How to keep your woodwork white

A Generic Photo of a wooden shelf being painted. See PA Feature HOMES Homes Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HOMES Homes Column. EMN-141203-135249001
A Generic Photo of a wooden shelf being painted. See PA Feature HOMES Homes Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HOMES Homes Column. EMN-141203-135249001
0
Have your say

If you are worried your rooms are looking a little tired one easy resolution would be deciding to give them a new lick of paint.

But don’t just think about repainting the walls, repainting interior woodwork can be equally as transformative.

Until recently, white solvent-based paint was used on most woodwork in people’s homes, but this will discolour over time - sometimes only in a matter of months. You may not realise how cream or yellow the woodwork is until you apply fresh white paint and compare.

As well as this discolouring, solvent-based wood paints have other disadvantages. They often dry slowly, especially at this time of year, so it can take days to do the job. They can also release fumes, are prone to runs and drips (although non-drip versions are available) and are hard to clean off your skin, clothes, carpets and anything else you accidentally spill them on.

Admittedly, these solvent-based wood paints have improved in recent years, but we would always recommend using water-based ones. These dry quickly and although you have to do quite a few coats, especially on bare wood, the paint goes on more easily than solvent-based alternatives and it becomes easier and quicker to apply the more coats you do. You rarely get a run with water-based wood paints, they give off fewer fumes and are better for the environment because they contain fewer harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Best of all, white water-based wood paint will stay white for years, long after a solvent-based one would have changed colour, so you won’t have to repaint nearly as often.

As well as specific water-based wood (and metal) paints, you can get also buy multi-surface ones. They can be used on walls and ceilings as well as wood and metal, ideal when you’re painting where different surfaces join, such as a wall and skirting board, and you want both in the same colour without worrying about getting the wrong paint on the wrong surface. They’re also good for a more co-ordinated look on different surfaces, because the same colour in a wood paint and an emulsion isn’t necessarily identical.

Wood paints were traditionally gloss, but these days lower-sheen satinwood and eggshell are more fashionable finishes. If you’re repainting gloss paint, it’s important to prepare it properly because paint doesn’t adhere to a glossy surface well.

This means sanding it to remove the gloss, then applying wood primer/undercoat to give a matt finish for the new topcoat. Any wood you’re painting should really be sanded and given a coat or two of wood primer/undercoat, especially bare wood.

Filler, sandpaper and paint can work wonders with woodwork that seems beyond repair, but it can take a lot of time and effort. A good electric sander is invaluable, but you will still need to hand-sand the fiddly bits. Wood filler can be hard to sand well and isn’t always right for the job - sometimes a multipurpose filler, which can be used on wood, walls and other surfaces, works better.

If you have no choice but to replace rather than just repaint old wood, make sure you seal the knots in the new (bare) wood first to ensure that the resin in them doesn’t bleed through and ruin your paintwork.

Use knotting solution to do this, which is usually a dark liquid that dries quickly but takes quite a few coats to cover with pale paint. I’d also recommend using - it seals the knots, primes and undercoats all at once, saving you both time and effort.