Can You Use Emulsion On Wood?

The primary use of emulsion is on interior walls and ceilings, but we discuss reasons why it may not be the optimal choice for wooden surfaces.
Written By: Edward Bailey | Updated:
can you use emulsion on wood
Edward Bailey/DIY Works

To give you an insight into the complications and considerations when using emulsion paint on wood, keep reading below for our first-hand experience, where we walk you through everything you need to know.

The Issue With Using Emulsion On Wood

One of the main complications when using emulsion paint on wood is that it’s not as durable as oil-based paint. This is because emulsion paint is designed to be flexible and less resistant to cracking, chalking and fading. Therefore, this can be a problem when applied to wooden surfaces that are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, such as doors and windows.

Another complication is that emulsion paint isn’t as effective at blocking stains and knots in the wood. These types of imperfections can bleed through the paint and result in an uneven finish that stands out from the rest of the paintwork. Therefore, to prevent this from happening if you do use emulsion on wood, it’s important that you use a knotting solution upon any knots and a stain-blocking primer beforehand.

Is Using Emulsion Even Possible?

Despite the above complications, it’s still possible to use emulsion paint on wood in some cases. For example, it can be used for interior wood surfaces that aren’t exposed to a lot of wear and tear. It can also be used on furniture, cupboards and other decorative wood items that aren’t exposed to the elements. However, although it’s possible to use emulsion, there are many other paints you could use that are specifically designed to be used on wooden surfaces.

Nevertheless, if you wish to use emulsion paint on wood, it’s important that you choose a high-quality emulsion paint. You’ll also want to use a primer designed for wood because it’ll help seal the wood and provide a better surface for the emulsion paint to adhere to.

painting wood with emulsion

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

Why Would You Want To Use Emulsion?

Although painting emulsion on wood has many drawbacks, there are reasons for using it.

For example, if you want a modern, flat finish, a matt emulsion is a great option. However, if that’s the main reason you want to use an emulsion, we recommend considering satinwood paint instead.

Our 5 Top Tips For Using Emulsion On Wood

When using emulsion paint on wood, it’s important to use proper techniques to create a smooth and even finish. Below are some of our top tips from where we’ve had to use emulsion paint on wood:

  1. Sand the wood before painting. Sanding the wood helps smooth out any rough spots and provides a better surface for the paint to adhere to.
  2. Clean the wood before painting. Depending upon the surfaces to be painted, use a degreaser or white spirit (also referred to as turps) to remove any dirt, grime or oil.
  3. Use appropriate paint brushes and rollers to apply the paint. A paint brush is best for cutting in around the edges, while a paint roller is best for covering large areas.
  4. Apply at least two coats of paint. Applying two coats will increase the emulsion’s durability, but it’s important that you allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
  5. Use a varnish on top of the emulsion. To further enhance the durability of the emulsion, you may want to consider using a varnish on top, which will act as a sealer.

If the surface or area you are painting is prone to wear and tear, we advise you to think twice before using an emulsion. This is because you’ll find that it marks too easily, and you’ll have to touch up the damaged areas frequently. For high-traffic wooden surfaces, we would recommend either satinwood or gloss paint.


Using emulsion paint on wood can be a bit more challenging than using it on other surfaces. However, with the right paint, primer and technique, achieving a smooth and even finish is possible.

If you require further information with regard to using emulsion paint on wood, feel free to get in touch, and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

Related Reads

Follow #DIYWorksUK

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.