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What primer to use for your furniture with Aileen Hogan of Shabby.ie

A good primer prepares the surface for the paint and gives you a longer lasting, more durable finish. It allows you to paint surfaces that otherwise would simply not accept paint (more on that later) and it seals-in raw wood like MDF that otherwise would soak up your good paint.

There are two things to remember when picking your primer –

  • Primers are either oil based, shellac based or water based
  • The material of the surface that you are painting.

(In order to tell which primer is which read the clean up section on the back of the tin. If you can wash your brush in soapy water, you have a water based primer in your hand. If it says use an appropriate cleaner like white spirit you have oil based primer in your hand.)



The types of furniture I would recommend you use oil based or shellac based primer on are: Raw Pine, Laminate, Gloss or Lacquered Pieces, Mid Century Mahogany and Teak.

The knots in raw pine WILL bleed through any water based paints in time if not sealed in before painting and the piece will need to be repainted in no time. Mexican pine is a perfect example of raw pine

Laminate material is known as a ‘difficult’ surface (paint will not adhere well and wear away or chip off if a good primer is not used.)
Oil Based primer BLOXX-IT is known for its adhesion properties and is the ideal primer to use on laminate. You can check out how I painted laminated kitchen cabinets by clicking here. Please take note of the scratch test after the primer is dry. The scratch test will let you know if your primer has adhered properly.

Adhesion will be your main priority here, which is why you need to use oil based BLOXX-IT

I recently painted teak windows and used a shellac based primer called TERMINATOR as I wanted to get them finished asap. (You can also choose to use BLOXX-IT which will take a little longer due to the drying time) Ensure you get full coverage whether that is 2 or 3 coats. Your aim here is to seal in the nasties!




I use my water based primer on pretty much everything else from Pre finished pine to oak. It is perfect.
(Did you know that pre finished pine aka shop bought modern pine with a varnish has the knots already sealed in? All you need is a scuff sand and the water based PURE GRIP will adhere well and dull the surface enough to give a nice finish.)  You can get your primer tinted to either match your paint colour or near enough to the same colour as your paint.This is a great idea if you are facing a bigger project or if you are using a darker colour paint. If you can get the primer in grey this is a much more neutral colour than white.

To learn how to clean and sand the furniture before you begin to prime or paint check out Aileens free beginners course in upcycling by clicking here

Fireplace surround primed with BLOXX-IT and a topcoat of Fleetwood Advanced Satinwood.