Can You Use Rust-Oleum On Wood?

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Ernest Godia

The paint brand you choose can make all the difference when it comes to painting projects. One such brand that has stood the test of time is Rust-Oleum. 

But can you use Rust-Oleum on wood? While initially famed for its applications on metal surfaces, this versatile paint also performs exceedingly well on other surfaces including wood.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the use of Rust-Oleum on wood, look at Rust-Oleum paints on the market and identify the ones suitable for wood. We’ll also cover how to use Rust-Oleum on wood for a stunning finish. 

Let’s dive in!

What is Rust-Oleum?

Rust-Oleum, a trusted and renowned brand in the paint industry, specializes in high-quality paints and coatings for home and industrial use.

With a reputation for durability, versatility, and long-lasting finishes, Rust-Oleum has become a go-to choice for many DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. 

Whether you’re looking to paint a car, seal a concrete floor, waterproof wood, or even give the furniture a new finish, Rust-Oleum has a product designed for that specific need. 

You can find their products in home improvement stores, automotive shops, and online marketplaces like Amazon.

Top Rust-Oleum paint products for wood

Rust-Oleum caters to a wide spectrum of painting needs with its array of products. Each product type serves a specific purpose, providing options for different projects and finishes.

Let’s take a closer look at some of their popular options:

Rust-Oleum enamel paint

The Go-To for a High-Gloss Finish: Enamel paint is the go-to option for a high-gloss finish among DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. What sets it apart is its long-lasting durability and the ability to provide a smooth, hard finish. It’s particularly suited for surfaces that encounter heavy wear and tear, such as furniture and doors.

Try Rust-Oleum’s Ultra Cover Gloss Enamel for a self-leveling and chip-resistant formula that guarantees a lasting, smooth appearance.

Rust-Oleum wood primer

Primer serves as the preparatory coat that helps subsequent layers of paint adhere better and last longer. Rust-Oleum’s primer options, like Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, are engineered to seal porous surfaces, block stains, and even out imperfections, creating a flawless base.


Rust-Oleum’s Rock-Solid line of paints offers heavy-duty solutions for floors or decks. These polycuramine-based coatings provide superior protection against heavy foot traffic, chemicals, and weather conditions.

Epoxy shield

When you need a coating that goes beyond basic protection, Epoxy Shield steps in. Designed for concrete floors in garages and workshops, it resists oil stains, peeling, and even hot tire pick-up. A single coat is often enough to deliver long-lasting results, making it time-efficient and cost-effective.

Spray paint

Rust-Oleum spray paints offer a convenient option for smaller projects or intricate surfaces. The aerosol application allows for precise and even coverage, making it perfect for detailed woodworking projects or touch-ups.

Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint is suitable for wood surfaces and provides excellent coverage and adhesion. Its 360-degree spray tip ensures easy application from any angle.


Rust-Oleum’s undercoating is a must-have for automotive projects involving wood. Such undercoating products are designed to protect surfaces like the underbody of cars from road debris, rust, and corrosion. The rubberized coating provides exceptional insulation and soundproofing. 


Rust-Oleum’s wax provides a protective layer and a decorative finish for your wooden surfaces. While not technically paint, Rust-Oleum Chalked Decorative Glaze is used as a finishing coat over chalked or milk paint. It enhances the color and adds a beautiful, soft luster to the surface, elevating its aesthetic appeal. 

Choosing the right Rust-Oleum product for wood

Different types of wood require specific paint formulations to ensure optimal results. Therefore, selecting the right Rust-Oleum product for your wood project requires careful consideration.  

Here are some key factors you should assess first because they influence the outcome of the project: 

a) Wood type

Different types of wood may require specific types of paint or coatings. For example, woods like redwood and cedar contain natural oils that can prevent paint from adhering properly. If you are painting these types of woods, you will need to use a primer that’s designed for oily wood.

b) Wood prep

Before applying Rust-Oleum paint, sand the surface to create a smooth canvas for paint adhesion and clean it thoroughly to remove dust and debris. Most paints would require this kind of surface prep, except for Chalk paints.

c) Type of Rust-oleum paint

The type of Rust-Oleum paint you choose will depend on the desired finish and the amount of protection you need. For example, if you are painting a piece of outdoor furniture that will be used outdoors, you will need to use weather-resistant paint.

d) Painting method 

Decide whether you prefer using a brush, roller, or sprayer for application. Each method has its advantages, and Rust-Oleum paints are compatible with all of them.

A roller or sprayer can save you time and ensure even coverage when working on a large wooden surface. For smaller, more detailed areas, a brush might be more suitable.

e) Preliminary testing

Before diving into your project, conducting a small test is always a good idea. This allows you to evaluate the compatibility of the paint with your wood surface and ensures that you achieve the desired finish. 

How to use Rust-Oleum paint on wood

By now, you should know which paint and primer you’ll use for your project. Whether you have it in the garage or have yet to head down to the home depot or local hardware store, here are other supplies you will need. 

You can totally improvise with what you have, but ensure that whatever you use delivers the great results you’re after. Let’s carry on.

Supplies required

  • Rust-Oleum Paint
  • Primer
  • Sandpaper( fine-grit and medium-grit)
  • Tack cloth
  • Foam rollers
  • Quality brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Safety gear (masks, eye protection, and gloves)

The step-by-step process

Ensure you have everything you need within reach. Wear your gloves and ensure your workstation has sufficient air circulation to promote drying and minimize the intensity of paint fumes. Your safety is non-negotiable.

Step 1: Prep the wood surface.

Before anything else, clear the wooden surface of any hardware or removable parts. This makes your job infinitely easier and prevents any unintentional paint mishaps. 

Use painter’s tape to mask off areas you want to keep paint-free. Lay down your drop cloths to catch any spills or splatters.

Now wipe the wood surface to remove the loose dust. But if the wood is dirty or greasy, clean it with a degreaser or soapy water.

Step 2: Sand and clean the wood surface.

Wear your mask and eye protection before you begin.

Using a hand-held or power sander, start sanding with medium-grit sandpaper to roughen the surface. This allows the primer and paint to adhere better. 

Once you’ve covered the entire area, switch to fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any pronounced scratches. Remember to sand with the grain, never against it. If you’d like more details on sandpaper grits, check out this article for the exact sandpaper grit to use before painting wood.

After sanding, vacuum up the excess dust and use a tack cloth to wipe down the surface, ensuring it’s free of dust or debris.

Step 3: Apply the primer.

Priming the surface promotes paint adhesion to the wood and prevents the oils and tannins from bleeding through the paint. 

Pour some Rust-Oleum primer into a paint tray and dip your foam roller into it. Apply a thin, even coat of primer to the wooden surface. Use a quality brush to get into any nooks or corners the roller can’t reach. 

Let the primer dry according to the time recommended on the label.

Step 4: Apply Rust-Oleum paint.

Apply the paint in light, even coats using a new foam roller for flawless application. For smaller, intricate areas, switch to a quality paintbrush. Remember to paint in the direction of the wood grain to ensure a consistent finish.

Consider using a spray gun for faster and more efficient coverage if painting larger projects. 

Pro Tip: When painting a large surface, it is helpful to work in sections. This practice prevents the paint from drying too quickly before you overlap.

Step 5: Wait for the first paint coat to dry.

The paint is on, but your job isn’t done just yet. Before considering a second coat, let the first one dry thoroughly. 

Check the drying times on the Rust-Oleum can and allow at least that much time, if not a little more, for good measure. 

During this waiting period, you can wash your brushes and rollers in readiness for recoating.

Recommended read: How to clean wood stain off brush.

Step 6: Recoat and Finish as desired.

Apply a second thin coat of Rust-Oleum paint like you did the first. This additional layer will add durability and depth to the color, making your project look professional and polished. 

Once it dries, you can apply a protective top coat to enhance its performance.

Is sanding required before painting with Rust-Oleum?

While there may be certain exceptions, the answer is generally yes. Sanding provides various benefits that contribute to a durable, beautiful finish. 

Even when using Rust-Oleum products that claim no sanding is necessary, light sanding is always beneficial for optimum results.

However, if the existing surface is in good condition, sanding may not be necessary.

Can you use Rust-Oleum metal paint on wood?

The answer is nuanced. While possible, it’s not the ideal choice due to the paint’s specialized formulation for metal.

If you decide to proceed, we recommend taking additional preparatory steps, like using a wood-specific primer and conducting a test patch. 

For best results and long-lasting durability, it’s best to use products designed for the specific material you’re working on, in this case, wood.

How to paint wood with Rust-Oleum enamel paint

  1. Clean and prep the wood to remove old coatings and imperfections.
  2. Sand the surface with medium- and fine-grit sandpapers, then wipe it down.
  3. Apply a wood-specific primer and allow it to dry.
  4. Apply a thin, even coat of Rust-Oleum enamel paint with a foam roller.
  5. Wait for the first coat to dry completely.
  6. Apply a second coat if needed for even coverage.
  7. Optionally, seal the paint with a clear coat for added durability.

Benefits of Rust-Oleum paint on wood

  • Cost-Effective: Despite a possibly higher initial cost, its durability and fewer required coats make it a cost-efficient choice in the long term. 
  • Eco-Friendly Options: Many Rust-Oleum paints are low-VOC and non-toxic, making them environmentally and indoor-friendly.
  • Long-Lasting Protection and Durability: Rust-Oleum’s high-quality formula resists chipping, peeling, and fading, reducing the need for frequent repainting.
  • Quick to Dry: The fast-drying properties allow you to proceed with your project without long waiting times.
  • Superior Finish: Offers a smooth, uniform look with various finish options like glossy, satin, or matte.
  • User-Friendly: The paint is easy to apply, even for beginners, and requires minimal preparation.
  • Wide Color Range: Provides an extensive array of colors and finishes for ultimate customization.

What surfaces can you use Rust-Oleum on?

Rust-Oleum paint offers unmatched versatility, adhering well to various surfaces, including metal, wood, plastic, masonry, and even fabric. 

Specialized formulas are also available for glass, tile, automotive parts, and upholstery, making it a go-to for diverse projects. 

However, it is important to check the specific product label to ensure it suits the surface you are painting.

Will Rust-Oleum waterproof wood?

Yes, Rust-Oleum offers specialized products designed to provide waterproofing capabilities for wood. These formulations create a barrier that repels water, protecting the wood from moisture damage, rot, and decay. 

Using a Rust-Oleum waterproofing sealant or paint can significantly extend the lifespan of outdoor wooden structures such as decks, fences, and furniture. 

A paintbrush loaded with grey Rust-Oleum on wood.

Is Rustoleum spray paint waterproof? Open the link and find out.


How long does Rust-Oleum last?

Rust-Oleum paint can last for many years with proper care. However, the exact lifespan will depend on the type of paint, the application method, and the conditions it is exposed to. 

What is the best way to apply Rust-Oleum paint?

The best way to apply Rust-Oleum paint will depend on the type of paint and the surface you are painting. 

Use a sprayer if you’re working on a surface with intricate designs, an expansive project, or want to avoid brush marks. You can apply the paint with a brush or roller if you do not have a sprayer. However, it will be more difficult to get a smooth finish.

How many coats of Rust-Oleum?

The number of coats of Rust-Oleum you need depends on the desired finish and the condition of the wood. In general, two or three coats are recommended.

Does Rust-Oleum have primer in it?

Some Rust-Oleum products, such as the Universal Spray Paint, have primer in them. However, applying a separate primer to the wood before painting goes a long way, especially if the wood is bare or has been previously painted.

Final Thoughts On Using Rust-Oleum On Wood

So, can I use Rust-Oleum on wood? Certainly! Painting wood with Rust-Oleum offers a transformative experience that combines protection, aesthetics, and craftsmanship. 

With the right supplies and a careful approach to each step, your wooden surfaces will not only look stunning but also stand the test of time. 

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it. Better yet, if this guide helped you complete your paint project, share your experience with us in the comments below.

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