I have been having trouble priming some hardwood boards. The primer goes on fine, but after about 15 minutes, it begins to take on a mottled appearance and you can see the wood again. So, either the paint is pooling and migrating into clumps or it is getting absorbed into the wood, not sure which.

The wood is supele and the primer is an finely ground oil based base coat made by Fine Paints of Europe.

What is going here and what should I do if anything to correct the problem?

  • Is it just absorbing into the varying grain at different speeds?
    – JPhi1618
    Feb 5, 2020 at 20:55
  • If you have a test scrap, try sealing the wood with a pigmented shellac. Kilz is a commonly used brand. (Not the water based product of the same name.)
    – jbbenni
    Feb 5, 2020 at 22:32
  • 2
    @jbbenni, were getting into shopping territory, but I'm not aware of a Kilz branded shellac primer. If they make one, I don't think it is very common. Zinsser BIN is the one I normally see.
    – JPhi1618
    Feb 6, 2020 at 1:48
  • Kills and Zinsser bin are 2 major brands used in the U.S. I agree maybe the OP is applying two much primer? Or was there an oil base on the wood and now a latex primer , I have seen issues with this combination. I use Zinsser more often and it has not let me down.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 6, 2020 at 19:44
  • You may want to browse the [finishing] and [staining] tags at Woodworking - there's a ton of information there about various finishing issues.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 6, 2020 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


Supele has a lot of natural oils in it, similar to some types of Mahogany or even Ipe, making it great for outdoor applications, including decks and even boat building. However, because of the natural oils, it will repel finishes and give the finish you described (a picture might help). Try sanding it smooth, then wiping it off with mineral spirits before attempting to paint again.

This still might not solve your issue and a coat of shellac as recommended by @jbbenni might be necessary to seal it prior to painting.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.