Does Wood Glue Work On Painted Wood?

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We woodworkers are accustomed to using wood glues on raw wood.  Sometimes our woodworking project is assembling planks for a tabletop; sometimes, it’s in joinery work.

But, it’s mostly with raw wood that, once the glue has dried and any excess has been sanded away, will be stained, painted, or in some other way finished.

Key Points:

  • Yes, it works on painted wood, to a point.
  • Wood glue bonds by penetrating into the wood, where it can connect with the wood fibers.  A glued joint is actually stronger than the wood alone because of this.
  • Sand down to bare wood, or score down to bare wood, at the point where you intend to apply the glue.  This will allow direct access to the wood and create a stronger bond.

But what if the wood we’re working with has already been painted?  Perhaps it’s a repair job or a restoration project, but with the paint already on the wood, how will wood glue perform?  Will it create a strong bond?  Will it create a stronger bond than if the wood was raw and unfinished?

Good questions, of course.  We’d like to have to join woods together just once, so we need to figure out whether the glue will work on painted wood.

Types of Glue For Woodworking Projects

There are many different types of wood glues available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most common types of wood glues include:

  • Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue: Polyvinyl acetate glue is a water-based glue that is commonly used on wood surfaces on our projects. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and dries clear. PVA glues are not as strong as some other types of wood glues, but they are still suitable for most woodworking projects. It is the most common type of wood glue.  Gorilla Wood Glue is a polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue. Gorilla Wood Glue is a water-based, non-toxic, solvent-free PVA glue that’s incredibly water resistant. It’s formulated for high strength, fast set speed, and water resistance.
  • Epoxy glue: Epoxy glue is a two-part glue that is made from resin and hardener. When mixed together, epoxy glues create a strong, durable bond that is resistant to water, heat, and chemicals. Epoxy glues are more expensive than PVA glues, but they are often the best choice for projects that require a high level of strength and durability.
  • Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue: CA glue is a fast-drying glue that is commonly used for gluing small objects together. It is also known as super glue or instant glue. CA glues are not as strong as PVA or epoxy glues, but they are very convenient and easy to use.  Super glue does come in handy for a quick bond on little items, but I’m not sure I’d use super glue on a piece of furniture I’d be sitting on.
  • Hide glue: Hide glue is a traditional wood glue that is made from animal hides. It is a strong, water-resistant glue that is often used for antiques and restoration projects. Hide glues are more difficult to find and use than other types of wood glues, but they offer a unique look and feel that is not available with other glues.
  • Resorcinol glue: Resorcinol glue is a strong, waterproof glue that is often used for outdoor projects. It is made from two resins that are mixed together to create a strong bond. Resorcinol glues are more expensive than other types of wood glues, but they offer excellent performance in wet and humid environments.

The best type of glue for your wood project will depend on the specific needs of the project; super glue for small jobs that will not the supporting much weight; PVA glue for normal, everyday woodworking projects; epoxy glue when you need extra strength.

If your wood project is a small, indoor project, a general-purpose PVA glue may be sufficient. If you are working on a larger outdoor project, or if you need a glue that is particularly strong or durable, you may want to consider using epoxy glue, hide glue, or resorcinol glue.

Here is a table summarizing the different types of wood glues and their strengths and weaknesses:

Type of GlueStrengthsWeaknesses
PVA glueInexpensive, easy to use, dries clearLess bond strength than other types of glues
Epoxy glueStrong, durable, resistant to water, heat, and chemicalsMore expensive than PVA glue, more difficult to use
CA glueSuper glue is fast-drying, convenient, easy to useNot as strong as PVA or epoxy glues
Hide glueStrong, water-resistant, traditional look and feelMore difficult to find and use than other types of wood glues
Resorcinol glueStrong, waterproof, excellent performance in wet and humid environmentsMore expensive than other types of wood glues

The strongest wood glue is epoxy glue. It is a two-part glue that is made from resin and hardener. When mixed together, epoxy glues create a strong, durable bond that is resistant to water, heat, and chemicals.

For the greatest bond strength, epoxy glue is your best choice, although, as the chart shows, it is more expensive than other wood glue types.  The strongest wood glue, yes, but only when used on the right projects.

Two Main Types of Paints

The two main types of paints are oil-based paints and water-based paints.

  • Oil-based paints are made from pigments suspended in drying oil. They are known for their rich colors, durability, and ability to be layered to create complex effects. Oil paint is commonly used for fine art, but it can also be used for decorative painting and restoration work.
  • Water-based paints are made from pigments suspended in water. They are known for their quick drying time, low odor, and resistance to mildew and mold. Water-based paints are commonly used for interior painting, as well as for exterior painting on non-load-bearing surfaces.

Here is a table summarizing the two main types of paints and their properties:

Type of PaintDrying TimeDurabilitySheenUses
Oil-based paintSlowVery durableMatte to glossyFine art, decorative painting, restoration work
Water-based paintFastLow durabilityMatte to satinInterior painting

Here are some additional details about the two main types of paints:

  • Oil-based paints dry slowly because the drying oil needs time to oxidize and harden. This can be a disadvantage if you are painting a large surface or if you need the paint to dry quickly. However, oil-based paints are very durable and can last for many years. They are also resistant to fading and staining.
  • Water-based paints dry quickly because the water evaporates quickly. This is an advantage if you are painting a large surface or if you need the paint to dry quickly. However, water-based paints are not as durable as oil-based paints and may not last as long. They are also more susceptible to fading and staining.

The best type of paint for your project will depend on the specific needs of the project. If you are painting a delicate surface, such as a piece of furniture, you may want to use a slow-drying paint like oil paint.

If you are painting a large surface, such as a wall, you may want to use a fast-drying paint like latex paint. If you are painting an exterior surface, you may want to use a durable paint like enamel paint or epoxy paint.

How Does Glue Bond With Wood?

Glue bonds with wood in two ways:

  • Mechanical interlocking: The glue molecules seep into the wood fibers and create a physical bond with the wood. This is the primary way that glue bonds with wood.
  • Chemical bonding: Some glues, such as epoxy glues, can also create chemical bonds with the wood. This bond strength is a stronger bond than mechanical interlocking, but it is not as common.

The glue type that you use will affect the way that it bonds with wood. Some glues, such as polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glues, are better at mechanical interlocking than others. Epoxy glues, on the other hand, are better at chemical bonding.

The wood surface also affects the way that glue bonds with wood pieces. Wood pieces that are smooth and clean will provide a better surface for the glue to bond to. If the wood is rough or dirty, you may need to sand it before applying the glue.

Here are some additional tips for gluing wood:

  • Make sure that the wood and the glue are compatible. Some glues cannot be used with certain types of wood.  It depends, in part, to a wood’s porous surface or non-porous surface.  The wooden surface will affect glue penetration so that it can bond with the wood’s fibers.
  • Apply the glue evenly to both surfaces.
  • Press the surfaces together firmly and hold them in place for the amount of time specified by the glue manufacturer.  Wipe away any excess glue with a clean cloth or with your fingers, depending on the type of glue you have used. 
  • Allow the glue to dry completely before using the assembled object.

Will Wood Glue Work on Wood That Has Been Painted?

Yes, wood glue can work on painted wood, but not as effectively as on raw wood.  It will not create as strong a bond as it would on bare wood. The paint comes between the glue and the wood, and this will make it impossible for the glue to penetrate into the wood fibers.  While the glue will form a bond with the paint, the strength of the glue bond will depend on the strength of the bond between the wood and the paint.

To improve the adhesion of wood glue to painted wood, you can lightly sand the paint away in the area where you will be applying the glue. This will expose the bare wood fibers, which the glue can then bond to. You can also use a high-quality wood glue that is designed for use on painted surfaces.

Some types of wood glue, such as epoxy glues, work better on painted wood than others. Epoxy glues are more adhesive and can create a stronger bond between the wood and the paint. However, they are also more difficult to use and require longer drying times.

If you are gluing two pieces of painted wood together, it is important to make sure that the paint on both pieces is compatible with the glue you are using. Some paints, such as oil-based paints, can prevent the glue from bonding properly.

Here are some suggestions when using wood glue on painted wood:

  • Use a high-quality wood glue that is designed for use on painted wood surfaces.
  • Lightly sand the paint away in the area where you will be applying the glue. A 120-grit sandpaper will 
  • Make sure that the paint on both pieces of wood is compatible with the glue you are using.
  • Apply the glue evenly to both pieces of wood.
  • Press the pieces of wood together firmly and hold them in place for the amount of time specified by the glue manufacturer.
  • Allow the glue to dry completely before using the assembled piece of furniture or décor.

Are There Glues Made For Use on OIl-Based Painted Wood?

Yes, there are wood glues made specifically for oil-based painted surfaces. The type of paint, oil-based or water-based, will influence the choice of glue. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Polyurethane glue: This type of glue is very strong and durable, and it can bond to a variety of surfaces, including oil-based paint. It is also waterproof and heat-resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor projects or projects that will be exposed to moisture.
  • Epoxy glue: Epoxy glue is another strong and durable option that can bond to oil-based paint. It is also waterproof and heat-resistant, and it can be used to fill gaps and cracks in wood. Two-part epoxy, with its resin mix, 
  • Cyanoacrylate glue (CA glue): CA glue, referred to often as super glue, is a fast-drying glue that can be used to bond small pieces of painted wood together. It is not as strong as polyurethane or epoxy glue, but it is a good option for quick repairs. Again, super glue is fine for small pieces that will not support great or even a  little weight, but super glue will not be a good choice for a chair you’ll be sitting on.

When gluing oil-based painted wood, it is important to follow the instructions on the glue label carefully. Some glues may require the surface to be sanded, scored, or cleaned before applying the glue. It is also important to allow the glue to cure completely before using the project.

Some suggestions for gluing oil-based painted wood:

  • Use a sharp knife or saw to score the surface of the paint where you will be applying the glue. This will help the glue to penetrate the paint and bond to the wood.  The bond strength will be better if the glue has direct access to the wood.  Then, you will have a more durable bond than if the glue only touches paint.
  • Apply a thin layer of glue to both surfaces that you will be bonding together.
  • Press the two pieces of wood together firmly and hold them in place for a few minutes or until the glue starts to set.
  • Allow the glue to cure completely before using the project.

With the right glue and a few simple tips, you can easily glue oil-based painted wood together.

Are There Glues Made for Use on Water-Based Painted Wood?

Yes, there are glues made specifically for use on water-based painted wood. Again, the type of paint will affect the choice of glue to use.  Some of the most popular options include:

  • PVA glue: PVA glue, also known as white glue, is a water-based glue that is often used for school projects and crafts. It is also a good choice for gluing water-based painted wood together. PVA glue is not as strong as polyurethane or epoxy glue, but it is easy to use and dries clear.
  • Woodworking glue: Woodworking glue is a type of PVA glue that is specifically designed for use on wood. It is stronger than regular PVA glue and can be used to bond wood that will be exposed to heavy use or moisture.
  • Construction adhesive: Construction adhesive is a type of glue that is designed for use on a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and concrete. It is very strong and durable, and it can be used to bond water-based painted wood together.

When gluing water-based painted wood, it is important to follow the instructions on the glue label carefully. Some glues may require the surface to be sanded or cleaned before applying the glue. It is also important to allow the glue to cure completely before using the project.

Here are some additional tips for gluing water-based painted wood:

  • Use a sharp knife or saw to score the surface of the paint where you will be applying the glue. This will help the glue to penetrate the paint and bond to the wood.
  • Apply a thin layer of glue to both surfaces that you will be bonding together.
  • Press the two pieces of wood together firmly and hold them in place for a few minutes or until the glue starts to set.
  • Allow the glue to cure completely before using the project.

Most of all, this information is common sense.  Wood glues work best when they can penetrate the wood and bind with the wood fibers.  Paint will get in the way of that, and the strength of a glue bond with painted wood will depend not on the bond with the paint but rather will depend on the bond of the paint to the wood.

We believe in sanding or scoring when using wood glue on painted wood.  We want a strong and durable bond, and the best way to achieve that is to sand paint off the point of gluing or scoring it with a knife.  This will allow the wood glue access directly to the wood and form the strongest bond.

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