Painting Wood White: Lessons Learned

You know that I have made a lot of mistakes in my house, right? Because I sure have—impulse purchases, wrong paint colors, following trends that weren't really my style, etc. Some of these things are kind of live and learn, and that's just the way it is.

But I've made some specific mistakes in my DIY projects that I want to share with you for a few reasons. First, I hope you can learn from my mistakes in case you tackle the same projects. Second, I hope you see that not every DIY project is a success. Kind of in the vein of Pinterest Fail, I think it is good to see that sometimes things just don't turn out. It is kind of encouraging to know it happens to other people too, right?

So here is my first fail share. I mentioned it already when I wrote about our master bedroom, but I'll go into more detail here.

Lesson Learned: Oil-based primer is best when painting wood white.

Sigh. I love to paint wood white. Love it. When I paint wood, I usually use latex (or water-based) primer instead of oil-based primer underneath the paint. For the most part, latex has worked great. But I can think of three places in our house where I used latex primer under white paint and over time, the wood grain/wood knots have shown through. Here's one spot—the fronts of these IKEA RAST side tables we have in our bedroom.

IKEA RAST Side Table Painted

See on the bottom drawer how the wood grain is showing through as yellow? Bummer. This wood is pine, which is a good painting wood (nice and smooth) but very soft. I've also had the wood grain show through on one of our poplar doors and wood knots show through on my pine bookshelves.

Now, the wood grain hasn't shown through every time I use latex primer. In most of my white painting endeavors, the latex primer has been sufficient. But wood grain showing through three times is enough to make me rethink my methods.

So here are my thoughts on this: Although the cleanup is kind of a pain, using an oil-based primer is worth it if you are going to paint wood white. It just seems to block the wood grain better. There are many factors, like the kind of wood you are painting or if it has been painted before, but in general, I think using oil-based primer is worth it to keep your whites white, even if it means more fumes and messier cleanup. (I usually wear a mask!)

Has anyone else had this problem? Or has anyone else found a better solution? I think some people would probably say, Don't paint the wood in the first place!" :) Let me know what you think!