Can you Paint Woodwork with Emulsion?

Can you Paint Woodwork with Emulsion

Painting your workpiece is a tremendous personal expression of your creativity. For people who love woodworking, have you been wondering if you can paint woodwork with emulsion? Here’s a quick and easy answer.

Technically, you can paint woodwork with emulsion. It is possible, BUT you may not get an excellent smooth finish to your workpiece, plus the process of finishing your woodwork becomes longer. It’s because emulsions are plastic paints mixed with water, so it doesn’t stick well for a long time and can wash out easily. The best option is to either use enamel paints for the best wood polish.

What are other alternatives for painting woodwork? How can you paint a workpiece correctly? Find out the answers as you read this article.

Why Can’t You Paint Woodwork with Emulsion?

Emulsions may have Latex or Acrylic Latex on its ingredients, but most of its components consist of water that suspends those paint ingredients. It results in the water being the carrier of the paint elements, which allows them to spread evenly across the surface. During a process called “dying,” the water evaporates and leaves the paint components on the wood.

However, it doesn’t guarantee a smooth and durable finish. If you want to use emulsion paint for your woodwork, do one coating of it at first. Let it dry and utilize sandpaper with 100 to 120 grit to smooth the surface. Then, wipe the dust and apply enamel coating for an excellent seamless finish.

What Is Enamel Paint?

Whenever you walk into any hardware store, you’ll often see the word “enamel” on the label of most paint cans. Generally, an Enamel Paint is any paint that has outstanding durability and dries tough.

So, it has a hard finish that withstands almost any kind of damage under any weather. For application, enamel paints are for all-around use. It can be for both indoor and outdoor, or rough and smooth surfaces. 

Emulsion Paint VS Enamel Paint

So, what are the significant differences between an emulsion and enamel paint? Usually, Emulsion Paint has more water on its ingredients along with other additives making it durable. However, since it has more water, there’s a colossal tendency to scrub off easily with water and detergent.

Enamel Paint is solvent-based, so it’s permanent. The only way to remove them is with a solvent. This kind of paint dries fast, smooth, and super durable. It is also more expensive than emulsion paints.

What are the Other Types of Paints and Their Specific Uses?

There are various types of paint for a specific job. Understanding different types will help you choose the best color for your project.

Types of Paints and Their Specific Uses
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  • Oil-Based Paint, It is durable, hard to remove, and creates a smooth surface when it gets dry. It gives you either a beautiful matte or glossy finish, depending on the paint. paint directly on it.

However, it requires a high-quality paintbrush instead of using a roller to ensure a quality finish. Also, make sure to use a primer as a base coat, and

  • Latex Paint. It doesn’t mix with oil-based paints, so avoid combining them both. Latex Paints are more comfortable to use, but it may be less durable than the first one. Generally, glossy latex paint needs a topcoat, while satin doesn’t require a top coat for the best outcome.
  • Water-Based Paint. It is the easiest and most convenient of all kinds. Additionally, it’s odorless and easy to erase or clean it up. Water-Based Paints dry fast, and the color can resist fading or cracking. 
  • Acrylic Craft Paint. It is perfect for small artistic woodworks. It also dries quickly and almost odorless. Acrylics come in varieties of colors, and they are all easy to use. Plus, clean up for accidental spills is also easy.

Choosing the Best Paint for Woods

There are various wood paints with a different set of unique characteristics. To determine the best finish for your woodwork, it’s all about your personal preference. Imagine what’s best for your lumber, and how you want it to look.

The gloss finish gives you a high sheen professional final touch that’s tough and durable. Plus, it is easy to apply. Meanwhile, satin is more subtle. Additionally, some types of satin paints can be washable, so always ask and know the details of it before buying.

  • For Wooden Furniture

It’s always best to use a satin or semi-gloss finish in either latex or oil-based paint. It would give your workpiece a more beautiful and attractive finish. The most important thing to consider is the surface of your wood both inside and out. Some paint bonds stronger than other materials. Also, take into consideration the wear and tear.

  • For Floors

A latex premier is an excellent choice for a variety of applications, especially for wooden floors. It is easy to apply and blocks most wood stains. Additionally, it doesn’t have a bad odor. Look for paints that have a label that says ‘for wood and metal.’  It’s versatile for any woodwork and other materials. It also comes in a variety of sheens like satin, flat, low gloss, and oil-based enamel. 

  • For Wooden Cabinets

Oil-based primers with oil-based paints provide maximum adhesion, but they have a strong odor. So, if you prefer using this paint, make sure that you are in a room with proper ventilation to avoid suffocation. Oil-based paints are perfect because it is prone to moisture and steam from kitchen appliances and heat. It helps in resisting moisture and repels rot.

How to Paint on any Woodwork?

How to Paint on any Woodwork
  • Step 1: Sanding. Use an 80 to 100 grit sandpaper to smoothen the wood surface or remove stains and previous paints if ever. Then, wipe away the dust to prevent any interruption from painting.
  • Step 2: Priming. Consider it as the first or base coating. It is a crucial step to having a better look for your painting. Priming is applying a thin layer of primer, which you can spray or use a roller.
  • Step 3: Painting. Thin paints are better and smoother. Always apply at least two coats, and start from top to bottom in color. While painting, don’t forget to use old newspapers or magazines to cover the floor from any paint stain.
  • Step 4: Drying. Once you’re satisfied with the outcome of your painting, leave your workpiece for drying. If you only need to paint a specific part of your woodwork, then cover the other segments so that there’s no contact with the paint.

What Paints To Use on Wood?

Answer these questions, and you will get an accurate answer to what paint to pick for your woodwork. The answer to these questions will save you from any trouble of choosing the wrong color or redoing your woodwork.

What is the type of woodwork you are painting?

What is the kind of wood?

What is the end product to look you have in mind?

The paint to use depends on your wood. Generally, wood primer is only ideal for bare wood furniture. However, if your woodwork has been painted or varnished previously, multi-surface primer works best.

Base Coats and Finish Coats that You Should Know

Base coats will help you achieve a better finish coat. So, these two should always come along together. The final look of your workpiece depends on how you apply your base coat.

  • Base Coats. Primer is ideal for base coats. It is applicable for bare and uncoated surfaces for protecting the wood. Also, it helps in creating a uniform, flat, and smooth surface for the next layer of coating.
  • Finish Coats. It can be either flat, eggshell, gloss, and satin.
  1. Flat. This kind of finish coats are latex offers smooth textures. It is resistant to water damage and perfect for interior painting.
  2. Eggshell. It’s more durable than a flat finish, and eggshell looks slightly glossy when dried — ideal for interior wood surfaces.
  3. Gloss and Satin. It is the most durable finish paint, and suitable for both wood and metal surfaces – interior and exterior.


Can I Use Wall Paint on Wood?

You can use wall paint on wood especially if its either enamel or emulsion paints. It’s still a great way to enhance or paint either unfinished wood or a piece that already has color.

What Kind of Paint Should I Use for Wood Furniture?

It depends on your preference. As mentioned, you can use flat, eggshell, gloss or satin. Each has a specific trait for one particular project and type of wood. However, it is vital to always put a primer as a base coating.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Unfinished Wood?

Water-based, gloss, and latex are typical for unfinished woods. Oil-based enamel paints are also suitable. However, using oil-based paints are challenging to clean up once you have accidentally spilled the paint.

Final Words

Overall, you can paint your woodwork with emulsion paints; however, enamel paints win when it comes to durability. It is doable, but since emulsions are plastic paints mixed with water, it doesn’t stick well for a long time and can wash out. Emulsion paints don’t guarantee a smooth finish. Hence, you still have to do another coating of enamel paints for an excellent finish.

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