Should You Paint Your Wood?

planingFor many, the idea of slathering paint over a beautiful piece of mahogany, rich in red color and unique in characteristics, is enough to make any wood lover cringe. However, in some instances, there is a need to paint wood, but it is important to find the right species, for an interior and exterior project, to paint, as well as the right grade.

In order to protect wood with a sealant or paint, much prep work is needed. Many species that are naturally resistant to weather have oils that will interfere with the oils of primer and paint, making it difficult to paint. For many species, such as a Mahogany or a Western Red Cedar, the product itself is so beautiful that a paint should not be used to cover up the natural characteristics. Instead, a high quality, Grade A lumber free of defects and knots with a consistent color and grain pattern should be sealed with a clear protectant to not only protect it from the outdoor elements, but also to highlight and showcase the natural beauty of the lumber.

carvingFor those who understand the “clear” yield of wood, you know that for every board foot of clear wood, you will end up with 2-3 board feet of less than perfect appearance wood. There is nothing necessarily wrong (structure wise) with this wood. However, appearance wise, it may have knots, sticker stains, inconsistent grain or color, or even sapwood mixture that makes it less than desirable for a clear coating protectant. In turn, this wood ends up set aside in the shop as a by-product necessary in order to yield clear wood.

This byproduct could become the next best thing for your exterior painted project. While you will still have to do much prep work to paint an exterior wood project, it becomes extremely necessary in order for the finish to last for years. While it may take time and money, priming, filling, and sealing your product will prevent an unsightly, uneven finish that will need to be refinished in perhaps just a year’s time. If you are planning to paint an exterior wood anyway, why spend top dollar for Grade-A clear yield that will be covered up anyway? Instead, the byproduct that may have just some physical appearance variations but provides the same structural purpose will provide the same product for less money.

woodworkerIf you are planning to paint the exterior product, it is extremely important to let your distributor know so that they can provide you with the appropriate product. It would be a waste of money and clear product to purchase a Grade-A clear product that deserves to shine with a clear coat and instead, you paint over it. J. Gibson McIlvain Company does not necessarily market a “paint grade” product but can steer you in the right direction to help you complete your exterior painted product in a cost-effective, beautiful way.

J. Gibson McIlvain Company

Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company ( is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.

As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.

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