Painting Over Varnish Without Sanding

July 15, 2020

A few years ago, I coated my stair door with varnish. It is now looking very stressed. My question is can I use new varnish (the same type and make) without sanding? Regards.

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July 15, 20200 found this helpful
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If it's the outside of a wood door, you may have used the wrong type of varnish. The outsides of wood doors need to be coated with a Marine Varnish with UV protection. Marine Varnish is used on boats and such, as it protects against moisture and sun damage. No matter what you use this time, I'm sorry to say that you WILL have to do some sanding. The current finish probably won't let a new finish adhere to it.

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You'll need to make sure the door surface is clean and dry, sand it well to get rid of the "stressed" finish, make sure to get rid of any sanding residue, then coat with the Marine Varnish. Several coats, with a light scuff sanding in between each coat will work well to protect the outside of the door. Just remember though, that NO finish will last forever on the outside of a wood door, so expect to repeat the process occasionally to keep the door looking nice. Good luck.

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July 15, 20200 found this helpful
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You say your 'stair' door so that sounds like it may be an inside door?
I really doubt that you can revarnish this door without sanding off the old finish or using a paint stripper.
Either job will not be an easy one and may be very difficult if it is a door that you cannot take down and lay flat to work on - it may take several days to sand/strip and then it will take several coats of new paint/varnish and drying periods in between coats.

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This site has some information (about half way of page).

homeguides.sfgate.com/steps-applying-varnish-doors-30862...

I would suggest you pay a visit to either Ace or True Value Hardware store or maybe Home Depot as these stores have qualified people to help with projects like this. They usually have leaflets with instructions and precautions as well as any supplies you may need.
I would suggest you have pictures of your door, brand of varnish you used (and intend to use) and seek their advice on how you might be able to DIY.
In situations that could easily turn out to be disastrous (and costly), it is usually best to consult a knowledgeable person so you may not have to do it twice.
The internet has good links but they do not have complete facts about your situation.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I've seen some older posts already about painting directly over varnished furniture, but it's not exactly the same problem that I have. I was just wondering, I have a small, mahogany corner shelf unit that someone forgot to move when we were oil-painting the door next to it.

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It's full of white spatters, but I don't want to toss it if I can paint over it to hide the spatters. It's very hot here where I live, would it be a good idea to stick it outside in the hot sun so as to fade away the varnish before I paint it. Sanding it down is too difficult as it is full of carvings and swirls. Anybody have any suggestions?

By cettina from Malta, Europe

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August 7, 20101 found this helpful
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Go to the hardware store and get liquid sandpaper, comes in a variety of names. It is a cleaner, slight stripper. I use this in my 100-year-old house to clean woodwork without having to refinish anything. Cleans it up nice and shiny. This is not TSP.

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October 14, 2011

I've heard that it's possible to paint over varnish without sanding by using Zinsser BIN primer. Has anyone tried this?

By Janis T.

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October 14, 20110 found this helpful
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Yes, I have done this. But I still think it is better to go over it with some rough sandpaper first. You don't have to sand that much and it makes the primer adhere better in my opinion.

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If you absolutely don't want to sand, they make a liquid sandpaper that works very well. It is sold anywhere where they sell paint.

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5 Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 31, 2010

I want to paint my old varnished wood cabinets with white enamel. I don't want to strip and sand. Can it be done?

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June 6, 2010

I want to repaint my kitchen table that has varnish on it. I do not want the hassle of sanding and stripping.

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