Best Undercoat Paints For Interior Wood in 2021

A good undercoat is key for a job to be proud of! Yes, undercoat must be applied to wooden accessories around the home before the finish coat such as gloss or satinwood.

Examples of undercoating wood
Examples of undercoating wood

Because gloss is just a finish coat it does not protect or seal the wood against damage, woodworm, rot and prevents moisture. So you must use an undercoat for:

  • Stair strings, newel posts, spindles and handrails
  • Skirting boards, picture rails and dado rails
  • Doors, skins/frames and architrave

In general, you only need one layer of undercoat for a decent finish. But, if you add two coats and then apply your finish coat you will notice a huge improvement in colour and crispness that will last the test of time.

This is even more important in the high traffic areas such as staircases and hallways. The more traffic an area has, means more wear and tear on your paintwork.

Selecting A Good Undercoat

In the UK there are hundreds of various brands of undercoat but none are made the same. Many of us will use an inferior or cheaper brand because you do not see it once your paint job is done.

But, the undercoat is the most important part of treating and protecting your wooden accessories in the home! If you do not us an undercoat you will find that your gloss will become translucent because it has been absorbed by the wood.

  • Oil-based not acrylic based/water-based
  • Hard finish for sanding
  • Will dry bright white (not off-white)

Best Undercoats For Wood

Listed below are the best undercoats for the UK market.

Remember if you are painting fresh wood that has just been fitted then you must use a primer to seal the porous wood before undercoating.

Yes, there are three coats to that perfect paint job.

If your woodwork has been painted before and you have sanded to create a key you are ready to go straight to the undercoat stage with no need for a primer.

1) Dulux Professional Undercoat

The Dulux Professional Undercoat

Out of all the undercoats I have used over the years Dulux Professional is by far the best.

It’s readily available in DIY stores up and down the UK and is available for home delivery. It creates an even base for any finish coat such as satinwood, eggshell or gloss.

The Dulux Professional Undercoat Breakdown
The Dulux Professional Undercoat Breakdown

It can be used on both metal and wood accessories around the home. With an easy to apply formula that takes around 12 hours to fully dry.

It does leave a solvent-type smell so be sure to wear a mask, gloves and open a window or door to air.

  • Brand: Dulux professional
  • Colour: Brilliant white
  • Type: Oil-based undercoat
  • Surface: Wood & metal
  • Volume: 2.5L

Check Price on Amazon

2) Johnstone’s Hardwearing Undercoat

The Johnstones Hardwearing Undercoat

Johnstone’s undercoat is a hardwearing paint that takes around 16-24 hours to fully dry, which is the standard for a “GOOD” undercoat.

This formula is oil-based and will leave a solvent vapour smell after painting that dissipates after a few days of drying.

This is my second choice in the hunt for the best undercoats for wooden accessories around the home. If the Dulux Professional brand is sold-out or not available in your area then this should be your next choice.

  • Brand: Johnstone’s
  • Colour: Brilliant white
  • Type: Oil-based undercoat
  • Surface: Wood & metal
  • Volume: 2.5L

Check Price on Amazon

Undercoating – FAQ’S

Do I have to use a primer before undercoating?

If your woodwork has been painted previously then there is no need for a primer. If your woodwork is new and has never been painted before then a primer is needed.

How do I clean my brush after using undercoat?

Undercoat like gloss is oil-based paint so you will need a thinner to clean your paintbrush. White spirit is fine, straight after painting dip your brush in the white spirit and rinse. Continue doing this until you have cleaned your paintbrush. Do not leave them sitting in a jar of white spirit because the bristles fall out and it will ruin the shape of your brush.

Can I just undercoat without glossing?

You can, but an undercoat is not designed to be a finish coat. Gloss or satinwood will be needed to protect your paintwork. If you do not use a finish then your paintwork will not last very long, especially in a high traffic area such as the hallways or staircase.

What is the difference between undercoat and primer?

A primer is designed to stop the wood from oozing sap and sealing the wood grain for undercoat. An undercoat will make your wooden surface flat while providing a key for your finish coat to adhere to! If you have new wood then you must apply both coats of paint before finishing with gloss or satinwood.


For any serious painter and decorator, an undercoat is just as important as a finished coat. You cannot produce paintwork that you can be proud of without applying an undercoat layer or two.

It makes such a huge difference when you apply two layers of undercoat with a decent brand of paint.

Happy Painting 😉

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