Thanks for the advice. I think I was secretly hoping to find a technique
that didnt involve sanding! But I know it makes sense to not just bite
into the varnish but to adhere to the surface of the wood.
Thank you again.
I recently paint old varnished bathroom cabinets that really needed some
attention. I sanded them well, mostly to rough up what varnish was still
sticking to the wood, then painted first with Kilz primer. Then my top coat
paint would stick and stay nice looking.
Shellac has little to do with painting over varnish. Most primers,
whether oil or water base, can be used over varnish if the surface is
properly prepared. Some folks think you can slap Kilz on anything, and
it will hold the house together forever. Kilz, and all other primers,
require a clean, deglossed surface (free of dust, mildew, grease, etc.)
Sand. Clean. Prime. Paint. I would not be anxious to put paint on
turned spindles, but if you must I would use oil base semi-gloss enamel
over a suitable primer. Kilz is wonderful for tough jobs, like stains
and wierd surfaces (metal, formica, etc.), but the shellac base primer
is tough to apply because it dries quickly. Any standard primer suited
for the paint you choose will be fine. If the varnish isn't thick
and/or glossy, you can probably smoothe it much more easily by using
coarse steel wool around the spindles than by using sand paper,
especially if they are turned. Be sure to remove the dust, regardless
of what you use. Vacuum then tack cloth :o)
I have a house where all the woodwork was varnished and the prior owner
painted over it all without priming. Now it is all peeling and cracking. So
far, the only paint that has seemed to hold is Bin.
Does anyone know if it will hold the prior coat down for years, or should I
just strip everything and start fresh? (Urgh!)
Be nice to the next owner of the house who wants to go back to 'natural'
looking woodwork. Just clean the old surface, lightly scuff with steel wool,
and prime and paint over that. Unless an actual chemical reaction occurs
between old and new finishes, cracking and peeling, in my experience, is
usuallly due to the old finish not being clean. 40 years of floor wax,
cooking fumes, smoke, oil furnace residue, etc, doesn't hold paint well.
Standard disclaimer- I'm no expert, just going by the projects I've done or
witnessed over the years. YMMV.
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