Are you wondering on how to clean wood furniture before painting? Here’s why you should clean unfinished wood before painting.

Every once in awhile, you will begin to notice that wooden material in your house, may it be furniture or deck or counter tops, needs some refurbishment. You will pick up a can of wood paint and a brush and begin to apply coats of paint to the concerned surface. However, you will soon notice that something isn’t right. The paint won’t be sticking to the surface! There might be some patches that would seem to be doing better than the rest, but that would just leave you with half-done paint blotches here and there. And trust me, it looks appalling.

So, what went wrong? Should you not paint your wooden materials? Well, no. Painting wood is essential, for it not only adds to the aesthetic value of the object/house but also pest-proofs and water-proofs things. You should apply a fresh coat of paint every few months or whenever you feel like the old paint is losing its charm. But there is something that you must do before you begin painting; and, it is called cleaning. Cleaning is important if we want to increase the lifespan of the paint as well.

Trust me on this. Years ago, we were struggling with the same problem- trying to revamp my wooden cottage with some new paint but failing to do so because the paint wouldn’t stick. No amount of paint coats would do the job, no matter what technique I would use to apply paint. This is when I randomly took a scrub and rubbed it over my kitchen counter. I was shocked to see the amount of grit and grime that got stuck into my scrub, because of the seemingly clean wood. This made me realize that no matter how clean surfaces look like, they are not so! Grease, dirt, grit, and slime gradually build over wooden surfaces.

Everything from vapors from cooking food settling on surfaces to just touching them leaves a layer of grease that prevents the paint from adhering well. Therefore, this is how to clean wood furniture before painting. Worry not, for it is not so difficult, plus we got you covered.

How to clean wood furniture before painting is an important question that needs to be answered. You may follow my step-by-step guide and prepare your furniture for refurbishment.

Get the Right Tools for how to Clean Wood Furniture before Painting

Remember, we need to clean wood surfaces before painting, not damage them beyond repair. We don’t want scratches and burns to ruin the aesthetics of the wood. This is why I always go with Scotch-Brite non-scratch sponges.

As the name rightly suggests, these sponges do a scratch-free job, which is what we want. These sponges are made using cellulose from wood pulp. This not only makes them environment-friendly but also makes sure that they are much better at wiping than the usual sponges. Plus, their shape makes them easy to hold, so that’s an added benefit. They are readily available in your local grocery store or you may order them from Amazon.

So much for the right sponge. Next, we get to the degreasing product. This one was always tricky for me, as I often ended up buying something that was either too strong that it would burn the wood, or too weak that it would barely do its job. Plus, almost all of them would be very toxic and abrasive. Being in a house with young, curious children, this would always be a source of hazard. And we all know how difficult it is to keep such stuff away from kids. They seem to get into everything!

I tested my luck with all the products I could get my hands on, but none of them seemed qualified enough for the job. This was when I came across Oil Eater Original Degreaser. I was drawn to it by its unique name. Amused, I purchased it, and trust me, it changed my life!

First up, it is non-toxic and non-hazardous. This solved one of my biggest issues with degreasers. It doesn’t mean that you can just have it lying around for your children to explore. It is just that the hazard is significantly reduced with this product.

Secondly, it is a non-corrosive product too. It does not come with acid and petroleum containing formula, which makes it non-abrasive. Amen to that! Finally, a product that does not just overkill its job.

Lastly, it comes with a dilution chart. This is a concentrated product so that it can be useful for all kinds of grease layers. But if you want to use it for relatively cleaner surfaces, you can just dilute it using water (based on the table on its back) and use it. Trust me; it works great. Just a tip: use gloves while using this product as it can dry your skin.

The last tool you would need is sandpaper. This might not be of use in all conditions, however. I will be stating where it comes to use below.

With these things in hand, you have done half of the job of cleaning wooden surfaces for good paint jobs. Next, we move to the cleaning wood part.

Cleaning and Painting!

Now that we have our products ready, we need to figure out how to use them. The key is to understand that different types of grit situations require different strategies. First of all, you need to do a close examination of the surfaces you intend to be cleaning. You need to know what type of wood you are dealing with and what kind of stain/dirt they have on them. Once that is done, you can proceed with the custom techniques of cleaning and painting. Below, I am listing some of the most common wood conditions and details on how to clean such wood surfaces. See if your wood lies in these categories:

Old Wood Furniture – how to clean wood furniture before painting

How to clean old wood furniture before painting? Old wood furniture is one of the most hardest wood items to deal with, especially if it’s an outdoor product like a fence. Refurbishing old wood is perhaps also the most elaborate of all types of refurbishments. First of all, we need to identify the problem with this category of furniture. Such items were once new, with fresh paint coatings. However, with time, their surfaces weathered and the paint chipped off at some points and became loose on others. Some areas might have remained untouched. You will have to get rid of all relics of your old wood furniture past. Do the following:

  • Use sandpaper to scrape off all paint. Try to bring your old wood furniture to the point where it looks raw and bare. Now, you must clean off the loose wood dust.
  • See the dilution chart on the back of the Oil Eater Original Degreaser. Dilute the greaser. Dip the Scotch-Brite non-scratch sponge in the solution and wring it. Now, scrub the surface with the sponge correctly.
  • Let the surface dry properly. Then, apply a primer to your old wood furniture. It will help paint stick to the surface better and bring our color more.
  • After the primer has dried completely, you can apply paint to your furniture.

Clean up Stained Wood:

Spills happen. This is a very common occurrence, especially in houses with clumsy people and children. With me, it was a mix of both. Therefore, I had a lot of stubborn stains on my wooden furniture, primarily in the dining area. When I examined the furniture, I realized I had to deal with ice-cream, permanent marker, glue, and ink marks. To clean up stained wood, I do the following. I would suggest you do the same.

  • Consult the dilution chart on the back of the Oil Eater Original Degreaser and prepare a diluted solution.
  • Next, pour the solution on the target area and wait for a couple of minutes. Fifteen minutes should do. But if the wood stain is very stubborn, you can leave it for longer.
  • Afterward, use the Scotch Brite sponge first to absorb the excess solution. If the stain doesn’t come off, scrub the area with the sponge to remove it.
  • Apply primer like before. Let it dry. Then, coat paint on the surface.

Notice how to clean stained wood surfaces, I did not scrape the surface with sandpaper. If wood surfaces are just stained and don’t have loose paint, you don’t have to reduce the wood to its bare state.

Grimy build-up on your Wood Furniture:

For such a case, there isn’t anything much different than cleaning stained wood, except that you would have to put in a little extra effort. Use your sponge dipped in degreaser and rub it on the concerned area with some force. You will have to rub it till all the grime is removed, and the area begins to look like the rest of the surface in color and texture.

Unfinished wood/ raw wood/ old unfinished wood

So, all these types of woods fall in the same category, and you can use the same technique to clean them. Remember, cleaning unfinished (old or new) or raw wood is tricky because these wood types are sensitive. You don’t want to be using anything strong because it would just ruin their texture. Thanks to Oil Eater Original Degreaser, you don’t have to worry a lot, as it’s a great product to get the job done. That being said, there are still a few things you need to know before you set out to cleaning unfinished or raw wood surfaces. Here’s how you can clean raw wood:

  • To clean unfinished or raw wood, you need to dust it off first. You may use any soft piece of cloth or something with feathers.
  • Next, prepare a dilute solution of Oil Eater Original Degreaser using the chart at its back. Take your sponge and dip it into the solution and then wring it.
  • Carefully scrub the area thoroughly.
  • Let the surface dry. Wait till it dries completely. If you wish to paint this wood, you may paint it after applying a primer.

Just another tip for unfinished/ raw wood with some sticky problems, like chewing gum: take a plastic bag, put an ice cube in it, and place it over the problematic area until the gum solidifies. Scrap it off using a scrapper carefully and then follow the procedure above.

Cleaning wood furniture before painting is an important, important job. It is what makes sure that your paint coat sticks and stays for long periods. If you skip this vital part, the chances are that your paint just might not stick in the first place (and I say this from experience!). Do not shy away from the process if your wood is stained/ raw/ unfinished. Cleaning all types of woods, may they be raw, new, old, stained, finished, unfinished, is not only possible but also easy. Have faith in yourself, get to work, and get the best painting results! This hopefully answers all your questions redarding how to clean wood furniture before painting.

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