Years ago it was common to have varnished wood trim, or stained panelling or other natural wood features throughout the home.  This was a standard in Toronto home painting and varnishing. This highlighted the natural beauty of the grain, however, it can result in a very dark look for your house.

These days many people are choosing to paint their stained or varnished wood to brighten up the interior of their home, but it’s not as simple as grabbing a brush and putting on a coat of paint.  Here are some pointers if you’re thinking about painting your interior.

Natural Wood Ceiling- Toronto Home Painting - House Painters, CAM Painters

Natural wood can make an area look dark if you have varnished wood…

You’ll know if you have varnished wood by looking at it, this coating generally has a glossiness to it, and it sits on top of the surface and looks like a clear film.

Do not paint directly over top of varnished surfaces without the proper preperation!  This coating is inherently unstable, it never fully cures, even though it is dry to the touch.  If the paint is applied directly over it without proper preparation the paint will develop cracks as the coating underneath shifts.

READ: Should I Paint My Toronto Home Before or After Installing New Flooring?

Steps for painting varnished wood

  • Scuff sand the surface:  We want to break open the top layer so that our primer can penetrate and grip the surface
  • Prime with a high adhesion primer:  I like to use Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer or XIM UMA.  Both primers are great at sticking to difficult surfaces.  Follow the directions on the can and allow it to fully cure before the next step.
  • Paint with a top quality paint:  When painting trim I usually use Sherwin Williams ProClassic or Benjamin Moore Advance paints.  These paints dry very hard and durable and also dry very smooth too.


If you have stained surfaces…

It’s a little easier to paint if the surface is currently stained.  As you might guess, this coating soaks into the surface and doesn’t create a film on top, so getting paint to adhere is not a problem like it is with varnish.

Steps for painting stained wood

      • Prime the wood with a stain blocking primer:  Any oil based primer or any shellac based primer will do.  I like to test an area with Sherwin Williams Multi-Purpose Water-Based Acrylic-Alkyd Primer which has the properties of oil paint with water clean up.  If that doesn’t seal properly and there is discolouration on the surface, I’ll move to a regular oil primer.  Finally, if the oil primer doesn’t work I’ll use a shellac based product like Zinsser BIN which is effective on all types of staining even nicotine stains, if necessary.
      • Paint with a top quality paint:  Once the primer has been given enough time to dry, paint with a top quality paint like I mentioned above.
Finished Wood Ceiling- Toronto Home Painting - House Painters, CAM Painters

All Done!

Stain Bleed Through Wood Ceiling- Toronto Home Painting - House Painters, CAM Painters

Stain bleed-through










READ: Interior Painting: How Much Will it Cost for My Toronto Home?

So now you have a basic understanding of the steps that need to be taken to paint varnished or stained wood.

If you’d rather have us come in and do the painting for you, why don’t you schedule a quote?  We’d be happy to transform your home with lasting beauty!