How to Fix Paint Bleed Through

It can be frustrating to spend time and effort on a project, only to have the final result ruined by paint bleed through. Whichever of these painting techniques for furniture you do, bleed through is a problem more common than you may think! But you can totally fix it, and in this guide we’ll show you how to fix paint bleed through in a few simple steps.

Next time, you can also do these steps beforehand so you can prevent this issue from happening again! So let’s tackle paint bleed and get your furniture looking flawless.

surface with bleed through after painting

Again, bleed through is a common issue that can happen when painting furniture. It’s when the wood’s natural tannins react with moisture or specific chemicals like paint, which can lead to unsightly stains and discoloration on your furniture.

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There are types of wood that are more prone to tannin bleed through than others. Woods like oak, mahogany, cherry, and pine are known to have higher levels of tannins. So if your furniture is made of one of these wood types, it’s even more important to be prepared for potential bleed through.

And if you haven’t prevented these wood tannins coming through paint in the first place, you’ll need to know how to fix it! And this guide will help you do just that. So let’s get started!

Supplies Used to Fix Paint Bleed Through

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Sand Painted Furniture

So you see the bleed through on your painted furniture. The first thing to do would be to sand the painted surface. Scuffing the paint will help the primer adhere better and create a smoother surface for the new layer of paint.

scuff sanding bleed through on painted furniture

But if you want to remove the paint with no sanding, check out these few options on how to remove paint from wood without sanding!

Sand with 220 grit sandpaper because it’s coarse enough to remove the paint but not so rough that it will damage the furniture. Focus on the areas where the bleed through is most noticeable, but be sure to lightly sand over the entire surface. Here’s our list of the best sandpaper for removing paint from wood to help you decide what is the right sandpaper to use in every project.

Once you’re done sanding, wipe away any dust or residue with a tack cloth. You don’t want any of the dust from sanding to mix in with your primer and paint. And now that the surface is prepped, let’s move on to the next step: priming.

Prime with Stain Blocking Primer

This is the most important step in fixing paint bleed through: applying primer and not just any primer, but a stain blocking primer. Don’t be tempted to skip this step or use a regular primer because it won’t work as well and you’ll end up with the same issue all over again.

spraying clear shellac onto furniture

Stain blocking primers are specifically designed to prevent those pesky stains. Some of the best primers to stop tannin bleed you can use are BIN Shellac, clear shellac, or oil based primers. They’re very effective and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run, especially compared to water based ones.

Apply 1-2 coats of primer – you can brush or roll it, or you can use the spray can version of clear shellac to spray it on as well. Make sure that the primer gets into the wood grain. If there are any brush marks or texture that you don’t like, you can just sand it with 220 grit or 400 grit sandpaper. Just be careful and do it lightly so you don’t sand through the primer!

By the way, if you used a white primer, make sure there’s no sign of bleed through on it before painting. And once you’re done priming, let it dry at least overnight. This completely seals the wood and prevents further tannins from penetrating through. For a more detailed guide about priming wood, check out our blog post about priming wood for painting!

Paint Over Primed Surface

Alright, now it’s time to paint over that primed surface! Choose any water based or oil based paint you like, and get ready to give your furniture a fresh new look. But before you start painting, double check closely for any signs of bleed through. You want to catch it by this time instead of after painting again.

You can check out our post on how to stop stains from coming through paint for more tips on dealing with stubborn stains before and after painting.

Apply 1-2 coats of paint on your furniture. Make sure to cover all areas evenly and smoothly, and you should still check for any bleed through after each coat.

spraying paint over primed repair

Depending on the type of paint you use, you may or may not need a topcoat. If you do, be aware that water based topcoats can actually bring out the bleed through even more. You can still use them, but just make sure your wood furniture is completely primed and there are no signs of bleed through after you’ve applied both primer and paint.

How can I tell if there is still bleed through after painting?

Even after following all the steps to fix the paint bleed through, it’s possible that you may still see some signs of it after painting. So how can you tell if there is still bleed through on your furniture? Of course, the easiest way is to simply visually inspect your painted surface closely. Look for any discoloration or stains that were not there before.

bleed through still visible after repair

One important thing to note is that bleed through may not always be noticeable right away. It could take days or even weeks for it to fully show through your painted surface. So even if you don’t see any signs of bleed through immediately after painting, you should still keep an eye on your furniture for the next few weeks.

It’s so annoying to have paint bleed through happen after everything you’ve done, but when it does, you’ll know now how to fix it! Plus, now that you know why this happens, you can also prevent it from happening in the future.

Next time, don’t skip the step of priming with a stain blocking primer. And remember, always do a thorough visual check throughout the whole painting process to make sure there is no bleed through anymore. Keep these tips in mind for your next furniture painting project and you’ll have a beautiful, bleed free finish every time.

How to Fix Paint Bleed Through

Spraying clear shellac onto furniture

Here's how to fix paint bleed through on your furniture so you can also prevent these stains in your future furniture makeovers.


  1. Sand your painted furniture with bleed through using 220 grit sandpaper. Be sure to focus on the affected areas but lightly sand the entire surface. Wipe away any dust or residue with a tack cloth before moving on to priming.
  2. Use a stain blocking primer, such as BIN Shellac or clear shellac. Don't skip this step or use a regular primer, as it won't effectively prevent bleed through. Apply 1-2 coats of primer and make sure to cover all areas evenly. Let the primer dry overnight to completely seal the wood and prevent further bleed through.
  3. Once the primer is dry, paint over the primed surface with your choice of waterbased or oil based paint. Apply 1-2 coats of paint and check for any signs of bleed through after each coat.
  4. If necessary, use a topcoat after painting. Waterbased topcoats can bring out bleed through more, so make sure you didn't skip priming and there were no signs of bleed through after both primer and paint have been applied.
  5. Visually inspect your painted surface closely for any discoloration or stains not previously present. Keep in mind that bleed through may take days or weeks to fully show up after painting, so continue to check your furniture for a while.

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