Does Acrylic Paint Work On Wood? Detailed Guide

Making art is a process that can be highly personal. When you create something, you put a piece of yourself into it. Whether using words, images, or colors, the end product is always unique. This is especially true when it comes to acrylic paint on wood. Using these two materials together can create beautiful and unique pieces.

Yes, Acrylic Paint work on wood. Acrylic paint is a popular method for finishing wood. It can be used on decoupage, and it works well with many types of stains and glazes. It’s also ideal for staining wood to enhance its natural beauty. Acrylic paints are water-based, so they clean up easily with soap and water. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the process of creating art with acrylic paint on wood and share some tips along the way. Let’s get started!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

Yes! Acrylic paint on wood can be a profitable and creative endeavor. It’s great for making signs, frames, plaques, and more. Many artisans like to use it on unfinished wood for even more unique effects. For example, you could paint an acrylic design onto plain pine boards or untreated oak pieces.

The paint typically won’t last as long since the work is done on untreated wood. Acrylic lasts longer when protected by other materials like varnish or wax. This is especially important if you’re creating items for commercial use.

However, one benefit of painting on plain wood rather than treated wood is that you can stain it after painting to create a two-tone look. For example, you can apply dark wax over your finish to make the wood darker and richer in color.

Types of Wood Surfaces You Can Paint With Acrylic

Acrylic paint can be used to adorn a wide variety of wood surfaces, including:

– Unfinished wood

– Painted MDF (medium-density fiberboard)

– Finished plywood

– Sanded Plywood surface (i.e., the veneer is sanded away or skimmed) – Veneered particleboard and plywood

– Particle Board – Plywood surfaces that have been sanded

– Alder, ash, birch, beech, mahogany, pine, poplar

(Note: The thicker the wood is, the more paint it will absorb. Keep this in mind if you plan to apply a clear sealant to your work. It needs to be able to penetrate the wood.)

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood?

Yes, you can. Acrylic paint adheres well to wood that has been stained, especially if the stain is transparent. However, applying a sealant after painting on stained wood is usually necessary.

The thing is, paint and sealant need to penetrate the wood. If there is a layer of transparent or semi-transparent stain between the wood and your paint, it will make it difficult for either to do its job. That’s why artists typically go over stained wood with several coats of sealant before adding the final design or pattern.

The above photo is an example of a piece that has been painted using acrylic on stained wood. The artist decided to add color and detail after applying a coat of sealant. You can see that this approach worked perfectly: The paint and the wood stain complement each other beautifully.

Is Using Acrylic Paint Safe on Wood?

Yes, using acrylic paint on wood is safe. But keep in mind that for this type of finish to be safe, it must be sealed. Otherwise, the paint will absorb into the wood and lose its lustrous appearance over time.

If you are looking for a way to create beautiful patterns or designs on your plain wood surface without having to apply a couple of coats of sealant, you can try using an acrylic gel medium instead. This product is designed to keep the paint on the wood rather than absorb it. The result is that your designs will last longer and retain their luster for many years.

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Do You Need to Prime the Wood?

Yes. If any of your wood pieces are discolored, you need to prime them before applying paint. For example, if the wood is very dry or has a stain on it, you’ll want to start using a coat of primer. The same goes for pieces that have been previously painted but now show signs of wear and tear.

You can use a latex primer to paint on unfinished wood, but you should choose an acrylic-latex primer if the surface has already been painted.

Before applying your first coat of paint or sealant, make sure your wood is clean and dry. This will give it a smooth, even appearance after complete treatment.

How to Paint on Wood with Acrylics

Materials required to paint on wood with acrylics:

– Unfinished or finished wood boards, dowels, canvas stretchers, etc.

– Acrylic paints in your desired colors

– Brushes made of bristle or synthetic fibers

– Sealant or varnish (if you intend to use clear finishes) – Palette for mixing colors

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Before you start painting on wood, the surface must be clean and dry. This includes removing any dust or dirt from the piece before applying paint.

If your wood has been previously painted with another type of paint (latex, oil, etc.), make sure to apply a coat of primer. You can use acrylic primer over oil-based primer, but not the other way around.

If your wood is untreated or has just been sanded, you can use an acrylic sealer instead of primer. This will provide extra protection against water damage and stains. However, if you don’t want to add additional layers of paint or varnish at the moment, you can follow this tutorial to learn how to paint on wood with acrylics without primer or varnish.

Step 2: Prepare the Canvas

If you intend to create a design on your board or canvas (e.g., stripes, spirals, swirls), start by marking the lines using masking tape and pencils.

You can use any width or thickness of tape for this purpose, although wider tapes are easier to work with when creating patterns. If you do choose thicker masking tape, make sure that its adhesive is decent enough to hold on the canvas during the painting process.

Also, remember to press down the edges firmly, so they don’t peel up while you’re working.

Step 3: Preparing the Colors

It’s time to mix some paint! The colors you choose for your artwork will depend on whether or not you intend to add any other colors later. If yes, make sure that the first layer is light enough so that the remaining shades blend in well with it.

Make sure to mix the paints thoroughly until you have a uniform consistency.

Step 4: Painting on Wood

Now that your surface is prepared, it’s time to apply some paint! You can use brushes made of bristle or synthetic fibers.

Remember not to overload your brush when applying paint. This will prevent any droplets from forming, which will later cause scratches or cracks in your final design.

You can use different “press and pull” motions to create the desired designs. For example, you can move your brush up and down over the tape lines when working on wood boards. Alternatively, you can fill in the gaps between the tape using small circular motions.

For larger surfaces that are hard to reach, you can use a broad brush with flexible bristles to apply the paint. Just dip it into your chosen color and gently press it down onto the wood’s surface. Then, pull the brush towards yourself (from left to right), allowing for overlap between each pass.

The way you pull the brush over the surface will determine what kind of design you create. For example, in the case of a board, this technique is especially effective when creating striped patterns.

Step 5: Applying Sealant or Varnish

Painting on wood is not permanent, and it’s best to apply a coat of sealant before the paint has completely dried. Acrylic products are water-resistant but cannot withstand their weight on horizontal surfaces.

Thus, it would help if you waited until the paint has dried out completely before applying a layer of sealant or varnish. However, this doesn’t mean that it can take days! For acrylic paints on unfinished wood, you’ll need to wait around 2-3 hours after you’ve applied the last coat.

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Step 6: Finishing Up

When the paint has dried out completely, your design should be ready to be displayed! However, if you want to remove the tape, now’s the time to peel it off from the edges carefully. The easiest way to avoid damaging your work is by using a craft knife or razor blade.

If you have some leftover paint on the tape, wipe it off with a damp cloth and carefully remove it from the surface.

Do You Have to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood?

No, you don’t have to seal your paint, but it will wear off quickly if you don’t.

As mentioned before, acrylic products are water-resistant but not waterproof. If water accidentally gets spilled on your design or surface, the paint may start to flake off. Thus, it’s best to finish off with a coat of sealant to make sure your artwork will last long.

If you want to give your final painting a glossy finish, it’s also best to apply a coat of varnish. However, adding too many layers may result in unwanted cracks and peelings.

How to Apply Sealant on wood painted with Acrylic Paint

Materials Required :

– Clearwater-based varnish or sealant

– Paintbrush for applying the varnish

or sealant

– Cloth or tissue for wiping the brush

– A sizeable clean cotton cloth for drying the surface

– Newspaper (to cover the surrounding areas, don’t want it getting messy!)

Step 1: Prepare your workspace by laying down old newspapers or sheets of paper to protect surfaces in case of spills. Cover any items close to your design, so they don’t get varnish on them.

Step 2: Prepare the varnish by stirring it well with a paintbrush.

Step 3: Start applying the varnish evenly over the surface using long strokes in one direction only – this avoids streaking. Make sure you’re painting with the grain of the wood.

Also, remember to apply thin layers of varnish. If it’s used too thickly, you might end up with unwanted cracks and bubbles in your final design!

Step 4: Allow the first coat to dry out before applying a second layer. Don’t wait longer than two hours, though otherwise, the paint may start to peel off.

Step 5: Allow the second coat to dry completely, ideally overnight. If you’re in a hurry, placing it somewhere warmer will help speed up the process.

Step 6: After the surface has dried out completely, your design is ready to be displayed! Just place it where you want and enjoy it!

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Completely Dry on Wood?

Depending on the thickness of your coats, it can take around 12 hours for acrylic paint to dry. If you’re using a very thin version of paint, such as watercolor or poster colors, this may be reduced to only one hour. However, if you want a thicker coat of paint on your surface (for example, a layer of gesso ), it can take up to 3 days for the wood to dry!

Don’t worry if your paint starts to feel tacky or rubbery after a few hours. This is entirely normal and will stop happening once the coating has dried out completely.

Also, remember that applying varnish onto a wet surface can result in unwanted cracks and bubbles. So, wait until the paint has dried out completely before applying a second coat.

The Best Acrylic Paint for Wood:

Here are some of the Best Acrylic paint for wood:

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint Set

The BEST water-based outdoor paint for wood-made items. This set has a range of colors that can be used on all kinds of surfaces, both indoors and outdoors! You will get 4-ounce bottles containing the following colors:

1 x Winter White 1 x Eggshell 1 x Oyster Gray 2 x Pearl Gray

  • 100% water-based acrylic paint
  • Easy to mix and apply, even if a second layer is required
  • Water-resistant finish for indoor and outdoor use, but water can be removed from the surface with a damp cloth
  • Won’t fade or crack after drying out (unless applied thickly)

They also have a smaller version of this product which includes only one-ounce bottles. This way, you can try out different colors before deciding which ones you want to buy in bigger versions.

Majic Paints RePurpose

If you’re looking for an affordable option to create beautiful artwork, this could be it! Majic Paints RePurpose is a water-based paint made from 100% recycled materials! It dries within 24 hours and is suitable for painting on wood.

This product was developed in the US and came in these beautiful bottles:

  • One ounce bottle – perfect for testing it out before buying larger quantities
  • Three-ounce bottles
  • Water-based paint which does not damage the environment
  • It can be sanded, stained, and sealed with a clear coat to extend durability
  • Tack free in 24 hours (potentially less on more absorbent surfaces)
  • Extra Fine Point Paint Brush Set by Fashion Angels
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This set is perfect for creating fine-lined artwork on painted surfaces! You get five brushes in different sizes, with round or flat tips. The bristles are made of high-quality synthetic hair, which holds its shape even after extensive washing. They’re great for both children and professionals!

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish is one of the most popular products on the market. It’s made from a mix of natural ingredients such as lime and casein, so it’s healthy for you and safe to use in your home! This paint is perfect for cottage-style decorating because it creates a look that resembles furniture made from wood.

Since it’s non-toxic, you can use this product to paint toys, kids’ furniture…or even your interior surfaces! The possibilities are endless, especially since the finish is entirely washable. You can also apply a clear coat on top of it to make sure that your surface looks brand new even after years.

Painting Furniture with Acrylic Paint

If you want to paint furniture, the best thing that you can do is pick a color and then get started. It’s better to use more than one coat of paint (2-3 should be enough) so that your surface is completely covered and smooth to the touch. If any part of your item seems rough after drying out, gently sand the surface before applying another layer.

Painting furniture with acrylic paint is easy, but you can also use spray paint. This way, it will take less time to prepare your items for decorating (no sanding required). Also, make sure that surfaces are totally dry before starting because any moisture can damage the final result.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you Prepare your Wood Before Painting on it?

You should prepare your surface before painting. This means cleaning it thoroughly and sanding it down if necessary (before applying a primer ). If the wood is old, rough, or creaky, you may need to use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth out these imperfections before you start painting on it.

How to Prepare a Wooden Surface for Painting Properly

If you want to make sure your paint sticks appropriately to the surface, use a deglosser or a sander before applying a primer. Some deglossers may damage your paint coat in the long run! Make sure you choose a product that is suitable for wood and paint.

If you want your paint to stick to the wood better, choose an acrylic primer. You can also use oil primer if that’s what you have at home! After you’re done, it’s time to apply the primer.

Can you paint directly on wood?

You can, but this will require a couple of steps. You have to clean your surface and then apply a primer first.

Once the primer is dry, you can start painting on it using a brush or a roller. Make sure that each layer of paint is completely dry before starting with another one!

Why does paint peel off wood?

Painting wood is easy, but it’s not guaranteed that your paint will stick properly to the surface. The most common reason why paint peels off wooden items is moisture. The primer, if misused, might also fail to form a protective layer between the wood and the paint.


Painting wood with acrylic paint can be easy if you follow the steps carefully. It’s even easier if you use spray paint, but other options should do their job correctly (if used correctly). Make sure to clean your surface thoroughly before applying a primer, and always wait for it to dry out completely. After this, start painting by using a paintbrush or roller. If you want your paint to stick better, use acrylic primer, and don’t forget about the clear coat in the end!

For more valuable tips like these, come back to our blog soon! We release new content every week, so subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out on anything!

Thanks for reading. See you next time!

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