Can You Paint Woodwork With Emulsion?

June 10, 2022

Apply emulsion paint on woodwork.

The emulsion paint is a kind of paint that is water-based. It is primarily used for interior walls, though you can also use it for exterior surfaces and ceiling. It is thick, and you can’t use it right out of its container. You need to thin it first with water before you can use it. 

Moreover, it necessitates some prep before you can use it, but you can easily use and apply it once prepared. It is also quick-drying compared to oil-based paints, and you can apply it by rolling, spraying, brushing, and dipping. It is perfect for interior walls and ceilings because they are resistant to mildew and humidity.

Emulsion also comes with Acrylic Latex or Latex. Yet, it mostly consists of water wherein paint ingredients are suspended. Emulsion consists of resin, pigment, additives, and solvent. Of course, you will find working with emulsion paint easier than with oil-based paint. Moreover, many homeowners find the use of emulsion paint well-suited for their homes.

Things Must Know for Applying Emulsion on Woodwork Products

The effect of wood protection after applying wax-emulsion coating.
  • Emulsion coating is especially useful to prevent wood splitting for the untreated wood. As wood usually dries out very fast through its end grain. It would split along the length of the end grain if you left the wood pieces untreated with the emulsion. If the emulsion is the coating you opt for it instead of other finish coatings. I suggest you use the wax-emulsion coating for better protection without sacrificing the natural beauty of the wood grain.
  • The use of emulsion paint comes with many advantages, such as ease of cleaning, ease of maintenance, and avoidance of potent odors with oil-based paint use. Yet, as mentioned above, its use does not guarantee an excellent finish when used with wood. 
  • However, if you are adamant about using emulsion paint, here’s how you should use it. First, you need to do one coating. Then, let it dry. Afterward, use sandpaper (100-120 grit) to smoothen the surface. Then wipe the dust. Then, apply enamel coating on the sanded surface for an excellent finish.

Can You Use Emulsion as Undercoat for Woodwork?

This question is a typical question most newbies ask me. So, if you intend to use emulsion as an undercoat, you need to know whether you can get excellent results. When painting wood, you usually engage in priming and painting. You typically do it to get the desired results. 

So, if you are just curious about whether you can undercoat wood with emulsion, then the answer is you can. But there is one caveat, and this caveat is—you should not do it. The reason is apparent: the emulsion paint is designed for something else. Yet, if you still insist on using emulsion, you should only use it in small areas as an undercoat, and you must do it if you can’t do otherwise. There are possible aftermaths of using emulsion as an undercoat. 

  • One is that emulsion may not stick to the surface of the wood. 
  • Second, since emulsion is thick, you will find it hard to get even brush strokes with its use. 
  • Moreover, you will find the dry emulsion paint almost impossible to sand because of its thickness.
  • Furthermore, experts only use emulsion after they have applied a primer. So, they don’t directly apply it to the wood surface. 
  • Besides, since the emulsion is water-based, you can’t use gloss or finish on the wood because they are not compatible.

So, it is evident that emulsion is not the best for undercoating wood. Primer, gloss, and undercoat are the perfect ones for this purpose. Others, of course, use emulsion as an undercoat on indoor bare wood. Yet, it will help if you refrain from using it for such purpose, and it is not the best choice for such purpose.

Would Emulsion be Perfect for Plywood?

As mentioned above, emulsion as plastic paint is not designed for use on wood. It is ideally used for drywall. Yet, some people try to experiment with its use on plywood. Well, it is easy to predict the outcome of using emulsion on plywood. Since emulsion does not work well on plywood, you can expect a not-so-good result. 

Yet, if you are adamant about experimenting with emulsion on plywood, you should first thoroughly prime the wood piece. Use two primer coats. Afterward, you can apply an emulsion topcoat. If you are going to paint plywood meant to be left outdoors, it will help to use a minimum of 3 heavy coats. These three heavy coats will completely seal the wood. The goal is to seal the wood so that no water will seep inside.

Is It Possible to Seal Emulsion on Wood?

There are other best options when it comes to painting and sealing the wood. The oil-based paints like gloss or any other specialized wood paint are your best options for painting wood and then sealing them. The emulsion paint, of course, isn’t your best option. Yet, about the question of whether you can seal emulsion on wood, I think it is possible. 

You can apply a sealer on the surface after painting the wood surface. This sealer protects the painted surface. In case you have used an emulsion paint on wood, you can, of course, apply a sealer on the painted surface. The sealer can seal the emulsion paint, but there are some preparations and steps that you must take to ensure that you seal the emulsion on the wood.


The question of whether you can paint woodwork with emulsion is a no-brainer question. You need to understand that emulsion is concocted for different purposes and applications. By knowing its best applications, you will realize that it is not advisable to use emulsion paint for wood. 

Yet, if you want to experiment and insist on using emulsion, you can apply emulsion paint on wood. Nevertheless, you should not expect optimum results afterward. However, if you are rooting for the best results when painting wood, it will help to refrain from using emulsion on wood. 

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