What Paint Do You Use on Veneer? Tips and Recommendations

When it comes to furniture, there’s nothing quite as elegant as wood veneer. With its fine grains and natural patterns, it’s a step up from plain wood and an excellent addition to any home. However, if you’re planning on repainting your veneer furniture, you’ll need to consider the type of paint that will work best. Not all paint types are compatible with veneer, and using the wrong kind can lead to issues down the line. So, what paint do you use on veneer? That’s what we’re here to explore.

First, it’s important to understand what veneer is and how it differs from solid wood. Veneer is a thin layer of wood that’s glued onto a substrate, such as particleboard or plywood. It’s commonly used in furniture making as it’s cost-effective, flexible, and offers unique patterns and grains. However, because veneer is essentially a thin layer of wood, it’s not as durable as solid wood, and it’s more vulnerable to damage caused by heat, moisture, or incorrect treatment. That’s why choosing the right paint is crucial to ensuring that your veneer furniture stays looking beautiful for years to come.

So, back to the question at hand, what paint do you use on veneer? The answer depends on several factors, such as the type of veneer, the condition of the furniture, and the desired finish. In general, it’s best to use a high-quality, water-based acrylic paint that’s specifically designed for use on wood surfaces. This type of paint is flexible, durable, and breathable, which is essential for allowing the wood to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. It’s also easy to clean and has a low odor, making it a great choice for indoor furniture. But we’ll dive deeper into the types of paint you can use on veneer later in the article.

Types of Veneer

Veneer is a thin layer of wood that is applied to a surface to enhance its appearance. The quality and type of veneer used determines the final look of a piece of furniture. There are three main types of veneer:

  • Raw Veneer: This type of veneer is sliced from the log. It is then dried, flattened, and sorted according to the quality of the wood grain. Raw veneer requires more labor to prepare, but it provides greater flexibility in terms of colors and patterns.
  • Reconstituted Veneer: This type of veneer is created by laminating several layers of real wood or engineered layers. Reconstituted veneer is more uniform and consistent in color and texture than raw veneer, making it an excellent choice for applications that require a uniform appearance.
  • Composite Veneer: This type of veneer is made by bonding a thin layer of wood onto a substrate. Composite veneer is the most cost-effective option and is commonly used in furniture production.

Preparing Veneer for Painting

Before you start painting on veneer, it is essential to prepare it properly for the best results. Here are the steps to prepare veneer for painting:

  • Clean: First, clean the veneer thoroughly with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and dust. You can also use a mild cleaner if needed, but make sure to rinse it off with water and dry it properly afterward.
  • Sand: The next step is to sand the veneer to make it smooth and even. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and gently rub it over the veneer in a circular motion, paying attention to the edges and corners. Be sure to sand off any old paint, varnish, or stain on the surface.
  • Fill: If there are any cracks or holes in the veneer, fill them with wood filler or putty. Apply the filler with a putty knife and smooth it out with sandpaper once it dries.

Types of Paint to Use on Veneer

Choosing the right type of paint for your veneer is crucial for the final outcome. Here are some of the best options to consider:

  • Acrylic Paint: Acrylic paint is easy to apply and dries quickly, making it an ideal choice for veneer. It is also water-based and doesn’t emit strong fumes, making it safe to use indoors.
  • Oil-Based Paint: Oil-based paint is durable and resistant to scratches and stains, but it takes longer to dry and produces strong fumes. It is best for outdoor furniture and surfaces.
  • Spray Paint: Spray paint is another option for painting veneer, especially if you want to achieve a smooth, even finish. It is easy to apply and dries quickly, but it can be messy and has a strong odor. Make sure to use it in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

Tips for Painting Veneer

Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when painting veneer:

  • Prime: Always use a primer before painting veneer to ensure better adhesion and coverage of the paint.
  • Thin Coats: Apply thin coats of paint instead of thick ones, as they are less likely to chip or crack and produce a smoother finish.
  • Dry Time: Allow each coat of paint to dry thoroughly before applying the next one. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time.
  • Sanding: Sand lightly between coats to smooth out any bumps or bubbles on the surface and create a better grip for the new coat.
  • Protect: Once you finish painting, protect the veneer by applying a clear varnish or sealer to make it more durable and resistant to wear and tear.

By following these steps and tips, you can ensure a successful paint job on your veneer furniture or surface that will last for years to come.

Pros Cons
Acrylic Paint: Easy to apply and dries quickly, safe to use indoors. Acrylic Paint: Not as durable as oil-based paint, not suitable for outdoor use.
Oil-Based Paint: Durable and resistant to scratches and stains. Oil-Based Paint: Takes longer to dry and emits strong fumes, best for outdoor use.
Spray Paint: Easy to apply and produces a smooth, even finish. Spray Paint: Can be messy and has a strong odor, not suitable for indoor use.

Table: Pros and Cons of different types of Paint for Veneer.

Choosing the right paint for veneer

When it comes to painting veneers, choosing the right paint is critical to ensure lasting results. Not all paints are designed to adhere to the smooth surface of veneer, so it’s essential to select a paint that is formulated explicitly for this purpose. Here are some tips to help you choose the right paint for veneer:

  • Acrylic Paint – One of the best options for painting veneers, especially if the veneer is used in high-traffic areas. Acrylic paints are water-based, quick-drying, and come in an extensive range of colors.
  • Oil-based Paint – Although oil-based paints tend to be more durable than latex paints, it’s essential to ensure that oil-based paint adheres well to the veneer before using it. This is because oil-based paints often contain solvents that can damage the veneer if not applied correctly.
  • Spray Paint – An excellent option for painting veneers that have intricate designs or carvings. Spray paint does require more skill to apply, but the results can be stunning.

It’s also essential to consider the type of veneer you’re painting when selecting paint. Different types of veneer require unique treatments, and it’s essential to select a paint that is suitable for your specific situation. This may include checking the paint’s compatibility with the glue used in the veneer or the type of wood used.

Finally, prep work is essential when it comes to painting veneer. Properly cleaning and sanding the surface of the veneer before painting is critical to ensure the paint adheres correctly. Taking the time to prepare the surface well before painting can make all the difference in the longevity and quality of the finished product.

Here is a table summarizing the different types of paint to consider when painting veneer:

Type of Paint Advantages Disadvantages
Acrylic Paint Quick-drying, durable, easy to use, wide color selection Requires a few coats, not as long-lasting as oil-based paints
Oil-based Paint Durable, long-lasting, great for high-traffic areas May require solvents for cleanup, can damage veneer if not applied correctly, longer drying time
Spray Paint Great for intricate designs and carvings, quick-drying, even coverage Requires more skill, not as durable as other paints, can be more expensive

By choosing the right paint and taking the time to prepare the surface correctly, you can enjoy beautiful, long-lasting results when painting veneer.

Water-based vs. oil-based paints for veneer

Choosing the right paint for your veneer can be a tricky process, but it is essential to achieve the desired finish. Water-based and oil-based paints are the most common paints used for veneer, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Water-based paint:
    • Water-based paints are commonly used because they are relatively easy to apply and are less harmful to the environment and human health.
    • They dry quickly, have less odor, and are easy to clean up using water alone.
    • Since they contain less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they are a good option for people who are sensitive to strong odors from traditional solvent-based paints.
    • The disadvantage of water-based paints is that they may require multiple layers to achieve a smooth, even finish.
    • Some people also find that they are not as durable as oil-based paint and can be more prone to chipping.
  • Oil-based paint:
    • Oil-based paints are a popular choice for veneer as they offer a durable finish and are resistant to chips and scratches.
    • They are also great for surfaces that see a lot of wear and tear, such as kitchen cabinets.
    • The disadvantage of oil-based paints is that they take longer to dry and require solvents like mineral spirits or paint thinner for cleaning up.
    • The heavy odor from the solvents and high levels of VOCs may also cause health issues, making it less environmentally friendly and posing a danger to human health.

When deciding which type of paint to use, you should consider your specific needs, including the type of surface, the desired finish, and the amount of time you have to work on the project. If you are looking for a quick-drying, environmentally friendly paint, then a water-based paint may be your best option. If you are looking for a durable, smooth finish and can tolerate the strong odor and longer drying times, then an oil-based paint may be a better choice for you.

Characteristics Water-based paint Oil-based paint
Drying time Quick Longer
Cleaning up Water-based Solvents like mineral spirits or paint thinner
Odor Less Strong
VOCs Less More
Durability Less More

In conclusion, water-based and oil-based paints both have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whichever option you choose, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best possible outcome.

Surface finishes for painted veneer

When it comes to painting veneer, choosing the right surface finish can be crucial in achieving a polished and long-lasting result. There are several surface finishes that work well with painted veneer, each offering its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Here are five popular options to consider:

  • Lacquer: A clear, hard finish that dries quickly and is highly durable. Lacquer is a great option for high-traffic areas, but can be difficult to apply and requires specialized equipment.
  • Polyurethane: Another durable option that is resistant to scratches and moisture. Polyurethane comes in both oil-based and water-based formulas, and is easy to apply with a brush or sprayer.
  • Shellac: A natural finish that dries quickly and offers excellent adhesion. Shellac can be applied by brush or sprayer, but is less durable than other finishes and may require frequent touch-ups.
  • Oil: A penetrating finish that enhances the natural grain of the veneer. Oil finishes are easy to apply, but take longer to dry and may require multiple coats.
  • Wax: A soft, natural finish that can be buffed to a high shine. Wax is easy to apply and offers a low-gloss finish, but is less durable than other finishes and may require frequent reapplication.

Which finish you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the level of durability required, the ease of application, and the desired aesthetic when making your decision.

If you’re unsure which finish is right for your project, it may be helpful to experiment with a few different options on a scrap piece of veneer before committing to a larger surface area.

Finish Type Pros Cons
Lacquer Durable, quick-drying, highly resistant to scratches and moisture Difficult to apply, requires specialized equipment
Polyurethane Durable, easy to apply, available in oil-based and water-based formulas May yellow over time, can be more difficult to touch up than other finishes
Shellac Fast-drying, excellent adhesion, easy to apply with brush or sprayer Less durable than other finishes, may require frequent touch-ups
Oil Enhances natural grain, easy to apply Takes longer to dry, may require multiple coats
Wax Easy to apply, low-gloss finish, can be buffed to a high shine Less durable than other finishes, may require frequent reapplication

Ultimately, a successful painted veneer project relies on choosing the right finish for your particular needs and taking the time to properly prepare and apply the finish. With careful consideration and attention to detail, you can achieve a beautiful and long-lasting result.

Tools and equipment for painting veneer

Painting veneer furniture requires some specialty tools and equipment to achieve a smooth and professional finish. Here are some of the essential items you will need:

  • Primer: A high-quality primer specifically designed for use on veneer surfaces is essential for preparing the surface for paint. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and provides a smooth, even finish.
  • Sanding equipment: Sanding the veneer before painting is crucial for achieving a professional-looking finish. You’ll need sandpaper available in fine, medium, and coarse grits, as well as a sanding block or orbital sander to make the job quicker and easier.
  • Paint: Choose a high-quality paint formulated for veneer surfaces, with a finish of your choice. You’ll want to be sure it adheres well and stands up to use, especially for furniture pieces that get a lot of wear and tear.
  • Brushes and rollers: Invest in a high-quality paintbrush and roller to make sure that the paint goes on evenly. It’s worth investing in a good quality paint roller as these tend to apply smoother finishes than cheaper alternatives.
  • Spray guns: If you plan to paint several pieces of furniture or large items, consider using a spray gun for an even finish. These tools can help you cover large areas of veneer in less time than conventional brushes or rollers.
  • Drop cloths and painters tape: Make sure to protect your workspace with drop cloths and use painters tape to mask off any areas you’d like to keep paint-free, such as handles or hinges. This will help you achieve a clean, professional-looking finish.

Protective equipment for painting veneer furniture

When painting veneer furniture, it’s essential to protect your eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Make sure you have the following protective gear:

  • Gloves: Wear gloves to protect your hands from the paint and any chemicals you might be using.
  • Goggles: Protect your eyes with safety goggles to prevent eye irritation and injury from paint or chemicals.
  • Respirator: Use a respirator to protect your lungs from the fumes released during painting, especially if you are working in a poorly ventilated area. Consider selecting a respirator with replaceable filters.


Using the right tools and equipment when painting veneer furniture is crucial to achieving a professional-looking finish that is both durable and attractive. By investing in quality primer, sanding equipment, paint, brushes, rollers, and protective gear, you will be able to complete your project with confidence and pride in the finished work that you produce.

Essential Tools Protective gear
Primer Gloves
Sanding equipment Goggles
Paint Respirator
Brushes and rollers
Spray guns
Drop cloths and painters tape

A handy visual aid for the essential tools and protective gear required for painting veneer furniture.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Veneer

Painting veneer furniture can be a tricky process if not done properly. There are a few common mistakes that people tend to make, which can result in a less-than-perfect finish. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when painting veneer:

  • Not Prepping the Surface: One of the biggest mistakes you can make when painting veneer is not prepping the surface adequately. Veneer is a thin layer of wood that is adhered to another surface. To ensure the paint adheres well, you need to clean the surface thoroughly and sand it lightly to allow the paint to grip the surface.
  • Skipping the Primer: Another mistake you should avoid is skipping the primer coat. The primer helps the paint bond with the veneer surface, resulting in a smoother, more durable finish. A good quality primer can also protect the veneer from any damage that the paint might cause.
  • Rushing the Process: Many people underestimate the time it takes to paint veneer, and they rush through the process. When you rush, you are more likely to make mistakes, such as applying too much paint or not letting the paint dry long enough between coats.

Using the Wrong Type of Paint

Using the wrong type of paint is another common mistake that people make. When it comes to veneer, the best type of paint to use is oil-based paint. It provides a more durable finish and is less likely to peel or crack over time.

Another mistake is not choosing the right color. While it can be tempting to choose a bright, bold color, it’s important to consider the overall look of the room. A bright color may not be the best choice if it clashes with the rest of your decor.

Not Protecting the Surface

Finally, another mistake is not protecting the surface after you have painted it. Once the paint has dried, you should always apply a protective sealant to the surface to prevent any scratches or damage from occurring. A protective sealant can also help keep the paint looking fresh and vibrant for longer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Veneer What to Do Instead
Not Prepping the Surface Clean and lightly sand the surface before priming and painting.
Skipping the Primer Always apply a coat of primer before painting.
Rushing the Process Take your time and allow each coat to dry completely before moving on to the next one.
Using the Wrong Type of Paint Choose oil-based paint for a more durable finish.
Not Protecting the Surface Apply a protective sealant after the paint has dried.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your veneer furniture looks great and lasts longer. With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that’s sure to impress.

FAQs: What Paint Do You Use on Veneer?

Q: Can I use any kind of paint on veneer?
A: No, not all paints are suitable for use on veneer surfaces. You need to choose paint specifically designed for veneer or wood surfaces.

Q: Do I need to sand the veneer surface before painting it?
A: Yes, you need to sand the surface lightly before painting it to ensure that the paint adheres well.

Q: Can I use spray paint on veneer?
A: Yes, you can use spray paint on veneer surfaces, but make sure to use a good quality spray paint meant for wood or veneer surfaces.

Q: Should I use primer before painting veneer?
A: Yes, it is recommended to use a primer before painting veneer surfaces for better adhesion and longevity of the paint job.

Q: How many coats of paint should I apply on veneer?
A: It depends on the type of paint you are using, but usually, two coats of paint are enough to achieve good coverage and finish.

Q: How long does it take for the paint to dry on veneer?
A: It takes about 2-3 hours for the paint to dry on veneer surfaces. However, to be safe, it is best to wait for 24 hours before applying a second coat of paint.

Q: Can I use acrylic paint on veneer surfaces?
A: Yes, you can use acrylic paint on veneer surfaces, but make sure to use a good quality paint and primer meant for wood surfaces.

Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading

Now that you know what paint to use on veneer, it’s time to get creative and transform your furniture pieces. Remember to choose high-quality paint meant for wood surfaces, sand the surface before painting, and use a primer for better adhesion. We hope you found these FAQs helpful and informative. Thanks for reading, and visit us again for more handy DIY tips and tricks!