How To Prevent Bleed Through When Painting Furniture

And What Is It?

image of bleed thru on a piece of wood


So you’ve gone through all the work of painting your beautiful piece, and then you see it, a day later, a week later, or even months later, the dreaded Bleed Through! In the world of furniture painting, bleed through is a problem that comes up over and over again in our discussions over on Paint It Beautiful. Even the most experiencer paints struggle with this common problem.

bleed thru knots on wood

What is Bleed Through?

It’s a shadow or coloring, something that you see peeking through your paint as it starts to cure. Almost like a stain, bleeding through the paint. It can come in the shape of a knot from the wood, or an overall hue color change.


Natural Causes of Bleed Through

What it actually is, are the tannins and resins of the wood trying to escape. Nature is a wonderful thing, and it will almost always win! There is a way to prevent this from happening, it is a VERY important step to take during the PREP stage of painting. If you think you might have this problem on a new piece you have acquired, you are not going to want to miss this step of the prep stage.

painted furniture with bleed thru

How To Prevent Bleed Through When Painting Furniture

Applying a stain blocking primer is crucial to preventing bleed through when painting.  You may want to use B-I-N Zinsser Shellac-Based Primer so that the shellac will hold in the resins and not allow for bleeding to occur. What I really like about this product is that it is white, so it acts as an excellent base primer too when painting with a light color.

This particular shellac primer also adheres to virtually anything, but beware it does have a strong odor! So learn to love the knots or prep with a stain block shellac based primer beforehand.

bleed thru

The most typical woods that bleed:

  • cherry
  • mahogany
  • knotty pine
  • newer softwoods

side of dresser with bleed through

We hope this helps you to understand why bleed through happens and how to prevent it with your next project!

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wood grain

Read more from our friend Steve Maxwell on the intricacies of Bleed Through here.


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