How to paint plywood

Michelle, Team member
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Project Overview

Plywood is an easy and versatile material to work with. It’s strong, pliable and can be used for all kinds of projects. However, to get the finish you want, it’s important to know how to stain and paint it properly. We’ll take you through the steps and show you how to get a smooth, even surface every time.

Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Clean the plywood surface
2 Mix up wood filler
3 Fill up holes
4 Sand the surface
5 Tape areas you don’t want painted
6 Paint the surface
  • Step 1. Clean the plywood surface

    Preparation is the key to a good paint job and plywood is no exception. Before you start painting, take your dustpan brush and give the plywood surface a good dust down to clear away any debris. 

  • Step 2. Mix up wood filler

    To get a smooth surface, you need to fill up any holes. Mix some Builder’s Bog up with some hardener on a piece of cardboard with your scraper or putty knife. The more you use, the quicker it’s going to set so you need to work fast. 

  • Step 3. Fill up holes

    Once you’ve mixed it together, use your scraper to fill the holes with it. If you’re fussy about the edges of your plywood and don’t want to see the end grain, apply the Builders Bog to that too.

  • Step 4. Sand the surface

    Once the wood filler is dry, give the surface a light sand to make it smooth. Make sure you wear your dust mask and ear muffs for this step. When you’re finished, wipe away any excess dust with your dustpan brush.

  • Step 5. Tape areas you don’t want painted

    Mask any areas that you don’t want covered in paint with some painter’s tape. We want to keep the raw timber look around the edges, so we’ve masked them. This will prevent paint splatters or smears.

  • Step 6. Paint the surface

    Before you start painting, put down a drop sheet to help keep the area clean. Then give your paint a good stir. Depending on the paint, you might need to apply a primer, but we don’t need to do that with the paint we’re using.

    Next, apply your top coat. We just want to apply one coat, because it’s an outdoor workbench, which only needs waterproofing. Remember to apply the first coat in the direction of the grain for a smooth, even finish.

    To apply more coats, leave the paint to dry first. For a better finish, give it a light sand between coats and wipe away any dust. Also, paint in a cross-hatch a pattern. 

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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