How do I paint Old (80+) Wood Trim with Varnish/Lacquer?


We purchased a 1930’s home and want to paint the trim white. I had a gallon of white Sherwin Williams acrylic paint and took it down to their store to have them look at it and to shake it. They told me the paint would stick to anything after I told them the trim has some kind of clear coat on it and I didn’t know if it was varnish or not because it had balls of dark material in the clear coat so I wasn’t really sure. They told me I didn’t really have to do more than wash.

So I washed the window trim and lightly sanded and after 6 coats it is still looking like I crackled it. It has long lines in the paint where it came apart. I went back to Sherwin Williams and they gave me a primer~did that and same thing happened. They now think some kind of oil was put on the wood. I do know this house trim can be painted as the kitchen and bath have some kind of paint on them. It seems pretty flat to me but not sure.

How do I proceed? Do I have to use an oil based paint after cleaning and sanding? thanks

One Response

  1. You should have primed the trim with an oil base primer. This would have prevented all of your problems. Basically you did 2 of the 3 preparation techniques needed; (1) clean, (2) sand and then (3) prime.

    I never trust any paint to be self priming over varnish, old or not. Always use an oil base primer first.

    Try doing all of the prep needed, including priming, then apply your water based paint. See how this work out.

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