How to Stop Wood Knots from Bleeding Through Paint

If you’re painting a piece of wood, whether it’s for a new project or to refinish an old one, you may have encountered the problem of wood knots bleeding through the paint. So today, we’re sharing some tips on how to stop wood knots from bleeding through paint.

This is especially important to know when painting furniture, as it can really be a bummer to put all your effort into a project and end up with unsightly wood knots ruining the finished look.

brushing gray paint on wood surface with a wood knot

Knots bleeding through paint can be both frustrating and time-consuming, as you have to repaint the entire surface again just because of a few pesky knots.

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Not to mention, it can also ruin the aesthetic of your painted furniture. Whether you’re going for a clean, modern look or a rustic, farmhouse feel, wood knots can throw off the entire design.

We definitely don’t want that to happen! With a little know-how, you can prevent this from happening and get your project done faster.

Let’s see how to deal with wood knots on painted furniture!

Supplies Used to Stop Wood Knots from Bleeding Through Paint

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What are wood knots?

Wood knots are protrusions on the surface of the wood that occurs when a branch or limb grows out from the trunk of a tree. The branch may eventually fall off, or they’re cut off, but the scars left behind remain.

trunk of a tree with a wood knot

Knots can be considered imperfections in the wood, and as such, they are often hidden during the manufacturing process.

Why do they bleed through paint?

Wood knots contain sap and tannins that can seep through paint and cause discoloration. If they are not properly sealed, they can bleed through paint, causing unsightly discoloration. For these reasons, it is important to properly seal knots before painting or staining any wooden surface.

How to Identify Wood Knots Before Painting

Wood knots are identified by their rounded shape and the fact that they feel raised when running your hand along the surface of the wood.

wood knot that has a rounded shape and raised from the surface of the wood

They can be any size, though they are typically small. If there are any holes in the knots, you can fill them in with wood filler before painting.

To paint over a wood knot, you will first need to use sandpaper to rough up the surface of the knot. This will help the paint to adhere better.

How to stop wood knots from bleeding through paint

One of the most common problems when painting over wood is that the knots in the wood can bleed through the paint, ruining the finish.

wood knot bleeding through paint
What bleedthrough can look like

There is really only one way to stop this from happening. Seal the knots before painting.

Use Wood Knot Sealants

Use at least 2 coats of BIN shellac based primer or oil based primer like Kilz or Cover Stain to prevent the bleedthrough. Check out my Zinsser Cover Stain Primer review here to learn more.

You can also use both primers, letting the first dry completely before painting a coat of the other one, for maximum blocking power. These primers will create a barrier between the wood and the paint, preventing the knots from bleeding through.

If you need a clear primer, clear shellac is also a great sealant and is excellent under wood stain. Prime all of the wood, at least once, for the best looking finish overall.

clear shellac, bin shellac based primer and cover stain primer in cans

Oil-based primers may need special care with what paint you paint over them. Or wait 48 hours for it to dry before using a water-based paint on top of it. Read the instructions on the back of the can for specific information.

BIN shellac based primer can be top coated with any type of paint. If you’re unsure what type of paint you have, test a small area first to see if the primer adheres properly.

Both oil-based primer and shellac based primers have a strong smell, and both need special cleaners to clean them up.

Check out our list of the best knot blocking primer to know the top knot blocking primer options and find the one that best suits your needs.

Don’t know how to properly prepare and treat wood knots before painting here’s what do you put on wood knots before painting?

You can check out our list of the best primers to stop tannin bleed here. And here’s our whole guide on how to prevent wood tannins coming through paint from ruining your beautiful paint job.

The Best Paints for Knotty Wood

First, choose a dark-colored paint. The darker color will help to hide any bleedthrough.

wood bleeding through white paint

Second, use an oil-based paint. The oil will help to block the bleed through from the knots.

If you’re set on using a water-based paint, be extra diligent at applying multiple coats of a stain-blocking primer before using the water-based paint. Here’s our list of the best paint for furniture.

Multiple coats of stain-blocking primers that I mentioned above will block all of the bleed through.

Can wood knots be removed from furniture?

No, wood knots cannot be removed from furniture. These imperfections occur naturally during the growth of a tree and are a part of the wood’s character. Attempting to remove them can cause damage to the furniture.

The good thing is you can minimize the appearance of wood knots with the methods mentioned in this post.

Properly sealing and priming the knots before painting and using dark-colored paints can help to hide them and prevent bleedthrough.

Can wood knots affect the durability of furniture?

Wood knots do not necessarily affect the durability of furniture. Even though they might look like flaws, they’re just a natural part of wood and don’t make furniture less strong.

But, if you leave them as they are without any treatment, they could cause some discoloration and maybe damage in the long run. That’s why it’s important to properly seal and prime them before painting.

Sealing wood knots not only helps with preventing bleedthrough and discoloration, but it also adds an extra layer of protection for the wood. This can improve the durability of furniture in the long term.

Also, priming knots makes sure paint sticks better, creating a strong finish that can handle daily wear and tear.

How to Fix Wood Knots that Bled Through Paint

If you did not prime beforehand or used a low-quality primer, you may find that the wood knots have bled through your paint. Let’s fix that!

First, make sure the paint is fully dry before attempting to fix it. Then, lightly sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper and wipe off any dust.

Next, follow our guide above on sealing knots before painting. Once the primer is dry, paint over it with the same color paint to match the rest of your project. You can apply a second coat for better coverage if needed.

Finally, let the paint dry completely before applying a protective top coat to seal in your work. This should fix any issues with wood knots bleeding through paint and leave you with a flawless finish.

While wood knots can present a challenge when painting, following the proper steps and using the right products can help you get a beautiful, long-lasting finish.

By taking the time to identify wood knots before painting and properly preparing them, you’ll be on your way to enjoying a stunning paint job that will last for years to come.

Thanks for reading! We hope this post was helpful. Do you have any tips or tricks for painting over wood knots? Share them with us in the comments below!

How to Stop Wood Knots from Bleeding Through Paint

bleedthrough stain on painted furniture

If you’re painting a piece of wood, whether it’s for a new project or to refinish an old one, you may have encountered the problem of wood knots bleeding through the paint. Here's how to stop wood knots from bleeding through paint.

Instructions

  1. Rough up the surface of the wood knot with sandpaper. This will help the paint to adhere better.
  2. Prime the wood with at least 2 coats of BIN shellac based primer or oil based primer like Kilz or Cover Stain to prevent the bleedthrough. You can also use both primers, letting the first dry completely before painting a coat of the other one, for maximum blocking power.
  3. Let the primer dry for a few hours before painting over it, for oil-based primers let it dry for at least 48 hours.
  4. Now, paint your furniture. Choose a dark-colored paint as the darker color will help to hide any bleedthrough.

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