Has anyone used denatured alcohol to remove stain or shellac from wood? Also anyone know if primer can be used before chalk paint? If so does it need to be water based primer?

  13 answers
  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Sep 07, 2020

    Hi there, I haven't used denatured alcohol to remove stains but loads of people have. Denatured ethanol, methanol, butyl and isopropyl alcohol. will work too. WRT to the primer for chalk paint, it needs to be water based otherwise the chalk paint won't adhere properly

  • Not sure about the alcohol, but you can use primer under chalk paint. I always use it even though they say you don't need it. I have issues if I don't use it.

  • I've never used denatured alcohol, but I have used mineral spirits to remove stain. It shouldn't matter if the primer is oil or water-based, but oil-based will do a better job of blocking the tannins in the wood.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Sep 07, 2020

    Hello. I’ve never use denatured alcohol. As far as chalk paint you can use a primer likely it is recommended when you have orangey type wood and hope to cover potential bleed through that could happen with chalk paint.

    Here’s a link that could be helpful


  • Chas' Crazy Creations Chas' Crazy Creations on Sep 07, 2020

    I have done all of this. I use denatured alcohol to clean a piece but it won't remove stain. You don't need to prime when using chalk paint unless when you clean the piece with the denatured alcohol you can see the stain is coming up. Old stain on vintage pieces will sometimes come through the chalk paint and that's when blocking the stain is important. Since most chalk paints are water based, I use a water based primer so they don't react. You can see some of my tutorials on my blog here - https://chascrazycreations.com/diys/re-purpose-up-cycle/furniture/

  • Em Em on Sep 07, 2020

    Surface Cleaner

    Denatured alcohol is a degreasing agent that works best as a spot cleaner and for removing hard surface dirt and stains that traditional cleaning agents fail to remove. Apply denatured alcohol to a clean white cloth to remove stains from hard surfaces like tiles, wood, metal, and plastic, clear smudges from electronic component surfaces, clean up greasy spots in the kitchen, or clean your windows and mirrors. Denatured alcohol can also be used to remove mildew from leather surfaces; however, it is not suitable for suede or dyed leather. Also, it is not recommended for cleaning porous fabrics and acrylic, vinyl, or surfaces that are not coated or painted.


    Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent for shellac, which is a natural resin. Carpenters usually apply a mixture of shellac and denatured alcohol to wood. This protects the wood from scratches and UV rays, and also gives it a mirror-like finish.

    You don't need a primer for chalk paint.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Sep 07, 2020

    I’ve used denatured alcohol. It is good for cleaning but it won’t remove the finish. Mineral spirits will. I always prime, regardless of the paint I will use as a precaution. Too much work to chance bleeding or uneven application.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Sep 07, 2020

    Hi! Years ago, when I took a refinishing course, the professional used household cleaners, including soap and water to clean a piece before we even started. That way you are removing old wax and grime. Then we used a stripper to remove all the old finish before we refinished. That was before chalk paint became popular. I have learned to always seal the piece first, if painting, no matter what paint I'm using, after sanding. Old finishes and wood tannins, sap, etc. can bleed through and probably will. It's frustrating to have to redo a piece because of that. Your prep will take longer and be more important in many ways than the final finish, because it will affect the appearance and how long your finish lasts. If you don't have a good base to work on, your adherence and final look won't be as good or durable. Good luck and stay safe!

  • This may help you with removing the stains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8I0xk-858k

  • Em Em on Sep 15, 2021

    Chalk paint cover most anything except glossy finishes with no prep other than cleaning. Most thing covered in two coats and dry time is fast.

    The attached link are ways to remove shellac


  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Sep 18, 2021

    You can almost chalk paint over anything, but if there's a glossy finish, I would give it a light sanding .