Degreasing wood: essential when painting

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 13, 2022
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Degreasing wood is part of the preliminary work and degreasing wood is essential for good adhesion between the substrate and the first coat of paint.

If you want to have a good end result of your painting work, you will have to make good preparations.

Actually, this is with every paint job so.

In this article I’ll tell you everything you need to know when degreasing wood.


This is important not only for painting, but also for other activities.

To give just one example is that when you build a wall crookedly, the plasterer has to do his utmost to get the wall straight again.

So it is with the preliminary work of painting.

These are my favorite degreasing products for wood:

Best basic degreaser: St Marc ExpressBest basic degreaser: St Marc Express
(view more images)
Best Cheap Degreaser: DastyBest Cheap Degreaser: Dasty
(view more images)

Degreasing wood is essential

Degreasing is very important.

If you know what the purpose of degreasing is, you will never forget it.

The purpose of degreasing is to get a good bond between a base (of wood) and a first coat of paint.

Grease on your paintwork is caused by, among other things, particles in the air that settle on surfaces.

This can be caused by precipitation, nicotine, dirt particles in the air and so on.

These particles adhere to the surface like dirt.

If you do not remove these particles before painting, good adhesion will never be achieved.

As a result, you may get peeling off your paint layer later on.

What order should you use?

Many people do not know which order to use.

By that I mean what you have to do first during the preparatory work.

I’ll explain it to you simply.

At all times you must first degrease and then sand.

If you would do it the other way around, you would sand the grease into the pores of the substrate.

It then makes a difference whether this is a bare surface or already painted surface.

Since grease does not adhere well, you will have problems with your painting later on.

Degrease on all types of wood, ceilings and walls

It does not matter which wood you have, treated or untreated, you should always degrease well first.

You should also degrease when you are going to use a stain on treated wood.

There is only 1 rule: always degrease the wood before painting.

Even when whitewashing a ceiling, you must first clean the ceiling well.

This also applies to your walls that you will later paint with a wall paint.

Which products can you use for degreasing

One agent that has been used for a long time is ammonia.

Degreasing with ammonia still works alongside the new products.

You should of course not use pure ammonia.

For example, if you have 5 liters of water, add 0.5 liters of ammonia, so always an addition of 10% ammonia.

What you also have to remember is that you clean the surface with lukewarm water afterwards, so that you remove the solvents.

Products to degrease wood

Fortunately, developments do not stand still and a number of new products have been developed.

Because let’s be honest, ammonia does have an unpleasant odor.

Today there are new degreasers that smell wonderful.

The first product that I also worked a lot with is St. Marc’s.

This allows you to degrease without smelling anything.

It even has a lovely pine scent to it.

You can buy this at regular hardware stores.

Also good is a degreaser from Wybra: Dasty.

Also a good degreaser for a small price.

There will certainly be more on the market by now, but I know these two myself and can be called good.

What I do think is a disadvantage that you have to rinse.

Biodegradable without rinsing

Nowadays I now work with B-clean myself.

I work with this because first and foremost it is good for the environment.

The knife works on two sides here: good for the environment and not harmful to yourself. B-clean is biodegradable and completely odorless.

What I also like is that you don’t have to rinse with B-clean.

So all in all a good all-purpose cleaner.

Believe it or not, these days they also use car shampoo as a degreaser.

Another identical all-purpose cleaner for degreasing is car cleaner.

This product is identical to B-clean which is also biodegradable, do not rinse and where the dirt adhesion is minimal afterwards.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.