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What Is the Best Primer for Wood Furniture?

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Before painting your wood furniture, you need to take appropriate preparation steps to make sure that you have a smooth and glossy finish. One of this steps is applying your coats of primer. In order for it to provide the even surface you need, you need to choose the best primer for wood furniture.

What Is the Best Primer for Wood Furniture?

The best primer will depend on the type of wood that you are working with and the brand that you choose. However, in most cases, an oil based primer tends to be the best bet. If you use an oil based primer, you also need to use an oil paint

What Are the Different Types of Primer?

Bare or Unfinished Wood

This is unfinished wood that has not been painted or stained at all. It has a quite porous surface since the wood grain still has the pores in it. The best type of primer for this wood is an oil primer.

A wooden dining table with chairs

It will firmly stick to the surface well and is easier to sand down. The only down side, is the longer drying period compared to latex or water based primers. You can also use latex primer if the wood is not porous.

Plywood or Particle Board

These are the cheaper composite materials of wood. The best primer wood be determined on the use of the material. For instance, if you want to prevent wear and tear, you can use an oil based primer.

A water-based primer would be a poor choice as it will be absorbed into the pores making it swell. This provides an uneven surface that is not aesthetic.

Painted Wood

If your furniture had been painted before, you are better off using oil based primer. This applies especially if the paint is old and worn out. It penetrates the wood surface to freshen up the look of your furniture.

Points to Consider When Choosing the Right Primer for Your Wood Furniture

Is It Safe?

Some primers are not safe as they contain a high amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Short-term exposure to these compounds can cause headache, irritation of nose and throat and trouble breathing. Long term, they can lead to multi-organ failure.

Before buying any primer, consider the VOC content. Oil-based primers and paints tend to have a higher content as compared to latex and oil based primers. To be on the safe side, always use a respirator when priming and painting.

How Long Does It Take to Dry?

Oil-based primers provide the best seal out but they take the longest time to dry. On the other hand, latex and water-based primers dry quite quickly. However, for a more even finish, you should go with latex primers over water based primers if your surface allows you to.

Which Color Do You Want?

When choosing a primer color for your wood surface, you need to consider your color of paint. It is recommended to use gray primers for the darker shades of paints.

If you are using lighter colors of paints, you should use a white primer. This helps give the paint a glossier finish.

Is It Indoor or Outdoor Furniture?

Outdoor furniture is exposed to the harsh environment more than indoor furniture. Thus, it needs a primer that can withstand all those conditions.

The best primer in this case would be a latex primer unless your furniture demands an oil based primer. Although the oil-based primer is stickier, it is prone to cracking in harsh conditions.

Benefits of Priming Your Wood Furniture

Raw wood is prone to decay, mildew and mold as it is an organic substance. A primer provides a seal on the wood protecting it.

It creates a barrier between the wood and moisture from the paint keeping it safe. Moreover, it helps your paint apply better for a shiny and attractive finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Wood Need Primer?

Yes. Raw or unfinished wood needs to be primed before painting. Primers tend to have a high amount of solid content that can help create a smooth surface on the wood.

It does this by filling in the spaces in the wood grain. It also creates a seal that prevents the wood from soaking up paint.

Outdoor wooden chairs and wooden tables in a hot weather

How Many Coats of Primer Do I Need on Wood?

You need two coats of a primer for unfinished wood. The most highly recommended is an oil-based primer.

It helps to form a tight seal on the wood to prevent it from soaking up paint. Two coats fill in the wood grain better and levels the surface for a smooth coat of paint.


The best primer for your wood furniture depends on the type of wood and where it is to be used, such as cabinets. Most often, oil based primers are recommended.

Priming your wood furniture is important as it protects it from rot and decay. This makes the furniture last longer without signs of wear and tear.