How To Seal Emulsion Paint On Wood

by Alex I on Dec 06, 2022

How To Seal Emulsion Paint On Wood

Do your bedside table, or the kitchen cabinet needs some retouching? Well, if you have leftover emulsion paint, now is the time to take it out.

No, you don’t have to throw out the paint. You can seal it on wood to give your furniture a brand new look. We’ve got you. In this article, we explain how you can seal emulsion paint on wood to make it durable.

Can I Use Emulsion Paint on Wood?

Although using emulsion paint on wood shouldn’t be your first option, this method is lighter on the pocket. You can apply emulsion paint on wood as you would to another surface. Just make sure that you seal the paint afterward so that water doesn’t enter the paint film.

You can also use emulsion paint as an undercoat on wooden surfaces, such as on door and window frames, spindles, stairs, skirting boards, etc.

Once that is done, you can use a varnish to seal the emulsion paint on the woodwork. Doing this adds a layer of protection to the less durable emulsion paint and makes the product resistant for longer.

When Not to Seal Emulsion Paint on Wood

Generally, you should avoid sealing emulsion paint on wood in places that are prone to moisture. For example, if your garage is not waterproof, avoid using emulsion paint on any wooden surfaces in that area.

Moreover, wooden floors are an absolute no for emulsion paint. The paint will most likely come off when you walk over it, given its water-based nature.

What Is the Benefit of Sealing Emulsion Paint on Wood?

Using emulsion paint on wood is a slight risk because of its water-based nature. This paint readily absorbs moisture and can cause harm to the wood. However, you can use an emulsion sealer to avoid this. An emulsion sealer will protect the surface and not allow moisture to sneak into the paint film. In some conditions, this protective layer over emulsion paint works better than wood paint itself.

What If I Don’t Seal Emulsion Paint on Wood?

Without using a sealer to seal emulsion paint on wood, the surface will likely absorb moisture. This absorption can compromise the adhesive property of the paint film to the wooden surface. As a result, the emulsion paint may start to peel or bubble on the surface. That ends in cracks and flakes of paint on wood.

Why Would We Even Use Emulsion Paint on Wood?

The rule of thumb is to use wood paints that are made explicitly for wooden surfaces. However, the availability of emulsion paint is far greater than wood paint. That is why it is likely that you will have to use emulsion paint on wooden surfaces at some point.

Wood paints offer a limited range of color options in their products. Maybe you found a color you wanted, but it isn’t available in the wood paints? Or perhaps you have some leftover paint that you don’t want to dispose of?

You can try using the emulsion paint with a sealer on wood, and perhaps you’ll end up liking the outcome.

What Are the Problems I May Come Across When Using Emulsion Paint on Wood?

Even though using emulsion paint on wood is possible, it isn’t exactly the go-to method for most people. The reason is that you could run into some problems when using emulsion on wood. Some of these problems are:

1. Not Enough Coverage

Since wood is a thick and porous surface, it needs a large amount of paint to achieve full coverage. When using emulsion paint on wooden surfaces, the coverage may not be entirely as complete as wood paint.

2. Need Several Coats for a Good Finish

If you’re using emulsion paint on wood, keep in mind that you will probably need to apply several coats. That is because wood is so porous that some part of the paint is absorbed during application. You may need to let the wood surface dry completely and then go in for another coat.

3. Raises Wood Grain

Since emulsion paint is water-based, it raises wood grain when applied on wooden surfaces. That occurs because the paint film readily absorbs moisture and causes the surface to dampen. If that happens, let it dry completely and then sand it before applying the next coat.

What Products Do I Need to Seal Emulsion Paint on Wood?

They provide a clear and long-lasting finish and are commonly used in home-improvement projects. These varnishes can be used on wallpaper, fabric, and plaster, etc.

Can I Use PVA to Seal Emulsion Paint on Wood?

It is advisable not to use PVA to seal emulsion paint on wood. That is because of the problems that may arise if you ever need to repaint the wooden surface. PVA is tough to remove from the surface and causes issues with adhesion.

How to Seal Emulsion Paint on Wood

Although sealing emulsion paint on wood isn’t a difficult task, it requires careful actions. To make sure that you do this process right, you need to follow a few essential steps.

1. Prepare the Wooden Surface

Before you start applying emulsion paint on wood, you must prepare the wooden surface to be painted. The surface should be nice and smooth for the best results and finish. Use sandpaper to smooth the surface before use.

2. Applying Emulsion Paint on Wood

Clean the wood surface carefully and make sure there are no cracks in the wood. Then apply the first coat of emulsion paint on wood. Once the first coat is dry, you can use a second coat for full coverage.

3. Before Applying Varnish

Varnish works best on surfaces that are dry and clean. Before applying the first coat of varnish over the emulsion paint, make sure to clean the surface thoroughly. There should be no dust or dirt on the surface.

4. Applying Varnish (Emulsion Sealer) on Wood

Once the surface is clean, you can start applying the varnish onto the wood. Make sure that the first coat you apply is thin. Wait for it to dry. This process will take about 20-60 minutes. For best protection, you can use a second coat as well.

What Does the Varnish (Emulsion Sealer) Do?

The varnish adds a protective layer between the external environment and the paint film. It prevents water absorption by the paint, giving rise to knocks and bumps on the surface.

With the long-lasting durability and ease in applying Ronseal Varnish, the product offers excellent value for money.


1. How can I water-down emulsion paint?

Standard emulsion paint is too thick to paint onto new surfaces. That is why most designers use watered-down emulsion instead. When you add water to the standard emulsion, the water sinks to the surface so that the paint bonds to it.

2. How can I make emulsion paint waterproof?

If you want to make emulsion paint waterproof, we can use two effective methods. You can either apply a coat of clear waterproofing sealer or add a paint additive to the emulsion paint before applying the first coat.

3. What is the difference between wood primer and emulsion paint?

There aren’t any massive differences between emulsion paint and wood primers. The main difference is that while primer flows better and can be sanded, emulsion paint is a nightmare to sand.

4. How can I give a slight sheen to my painted wooden frames?

You can easily use a clear varnish over painted wooden surfaces to give it a light sheen. This varnish will also protect the surface against wear and tear with only 2 or 3 coats.


As long as you follow the instructions and use the right products, sealing emulsion paint on wood shouldn’t be a problem. The main idea behind it is to add a protective layer of durable coats over a less stable paint film.

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