When painting furniture you may run into issues like bleed through and stains. See how to stop the bleed through of wood tannins and block stains when you paint furniture.
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Supply List for Painting Furniture and Stopping Bleed Through
What You Will Need
What is Bleed Through and Wood Stains
Brace yourself for an ugly photo. What is bleed through? If you aren’t sure what bleed through is, or what wood stains bleeding through paint looks like then check this out.
Yuck! So gross right? What causes this? All I know is that wood stain bleed through is from the wood tannins coming through the paint. Aside from that, I admit I don’t know the specifics, but I do know that it is not fun. What type of furniture will have this? Well, technically this can happen with any kind of wood I guess, but primarily you will find this with dark wood like mahogany and cedar. If you have a dark wood piece of furniture it will be a good idea to err on the side of caution and aim to prevent future issues. Let’s prevent these stains before we even start our painted furniture project.
If you are new to furniture painting and want to learn how to update old furniture with paint you can always start at the beginning with How to Paint Furniture – a Beginners Guide.
How to Stop Stains From Coming Through Paint
To be honest, bleed through and wood stains that show through paint are probably one of the most frustrating things that you could encounter when painting furniture. Luckily, there are actually a few different things you can try to prevent those pesky wood stains from bleeding through your furniture paint. One of my favorite and most basic methods to stop bleed through and lock those stains into the wood is your basic primer. I tend to pretty much always use Zinsser BIN Primer. You can get some online HERE. As you can see, this can has been around the block a few times, or around the furniture painting shop rather. 😉
This shellac based primer is especially my ‘go-to’ when Painting Furniture White. Since this shellac based primer goes on and dries white it also allows you to see if the stain is blocked or if you will need another coat.
On this Furniture Makeover, for example, one coat of primer wasn’t enough. But the second coat does the job!
This Drexel dresser farmhouse white makeover almost got me. But I knew better and added two coats of Bin primer before even starting to paint. These drawers were screaming “I will bleed through” 🙂 Not today, bleed through, not today!
Some projects have tannins that may bleed through where others could be something else. On this vintage cupboard, the wood has been soaking up grease and grime in a kitchen for many years. Even after a thorough sanding a cleaning I played it safe with primer to lock in any more possible stains from bleeding through the paint.
Here is another mahogany dresser project that got a coat of primer before its metallic glaze makeover. If you are unsure of how to apply primer to your project, there are a few ways. You can apply your primer with a roller, paintbrush or chip brush depending on the surface that you are working with. I tend to use a roller on flat surfaces like this one, but a chip brush if the furniture has crevices and details.
Bin primer even comes in a spray can for those smaller projects. The spray is great for something like a painted mirror frame, which is what I used it for here on this Liquid Gold Leaf Painted Mirror. You can get this online HERE.
Find more projects where primer is used to prevent bleed through and stains here: Primer.
Another Method of Preventing Bleed Through While Painting Furniture
There is always more than one method for just about anything. When painting furniture in a color other than white you may want other options aside from a white drying primer. In this case you can use clear shellac (HERE). Shellac will lock in the stains and tannins and prevent them from bleeding through your paint. Shellac will also lock in any odors that may have absorbed into the wood. Another clear drying sealer to lock stains is a product by Dixie Belle called BOSS. BOSS actually stands for Blocks Odors, Stains, Stops Bleed Through. You can get some online here: BOSS.
Both products dry clear and lock stains and bleed through. One great thing about BOSS is that it goes on white, but dries clear. It worked wonders on this Blue Painted Table project.
More Options for Sealing Stains and Preventing Bleed Through
If you are in a pickle and don’t have any primer, or shellac or BOSS you may want to consider using your furniture paint top coat. For these nasty mahogany tables that is exactly what I did. Most sealers for painted furniture seal the paint as well as the stains underneath. Go ahead and give it a try, especially if you don’t have the other products on hand what could it hurt? Apply one or two coats of your sealer just as you would primer, then paint as usual.
If you have questions about sealing your painted furniture project you can find a full tutorial with video on how to apply clear sealer here: Sealing Painted Furniture
For more tips and tricks, make sure to check out the Best Tips & Secrets for Painting Furniture.
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