Stain Over Paint | Can You Stain Over Painted Wood?

There are two ways to add color to a wooden surface. You can paint, and you can stain. You can even paint over stain, but can you stain over paint? The short answer is yes, as long as you perform the proper prep work.

First, let's look at the two products.

Paint vs. Stain


When properly primed, paint forms an even and consistent layer atop wood. It hides many blemishes, allowing you to do minimal sanding during prep in general. Paint requires extensive drying time, up to a day depending on the climate.

Stain, on the other hand, penetrates the wood and shows its texture and its grain, depending on the opacity of the product, that is. You would need to sand away any textural blemishes you do not want to see if staining. Stain dries much more quickly. Both paint and stain require a coat of sealer for protection on a deck.

Prepping and Staining a Painted Deck


Now let’s discuss applying stain over paint, specifically on your deck.

First consider what result you want to achieve. Do you simply like the look of a particular stain and want to apply it? If so, then you may be able to limit prep to power washing if the opacity of the stain is great enough to hide the current paint job, among other factors.

If your existing paint job is a flakey mess, or if the point of switching from paint to stain is to allow the beauty of your wooden deck to shine through, then plan on doing extensive prep work. You will need to strip and sand off the multiple layers of paint, clean, and even out any inconsistencies.

To ensure best results, and to get the job done in a timely manner and without wearing yourself out, it's best to leave a job with this amount of prep work to the professionals.


The type of stain you choose will also determine the amount of prep work required. For example, if you plan to use an oil-based stain, you will need to remove all paint otherwise it won’t adhere. Read the previous post, Wood Stain | Buying the Right Stain for your Deck or Home when deciding which stain to choose for your deck.

Other Considerations When Prepping Your Deck

Stripping and sanding are part of the prep process, but there are other factors you may need to consider. If your deck has stains from plants or mildew, applying an acid-based stain remover will remove them.

You also should follow with a wood brightener to neutralize the acid. This product will help to brighten your wooden deck, getting rid of the gray that can set into the wood thanks to age, environmental conditions, and other factors.

Plan to perform any repair work as well. Fill in holes and replace any boards that have rotted through. You want your deck to be a safe play to relax as well as an attractive part of your home’s exterior.

No matter how much prep you must do, always allow for drying time. This is yet another reason to assign this task to a professional painter. In addition to getting the best possible results, you won’t see multiple weekends eaten up by a deck-refinishing project.

Need help prepping and applying stain to a painted deck? Let ProTect Painters get the job done! Request your free estimate today.


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