Below is a copy of an article that I posted a few years back. It was one of many that was lost when my website vanished into thin air. I was able to recover it, thankfully, using the way back machine. I thought it was one of my more helpful posts. It seemed worth saving and sharing again. Here it is:

Are you having trouble painting a piece of Mahogany? Does your white paint job keep turning pink? Read on and find out how to solve that problem.

Mahogany is very rich in tannins, which is an acidic substance that seeps from the wood’s pores. Long after the tree has been cut and turned into a piece of furniture these tannins will continue to be released. That is why your piece of mahogany furniture will turn pink even after several coats of white paint. Cedar and redwood are other examples of woods that are rich in tannins. Painting these types of wood is not impossible, but it does take a few special steps.

Clean it Using Tri-Sodim Phosphate, commonly called TSP, scrub the piece of furniture to remove grease, dirt and grim. If the piece you are planing on painting is raw, unfinished wood skip this step.

Sand it Using 220 grit sand paper sand in the direction of the wood grain. Sand enough to smooth the surface and create a tooth for the paint to adhere to.

shellacPrime it This is the most critical step in the process. Without the proper primmer you will never, ever achieve a perfect white finish. The trick to properly sealing and blocking all stains is to use a shellac based primer. I love Sherwin Williams White Pigmented Shellac Primer. It usually only takes one coat to get excellent coverage and a perfect base for paint.

Below are photographs of a gorgeous antique buffet that I painted for a client. This solid piece of furniture was made from mahogany. It painted up beautifully if I do say so myself.

dresser painted (1)

dresser mahogany

Below is a video I created that shows the process of painting a mahogany dining chair. The video goes through all the necessary steps, from start to finish, to create the perfect painted finish on a piece of furniture.


9 Responses to How to paint Mahogany

  1. Kathy says:

    What type of sprayer do you use, and do you have to dilute your paint any? If so how and with what? Thank you. I love your videos!!

  2. Deana says:

    Hi Kathy, I use a husky gravity feed HVLP spray gun. I occasionally have to thin my paint, but I have found that most Sherwin Williams products (my favorite to use) do not require thinning.

  3. Kelly says:

    I have a antique vanity that I would like to paint a off white. This is my first time doing something like this, do you need a sprayer or can I paint by a brush?

  4. Deana says:

    Hi Kelly, You can use a brush, but the only way to get a perfect, totally smooth finish is with a spray gun. If you use a brush make sure to purchase a high quality brush. If you are using water based paints make sure you get one with synthetic bristles. If using oil you’ll need a natural bristle brush. The bristles should be tapered.

  5. kenny says:

    thanks your you help

  6. Mary Ann says:

    Would you be mind sharing the color you painted this dresser? It is such a lovely color! Thanks!

  7. Deana says:

    Hi Mary Ann, unfortunately I painted this dresser such a long time ago that I don’t remember the color.

  8. April M Meuth says:

    HI there! So I’ve started to paint what I now know is a mahogany desk. After sanding and prep, my white chalk paint has bleeds. After some research I now know what other steps need to be done to prevent the bleed. So my question is, do I need to remove the white chalk paint via sanding? Or can I please go over it with the shellac primer?

  9. Deana says:

    April, You should be able to go over it with the shellac primer. I would give it at least a light sanding to ensure good adhesion, but no need to remove it completely.