How to Paint Plywood Walls

June 23, 2022

Paint plywood wall with roller.

Although the gluing together of thin sheets had been around since 2,600 BC, it was only in the 1850s that plywood got industrially produced. The first patent for plywood got granted in 1865, and now, you will see plywood everywhere. Besides, plywood has also become a favorite of many woodworkers. If you’re an aspiring woodworker, you need to know how to paint plywood correctly.

Well-painted plywood provides you with a warm and beautiful workpiece. Yet, you will never achieve such a lovely finish for plywood if you are not familiar with the basics of painting plywood. Hence, it will surely help if you become cognizant of various techniques and tips on painting plywood.

Simple Steps on How to Paint Plywood Wall

If it is your first time painting a plywood wall, you might be scratching your head, unsure how to do the painting process. If such is the case, it will be best to know the following succinct steps for painting plywood walls:

Step 1: Prepare the Plywood and Your Tools

It will be best to prepare before you even raise the roller or brush to paint the plywood walls. You need to prepare the plywood surface by filling the gaps and nail holes. These gaps and spots will make the painted plywood look imperfect if you don’t fill them in. Even the tiny holes can detract from the overall beauty of the plywood wall. 

So, it will be best if you fill these tiny holes. You can use a hole filler to fill these gaps and holes. You will find this product very malleable, and if applied on the walls using a putty knife, you can assure yourself of a smooth and flawless finish afterward. Ensure that you choose products that you can use on soon-to-be painted surfaces.

Step 2: Sand the Plywood

The type of plywood you choose will also factor well in the finished result. Of course, you can use furniture-grade plywood, and it will look great. It is also good to get medium-grade plywood for a better finishing result. Higher-grade plywood will cost you more, but it will provide you with a better finish. 

Once you’ve filled the gaps and holes, you can sand the plywood surface. It will be best to spend time sanding, and it can be expensive. It will be best to sand the entire plywood surface, including the filled gaps and holes. 

When sanding, you can begin using 100-grit sandpaper. Then, transition to finer grits for fine sanding. Afterward, you can clean the surface using your shop vacuum. You can also use a slightly damp rag to do away with dust.

Step 3: Clean the Surface

Sanding will indeed produce billows of dust that could cover the plywood surface. You must remove the dust coat because it might diminish the beauty of the finish. You can use a vacuum cleaner to do away with dust. Afterward, you can use a microfiber cloth to clean off the remaining dust. 

If you don’t want to paint some areas, you can mask them off, especially if you’re painting indoor walls. You can use painter’s tape or plastic sheeting to cover these areas. 

You can also use drop cloths for this purpose. Using plastic sheeting, you can cover the area you don’t want to paint. You can also use painter’s tape to cover those small areas you don’t want painted.

Step 4: Apply Primer for Uncoated Plywood!

When painting plywood, it will be best to use plywood primer. Plywood is characterized by various types of wood knots, resins, and glues. Thus, it will be best to seal the plywood to prevent bleeding of these glues and resins onto your topcoat. You can prime the surface by utilizing overlapping smooth strokes. You can also seal the plywood surface by priming it. 

Once primed, the plywood surface will easily let the paint adhere to its surface. You can paint the entire plywood surface with primer. Ensure you cover the whole area evenly. It will be best to do long and even strokes overlapping each other. In this way, you can even out the stroke’s edges.

However, it will be best to read the manufacturer’s directions for the primer at the onset to ensure you will use it well. These directions contain the specifics about how you should apply the primer. They also include the ideal temperature when applying the primer and the drying length. 

It will be best to choose a quality primer capable of creating a perfect bonding between the topcoat and wood. The quality primer will help prevent chipping or flaking off of paint. 

Once done, check for any runs, sags, or errors after applying the primer. For example, if you see dry drips, you can use a razor to shave them off. Afterward, you can lightly sand.

Step 5: Start Painting

You can start painting the plywood surface after you’ve prepared the plywood well. You can use a roller to spread the paint quickly and evenly. Moreover, it will be best to select a thicker nap. You can tip it out using an excellent brush afterward. You can apply two coats of paints. Yet, between coats, you should inspect the walls for any holes or fill that shrank. 

Then, hit the area again with filler and let the filler dry. Afterward, sand the specific area and apply primer or paint. But before you even paint, it will be best to read the directions on using the paint and the drying time. If you paint too early, you might ruin the finish, but you might not get the optimum result if you wait too long. 

As a tip, you can tint the primer to save time when painting. Nevertheless, it will help if you avoid over-tinting, for it might limit the ability of the primer to do its job. You can add a black tint to get a light gray hue for your primer. The reason for this is that most colors will cover gray very well.

Step 6: Start Afterwork Cleanup

After painting, the last thing you need to do is clean up. You should clean the brush using warm water. It will be best to clean the roller by soaking the brush in water overnight. Painting, of course, is a messy job, and the clean-up will take time. 

Check the surface for any minor mess, and use some elbow grease with water to clean it. Using water-based paint, you can remove the painter’s tape before the paint dries completely. 

If the paint has already dried and you see the tape lifting the paint, you can gently score the top edge using a utility knife to release the tape. Moreover, you can dispose of the roller by pulling it off its handle.

Additional Tips on Priming the Plywood Wall

It will help if you use a quality primer for your painting job of plywood wall. Besides, with a suitable primer, you can prevent bleeding of the knots onto the top coating. Remember that wood has alternating layers of the soft and hard grain. If you get the soft grain wet, it will swell more relative to the hard grain, leading to a bumpy surface. If this happens, you will need to sand big time.

This issue usually occurs when you use a water-based primer. Oil-based will seldom create this problem. Plywood lower than A Grades will exhibit tree knots with resins. These resins will bleed through the primer if the primer can’t prevent this bleeding. It will be best likewise to apply primer liberally.


Plywood is a porous type of engineered wood. This means that you need to use a primer specifically designed for plywood. With this suitable primer, you can seal the wood’s pores and prevent bleeding. Besides, it will prevent the buildup of water inside the plywood. Such a buildup, of course, can cause damage to plywood. 

Once the plywood got primed, you can apply several coats of paint until you achieve that desired finish. You can follow the abovementioned steps for optimum painting results. Besides, it will be best to follow the simple tips when priming the plywood wall.

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment