Wondering how to paint mahogany wood? Look no more. Through trial and error, I found the best way to paint mahogany furniture white (or any other color).
Painting mahogany wood can be a real challenge. You might even ask whether you can paint over mahogany wood. When painting mahogany furniture white or another light color there will almost certainly be the matter of bleed through. You can prevent that if you take the proper precautions and use the right kind of products. Let me show you how to paint mahogany furniture white and what the best primer is for mahogany paint projects.
What is Bleed Through
Certain woods contain a lot of tannins. When you paint these woods with standard furniture paint the solvents in the paint will bring these tannins to the surface and cause the paint to the color pink, or yellow. No matter how many coats of paint you apply, the bleed-through will continue to happen. Woods that are likely to cause bleed through are cedar, re wood, and mahogany, the knots in pinewood are also famous for bleeding through.
Wondering how that looks? I’ll show you…
Here you see my mahogany coffee table after THREE coats of white paint!
Not convinced that that is really pink?
Let me show you one more ugly before picture…
This is the table with part of one coat of specialty primer. The primer is an off-white color. Are you now convinced that my table really had turned pink?
Now let me tell you how to properly paint mahogany furniture so you won’t have to make the horrid mess I made the first time (I have since painted many more difficult wood furniture pieces and this method is fool-proof).
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HOW TO PAINT MAHOGANY wood
Step 1 before painting preparation
Before the fun work begins you have to follow the basic steps to prep your furniture for painting. These steps are in order: thoroughly clean your piece to remove dirt, dust, and grease. Use a TSP or a similar product for this step. I have written a more detailed guide on how to prepare your furniture for painting in another post.
If your piece is painted, decide if you have to strip the paint or if sanding will suffice. In general, if the existing layer of paint is in good condition you can paint over it. If the layer of paint is old, damaged, and chipping it is better to strip it off completely.
I obviously had to strip the paint off, as you can see. My table was over 40 years old when I got my hands on it and the existing paint was beyond hope.
Step 2 Sand until smooth
The next step is sanding. Start with low-number sandpaper and work your way up to really fine paper. Keep sanding your piece until the wood (or painted wood) is even, soft, and has a grip for the new coat of paint to grab hold too. You really need a smooth surface here because every scratch or uneven patch will be visible.
Wash of the dust.
Step 3 Prime your wood
Now, this is the MOST IMPORTANT STEP when painting a difficult bleed through the wood. You must prime the wood (even if the manufacturer of that paint says it isn’t necessary like they say when using chalk paint). But don’t use any type of primer.
Pro tip for painting mahogany furniture white:
For painting mahogany, you need a primer that is based on shellac. Shellac is a resin that blocks all stains, odors, and knots. When it is added to primer, it prevents all tannins, oils, and stains in the wood to rise to the surface.
✅ I have found that this is the best shellac primer on the market!
Shellac primer smells like nail polish, and it goes on like nail polish, so I guess it is a kind of nail polish for wood. It covers everything up with one layer. (hmm two actually in my case)
Step 4 paint your piece
After one of two coats of shellac-based primer, you can finish painting your piece with any type of paint you like. Whether you want to use milk paint or chalk paint, a standard eggshell paint, or a full gloss paint, it doesn’t matter. Shellac primer can be used in combination with all paints. Just choose your beautiful color of choice and finish your piece. For a durable finish paint at least a second coat of paint and optionally finish with a top coat of varnish.
My mahogany table got a coat of bright white because I am in love with white paint.
More DIY Painting Tips you will find useful
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<<<< Milk Paint Review >>>>
How to paint mahogany furniture in 4 easy steps.
Painting mahogany white
- Clean your furniture
Always start with properly cleaning your furniture first. Do not use household cleaners but a grease removing cleaner that preps your piece for painting.
- Start with sanding
Sand your piece of furniture well. Make sure you end with a super fine grit. I use 240 grit sandpaper for the final step. Shellac goes on so smooth that every little bump will be visible. So don’t skip time sanding. Remove the dust with a wet cloth.
- Apply Shellac Primer
Apply the shellac primer with a quality brush. I prefer synthetic brushes because the give the least brush strokes. One coat might be enough, but on my dark mahogany I needed two coats. Super lightly sand in between coats and after the last coat of primer.
- Finish painting your piece of furniture
You can use any kind of paint over shellac primer. For all my white painted furniture I use a water based paint because it has less risk of yellowing over time.
And that is how you paint mahogany furniture white in just four easy steps.
Please pin this image for future reference!
Marianne Songbird is the founder of Songbird, where she hopes to inspire everyone to create a home they love, one DIY project at a time. She shares anything from craft ideas to home decor inspiration and from DIY projects to decorating hacks. Originally from the Netherlands Marianne and her husband Lex are currently renovating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Germany.