Painting Wood Furniture: How to Permanently Cover Knots and Stains

Painting wood furniture has its difficulties! Learn to permanently block tannin bleed-through from wood stains and knot holes with these two tried and tested options.

Also helpful: How to choose the best paint for furnitureHow to Repair Wood Wood (no sanding!)Must Know Equipment Preparation and Repair Tips

Painting Wood Furniture: Preventing Tannin Bleed-Through

(How to Permanently Cover Knots and Old Stain)

of Elisha in Addicted to pneumatic

This post has internal links for your convenience. Find out more and read our full disclosure policy HERE.

I love to build DIY furniture. Sometimes it was new, raw wood and sometimes I covered the old finish.

Either way, I’ve painted wood furniture projects that look great ever since, especially white or light paint, the tannins start to bleed. Nasuko!

So what are tannins?

Brass naturally occurring ingredients found in wood and other plants, including those in coffee, tea and grapes / wine. They help prevent disease and control plant growth.

Due to their chemical nature, tannins penetrate the surface, even when the wood is completely dried and well painted. Wood stain chemicals do the same.

Stained wood, like the mahogany finish pictured below, is the worst culprit. The holes in the will are also repeatedly guilty!

Dark Red Mahogany Wood Stain, prevent Tannin staining in Remodelaholic pneumatic stain

More than once, I went through the recommended steps for painting wood furniture: sanding, applying primer, two coats of paint AND 2-3 coats of clear finish, just to see the small pink spots that come to the top.

It’s annoying! Sometimes it’s even large, colorless blanks from wood knots.

Painting Wooden Furniture, Preventing Bleeding Tannin, Remodelaholic Addiction

I’ve tried almost every type of primer you can buy, even the “stain first blockers” and the only product that hasn’t failed me yet is my old standby shellac.

Brush Shellac Tannin Stain Primer for painting wood white from pneumatic addiction to remodelaholic

Painting Wood Furniture: Preventing Tannin Bleed-Through in Shellac

I first used shellac on get a smooth finish to paint the MDF, but it also makes a strange first that inhibits tannin as well. It comes in a brush-on formula or a can be aerosol.

Zinsser Shellac Primer under White Paint Prevents Bleed Through in Remodelaholic pneumatic addict

Shellac can be covered in any different finish (oil -based paint, water -based paint, stained, etc.).

I had already started applying a coat or two before painting each time I use a bright color.

It dries very quickly so you can continue painting without losing a ton of hours. It’s worth a little extra time, trust me!

Note: As always, follow the application instructions that can be on the can, following all instructions.

White Paint Shellac Primer Prevents Bleeding Through WM

How to Cover Knots When Painting Wooden Furniture

Now what if you have one or two problem areas, like knot holes?

Knot Hole Prevention Tannin Bleed Prevention for White Paint on wood by pneumatic addiction to remodelaholic

When I built mine modern single breasts, I first put the raw wood with the BIN stain blocking the primer and thought I was fine. Unfortunately, after a few months, the knots are already starting to show!

Knot Hole White Paint Tanin Stain Wood WM

My secret weapon? Clear nail polish! Clear Nail Polish Cover Knot Wood Tanin Stain WM 3000

Painting Wood Tools: Preventing Tannin Bleed-Through with Clear Nail Polish

For a piece that has only a few problem areas such as wood knots or spots that have been covered with a stain pen or wood repair marker (which I have discovered to be almost impossible to cover), the simple top coat you use for your manicure will do the trick!

Brush one or two coats of clear nail polish in areas, not necessarily covering the entire surface. Then fill in any gaps or gaps (such as around a willow tree) that are filled with wood.

Cover Knot Hole Nail Polish Hack to prevent Bleed Through, pneumatic addict to remodelaholic

On the sample board at the bottom, all dark pigment is securely sealed under nail polish and a pre -paint. The indentation from the knot can now be easily fixed with the wood filler.

Light paint Over Raw Wood, which permanently hides Knots in wood, Remodelaholic pneumatic addiction

The next time you apply white paint, remember to tackle the tannin blood first! A simple cover with shellac or a few spots with clear nail polish gives you a simple prevention for bleeding.

More tree tips and finishing tips and inspiration:

Please pin it for future reference!Painting Furniture, How to Permanently Cover Holes in Knots, Stains, Red Wood Through Remodelaholic DrugsOriginally published 04.11.2018 // Updated 04.16.2021

Remodelaholic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising affiliate program designed to provide a way for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Please see our full disclosure HERE.

About Elisha Albretsen