How to Give Knotty Pine Wood a New Look

Some homeowners think that the look of knotty pine wood makes their home look dated, but to others, this wood adds rustic charm. To pull out the knotty pine and replace it with something else can be expensive. A simpler solution to update this problem is painting the surface. It will give you a new look and save you a lot of money in the end.

Before you pull out the paint and paint brush, you need to prepare the wood first. If you are painting a cabinet, remove the doors, hardware, and shelves before starting. For wall, remove everything you have hanging on the wall. If you want to paint knotty pine floors, remove furniture, rugs, carpet, and anything else on the floor.

Clean the Wood

Clean the wood with a solution of trisodiumphosphate (TSP) and warm water. The TSP removes accumulated dirt and grease. Always wear rubber gloves when working this chemical solution, so your body won’t absorb it.

Wash the TSP off the wood with clean water. The wood should be free of grease, dirt, oil and other debris. Wipe the wood to remove water with an absorbent towel. Allow the wood to finish air-drying.

Sand Away Rough Spots

When the wood is dry, run your fingers over the wood. When you detect or feel a rough section, sand the wood with 100-grit sandpaper. Vacuum up the dust caused from sanding using a shop vac equipped with the soft bristle brush attachment. To make sure that all traces of dust is gone, wipe the wood down with a tack cloth. Any traces of dust will mess up the finish of your paint job.

Fix the Cracks or Deep Knots

Inspect the wood for cracks or deep knots. Before you paint, you will need to fill these in with wood filler. If you don’t, the cracks and knots will show beneath the paint and it won’t look nice or professional.

Apply the wood filler with a putty knife. Put a small amount on the putty knife and fill in the crack or hole. Scrape off the excess with your knife or a scraper. Allow the putty to dry according to manufacturer’s directions. When it is dry, sand the area until it is level with the rest of the wood.

Vacuum the dust away and wipe the area with a tack cloth. To keep the knots from bleeding through the paint, brush them with an oil base or pigmented shellac primer. If the wood is varnished, you will need to sand this section to remove the varnish before you paint them. Allow the primer to dry according to manufactures’ label directions.


The hardest part of this process is picking out the paint color. Once you have the color you want, you will need to remix it before using. You can use a paint stirring stick or your drill with the paint stirring attachment attached. It mixes the paint faster.

When you finish mixing the paint, wash the attachment in a bucket of hot soapy water. Leave it attached to the drill and turn the drill on. Do not get the drill wet though or you risk electrical shock and ruining your drill.

Using a brush, paint the wood surface. A narrow brush is perfect for painting corners or trim. Let the paint dry according to manufacturer’s directions. Apply a second coat of paint, allowing the paint to dry. When the paint is dry, put the cabinet back together or the pictures on the walls, or the furniture in the room.


Painting Knotty Pine

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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