What causes bleed-through, and how do I solve it?

Bleed-through is caused by tannins which are basically water or solvent that has been trapped within the wood at some point. This is more common with older pieces, but it doesn’t happen often. Unfortunately, there is no way to know ahead of time if tannins are present.

No amount of paint, regardless of brand, will cover it. Solutions include:

  • Sand through to just below the original surface. This is the only solution if you want to distress through your paint and see underlying wood.
  • Use a product like Kilz over the area where you see the bleeding. This solution is much easier, but if you want to distress your finished work, you won’t be able to distress through to see the underlying wood.