What’s The Best Way To Go About Painting Basswood?

As a woodworker, you’ll soon come to find that some types of wood are trickier to finish than others. In particular, lightweight wood types such as Balsa and Basswood, are especially problematic.

Their low density makes them incredibly easy to carve. However, it also means that they soak up paints and stains unevenly.

So, in this post, you’ll discover why Basswood needs sanding sealer (not an undercoat primer) before you paint it. You will also learn whether or not an acrylic paint can be applied onto this pliable hardwood.

painting basswood

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Does Basswood Take Paint Well?

Well, the trouble with finishing about Basswood is that this wood absorbs liquid finishes unevenly.

The pores of this timber soaks up stains and finishes at a rapid pace. That’s why the end result of using a penetrating stain or oil finish on this hardwood, is blotchy at best.

So, if you were to apply paint directly onto Basswood, you’d end up with the same uneven results.

Does That Mean Basswood Will Need A Sealer?

If you want to apply a coat of paint onto basswood, you will need to apply it after you’ve sealed the surface.

A sealer will prevent a liquid paint, (especially water-based paints), from bleeding right down into wood pores. This way, when you apply paint, you are coating onto the sealer rather than directly onto basswood.

Isn’t That What Primers Do? Is A Sanding Sealer A Primer?

No, although they are sometimes referred to interchangeably.

Sanding sealers are coated onto wood so that they fill in wood pores. This is their main job. They are there to seal wood pores, and will dry into a tough substance.

Sanding sealers can, of course, be sanded. Which is key, because this allows you to smooth them out in preparation for an even coat of paint.

However, primers are a base coat designed to allow top coat finishes (such as paint) to adhere to difficult surfaces.

For example, dewaxed shellac can be used as a primer. This super-sticky product will stick to anything—and anything will stick to dewaxed shellac in turn. So, dewaxed shellac is often used as a primer between two otherwise incompatible finishes.

Related Post: Can You Put Shellac Over Paint (Best Practice Revealed!)

And, when it comes to paint top coats specifically, primers are typically undercoat paints. They cover the surface of wood with a thick block of white color. This then provides a clean canvas for you to paint onto.

Can You Use Sanding Sealer As A Primer?

Absolutely. Paint will adhere to a sanding sealer just as well as it would an undercoat. However, sanding sealers are often a clear coating liquid. So, unlike undercoat primers, they do not mask the wooden texture underneath.

Can’t You Simply Use A Primer Undercoat Instead Of Sealer On Basswood?

Well, if you did, you’d still run into the same uneven absorption problems.

An undercoat primer product is thicker than top coating paints. But, an undercoat simply won’t fill out wood pores as well as a sanding sealer can.

And What’s The Best Sanding Sealer For Basswood?

Easily, one of the better sanding sealers on the market is Minwax Water-Based Professional Formula Sanding Sealer.

This sealer will dry and seal over wood pores in under an hour. And it can be used on all types of hardwood (not just Basswood).

However, it works best on bare natural wood. So, you’re better off not applying it over a wood preserving oil finish (such as Linseed oil or Tung oil).

You can check out the latest prices for this polyurethane-based sanding sealer over on Amazon.com

Does Basswood Need A Grain Filler (In Addition To Sanding Sealer)?

No, since the sanding sealer will also fill in wood grain.

And besides, thanks to Basswoods closed grain texture, it doesn’t need a wood grain filler anyway (unlike say Red Oak wood).

Related Post: Beginners Guide To Reducing Oak Grain Contrast (Explained)

One More Thing. Is Acrylic Paint Suitable For Painting Basswood?

Acrylic paint is a water-based top coat comprised of plastic particles. It will easily adhere to a polyurethane-based sealer (provided that sanding sealer has wholly dried and cured first).

Although, if you were to use a wax-based sanding sealer, Acrylic paint could end up peeling off of it.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Basswood absorbs paints and finishes too unevenly to be painted directly.
  • 2). Use a sanding sealer to fill out and seal Basswoods super-absorbent wood pores. And then paint onto the sealer instead.
  • 3). Acrylic paint, oil paints, and even milk paint, can be applied onto a sanding sealer coat.