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How to Paint Over Burnt Wood

Restore burnt wood before painting.
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Paint will restore a burnt surface on wood and blend it with undamaged areas. Burnt areas require preparation and repair prior to painting. Paint will not adhere to burnt areas. Surface burns leave a dark heat mark and do not penetrate deep into the wood fibers. Surface only burns require less preparation and repair than deep burns. Deep burns leave a wood surface with a noticeable depression and jagged edges. The depth of the burn will determine the repair method.

Things You'll Need:

  • Metal scraper
  • Sanding block
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Epoxy repair putty
  • Flexible putty knife
  • Belt sander

Surface Burns

Scrape away as much of the burnt surface as possible with a metal scraper. Scrape only the burnt wood; do not gouge into the wood.

Sand the wood surface with a sanding block loaded with 180-grit sandpaper. Follow the wood grain and reveal the unharmed wood.

Wipe the wood with a tack cloth to pick up excess sanding dust.

Apply a coat of primer and allow it to dry. Apply paint over the primer to conceal the burn mark.

Deep Burns

Chip out the charred wood with a hammer and chisel. Place a chisel at a 45-degree angle next to the damaged area and tap the chisel with a hammer. Continue to chip away at the charred wood until you remove all of the damage.

Sand the surface will 150-grit sandpaper until you reach the normal wood tone. Wipe the surface with a tack cloth to pick up dust.

Apply epoxy repair putty to the hole or depression with a flexible putty knife. Add thin layers, building it up to slightly higher than the existing wood surface. Mold the putty to fit and blend with undamaged surrounding surfaces. Allow the putty to dry and harden fully, usually two to four hours depending on the thickness of the repair.

Sand the surface flush with the existing wood. Use 150-grit sandpaper loaded in a sanding block. Use a belt sander equipped with 150-grit sandpaper if the repair is large. Apply one coat of primer and two coats of paint to the surface. Allow each coat to dry between applications.


Wear a dust mask, safety glasses and gloves when repairing wood surfaces.

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