I painted my workshop made with plywood with white emulsion paint but the result isn’t what I was expecting The paint did not stick to the wood properly which resulted in a flaky and patchy white wooden wall.

The paint I used was new and thoroughly mixed before applying; the plywood surface was dry before applying the paint as well.

What did I do wrong?

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  • 1
    You used a plain water-based paint on a wood surface. You should use a sealer, an oil-based paint, or a paint that is "certified" as being appropriate for wood.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 7, 2022 at 20:35
  • 3
    Did you prime it ?
    – Traveler
    Sep 7, 2022 at 20:37
  • 1
    It can be saved by second or 3d coat
    – Traveler
    Sep 7, 2022 at 20:40
  • 2
    @JimStewart I have to disagree to a small degree, yes, water based primer (and paint) does raise the grain, but a very light sanding will knock that down and ready it for paint, WATER BASED AT THIS POINT, DON'T USE OIL BASED! The first coat of paint may also very slightly raise the grain if places that might have been sanded thru the primer. A VERY LIGHT sanding would knock that down and the 2nd coat should be perfect. Of course be sure to blow off or wipe down any and all sanding dust or you'll be doing this for a long time! Sep 8, 2022 at 0:40
  • 3
    When finishing plywood, I normally sand lightly to knock down imperfections as well as any leftovers (chemicals) from the manufacturing process. I have had decent luck with water based finishes on plywood, but yeah, it takes 2 coats at least: First one to seal and raise the grain, then after sanding and wiping it down, the 2nd coat to give it a decent finish. I hardly ever bother with sealer, I just throw the first coat on, sand it and then the second coat. In your (the OP) case, I agree with Ruskes that it can be saved, IF you lightly sand it between coats. Sep 8, 2022 at 0:45

3 Answers 3


Emulsion works pretty well on wood products, and isn't that different from the widely sold water-based wood primers. It does tend to raise the grain on the first coat, but that will sand down really easily with fine sandpaper. In the worst cases or if you sand too much, you may raise the grain a little on a 2nd coat too. Just sand again and recoat

Emulsion on wood normally needs 3 coats total, the first acting as a primer. It sticks really well if the wood wasn't greasy or dusty to start with.


I'd be really tempted to give it a coat of thinned PVA glue, then another coat or two of emulsion after it's had good time to dry.

Anything oil-based now is not going to do the job it would have on bare wood. PVA will soak through the existing coat well enough to bond & prep the surface.

PVA is cheap as chips, from any hardware store, supermarket decorating section, B&Q, Asda, Wilko's etc. Don't bother with a premium manufacturer you've heard of, it's all the same stuff.
e.g Diall from B&Q
Read the instructions for how much to thin it down.

Product information

Multipurpose PVA adhesive is a bonding agent, adhesive and sealer. Suitable for a variety of jobs including as a cement and plaster admixture. Will bond to most common building and DIY materials, except PVC and rubber. Ideal for priming unsound surfaces prior to plastering or painting as an adhesive on wood, cork, textiles and most applications where at least one surface is porous. For general dust sealing on flaking paintwork and walls etc. And as an admixture for cement, mortar, screeds and renders

BTW, paint over the cables - but not the socket, of course. It will look better than trying to work around them & failing. Best would be to take the socket off until you're done. Turn the breaker off & just let it hang till you're finished.
And use a brush at the edges & corners, don't try to get the roller to squeeze in.


For plywood projects, water-based acrylic-latex paints are generally the easiest to work with. Epoxy paints also offer great durability. Opt for high-quality paint and apply with a quality brush for the best possible results. Wet the brush before painting, and apply in the direction of the top grain.

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