What wood should I use if I'm going to paint it.

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Forum topic by Brian Grabast posted 09-24-2019 01:56 PM 800 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brian Grabast

23 posts in 2058 days

09-24-2019 01:56 PM

I’m going to build a small stand similar to a night stand. I think the person I’m building it for wants it painted. I like red oak but I don’t want to use red oak if it’s going to be painted. I thought of poplar because it would be cheaper than oak but I want a wood a little harder than poplar. Any suggestions?

-- Brian, Olathe KS --- Remember you're only one oops away from expensive firewood.

15 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6831 posts in 3502 days

#1 posted 09-24-2019 01:59 PM

Maple, either soft or hard would be good. It’s generally inexpensive as well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View MrFid's profile


908 posts in 2913 days

#2 posted 09-24-2019 02:36 PM

Agreed. Maple is a good choice.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View theart's profile


233 posts in 1563 days

#3 posted 09-24-2019 03:45 PM

I’ve had good results painting beech. It’s similar in hardness to red oak, but without pores to fill, and it’s cheap at my local mill.

View therealSteveN's profile


7235 posts in 1583 days

#4 posted 09-24-2019 04:04 PM

I would pick Poplar, soft Maple, Southern Yellow Pine, mostly depending on price. Not the dead low end of Janka, but all under 900. So none are hard. All are easy to work, and will be plenty stable for woodworking uses. All will take paint well too.

If the piece is well supported, and doesn’t have large overhang ledges, don’t rule out MDF, though the edges will need some form of Fascap tape or similar, as they are like a sponge, and getting great pain on them isn’t easy, unless you totally cover them. This same thought can also be applied to Plywood, though with plywood I would definitely suggest a good primer like Kilz to stop the telegraphing of wood grain, through the paint. Using Kilz even on hardwoods, or soft with a paint finish is always a first step for me anyhow, same reasoning, it stops the telegraphing of grain lines through the paint.

-- Think safe, be safe

View therealSteveN's profile


7235 posts in 1583 days

#5 posted 09-24-2019 04:07 PM

I ve had good results painting beech. It s similar in hardness to red oak, but without pores to fill, and it s cheap at my local mill.

- theart

You make a great point about LOCATION, location, location. All 3 of my picks can be easily gotten locally, so price is lower, and grade is likely better than same species shipping cross country.

-- Think safe, be safe

View SMP's profile


3433 posts in 914 days

#6 posted 09-24-2019 04:36 PM

Another option is to use multiple woods, since painting anyways. For example, you can use poplar for the carcass and maple for the top where it matters lost etc.

View Mike_in_STL's profile


1385 posts in 1543 days

#7 posted 09-24-2019 04:45 PM

I’ve always leaned towards poplar and cabinet grade pine if I’m painting something. Both have a grain structure that takes paint well and sands smooth to the touch.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

View pottz's profile


14824 posts in 1993 days

#8 posted 09-24-2019 04:55 PM

my vote would be for maple.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View bondogaposis's profile


5949 posts in 3360 days

#9 posted 09-24-2019 05:17 PM

Paint grade poplar would be my choice but soft maple is another also birch will work. Go with what is available at a reasonable price. Oak would surely be a poor choice as the bold grain will show right through the paint unless you use a grain filler, so why bother?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bigblockyeti's profile


7083 posts in 2729 days

#10 posted 09-24-2019 05:29 PM


-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


4148 posts in 2503 days

#11 posted 09-24-2019 07:18 PM

+3 What they said above:

Use any locally cheap white hard wood. Such as; Alder, beech, birch, maple, or poplar.

Large grain woods like ash, or oak; will have grain print through without filling.

Using MDF, or birch cabinet ply with hardwood edging would also work well under paint. Can use drywall Spackle as quick dry filler too.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View bilyo's profile


1301 posts in 2111 days

#12 posted 09-25-2019 01:56 PM

I have painted a lot of poplar and it has all lasted for years with no problems. I wouldn’t be afraid of using it. I have found it hard enough for kitchen and bathroom cabinets among other work.

View splintergroup's profile


4673 posts in 2231 days

#13 posted 09-25-2019 07:17 PM

I also vote Poplar. It can fuzz out a bit so a good sanding and a good primer/sand before the top coat can leave the finish glass smooth.

As a second choice I’d choose maple. No grain printing through the top coat.

View Monty151's profile


86 posts in 850 days

#14 posted 09-26-2019 07:04 PM

Finally a vote for Alder

View BurlyBob's profile


8482 posts in 3274 days

#15 posted 09-26-2019 10:59 PM

I’m another fan of Beech.

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