What Is The Best Wood for Paint?

There are many kinds of wood, but not all of them are suitable for painting. The two main categories are paint-grade and stained wood. 

Paint-grade wood is close-grained lumber, which is preferred over stained wood since it is better suited for painting.

This article covers the top seven types of paint-grade wood and gives an introduction to stain-grade lumber, explaining why it is the wrong choice for you. 

Beginners can benefit from the painting guide given at the end of the article. 

Wood, Paint, and Perfection: A Guide to Choosing the Best Wood for Painting

Paint-grade wood is best for painting since it has a smooth surface with few knots and grain patterns. 

Some of the most popular paint-grade woods are maple, poplar, birch, alder, and pine. Moreover, paint grade is cheaper, and it is an affordable choice. 

The following are the seven best paint-grade types of wood:

  • Maple 

Maple is one of the best woods for painting and has a smooth texture with a subtle show of grains. 

It is of two types: soft and hard. Soft maple has less wood grain and sands quickly, so many people use it for woodworking projects. It is more suitable for furniture like doors and desks. Hard maple is better since it is smooth, durable, resistant to scratches, and great for making cabinets and wood flooring.


  • Rich, smooth texture 
  • Highly durable


  • Hard maple costs more
  • It may scratch easily
  • Cherry

Cherry wood is strong, durable, and heavy. Any furniture made from this wood needs a strong base and framework to support the weight of the wood. It has a beautiful natural color with rustic stains and smooth grains.

Although cherry wood is smooth, it has many knots and tannins, so a primer is essential before painting this type of wood.  


  • Heavy, strong
  • Beautiful wood grain texture


  • Contains tannins (natural oils)
  • Paint may not last as long 
  • Beech 

Beechwood has a subtle grain texture and is pale in color, which means it’s great for painting, especially if you use lighter paint colors. Other types of wood with dark colors are hard to paint with paler colors, so beech wood is a popular choice for people who want a lighter look. 


  • Tight-grained 
  • Suitable for both dark and light colors


  • Not resistant to moisture
  • May be prone to cracking 
  • Douglas Fir 

Douglas fir is light in weight, but it is a strong wood. It has a light, rosy-colored surface and a smoother texture than others, so it does not need a lot of prep work. 


  • Affordable
  • Easily available


  • Weaker than other hardwoods
  • May require maintenance
  • Alder 

Alder is a closed-grain wood with a smooth, even surface, giving it a consistent finish when painted. However, it soaks up more paint than other paint-grade woods and is less durable than other types of wood. 


  • Even texture 
  • Affordable 


  • Absorbs a lot of paint
  • Requires more paint than other woods 
  • Pinewood 

Pinewood is a popular choice of wood for painting since it is light in weight, affordable, and readily available. There are better options for beginners, though, because the surface needs a lot of sanding to make it smooth before painting and stop the paint from beading. 


  • Strong and durable 
  • Lightweight


  • Beading 
  • Gets dented easily
  • Medium Density Fiberboard

Medium Density Fiberboard (or MDF) is a prevalent wood for painting. It is an engineered wood obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood residuals. With this method, wood fibers are pressed together with resin and wax to make panels. High temperatures and pressure create a durable board.

MDF is free from blemishes, wood grains, and knots. It is the best wood for painting, and since it is a synthetic material, it is less likely to crack due to harsh winters or humid summers. It is not as strong as solid wood, but it is not a big problem if you treat it carefully.


  • Best smooth surface for painting 
  • No sanding required


  • Not as strong as solid wood 
  • Paint may not last as long 

Best wood for paint options: A room with wooden furniture and hangings on the wall.

Is Stain-Grade Wood a Good Choice for Painting?

Stain-grade wood is a popular alternative to paint-grade wood and is an open-wood species. In general, avoid open-grain woods since they are not suitable for painting. Open-grained wood absorbs more paint, and it costs a lot to cover up a small surface. For the sake of this article, we’ll discuss two famous open-grained oaks so you can make an educated decision while buying the best wood for painting. 

  • Oak 

Oak gets mistaken as the best wood for painting. It has a big open-grain pattern, which is difficult to paint on. Experienced professionals can get a smooth finish with this wood, but beginners will find difficulty in priming the oak.

  • Ash 

Ash is also an open-grained wood that soaks up a lot of primer and paint. Sanding the surface improves it, but you’ll need to spend a lot of time on it. 

Beginners Guide to Painting Wood

You can get high-quality, professional results if you know the right way to paint wood. Follow these tips to get the best results:

  • Use a Primer 

Primer is essential for prepping a surface before painting it. They bond to surfaces and help make the surface smooth for the paint. Primers also prevent areas from looking like different colors or glosses were used for painting. Investing in high-quality primers will give you excellent results. 

  • Using a Brush and Roller

Use paint brushes and rollers in tandem with each other. Paint brushes are great for painting edges, corners, and intricate spots, but it takes a long time to paint over a larger area. Rollers are great for painting large surfaces but are not suitable for covering corners. Use a brush after rollers to remove drips and lines and give a smoother finish to the surface.

  • Paint Additives 

If you leave paint out for too long, it becomes tacky and does not look nice. You can either work quicker and rush to finish the job or add an additive that will give you more time to work with the paint, preventing it from getting tacky. Floetrol and Penetrol are widely used paint additives that help you get smoother brush strokes. Avoid painting near a heat source, a fan, or in sunlight, as these will dry the paint quickly and leave you with less-than-desirable results. 


  • What is paint-grade wood? 

An even surface, lack of knots, and substantial grain patterns identify paint-grade wood. Its smooth texture and flat surface make it ideal for painting, and it produces excellent results. Famous examples of paint-grade wood include maple, birch, MDF, and cherry.

  • What is stain-grade wood? 

Stain-grade wood gives off a staining effect and is sanded to give it a nice finishing touch. It is available in two types: soft or hardwood. 

  • What is the best wood for paint? 

There are two popular categories of wood used for painting: paint-grade and stain-grade wood. Paint-grade wood is best for painting since it has the correct surface and texture and is cheaper than stained wood. However, you can choose the other category depending on the style and aesthetic you want.  


Painting wood is a good way of changing the look of a room, enhancing visual aesthetics, or reusing old furniture

There are two main categories of wood: paint-grade and stain-grade. The best wood for paint jobs is the paint-grade type since it is more suitable for painting. 

Some of the best paint-grade woods include maple, pinewood, Douglas fir, alder, beech, and cherry. It is vital to prep the wood’s surface before painting it to get an even texture and smooth finish.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x