Have you ever had to deal with “Bleed-Through”? I am not talking about the monthly female version of bleed-through, I am talking about paint bleed-through. I know, they both are very frustrating because they both catch you off guard, they make things more difficult and sometimes it can just be downright embarrassing. If you are a female and a furniture painter I know you have had both happen and this post will help you deal with paint bleed-through. If you are needing help with the other, well that can be found on some other website. If you have painted a few pieces of furniture, I guarantee the unsightly paint bleed-through has happened or will happen. Sometimes it is little spots and other times it is the entire piece.
I have had my share of bleed-through so I am going to give you all my tips and tricks on what works best when dealing with bleed-through.
What is Paint Bleed-Through
Bleed-through is the tannins or stain of the wood coming through the paint layer. The tannins and stain are oil-based and most paints are water-based, and we all know that oil and water won’t mix. If you google the term, make sure not to get it confused with paint bleeding, as this is a whole other topic.
When does it Happen
This is the tricky part. because it can happen after the first coat of paint or not until you paint a second coat, glaze and seal the furniture. If your lucky and catch it after the first coat of paint, you can save yourself frustration and time by fixing the problem after the first coat.
I have had it happen to me on the final stage of sealing and it is truly MADDENING!
Signs of Bleed-Through
Dark nature wood like cherry or mahogany tends to generate more bleed through than lighter woods like pine or oak. Dark antique stained pieces that have lost their polyurethane coating have a higher tendency to bleed. Also, these same antique pieces may bleed in areas that have been sanded before painting.
Fastest and Easiest Solution
Unfortunately or fortunately, the fastest and easiest solution for dealing with bleed-through is painting your piece black or a very dark color. The unfortunate side is you really wanted your furniture a light color and not dark. So if you are fortunate enough and wanted a dark piece of furniture, paint it black and you don’t have to read any more of this post.
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For those who want a light color, here are more solutions for dealing with paint bleed-through.
How to Block Bleed-Through
- Use stain-blocking primers to start when you think there might be a chance of bleed-through, especially when wanting to paint in light colors. There is a difference between oil-based and water-based primers. Remember I stated that bleed-through is caused by oil-based tannins and stains and water and oil don’t mix. Use oil-based primers for stain blocking. Here are my top go-to stain-blocking primers.
Cover-Stain – I use this to brush on or in the spray can. The spray can version is more expensive but, I really prefer spraying this primer as the clean up is easier and I am not throwing away brushes. I don’t like to use chemicals to clean up oil-based paints, so I use cheap chip brushes and throw them away. These nylon chip brushes give a smoother finish over the common natural chip brush.
Shellac – is another great alternative for stain blocking and this one goes one step further with odor blocking. If you have drawers that are really molding smelling and tried everything to get out the smell, you can seal the stink by using shellac.
- 2. Use oil-based sealers once the furniture has been primed with a stain-blocking primer and painted. I prefer to use furniture wax as my oil-based sealer and shy away from an oil-based polyurethane. An oil-based polyurethane can yellow your furniture paint over time and since you are probably painting in a light color, you don’t want this color to yellow.
Furniture waxes are easy to use and you can also use colored wax to alter the color of the paint with an aged look, by using dark waxes, or a whitewash look, by using light waxes.
My favorite wax to use is Maison Blanche Antique Wax. It comes in a variety of colors and it is one of the easier ones to use without having to rub your life away and get an upper body work out. The other reason is the wax actually absorbs into the paint and does not sit on top like other waxes and the benefit to this is you don’t have to sand it off to paint over it. Sometimes if you paint over other waxes, the paint will not stick.
Here are my tips and thoughts on my process of paint bleed-through and painting furniture. This comes from many failed attempts at thinking I won’t have bleed-through and I do, late in the game, after I wasted my time and products.
If I have to sand a piece of furniture in order to get it ready for painting due to flaws in the piece or the original stained finish is very worn, I paint it a dark color. If I really want a light color on the furniture, I cut to the chase and prime it automatically with a stain-blocking primer. Once the painting is finished, I begin to seal the furniture with my favorite sealer, General Finishes High-Performance in matte, If I see a small spot of bleed-through, I continue to seal, but if I see a large section of bleed-through, I stop and let the sealer dry and go to plan B.
Plan B is to re-prime the side, paint again and seal with wax. This usually blocks the bleed-through.
I typically like to spray on my paints, sealers and use the glaze for the aging and shading. I use waxes for small easy home decor projects or for the pieces that have bleed-through.
Have you ever had paint bleed-through? If so, what solutions did you take? Leave me your comments below as I always love to hear how others work on painted furniture pieces.
Need more help painting furniture? If you think this post was informative, I share all the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years in this easy to read, quick start Furniture painting E-book.
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