How to Finish Pressed Wood

Choose the right paintbrush.
Two isolated brushes for painting. image by Saskia Massink from

Before you try to finish a pressed wood surface, understand a fundamental point: pressed wood is made of particleboard and does not accept stain well. If you attempt to stain pressed wood, the finish will dry dark and blotchy. Enhance the appearance of a pressed wood surface by finishing it with enamel, instead. Dedicate yourself to the preparation process, or the final finish will rapidly shed. Apply the enamel, using a particular type of paintbrush, or you will see unattractive brushstrokes in the final finish coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic Enamel
  • Wooden Stir Stick
  • Latex Primer
  • Tack Cloths
  • 220-Grit Sandpaper
  • Heavy-Duty Fabric Drop Cloths
  • 1 Gallon Painter'S Pot
  • 2-To-3 Inch Polyester Paintbrush
  • Blue Painter'S Tape

Sand the veneer on the pressed wood until the finish appears dull. Wipe the veneer with tack cloths. Skip this step if the pressed wood does not have a veneer.

Protect areas adjacent to the pressed wood by covering them with painter's tape.

Coat the pressed wood with latex primer, using a 2-to-3 inch polyester paintbrush. Brush vertically and apply gentle pressure. Watch for runs and smooth them if necessary. Allow two hours of dry time.

Use plain tap water to rinse primer from the brush.

Coat the pressed wood with acrylic enamel, using the clean brush. Paint the pressed wood just as you primed it. Allow four hours of dry time.


  • Never paint unprimed pressed wood, or the finish will peel.

    Never use latex paint on pressed wood, or it will not remain durable.

    Do not use a nylon paintbrush to paint pressed furniture, as it will leave unattractive brushstrokes.