Stove Black vs. Paint – What’s Better for My Wood Stove?

wood stove polish and black paint

If you’re like me, I am sure you agonize over the little things.

What kind of countertop should I get? Should I paint my walls white or another color? Do I want hardwood or laminate flooring? Do I need to paint or polish my wood stove? ETC…

I had a lot of questions when it was time to finish my old wood stove. I needed to decide between stove black and paint and wanted to determine which option would offer the most protection, be easier to apply, and last the longest.

Turns out, there are pros and cons to both options – but which one is right for you? Let’s figure it out in this article. Based on my experiences, I will share all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Painting vs. Polishing a Wood Stove

Both paint and wood stove polish (also called stove black) are great ways to change the overall look of your old stove.

Some homeowners may prefer wood stove polish due to its simplicity and minimal cleanup requirements. However, choosing a High-temperature paint is still the best option for versatility, mess-free application, adaptability, and durability.

While both are water-resistant, the one key difference you need to remember between both is that painting a wood stove will offer a protective finish that inhibits rust for several years, but polishing with a stove black will only be able to provide the needed protection for several weeks. While woodstove polish requires less cleanup, it’s not very effective for long-term rust protection.

Before making a decision, here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each option you’ll want to consider…

Wood Stove PaintWood Stove Polish
VersatileEasy application with less mess
More durableNot much durable, becomes less effective over time
Need a primer before paintingDoes not require any primer
Available in several colors to choose fromUsually comes only in black color
Generally, it comes with a flat finishLeaves back waxy metallic finish (like silvery)
Ideal for wood and metal stovesIdeal for cast iron and steel stoves
It can be easily applied on already-painted surfaces.It cannot be used on surfaces that have been sandblasted or already painted.
best stove polish for cast iron stoves

How to Blacken Your Old Wood Stove?

For restoring and blackening your old worn-out stove, I recommend using heat-tempered wood stove paint that can last long without getting damaged or chipping.

The process isn’t complicated and can be completed within a day. All you will need is to follow these steps…

Step 1. Protect

Before you start painting your wood stove, protect your flooring, walls, and furniture by putting up the plastic tarp and painter’s tape where you do not intend to get the paint on.

Also, protect yourself by wearing a face mask, vinyl gloves, and clothing you do not mind getting painted on.

Step 2. Clean the Stove

To properly apply paint to your wood stove, getting rid of any dirt, rust, or ashes that are left on the surface is necessary.

A wire brush or steel wool can generally remove most rust flakes. But, if the spots are stubborn, a cast-iron stove cleaner or a wood stove rust removal solution can be used. These solutions can usually be found at home stores and hardware retailers.

TIP: Wood ash is rich in potash and other minerals; it can be used for cleaning metals or as compost in your garden. Do not discard it away.

Step 3. Repair the Cracks

Fix minor cracks in the stove’s finish using a high-temperature silicone sealant or furnace cement. This critical step should not be ignored if you want to prolong the life of your newly painted stove.

Once you have filled all the cracks and holes, sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper and clean the surface with a damp cloth to ensure no dust or debris is left behind.

Step 4. Evenly Apply the Primer

Adding a coat of high-temperature primer keeps the paint from peeling off while ensuring it adheres to the stove’s surface correctly.

Most primers are available in a spray can, making the application process much easier. But if you want to use a brush, just make sure it’s wide enough to cover the entire surface evenly.

Step 5. Apply the Paint to the Wood Stove

Now comes the fun part – painting your wood stove to give it a new lease on life.

Spray High-temperature black paint evenly over the entire exterior surface while keeping the spray can about 10 inches away. Be extra cautious to avoid runs and paint buildup. Also, be sure to apply multiple thin coats for the best results.

Allow the paint to dry and sand lightly between each coat. After spraying the final coat, let your wood stove dry completely overnight.

Remember that the fresh paint you have applied to the stove will likely have a strong odor. So, to get rid of the paint smell and any fumes, it’s advisable to start a small fire on the stove and let it burn for some time. This will also help in curing the paint and making it more durable.

Polishing Wood Burning Stove – Easy Steps and Tips

Stove black works well on untreated cast-iron stoves, but it can also be used as a polish to refinish your stove for the upcoming season. This method is less messy and easier to apply but doesn’t provide long-term rust protection.

In case you plan to go ahead, here are the steps you should follow to give your wood burner a brand-new look using black stove polish…

Step 1. Clean

Using your vacuum remove all the dirt, soot, and rust before applying the polish. Do not forget to clean up between the seams to remove all the leftover debris from the inside and outside. If required, wipe your stove using a dampened cloth or sponge.

Step 2. Apply the Stove Black

Evenly apply the black stove polish paste with a rag or small cloth. Work in one direction, wipe in small circles, and allow the polish to dry completely, which can take up to 15-20 minutes.

Keep in mind that stove-blackening polishes and pastes that contain high carbon and graphite elements are sometimes available to eliminate the noxious fumes created by traditional stove black paints.

These polishes produce a higher gray hue on the wood stove, but the finishing is not so durable and long-lasting.

So, I recommend checking the ingredients in the polish before buying and using it on your stove. If possible, consider getting a polish that doesn’t contain wax. These are available at most hardware stores or online retailers such as Amazon and Home Depot.

Step 3. Apply Metal Polish (optional)

To achieve a shinier look on any brass pieces or shiny wood stove trim, apply metal polish after the stove black has dried.

Read the instructions carefully before you apply the polish. And after you have finished, use a dry cloth to wipe off any leftovers. And a clean, soft cloth or sponge to give your wood stove an extra shine by buffing it.

As a final step, put wet leaves in the wood stove and light a small kindling fire in it to complete the burn-off. Keep the fire burning until the stove stops smoking on the outside.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only apply the stove black or paint on a cold wood stove after you have cleaned it properly.
  • Do not use polish if your wood stove is already painted or sandblasted. Instead, repaint with high-temperature paint.
  • Ventilate your room when you are burning off the stove black.

Paint and Polish Alternatives for Old Wood Burning Stove

Graphite powder can be used as a stove black on your pellet stove. Simply apply it to your stove using a clean cloth or brush. Allow it to dry, then buff it off with a soft cloth. Repeat this process as needed to maintain the stove’s black finish.

Oiling your wood stove with a product such as mineral oil can also help to keep it protected from rust and corrosion while making the stove look new and shiny. However, it is essential to note that oil will need to be reapplied regularly to maintain its effectiveness.

The Bottom Line

If you want your old-fashioned wood stove to look new, you can choose between wood stove paint and polish – the choice depends on your preferences and the type of finish you want.

If you prioritize durability and a long-lasting finish, wood stove paint is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to refinish your wood stove, stove black polish is the best option.

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