Best Way to Paint Over Poly?

I have a china cabinet I would like to paint. Is there a primer I can use to paint over a poly finish, without sanding? The cabinet is veneer and I don’t think I can sand. Thank you. – Phil de Gruchy

Rob Johnstone: Use whatever primer is recommended for the paint you are thinking of using. In my experience, paint adheres well to poly. But to get good results, there are a couple of things that you need to do before you apply your primer. First, clean the entire surface well with TSP (trisodium phosphate) and a Scotchbrite®-like scratchy pad. You need to get all of the residue that has built up with normal use off of the piece of furniture. If it was me, I would then either sand or steel wool the piece as well. Wipe off the swarf that is created with that effort. (Don’t worry about the veneer — you won’t even be sanding through the film coat.) With that done, I’d apply the primer coat, and that may simply be the first coat of the paint that you want to use. When it has cured, examine the cabinet and look for surface dents, cracks and other unsightly defects. They will stick out like a sore thumb at this point. Fill them with caulk, spackle or putty and apply your next coat of paint. You may be done with this coat, or you may spot additional problems and need to do some touchup or maybe even another coat of paint.


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