Does Wood Glue Work on Painted Wood?

If you purchase a product through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Wood glue is probably the most-used product in the world of woodworking. And, every woodworking shop is likely to have many different types and brands of wood glue in assorted containers across the shop floor. We use it for sticking wood in various stages of construction, and sometimes you may need to use it on painted wood.

Does wood glue work on painted wood? Yes, it will work on painted wood but you might not get as strong a joint as you require. For wood glue to provide a strong bond it needs to penetrate the wood fibers, but if you use it on painted wood surfaces, it will be unable to create the required level of adhesion.


Wooden logs painted in white for background

Wood glue is a product in woodworking that comes to the rescue whether you use it to repair a wobbly chair leg or on a complicated exterior project. However, there are some limitations to what you can do with wood glue.

To use wood glue effectively, you need to understand details like the technical specifications. You also need to be aware of whether you can use the glue for interior or exterior or exterior applications, and things like the finished strength and drying time among a host of other details.

A scenario that occasionally occurs, particularly if you are repairing furniture is the need to use wood glue on painted wood. You can use particular types of wood glue on wood if it is painted.

In such a case, the paint prevents the glue from penetrating the wood’s pores, particularly when you apply it to wood painted with oil-based paint. This is contrary to the situation with unpainted wood where wood glue will seep into the wood fibers and create a strong bond between the two surfaces being joined.

Wood glue is meant for use on wood, but when it comes to wood painted with oil-based paint, you might have to consider using a different type of glue. Alternatively, there are some glues that we use on wood that could effectively bond painted wood surfaces.

Of course, you can always sand, scrape, and remove the old paint for gluing the pieces together. But then, you would be using wood glue on unpainted wood. It is the way that you are supposed to use wood on unpainted wood, and not relevant to this post. So, we won’t be considering this line of action.

How to Glue Painted Wood

You can glue two painted wooden surfaces together with no sanding. What you would need here is epoxy glue that contains two components, resin and hardener. Or, you can use polyurethane glue.

In this case, you need to note that the glue sticks only to the glue and doesn’t reach the wood. After a few years, when the paint starts to peel, it will fall off along with the glue and the joint will come apart.

It is a common practice to use wood glue to bond painted wooden parts in home projects. Of course, due to the reasons we stated above, the glue will only stick to the paint.

The solution here is to sand the area to be bonded lightly, enough to allow the wood to reach the wood at that particular spot. Here, you need to be extremely careful to prevent your sanding to breach the glue line. Or else, you may cause visible damage to the paintwork on your project.

Here are the basic steps to get you started on gluing wood that is already painted:

Step 1

Prepare your glue line area by lightly sanding it with 120-grit sandpaper. Ensure that you only sand the area where you are going to apply the glue on the two opposite painted surfaces that you are going to glue together.

Step 2

Apply the wood glue to the area to be bonded.

Step 3

Press the two surfaces together with the help of clamps or weight depending on the orientation of the two pieces.

Step 4

Allow the glue to dry, giving enough time according to the manufacturer’s instructions before touching the glue.

Step 5

Once the glue is dried and it becomes hard, remove the excess glue with a sharp knife, and sand the bonded joint lightly.

Types of Glue That Work on Painted Wood

If you follow the procedure outlined above, you can use almost any type of wood glue with varying degrees of success. The bond of two painted wood surfaces will be flimsy at best but the glue will do its job.

If you want the best results from wood glue to use on painted wood, you need to know which type of glue works best on which type of paint. Here is a ready-reckoner that gives you this information:

Type of Glue vs Type of Paint Comparison

Glue Type

Works Best on

PVA Glue Wood painted with water-based paint
Polyurethane (PU) Glue Wood painted with oil-based paint
Epoxy Glue Wood painted with oil-based paint
CA Glue Wood painted with oil-based paint
Hide Glue Wood painted with water-based paint


When you work with wood, using wood glue is a common activity that you would most probably engage in daily. Even using it normally can be a bit challenging, as you need to use different types of glue differently.

However, using wood glue on painted wood is one of the most challenging things to do. You need some additional information before trying to bond wooden surfaces that are already painted. It is not only the type of glue that you need to consider but also the type of paint of the wood.

If you follow the tips we have provided here, you can easily apply glue to painted wood with a fair degree of success. You may not get a joint as strong as you would if you were to join unpainted wood. But it answers the question, “Does wood glue work on painted wood?” Yes, it does, but you need to know how to do it.

We hope that you can use this information to become more adept in handling wood glue in your woodworking projects.