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Can You Use Rustoleum On Wood? Understanding Wood Finish


Can You Use Rustoleum On Wood

Wood has various home and commercial applications, ranging from furniture making to tool heads, and handles. But these pieces of wood require finishing for aesthetic purposes. Although wood finishing involves several processes, such as cutting and sanding, it cannot be complete without painting.

Latex and oil-based paints are the most common types of paints used for wood finishing. Due to the variation in their composition and characteristics, latex and oil-based paints use slightly different procedures for application.

Rustoleum is a high-quality oil-based paint commonly used for painting metallic surfaces. But here comes the question.

Can You Use Rustoleum on Wood?

Yes, you can use Rustoleum paint on wood. However, you’ll need to prepare the wood so the paint can grip and stick to it properly. Wood preparation involves sanding the surface and applying a primer. 

The reason for this is that paint doesn’t adhere properly to bare wood, so you’ll need a primer to allow the wood to bond with the paint. 

It’s also essential to choose a suitable primer for surface preparation so that the coating will last for a long time. You’ll need a primer that can bond to an oil-based based coating. Else the painting will flake and peel after a while. 

So, how do you use Rustoleum on wood? Continue reading to learn more.

How To Use Rustoleum On Wood

Painting bare wood with Rustoleum involves wood preparation and paint application. You’ll need the following tools for this task: 60-80 grit sandpaper, a paintbrush, a tack cloth, an oil-based primer, and Rustoleum paint. The steps below describe the entire process in detail.

Sand the wood:

Wood usually comes in a rough form unless you purchased it pre-sanded from a home improvement shop. Bare wood has a coarse surface with sawdust, blemishes, marks, and dents. 

Sanding removes these imperfections and gives you a smooth finish. You can use several sanding tools for sanding your wood, but a sanding block or 60-80 grit sandpaper will suffice for this project. 

First, set up your workspace for sanding. Sanding is advisable outdoors to give you sufficient room and ventilation. It’s also important to wear goggles to protect you from sawdust. 

Begin sanding with rough grit sandpaper, such as 60-80 grit sandpaper. This initial sanding process will take some time, but it will remove a large chunk of the blemishes on the wood. 

Next, use medium grit sandpaper (100 or 120-grit) to smoothen the wood surface. A few imperfections will remain after the initial sanding stage, and you’ll need finer grit sandpaper to remove them. Complete the sanding process with fine-grit sandpaper, such as 220-grit sandpaper. 

Sand until your wood becomes smooth to touch. Once you finish sanding use a soft-bristled brush to remove the sawdust. Wipe off the tiny remnant with a tack cloth. Your wood is now smooth and ready for priming. 

Prime the wood:

A primer is a pre-painting coating applied to wood to improve paint adhesion to the surface and paint durability. The wood surface must be clean before you begin priming. 

Remember, you cleaned the wood with a tack cloth after sanding. However, if you’re not priming immediately after, you should clean again for assurance. 

Rustoleum paint won’t adhere properly to the dirty or rough surface, so cleaning is non-negotiable. A microfiber cloth or a damp cloth will also suffice. However, if you’re using a wet cloth, allow the wood to dry before you start priming. Rustoleum is an oil-based paint, so use an oil-based primer for this project.

Before applying the primer to the wood surface, mix the prime properly with a wooden stick. Sometimes, the pigment can separate from the oil. However, proper mixing takes care of this. You also stir the primer intermittently during your project. 

It’s not advisable to use the primer directly from the can. The reason is that dried primer blobs can scrape the can and enter the mixture. These blobs can adhere to the wood surface or produce scuff marks in the wet primer. 

Sometimes the primer may be so thick, making it difficult for you to create smooth brush strokes. You can thin it slightly with mineral spirits. However, don’t add excess mineral spirit to lose your primer’s texture. As a tip, use a good quality paint brush for best results.

So, after thorough mixing, pour some primer into a separate container and cover the original can. Begin applying the primer on the wood gently, ensuring you cover every part of the surface. 

Don’t be too conservative with the primer. Apply a substantial amount, spread evenly using your brush, and dry.

Oil-based primers don’t dry as quickly as latex-based primers. While latex-based primers can dry within four hours, oil-based primers can take up to a day to dry. You can sand again with sandpaper to remove imperfections when the primer has completely dried.

Apply Rustoleum:

Your wood is now ready for your Rustoleum paint. Apply the Rustoleum paint on the wood surface. Use a new clean paintbrush. But if you must use an old paintbrush, clean it with mineral spirits. Alternatively, you can use a spray can. 

Apply one coating of the paint to every part of the surface and allow it to dry for at least three hours. You can add another coating if the surface is not perfect.

Rustoleum Products

The Rustoleum brand offers a wide range of surface finishing products, including paints and primers. We’ll look at some popular Rustoleum products, their unique qualities, and their applications.

Rustoleum EpoxyShield:

Rustoleum Epoxyshield is a high-quality painting solution for your wooden floors. This product comprises two different parts, a resin, and a catalyst. The resin and catalyst thicken to form a dense coating when mixed.

Rustoleum EpoxyShield offers many advantages. First, there are many EpoxyShield options to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences. Secondly, EpoxyShield is easy to use and requires no prior technical knowledge. EpoxyShield cans come with clear instructions on how to use them.

Fourth, EpoxyShield is resistant against dust and chemicals, highlighting its durability. In addition, there are water-based alternatives if you don’t want to use the oil-based option.

Rustoleum Enamel:

Rustoleum enamels are an excellent painting option for metal surfaces. They produce a luminous finish while offering long-lasting protection against corrosion. 

Although primarily made for metal surfaces, Rustoleum enamel is also valuable for finishing wood surfaces. In addition, enamels come in spray paint and brush-on options.

Rustoleum Primer:

Rustoleum primer is a perfect option for priming surfaces for Rustoleum painting. Although oil-based primers will combine well with Rustoleum paint, Rustoleum’s dedicated primer will give you the best results for your wood surface.

Rustoleum Undercoat:

This product is another priming solution useful for wood surfaces. Underground smoothen the wood surface, covering pores and imperfections effectively. Due to its effectiveness, you’ll likely not need more than one coating of this product if you have done proper sanding.

Rustoleum Wax:

Rustoleum wax is another product from this brand also useful for wood surfaces. Interestingly, you can use Rustoleum wax on bare, unprimed wood. This product improves wood texture and offers an additional protective layer for wood surfaces.

Rustoleum Rock Solid:

Rock Solid is another innovative surface protection solution from Rustoleum. Rock Solid is valid for surfaces that usually contact natural and synthetic elements such as chemicals, salt, and gas.

Rock Solid is highly resistant to chemicals, heat, and corrosion and can offer lifetime protection for wood surface coatings.

Advantages Of Using Oil-Based Paints On Wood Surfaces

Rustoleum is oil-based, and there are many advantages of using oil-based paints on wood surfaces. Let’s consider some of them.

  • Oil-based paints are long-lasting and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Oil-based paints are cost-effective, as they require one or few coatings compared to latex paints.
  • Oil-based paints hide imperfections and conceal debts better than latex paints.
  • Oil-based paints are smooth to touch and have broader coverage.

Disadvantages Of Using Oil-Based Paints On Wood Surfaces

Oil-based paints may offer many advantages, but they also present a few problems. Let’s see a few of them.

  • Oil-based paints are difficult to clean after application. Cleaning a paintbrush used for an oil painting project would require a paint thinner or turpentine.
  • Oil-based based paints take time to dry. A coating of oil-based paint takes between eight to twenty-four hours to dry, and you’ll have to wait for the coating to dry before applying another coating thoroughly. So, an oil-based painting project takes time to complete.
  • Oil-based paints contain volatile organic carbons, which give off an offensive odor during application. You’ll need a nose mask and a well-ventilated location when using oil-based paints.


Furniture for home or office use requires finishing for aesthetic purposes. Wood finishing involves several processes, including painting. You can either paint with latex-based or oil-based paint.

Rustoleum is a high-quality oil-based paint used for metal surfaces. Although famous for metallic paint, you can also paint wood. However, you must prepare the wood to enhance adhesion before painting with Rustoleum. 

Wood preparation involves sanding and priming. Use an oil-based primer since Rustoleum is an oil-based paint. Wear a nose mask and ensure adequate ventilation for protection from sawdust and Rustoleum’s offensive odor. 

Jacob Lindsey

Jacob is a home remodeling guru having worked over 15 years in construction in Reno, NV, mainly focused on home renovations. He likes taking ideas from his clients and making them a reality.

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