Don’t think painting wet wood can be fun and easy? With our guide, we can prove it otherwise!

Don't think painting wet wood can be fun and easy? 10 pros WOOD BLOG
Painting Wet Wood

Many people prefer waiting for damp wood to dry completely, especially if one desires to see great results. Yet, unfortunately, we rarely possess the luxury of free time and bad weather conditions do not help much to improve the situation. 

However, certain motives make one continue painting wet wood, despite understanding that moisture in the wood would not allow the paint to bend well. But is it true that this enterprise is so fruitless? Are we actually that helpless and cannot paint wet wood?

The answer is more positive: yes, you can paint wet wood and even accomplish quite a good paint job. Yet, you should keep in mind particular strategies to fight possible risks and achieve better results.

Don’t think painting wet wood can be fun and easy? The article will provide you with the tools how to mitigate the risks successfully and paint damp wood in the best possible way. 

Preparing paint and a brush

When you are about to paint wet wood, it is crucial to consider what paint type you are using, whether it is oil-based paint or latex paint. As the damp wood to some level is saturated with water, it is important to use water-based paints.

Unlike oil-based paints, enamel, and creosote; latex paint will naturally get absorbed in the damp wooden fibers and will better bond with the moisture in the wood, lowering the chance of the paint peeling off.

While oil-based paint with its weak bonding properties will ultimately lead to paint chipping, as the water and oil are heterogeneous and do not mix. Latex paint which is a water-based paint, on the other hand, is a perfect option, and it will easily blend with the wood fibers.

Although water-based paints are supposed to be water-resistant, they are not completely waterproof. One way to make your paints waterproof is to add a waterproofing paint additive. 

Of course, there are some paints that come with waterproofing paint additive as one of the ingredients but for you to feel more confident, it is advisable to prime before you paint wet wood and use a sealant after the process. 

You also need to take care of an appropriate brush, consider choosing a foam brush over a bristle brush, as a good brush will hold less paint. It also provides an even and thinner coat, as the wet wood won’t soak up that much paint. 

What happens if you paint wet wood?

Mit Lackfarben koennen Sie zum Beispiel Moebelstuecke wieder auffrischen Carlos andre Santos Shutterstock

The task of starting to paint wet wood can be a rather challenging one for obvious reasons. When working with wet wood, wood fibers absorb water and, thus, have fewer fibers that can effectively bond with the paint.

What you might expect from working with dump wood is that the paint will eventually peel off when the wood is completely dry. The reason is that the paint coat did not have a proper bonding with the surface of the wood.

Another real concern is a runny, dripping paint that will result in poor coverage. Because when dried, wood would probably look washed out.

Moreover, the paint mixing with moisture can lead to the appearance of bubbles. That is why you should try your best to at least minimally dry wet wood to avoid such consequences.

If you decide on painting damp wood, the quite expected thing is traces of rot and deterioration. The coat of paint creates a waterproof seal, so the water inside cannot leave it, causing cracks and paint chipping. 

That is why it is for you to dry the wood as much as possible because you don’t want to deal with the abovementioned problems. Some tips on how to effectively dry wood you can find lower in the article.

How to properly dry wood?

Latex and paper towels

paper towel

A seemingly obvious but often forgotten way is the application of latex or paper towels. Using them, we can remove the remaining liquid and get rid of runs. Dry the wet wood as much as possible before you paint wood. 



If the latex and paper towels are not enough, and they probably will not be enough, what can you use is a hairdryer to make the wet wood dry. Just simply turn it on at maxim power and blow the warm air over the wet wood.

The air flows will provide the evaporation of moisture, helping you dry the wood, and making it possible for you to begin painting wood. 

Electric fan


Another option to consider quickening the drying process is the use of an electric fan. The technique is basically the same as in the case of a hairdryer. You need to turn on the device and direct it to damp wood, thus helping the entire wood surface dry faster.  

Microwave or oven

If wood pieces are small enough, a microwave or oven will also be possible. Just put the material inside and start heating it at a low temperature. The heat should partially make the wood dry. 

After you did everything possible to remove as much moisture in the wood as possible and strive for painting wood.

Moisture meter

One of the most essential things is to see whether the wood is dry enough to paint it. For that, one needs to check the moisture content. You can test it using a moisture meter.

Regarding the results, for the interior wood, the minimal amount of moisture in the wood should be around 12% and for the exterior wood, it should not be more than 15%.

Splash test or Bead test 

However, if there is no moisture meter at your disposal to understand whether the wood is dry enough to paint it.

Then, you can easily turn to the simple technology of a so-called bead or splash test and see the moisture content.

What you have to do is to sprinkle some water and see whether the wood absorbs the water. If the beads appear, it means that the wood fibers are water-saturated and indicate a high moisture content requiring further drying. 

Besides the simplicity of this method, the test also can be performed on any wood type, including wet pressure-treated wood.

Using chemicals?

As pieces of wood tend to retain water very well, so the problem of dampness damage is very common. Some people turn to the help of baking soda in order to accelerate the drying process and see whether the wood is dry enough to paint.

How surprisingly it would not sound, it is true. Also, known by the name of sodium bicarbonate soda, baking soda is a hygroscopic salt. 

Hygroscopic chemicals are known for their capability to attract water molecules and absorb moisture. That is why baking soda may become the tool to dry the damp wood in case you do not have a hairdryer or electric fan.

To achieve such a much-desired result, for a vertical wet surface, one has to mix water and baking soda to create a paste. It should be thick enough to stick on a wooden surface. Wait for at least 24 hours and remove it.

For such surfaces as tables and shelves, you can simply sprinkle powder and cover the area with a piece of clothing to absorb water. Then, also, leave it for at least 24 hours.    

Applying two coats of paint 


After you made sure that the wood is dry enough, you finally can paint it by applying coats one by one.

So, you need to start painting the first coat. To do it, firstly, stir the water-based paint with the road. Then, dip a high-quality paintbrush or foam brush into the paint and start painting evenly the first on the entire surface of the wood. 

Before the application of the second coat, you should wait for the first coat of paint to dry completely.

The information on how long you should wait between the two sessions can be found in the instruction on the paint container. As soon as the first coat dried, start painting the second one. 

Finally, clean it all up including the working area and the stiff brush, and pack your working materials, while the paint is drying. 

Painting over water-damaged wood?

It is likely the case that the exterior surfaces of your house, backyard furniture, and so on are constantly exposed to different weather conditions, varying from rain to snow.

Thus, it is very likely that they are experiencing water damage even if they are well protected. To add more protection and avoid further rotting processes, you need to paint such surfaces more often.

You can repair water-damaged wood in the following manner:

step 1: you should replace damaged wood pieces with new wood. 

step 2: with the wood filler, fix the peeling paint and possible holes.

step 3: in the direction of the wood grain, sand the wood surface with medium-grit sandpaper.

step 4: paint a coat of exterior primer and let it dry for a day.

step 5: paint the wood surface with latex-based paint using a paintbrush. 

Should you paint on a rainy day?

Perhaps, you have been wondering whether it is possible to paint on a rainy day and how severely the rain influences the quality of the product.

It seems to be a rather senseless and useless activity to paint surfaces while it is raining. Simply because the paint will not attach itself to the wood and the result will be quite disappointing.

Moreover, a big amount of water will lead to cracks and peeling of the paint.

However, you may be surprised, but it is, in fact, possible to get the job done even under such weather conditions. In particular, you need to check the temperature of the surfaces you plan on painting wet wood.

Lower temperatures are praised options. You also should keep the humidity level, which on rainy days is the highest, checked. The best conditions are 40-70% of humidity. Proper ventilation will help in reducing it.

How long does wet wood dry before painting?

Some say that it is better to wait at least a day for wood to dry. Yet, there are no strict deadlines, as it all depends on such conditions as humidity level, wood type, and ambient temperatures. 

For particular wood surfaces, it may take more time to dry. But the minimum you can do is to remove wood from the humid climate if it is outdoors or to put wet wood to dry in the sun or low humidity environment and hope for the best.

If you, however, do not have time to wait, there are some ways to handle this issue which have been discussed above.  

Can you paint freshly cut green wood?

The answer will be that yes, you can paint freshly cut wood. However, before doing it, it is important to consider moisture content, which will vary depending on whether it is green wood or treated wood.

Because while the former will have a moisture content level close to 100%, the moisture level of the latter will be between 35% and 75%.

To proceed, use the stain-blocking primer taking into account the moisture content of your material, and further apply latex water-based paint. 

Don’t think painting wet wood can be fun and easy? Can you apply paint to wet wood?

peidre une table en bois

Despite the fact that it is highly unrecommended to paint wet wood, the reasons for this were considered in the beginning. It is nevertheless possible to accomplish a high-quality paint job with the damp wood following a number of techniques.

If you are in a situation where you need to paint wet wood without much free time, do not over-stress. As you surely can quicken the process by turning to towels, a hairdryer, an electric fan, or even baking soda will do the job of helping you to dry the wood! Wonder is Danish oil food safe, read the article

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Hello to all lovers of wood products. I have been fond of woodcarving since childhood. I first learned about it at a children’s camp at the age of 12, and since then it has been my hobby. I organized a wood carving club in my area and often meet there with like-minded people. I dream of selling my products as souvenirs and gifts.

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