debris from landing on the primer and fouling the surface.

The acrylic latex primer is best applied with a roller. This ensures an even, smooth undercoat on which to paint the epoxy.

The primer color may affect the color of your top coat, so choose a color that will not clash. If your top coat of epoxy is white, then choose an acrylic primer in a light color so it doesn’t show through.

You should ideally cover the plywood with 2-3 layers of primer, waiting for each coat to dry before applying the next layer. The primer will usually dry within an hour, so it shouldn’t take too long to apply the 2-3 coats required.

The time spent making sure that the primer is properly applied makes a huge difference to the paint finish.

Step 3. Apply the Epoxy to the Plywood

For the epoxy paint to cure, it needs to be mixed with a catalyst. Add the correct amount of catalyst to the resin as per the instructions on the container and mix it for at least 5 minutes.

If the resin and catalyst are not mixed properly, the paint will be difficult to roll onto the plywood.

Once the paint is mixed, it will cure quickly, so the whole piece of plywood must be painted in one session. Use a roller to apply the epoxy for a smooth, even finish.

Depending on the temperature and humidity, the epoxy paint will only be workable for an hour or two. After that, it will harden and cannot be rolled onto your plywood.

If the epoxy lifts any of the plywood, making it rough, wait for the paint to dry completely, and then sand it smooth again. You’ll then have to apply another coat of epoxy to get a smooth finish.

This article and its contents are owned by Ready To DIY and was first published on 07/18/2022.

Can You Use Oil Paint on Plywood?

Paint brush over plywood

Painting on plywood can be challenging, especially as it is not naturally waterproof.

You can use oil paint on plywood, but you need to seal the wood first before applying your paint. If you try to paint directly onto plywood with oil-based paint, it will bubble and develop cracks very quickly. To avoid this, a good-quality primer or sealer will be your best option.

Step 1. Prepare the Surface

Sand your plywood with 120-180 grit sandpaper. If there are knots, cracks, or voids, fill them with a wood filler and sand them flush with the surface after they have had a chance to dry.  

Step 2. Prime the Plywood

Once the plywood is sanded smooth, apply a coat of primer or sealer. A good latex acrylic works best. Wait for it to dry and sand it smooth with a very fine 180-220 grit sandpaper.

Repeat the process until you have a smooth, well-covered surface.

Remember to sand and prime all six sides of the board as moisture can get into the wood if it is not sealed. Without sealing all sides, the wood can also warp.

Step 3. Paint the Plywood

When the primer or sealant is dry, you’re ready to paint your plywood with oil-based paint. You can use a roller or a brush. Rollers tend to give you a smoother, more even finish.

Depending on the quality of your paint and the smoothness that you want, you may have to paint and then sand the surface a few times before it is smooth.

Can You Use Water-Based Paint on Plywood?

Confused woman standing

You can use a variety of different paint types on plywood.

The only thing you need to watch out for is that you prepare the surface properly.

Water-based acrylic latex paints are perfect for plywood projects. They are easy to work with and provide a durable and hard-wearing finish. To avoid moisture entering the plywood, it’s best to prime the plywood before painting it with water-based paint.

To get the best results, sand your plywood first and then fill any holes or imperfections with wood filler.

Then follow these steps:

  • Once the plywood is smooth, use an acrylic latex primer to seal the surface and provide a good textured area for the paint to adhere to. You may have to sand the primer and add more layers to get the finish you want.
  • Once the primer is dry, you can apply your water-based paint. The better the quality of your paint, the better the final look. Use a high-quality brush or roller to achieve the perfect look.

Can You Use Spray Paint on Plywood?

Spray painting furniture and wooden projects can give them a unique look and feel.

You can spray paint plywood after you have covered the surface with a good spray paint primer. After priming the surface, you’ll need to add a few layers of spray paint to build up a good layer of paint. You’ll have to wait for the paint to dry between each spray session.

For the best results, you need a very smooth surface when spray painting.

Plywood is known to have holes and chips which you will have to fill and sand. Once the whole plywood surface is smooth and free of imperfections, use a good quality spray paint primer to prime the surface. It may take a few layers to cover it properly.

Once the primer dries, spray very thin layers of paint onto the plywood. Take your time to build up multiple layers after each previous layer has dried. To avoid the edges of your plywood developing a build-up of paint, spray past the edge each time.

Don’t forget to wear suitable breathing equipment so that you don’t breathe in the paint and fumes.

This article and its contents are owned by Ready To DIY and was first published on 07/18/2022.

Can You Use Emulsion Paint on Plywood?

Confused woman standing

Moisture is plywood’s worst enemy. Any paint that has a large water content can potentially damage the plywood.

You can use emulsion paint on plywood. But emulsion paint has a very high water content, sometimes up to 50%. This requires a good quality primer to seal the wood and prevent moisture from damaging the plywood. After sanding the surface, paint the plywood with at least two coats of primer before painting.

Sand your plywood first and fill any holes or voids that you find with a good quality wood filler.

Cover the plywood with at least two coats of primer so that the plywood is protected.

Then paint the plywood with the emulsion paint, waiting for it to dry and sanding down any imperfections before repeating the process until you have the finish you want.

Can You Use Concrete Paint on Plywood?

Paint brush resting on plywood

Concrete paint now comes in a variety of hard-wearing colors.

You can paint your plywood boards with concrete paint, so long as you prime the wood appropriately first. The primer will give the paint something to key to and provide a smooth surface for the concrete paint. Without primer, the concrete paint would flake off.

Before painting the plywood with concrete paint, sand the wood and then brush off any remaining sawdust.

Apply at least two coats of primer before painting the plywood with concrete paint. If the surface is not to your liking, you can sand it smooth and apply another coat of paint.

Can You Use Melamine Paint on Plywood?

Confused man standing

Melamine is very smooth, so it is not the ideal surface to paint. The paint that can adhere to melamine will easily stick to plywood.

You can use melamine paint on plywood, but it is best to prime the surface first. Melamine paint will be absorbed into the wood if it is painted directly onto the surface without a suitable primer. For the best results, you should cover the plywood with at least two coats of good-quality primer.

Before priming the plywood, sand and fill the board so you have a clean, smooth surface.

Apply the primer in thin coats, allowing enough time between each coat for the primer to dry. You can sand the primed surface if it is not smooth enough for you.

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Once primed, apply thin layers of melamine paint to the plywood, making sure that you allow the paint enough time to dry between coats.

Can You Use Milk Paint on Plywood?

Painting the plywood

Milk paint has risen in popularity due to its exquisite finish and appearance.

Milk paint is great for plywood that has not been primed. The paint is designed to penetrate the wood, similar to a stain, and leaves a very subtle color that enhances any project. Milk paint is both non-toxic and biodegradable, which makes it perfect for children’s rooms.

Milk paint comes in powder form and can be mixed to the exact color that you want.

Once it is mixed, you can apply it directly onto the plywood without any preparation necessary. If you prefer a smoother look, then you sand the plywood first and then apply the milk paint.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on July 18, 2022.

Milk paint is extremely durable and, because it soaks into the wood, is almost impossible to remove once it is applied.

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