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Best primer for oak veneered engineered fire doors

Continuing the discussion from Best primer and eggshell for oak-panelled staircase:

Hello Russ.

I found this really helpful post when researching what best to use to prime my new oak veneered fire doors. I hope you don’t mind me asking a question.

So far I have followed Holman’s advice and primed the first door with Feelings Furniture Primer, with the idea of then sanding with 320 abranet and topping with two coats of Helmi matt. However, I’ve been very surprised by just how much the surface of the veneer has raised (if that’s the right way to describe it) after priming. My poor husband had spent forever filling and the sanding the doors and now it’s going to need doing again and possibly priming again. So before we go ahead I thought I would ask if you would use a different primer?

It has occurred to me that this may well have happened because the veneer isn’t very good and there is no solution but thought it worth asking.

All thoughts very gratefully received.



How much sanding are you doing on the bare doors? If clear coating, the principle is to keep it simple i.e. remove any surface dust and obvious burrs, but generally, don’t go mad with sanding while doors are bare, apply the first coat and deal with what’s left!

The water based primer was specified in this case, I would think, in case a solvent based primer penetrated and affected the glues, as you read in that other thread with osmo oil etc.

A water based first coat of primer will not likely cause any sort of structural damage, but the downside for the user is, it would tend to raise the grain a certain degree.

I think it is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” and on this first door, you will have to nib it back down. If the primer is not solid and even, after being denibbed, it would be best to apply a second full coat which will ensure the subsequent topcoats lay evenly.

And for the next door, try the less is more approach and test the difference

Sanding sealer which is shellac based is one approach to first coating oak, but again the solvents may not be desirable around these new veneer doors of unknown origin.


Hello Andy.

Thanks very much for your swift response. I’ve been keeping an eye on my email but haven’t had anything to say that I’d had a response. So I logged on just in case and there it was. I’ll double check junk mail in case the notification ended up in there.

Anyway many thanks for your helpful comments and you were right. Having used 320 abranet on the primed surface this morning it seems to have worked a treat. I’ll know later when my first coat of Helmi matt has dried a little.

Him indoors will be very happy to hear that less is more as we have a large number of doors to go!

By the way I have used your TP5 code a couple of times now at Holmans and am the proud owner of two Fox brushes - a 2" and a 1". They’re great and the bigger one is working really nicely for laying off the panelled doors. I expect I should be using something bigger but as a newbie I do find it easier to use smaller brushes. Hoping the confidence to use bigger ones will come with time.

So thanks again.


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