Why Is Your Paint Not Sticking To Wood? [& What To Do About It?]

You may have noticed that your paint is not sticking to wooden surfaces and wondering about the cause of the issue and what to do about it. Luckily, we have done the legwork for you, and here is what we found.

Poor surface preparation, weather, use of old paint, wrong paint, and low-quality paint are possible reasons your paint is not sticking to wooden surfaces.

The following are things you can do to deal with the problem:

  • Prepare your wooden surface properly
  • Apply primer
  • Use painter's tape
  • Use Acetone

You need to make an extra effort for your paint to stick well. Keep reading to get detailed information on how to make your paint adhere to the wood.

Worker in gloves painting wooden surface with red dye, top view. Space for text, Why Is Your Paint Not Sticking To Wood? [& What To Do About It?]

Why Is Your Paint Not Sticking To Wood?


Paint not sticking to wood is a common issue that can be a result of several factors. The following are possible reasons why your paint isn't sticking to wood:

Poor Surface Preparation

Failure to properly prepare the surface of your wood can cause the paint not to stick. Before applying primer or paint on wood, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned and sanded.

If you try to avoid this step, your paint may peel and chip off paint. Also, having an uneven surface, high levels of moisture or dirt, and grease on your wood can cause the paint not to stick.

Use Of Old Paint

Using old paint can also cause this problem. Paint can deteriorate over time, particularly if not stored appropriately.

Before using old paint on your project, you should make sure that it is still in good condition by testing it first. If you use old paint, there is a good chance that it will not do its job well, and it may start to peel off.

Use of Wrong Paint 

Another common reason for paint's failure to adhere to wood is when the wrong type is used. There are different types of paint available. However, certain kinds of paint are more suited than others for painting wood.

Woodworkers and professional painters frequently suggest using oil-based paint for heavily used furniture since it is durable. Oil-based paints can withstand more wear and tear.

Always choose a paint that suits the material you are painting. For instance, latex paint should not be used on metal surfaces because of the risk of corrosion.

Low Paint Quality

Using low-quality paint is another common reason your paint does not adhere to wood. You might regret your decision if you are trying to cut costs by purchasing inexpensive paint.

Paint of lower quality has a greater chance of peeling and chipping and will not provide the same level of coverage as paint of higher quality.


If you take the time to read the label on the side of your paint carefully, you will find temperature recommendations. This recommendation is typically in the range of 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you apply the paint at other temperatures, it will likely not adhere properly.

Additionally, a decrease in adhesion might be caused by high humidity. You want to apply paint on a moderate temperature and humidity day, meaning that it is neither too hot nor extremely cold.

Be sure to check for these common issues if your paint isn't adhering to the wood you are working with. You can avoid these problems and get a good result if you take your time to do the needful.

What To Do If Your Paint Is Not Sticking To Wood?

Painted wooden surface with brush and white paint.

Do the following if your faint fails to adhere to wood:

Prepare Your Wooden Surface Properly

Preparing your wooden surface is the first step in getting paint to stick. Before painting, ensure all dust and furniture polish are wiped off.

Also, the wooden surface needs to be washed and dried before painting. By doing so, you can avoid having paint bubbles inside the wood due to excess moisture. 

If there are any fingerprints or smudges left over from the sanding, remove them with a moist cloth. Lightly rubbing with fine-grit sandpaper until no more dust comes off easily is the next step.

Apply Primer

Consider using a sealant or primer coat if you want your paint to stick to the wood well. To apply the sealant, you will need a brush or roller. After that, use a trowel or mop to apply the primer.

Alternatively, you can go for paints that can adhere to wood without using sealant or primer. This will save you from going through the stress of applying the primer. 

Remember that primer can't be removed with water, so consider using supplies like affordable foam brushes, especially when working on small projects. With this, you can easily throw them away without washing.

After applying the primer, you should wait for some time before painting.

Click here to see this brush on Amazon.

Click here to view this primer on Amazon.

Use Painter's Tape

Utilizing painter's tape is another efficient way to avoid the issue of paint not adhering to the wood. Painter's tape is a special type of adhesive that can help paint stick to wooden surfaces.

Paint stick more readily to surfaces that already have an adhesive, and painter's tape serves this purpose well.

It does this by producing a barrier between the surface of your product and the paint, which stops air bubbles from accumulating in the paint and impedes its ability to adhere correctly.

Click here to see this painter's tape on Amazon.

Use Acetone

If your paint fails to adhere to wood, you can use acetone. This chemical substance makes the paint stick. Either you go for TSP or water paint thinner over mineral spirits so your wood won't get damaged.

However, you can use other thinners you prefer. Generally, using the two solutions offers a good outcome, and you don't have to bother about any effect.

What Paint Sticks Best To Wood?

Paint cans color palette.

A wide variety of paints are suitable for use on wooden surfaces. When it comes to wood, certain paints are more specific than others, while others can be used on a wide range of surfaces.

When choosing a paint, the surface to be painted is the most crucial consideration.

Latex paint is usually used on wooden surfaces and comes in a wide range of colors. Applying latex paint is simple. Also, it is inexpensive and dries easily.

However, it's important to note that latex paints are not as long-lasting as oil-based paints, so they might not be a good choice for high-traffic or outdoor areas.

Oil-based paint is another common choice for wooden surfaces. When compared to latex paints, oil-based paints will last longer; but they might be trickier to apply and take longer to dry. As with their application, oil-based paints are considerably more costly than latex paints.

You can contact a professional painter in your neighborhood if you have trouble deciding which paint to choose for your wooden surface. 

Click here to see this latex paint on Amazon.

Can I Just Paint Over Old Paint?

Closeup female hand in purple rubber glove with paintbrush painting natural wooden door with orange paint.

Yes, you can paint over wood that has been painted for a long time. But you should get the surface ready before repainting.

While you can skip the sanding and paint over already-painted wood, it is advisable to sand so the paint can stick properly. You can go ahead with the painting if you are sure the surface isn't damaged. 

Always put the state of the wood into consideration before painting. You don't want to paint on a rough surface. If you sand before painting on old paint, you will surely get a good result. 

To Wrap Up

If your paint isn't sticking to the wood, it is essential to determine the cause of the issue so you can easily find a solution.

Generally, poor surface preparation, weather, use of old paint, wrong paint, or low-quality paint is the problem.

To deal with it, all you have to do is prepare your wooden surface properly before painting. You can also use primer, painter's tape, or acetone.

Don't hesitate to consult a professional if you can't get your paint to stick to the wood.

If you enjoyed reading this post, here are similar articles you may like:

How To Paint A Wooden Door [Inc. In White]

11 Paint Colors That Go With Pine Wood Trim Or Floors

Does Wood Filler Come In Different Colors [And Can You Paint It]?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *