Whether you’re preparing to paint basswood furniture or carving basswood figurines, it’s important to protect the wood with an additional layer of sealant before putting your brush to it. Basswood tends to be soft and porous, so its surface can easily become worn and damaged over time if not properly treated. This sealing is especially important if you intend to paint or stain your wood carving. Please continue reading to learn about the best techniques to seal basswood before painting it.
Reasons for sealing basswood before painting
There are several reasons why you would seal basswood before painting. For one thing, sealing is an important part of any wood finishing project. Sealing protects your work from moisture and also helps with durability.
Since basswood tends to show its grain pattern more prominently than other woods, it usually needs a solid base coat to look its best when painted.
That’s not all, though; since basswood can be hard to stain even after it’s been sealed, using a sealer can make it easier. Also, sealing can help create a nice uniform surface for your wood.
When you paint with traditional oil paints, you don’t want your base surface to absorb too much of it—the idea is that as each layer dries, it seals off what was previously painted. Therefore, you need to seal your basswood before painting so that excess oil doesn’t soak into its fibres.
If you don’t seal basswood well before painting, It will cause problems later on, including buckling (warping) and cracking in areas where excess oil has soaked in or where there isn’t an even coat of paint.
How to get your basswood ready for painting?
1. Preparing your basswood:
Step 1: Sand it down!
Basswood can be tricky to paint because of its texture. Try sanding it smooth with an electric sander or by hand.
If you plan on applying multiple coats, start with a rough, thick piece of sandpaper and then switch to fine-grit paper towards your last coat. As you proceed through each coat, you’ll be able to focus on smaller areas. You may need to lightly sand between layers of clear coat to eliminate any dust or debris from earlier layers. Let it dry between coats so that each coat adheres properly and leaves no scratches or cracks.
Sanding is an important step in making sure your painting surface is smooth, even, and durable—after all, no one wants chipped paint. Be careful not to remove too much wood! Once your sanding is complete, wash away any dust with water.
Step 2: Wipe away dust
Wipe away dust with Lint removing dust. Wiping away dust is crucial before painting your basswood tree.
There are several ways you can get rid of debris:
- Wipe it off with an old t-shirt, or brush it gently with an artist’s brush.
- If any dust remains, you can also use a damp rag and some water to rub it off your tree—be sure that no moisture drips down into any cracks in your sculpture.
- Also, as you inspect your creation, check that there aren’t any leaves sticking out from between the folds; if you see one, snip it away with scissors or pliers.
The next step will involve drying your piece, so it doesn’t bend while you paint it. Unless they have reached their ideal humidity level already (ideal humidity levels vary based on species), trees should ideally be dried indoors (if possible) or under shelter.
Step 3: Cleaning
Start by cleaning your basswood with warm water and soap. (If you don’t know what kind of wood you have, test it by rubbing it against your forearm. If it feels smooth and silky, it’s likely soft basswood.) Keep in mind that if you’re working with soft or chemically treated wood, you should also use a mild detergent.
Whatever type of wood you have, follow it up by drying with a cloth towel until all excess moisture is removed. It’s important not to skip these first steps, as they’ll help prepare your wood for sealing later on.
Step 4: Protecting with wood filler
Wood filler is designed specifically for filling in cracks, holes, and other imperfections in the wood. It’s easy to use and dries quickly—sand it down when dry and paint over it.
Sanding sealer helps keep your final surface smooth. It may take longer to dry than just one coat, but you can help it along by placing a fan near your project. For an extra durable coating, consider using two thin coats of sealer instead of one thick coat.
It would be best if you let your sealer cure for 24 hours before applying another layer or painting over it with colour. Curing also reduces warping that can happen from trapped moisture beneath sealer layers.
To make your wood painting-ready, sand down any rough spots and apply the sealer with a sponge brush. After letting it dry overnight, sand it smooth again. With any luck, your next coat of paint will soak into your wood and help prevent future splintering and cracking.
Here’s a list of materials you’ll need
- Acrylic primer (the lighter colour, not tinted),
- sponges, and disposable gloves
- Dish soap and water
- Have a paintbrush? Be sure to clean it thoroughly before using it.
Best ways to seal basswood before painting!
Mix dish soap with warm water in a plastic bucket or tub until sudsy—one tablespoon of Dawn dish detergent per gallon of water should do it.
Dip your sponges in that solution, then squeeze out the excess liquid. Use that sponge to rub on two coats of acrylic primer (aka basecoat) over all surfaces of your wood artwork where the paint will be applied. Depending on how big, small, thick, or thin your piece is, you may want more than two coats—especially if you are planning on multiple colours—but three or four is sufficient.
Allow each coat to dry completely. Then give your sealed piece another light sanding. That will remove bumps and create an even surface ready for paint.
Be generous with paint when applying subsequent layers. It will seem like too much paint right after you put it on, but some of that initial layer goes away after drying. A good rule of thumb: If your first coat is thin and looks clear, keep adding coats until it starts looking white. However, how many coats you choose to apply from here depends on what finish you desire;
See Finish tips below for info about varnish vs glossy vs matte.
Let your artwork dry and fully cure between applications.
If possible, apply only when the temperature outside is low enough that wet paint will not be exposed to heat sources indoors, such as central air. Although some paints claim to withstand brief exposure to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (as could occur in a kitchen oven set to bake pizza), don’t take the risk unless you know exactly what type of paint is being used!
Your workpiece will also cure faster at lower temperatures, especially if you use oil-based paints, which take longer to dry; high temperatures slow curing time by a factor of roughly three. Plus, most water-based finishes require only 24 hours of cure time before handling, whereas oil finishes may require up to 14 days! For every project I prepare, I start my basecoat preparation process 48 hours before the beginning of the actual painting.
Basswood is both soft and porous, which means it can absorb paint like a sponge. This absorption causes paint to pool in well-coated areas while leaving other areas untouched, resulting in an uneven painting surface.
Wash your basswood with water before sealing and painting it to remedy this situation. You may have heard of using soap or detergent when washing wood, but that’s not recommended for basswood. Instead, use warm water alone for washing without any soap or detergent added. Afterwards, let your pieces dry completely before moving on to adding sealant.
Once all surfaces are dry, apply a sealant to each piece individually. You should be ready to start painting after allowing the sealant to sit for several hours (no more than 24)! If you’re working with multiple pieces, you can stack them vertically as they dry, so they don’t take up much space at all!
After gathering your supplies, it’s time to prime your basswood canvas. There are two major types of primer you can use: acrylic or oil-based.
- It comes down to personal preference. Acrylic is easier to work with and will dry faster; however, its drying process may leave brush strokes on your surface.
- Oil-based primers are more forgiving but take longer to dry and cure completely.
Before beginning, make sure that all surfaces in your workspace are dust-free. Allowing even a single speck of dust to adhere to wet paint could ruin your painting. Once you begin priming, be patient!
-If applying an oil-based primer, wait until each coat has dried thoroughly before applying another layer. Be sure to give each coat plenty of time before adding another one. Also, note that you should never apply an oil-based primer directly over any other type of paint as it will mix into a bubbly mess.
-If using an acrylic primer, several light coats will produce the best results. To achieve a deep, rich colour, add a few drops of dye to some solvent-based shellac thinner (also called sealer). Then dip your applicator pad into the mixture and apply to small areas at once instead of rubbing evenly across large sections of paint—this way, you can control how much pigment ends up where.
Like every other surface in your home, Painting Basswood is an effective way to refresh and update its look. A paint job is also necessary when you’re ready to change colours.
Tips For Applying The Paint
When you’re ready to paint:
- Apply two coats of sealer with a natural-bristle brush.
- Don’t forget to use gloves when applying these first coats; the chemicals can irritate if they contact unprotected skin. Allow one hour of drying time between coats and remove any dust with an air compressor before painting.
- When your piece is finished, let it cure for 24 hours before handling it or hanging it in your home.
Note: The longer drying time only applies to oil-based primers; water-based primers should dry in about half the time. However, do not skip sealing altogether; unfinished wood will degrade faster than protected wood over time.
Your sealer will protect both your investment and your environmental footprint by protecting against future cracks, peeling, and fading. A good-quality sealer could last up to 10 years! That’s worth pausing to think twice before applying a coat—or three—of topcoat directly to your beautiful basswood without protection. After you’ve sealed your wood, consider adding a finish layer, such as high-gloss polyurethane, for extra smoothness and long-lasting durability.
Like all woods, basswood can be very porous and sealed before painting. Before you start, make sure your piece is clean, as any dirt will prevent the adhesion of paint.