Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood

One of the most frequently asked questions by craftsmen is: can you paint wood with acrylic paint? With acrylic being a water-based paint, wood is a surface on which it adheres best with thanks to the material’s porosity.

Here’s what I found:

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

You can use acrylic paint on wood and it is ideal on wood surfaces. The best way is to sand the wood first, then apply at least 2 coats sealer, 2 coats surface primer, and finish with acrylic paint on wood. Acrylic paint is perhaps the best craft paint for wood, just make sure you use good quality sealers, primer, and paints.

But that’s just a quick snapshot of the question.

In this article, we will also discuss:

  • Is it safe to use acrylic paint on wood?
  • Why acrylic paint is suitable on wood surfaces?
  • How to paint on wood with acrylics?
  • How to prime wood for acrylic painting?
  • How to seal acrylic paint on wood for outdoors?
  • How long does acrylic paint take to dry on wood?
  • What to watch out for when painting wood with acrylic paints?
  • How to protect acrylic painting on wood?
  • How to make acrylic paint smooth on wood?
  • Best acrylic painting products for woods
Table Of Contents
  1. Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?
  2. Is It Safe to Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?
  3. Why Acrylic Paint Is Suitable on Wood Surfaces?
  4. How to Prepare Wood for Acrylic Paint?
  5. How to Paint on Wood with Acrylics?
  6. Prime or Seal on The Wood?
  7. How to Prime Wood for Acrylic Painting?
  8. How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood for Outdoors?
  9. Dry Time on Wood
  10. How to Protect Acrylic Painting on Wood?
  11. 5 Best Acrylic Paint for Wood
  12. Best Acrylic Paint Primer & Sealer for Wood
  13. Tips and Techniques for Painting Wood With Acrylic Paints
  14. FAQs
  15. Did I Cover All You Wanted to Know About: Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

Is It Safe to Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

The short answer is yes! Acrylic paint has always been used to paint on wood. Find a good surface primer for better adhesion to wood(eg. bare wood, birch wood, paulownia wood, etc). Generally, this requires two topcoats. If the wood is finished with varnish, sand it down to tarnish it before painting.

Why Acrylic Paint Is Suitable on Wood Surfaces?

Does acrylic paint work on wood, and should you give it a try too? Nowadays, the trend is going back to the natural, which is why wood is a popular material, whether for wood furniture, cladding, interior design, or house building. But not all of us want to leave the wood in its original color; some would prefer to have it in a different color or colorful pattern. Acrylic paint is ideal for wood furniture because of the following advantages:

  • Dries quickly
  • Non-toxicity
  • high opacity
  • Acrylic paint does not smear
  • It adheres well to wood

This makes it particularly easy to paint on wood with acrylic paint.

Does Acrylic Paint Work Well on Wood
Photo by Steve Johnson on

How to Prepare Wood for Acrylic Paint?

Before beginning painting with acrylic paint, you need to create a smooth, flat surface on the wood. If you don’t do this, you may get a textured painted surface that will flake off after using acrylic paint.

Tools needed:

  • 140 grit sandpaper
  • 180 grit sandpaper 
  • A flat, wide paintbrush 
  • Wiping cloth
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Gac-100 acrylic paint sealer
  • Liquid Professional Gesso Wood Primer
  • Safety glasses for eye protection
  • Protective face shield to prevent inhalation of sanding dust

Once you have all your supplies, you are ready to proceed with the preparation. Follow the step-by-step guide below, and you can complete the process.

Step 1: Prepare your workstation and get personal protection

Before you start working, make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area, and if you are working indoors, consider opening a window or keeping a fan running. Avoid sanding dust suspended in the air for long periods while wearing a safety protective face mask to protect you from inhaling sanding dust. It is a good idea to wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Cover the desired items (wood dust, sealer, and surface primer) with a masking cloth to prevent messes and mistakes on the surface of these items, which can stain the surface around your workstation.

For larger acrylic coatings, working outdoors is recommended for your health and that of your family.

Step 2: Sanding the wood

Sanding the wood will ensure a smooth surface and obtain a desirable, even grain.

Start by sanding with medium grit sandpaper(140 grit) in the direction of the wood grain. Then switch to 180 grit sandpaper(fine grit sandpaper) and sand in the same manner to obtain a smoother finish. The wood grain is the lines you see when you look at a wood piece. Therefore, sand in the direction of those lines.

Sanding sideways or against the grain will destroy the grain of the original wood, is surface roughness, and creates burrs, which defeats the whole purpose of sanding.

Step 3: Clean the wood surface

Start by wiping away the sawdust, dust, and residue from the sanding with a dry sponge brush. This process is critical to ensure that you have a smooth grain finish when you paint. This is because whatever primer, paint, or sealer you apply following needs to be done on a clean wood surface.

Then, prepare a damp cloth(or water and paper towels), ensuring that the damp cloth has been wrung out of excess water before wiping the wood. Clean the wood with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dirt. Do not allow the excess water to crack the grain of the wood.

After cleaning, allow the wood piece to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Apply wood sealer

Using a broad sponge brush, gently apply Gac-100 to the entire surface you wish to apply. Then, spray sealer to completely cover the surface of the wood and wait 60 minutes for it to dry. Because wood is porous, you must seal these wood pores before applying acrylic paint to prevent the wood from soaking in the paint.

Then wash with water, sand the surface again with 180 grit sandpaper(fine grit sandpaper), apply another thin coat of sealer, and let it dry.

Step 5: Apply wood primer

The primer is easy to apply and adheres easily to wood surfaces. Liquid Professional Gesso Wood Primer is the best primer for acrylic paint application. After two coats of sealer have dried, apply it.

Lightly sand the surface with 180-grit sandpaper, then apply a thin coat with a roller. Using a roller rather than a painter’s brush can help you quickly achieve a smoother and more even surface.

You can apply two coats of primer to get better coverage and let the surface dry for 12-24 hours.

How to Paint on Wood with Acrylics?

The following step-by-step instructions show you how to paint on wood with acrylic paint.

Step 1: Roughening

Acrylic paint adheres well to all surfaces, including smooth ones, but it adheres better to somewhat rough wood. It is therefore advisable to roughen the wood a little beforehand if it is very smooth. You can use sandpaper for this. Run it over the area you want to paint two or three times.

Step 2: Cleaning

For the paint to adhere well, it is also essential to clean the surface, primarily if you have previously worked on the wood with sandpaper. You should remove the chips, dust, dirt, and grease from it with a damp cloth.

Step 3: Priming

Wood is an organic material that soaks up the paint. So you should prime the wood in advance. Otherwise, you would not achieve such an intense paint result. The same applies to smooth surfaces on wood: you must prime the wood surface, as the paint will otherwise be absorbed or not hold up well enough.

After you’ve applied the primer evenly, you should wait for it to dry completely. If you need an exceptionally smooth surface for your paint project, you can sand the wood beforehand and prime it.

Step 4: Painting

As soon as the wood has been primed and the primer has dried, you can start painting with acrylic paint or acrylic varnish.

You can also paint the wood thickly or in several thin layers, depending on the result you want to achieve.

The glazing technique is also possible. To do this, mix the acrylic paint with plenty of water to dilute it and then only apply it very thinly. In this way, thin, transparent layers of paint can be created.

You can also combine several layers of different colors, creating good brilliance and depth. This technique is prevalent in acrylic painting and also looks great on wood.

Prime or Seal on The Wood?

Sealing: The sealer protects the surface of the wood by sealing it, which stops the wood pores of the wood from sucking up the paint and warping due to extra moisture.

Priming: Priming ensures that the paint will adhere well to the surface of the wood. When applying primer evenly to wood, a base layer needs to be created to improve the adhesion of subsequent paints.

While a sealer works to protect underlying paint layers of wood, the primer acts as a layer of foundation that improves the adhesion of paint to the support. However, both the sealer and primer can be used.

Paint on Wood with Acrylics

Priming comes first as it ensures the adhesion of paint. And then sealed with a sealant to make the acrylic paint waterproof and oil-resistant on wood. Also, let the primer dry before applying acrylic paint. Sealing reduces the possibility of the wood from staining, warping, or rotting.

How to Prime Wood for Acrylic Painting?

If you want to achieve an even result on wood, you should prime wood well beforehand. You don’t need a primer for acrylic paint on wood. If you want a smooth surface, it makes perfect sense.

Step 1: Sanding

First, work on the wood surface with emery paper or sand the wood with a sander.

Step 2: Remove dust

Remove all the dust particles with the help of a soft brush. Before proceeding with the primer, you should make sure that the wood is completely dry.

Step 3: Prime

Then apply a primer for wooden furniture surfaces. The Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is considered one of the best primers for wooden surfaces on the market. It resists mildew and has a stain-blocking formula.

You can also seal the wooden furniture surface with acrylic varnish before starting painting. Some products have a 2-in-1 solution with an included primer. Let the layer dry well. Then move on to the acrylic paint.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood for Outdoors?

Step 1: Waiting for the paint to dry

After the acrylic paint has dried, a solid and water-impermeable film is created. Therefore, the color itself offers protection for itself and the wood. In some cases, such as outdoor use, sealing the acrylic paint can still be advisable.

Step 2: Glazing

If you have painted your wood with the glazing technique, you should seal it. When glazing, only a skinny layer of paint is applied, so it is accordingly less protected.

Step 3: Sealing

Sealing acrylic paint on wood protects the paint from damage. It is best to choose a transparent sealer so that the colors can still be seen intensely.

Step 4: Apply second top coat

To apply a sealer, apply two coatings, let the first layer dry before applying the next.

Dry Time on Wood

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry on Wood?

Most acrylic paints dry in approximately 1-2 hours. This can, however, vary depending on the thickness of layers of the paint and the brand. If you use acrylic paint on wood for pouring painting it may take 1-2 days as it is thicker.

However, If you are doing an acrylic pouring project and you apply a very thick coat of paint, the drying time may be more than 48 hours.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Wood?

Place acrylic paintings in a dry and ventilated environment or place them near a fan. Accelerating the air circulation near an acrylic painting can improve the natural drying time of acrylic paint by drawing moisture away from its surface.

How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry Between Coats?

A thin layer of acrylic paint can dry in one to two hours, thick paint coats can take up to 24-48 hours to dry completely, you should wait until the paint dries.

How to Protect Acrylic Painting on Wood?

Acrylic paint is pressure sensitive and remains pretty soft even after it dries completely. If something touches the wet paint, it will start sticking to it. If many acrylic paintings are stacked together for an extended period, they will stick together, even if they are completely dry.

  • Use a frame: A frame usually protects the painting from objects touching the surface.
  • Add mineral spirits: You can use acrylic varnishes with acrylic polymers suspended in mineral spirits.
  • Choose a spray varnish: A spray varnish is the easiest to use because it is not pressure-sensitive. Water-soluble acrylic varnishes are the same as the acrylic paint itself.
  • Apply shellac to the backside of the panel: This sealing wood will prevent fungus and mildew in the long run.
  • Use a polyethylene film bag for protection: You can also use a custom bag made of thick polyethylene film so that the whole thing slides in, which won’t easily stick to the paint film.
  • Keep away from heat and sunlight: Keep the paint job away from direct heat and sunlight in a reasonably maintained environment with standard climate control.

5 Best Acrylic Paint for Wood

Our Preferred Choice: Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Set

Liquitex Classic Acrylic Paint dries to a UV resistant coating that protects your wood from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays. Liquitex Acrylic Paint dries to a beautiful satin finish. That’s why it’s our top choice.

This acrylic paint set will ensure that the intended color is achieved exactly as you desire, as these bright, vibrant colors are permanent and will last a long time without yellowing. It will make your paint job will remain new for years.

You can buy it on Amazon or in your local craft store.


  • They are flexible when dry and will not crack.
  • With a creamy consistency and good surface resistance, it is especially suitable for porous woods.
  • Versatility

Most Versatile: Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set

If you want to achieve excellent coverage on wood crafts surfaces, you can trust this acrylic paint set.

Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set can be applied to a variety of surfaces. It features a unique formula with a butter-like consistency that ensures excellent texture and easy adhesion on any wood surface. This makes it the best acrylic paint for wood crafts.

You can get any look and shade you want. Because this paint is so easy to blend and each color choice is pigmented, it brings maximum color definition and brilliance.


  • Achieve perfect coverage
  • Outstanding texture and adhesion
  • Easy to blend
  • Reasonable price
  • Having three free brushes saves you time and money

Best for Multiple Surfaces: FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint in Assorted Colors

FolkArt’s high-performance multi-surface paint has a smooth finish, creamy consistency and is designed to cover any surface, and can be used on any wood surface with satisfying results. In addition, its multi-color artist quality paint formula allows it to be used on any decorative painting.

If you don’t like fast-drying acrylic paints, then FolkArt’s professional quality multi-surface paints are for you. They dry a little slower than other paints, so you can take your time with your paint project.

This high-quality paint is available in special finishes, including enamel, neon and chalk paint. If you desire a special finish, this paint will meet your needs.


  • Artist quality paint formulation 
  • Easy to use in any painting project
  • Non-toxic, environmentally friendly and safe for everyday use
  • Provides excellent coverage and a beautiful matte or satin finish
  • Can be used for both indoor and exterior projects

Best for Large Projects on Wood: Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint in Assorted Colors

This Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint is the least dense of all acrylic paints. The creamy formula allows it to glide smoothly on wood surfaces for a satisfying finish.

It has a short drying time and dries quickly, so you can finish your art project in no time.

You can very easily pour it on your large wood surfaces and spread it out. This Apple Barrel acrylic paint set is your best choice for working on a large wood surface. It has even better results on large paper and canvas.

It is vital to apply the sealer to the wood before painting. Otherwise, it can easily seep into the pores of the wood. Also, consider sealing the surface after painting for a longer lasting effect.


  • The paint is non-toxic
  • creamy consistency
  • easy to paint on large wood surfaces.  
  • water-based formula makes it easy to clean
  • Short drying time
  • Beautiful glossy, satin and matte finish

Best for Decorative Painting: Delta Creative Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint

Delta Creative Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint’s rich color formula ensures that your painting will be vibrant for a long time and is especially suitable for decorative painting. 

The rich, creamy consistency of this paint provides excellent coverage. It is ideal for wood, paper, chipboard, terra cotta, glass, plaster, and any hard surface. It maintains a consistent quality on all these surfaces.

Delta Creative Ceramcoat is a high-quality acrylic coating available in a range of colors, so I’m sure you can find your favorite color (White, Bright Yellow, Rosy Beige, Yellow, Tangerine, Pumpkin, Fuchsia, GP Purple, Bright Red, Turquoise, Purple, Navy Blue, Tahiti Blue, Burnt Umber, Leaf Green, and Black).


  • Rich Colors 
  • Consistent on different surfaces.
  • Long-lasting vibrancy
  • Works well on porous surfaces

Best Acrylic Paint Primer & Sealer for Wood

A variety of paints and varnishes are suitable for painting on wood, both with and without solvents. These include oil paints and pastels, alkyd oil paints, acrylics, and watercolor paints.

In addition to oil paints, oil pastels, and alkyd paints, acrylic paints are also ideal for use on wooden surfaces due to their adaptable nature.

Watercolors can also be applied to wood crafts, but should also be protected with a varnish so that the color does not fade or yellow over time.

Best Acrylic Paint Primer

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is considered the best primer for acrylic paint on wood. It resists mildew and has a stain-blocking formula.

Best Acrylic Paint Sealer

Water-based or polyacrylic polyurethane are good acrylic paint seals that can be used on outdoor surfaces. The Mod Podge CS11302 is the best and most sold acrylic paint sealer that is available online. And a bottle is sold for less than $10. This is water-based and has an all-in-one sealer. It’s ideal for use on wood, paper, tin, canvas, terra cotta, and more.  

Tips and Techniques for Painting Wood With Acrylic Paints

  • Acrylic paints adhere well and do not smear
  • They dry quickly
  • Before brush on sealer, the paint should be completely dry
  • Acrylic paints have high opacity, but when painting wood you should still apply a layer of paint that is as thick and opaque as possible
  • If you want to prime the surface, you should make sure that it is smooth
  • If you must prime the substrate, it is advisable to first roughen it with emery paper


Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood?

Yes, you can use apply acrylic paint on stained wood. However, you’ll need to eliminate the protective coating from the original stain in order to paint over it. Sand the wood material with sandpaper that has 150 grit.

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used on Wood Outside?

Acrylic paints are durable and can be used on wood board, wood framr, wood birdhouse, wood deck, wood chair, and wood sign. Oil-based paints allow for a strong and durable finish, making them a great choice for exterior wood paint.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Smooth on Wood?

  1. Apply Gesso to your canvas.
  2. Choose a good quality acrylic paint suitable for the wood.
  3. Add flow improver to acrylic paint.
  4. Choose the correct brush and sandpaper.
  5. Sand between coats for optimum smoothness and wipe clean.
  6. Apply as many top coats as needed to achieve the desired smoothness.
  7. Control the drying process as needed.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood?

  1. Make soapy water, or add dish soap to the water, and mix them.
  2. Soak the rag in hot soapy water.
  3. Wipe off the acrylic paint from the wood furniture with a damp cloth.
  4. Wipe off the spilled paint with a clean rag, repeat several times.
  5. Wipe off other residues.

Did I Cover All You Wanted to Know About: Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Wood?

Acrylic paint is suitable for painting pictures as well as for priming and processing wooden surfaces. You have to proceed differently depending on your requirements.

If you want to work on a wood surface with acrylic paint, you can do that without working on the wood. Make sure, however, that the surface is free of dirt and grease. This is important so that the applied acrylic paint sticks to the wood.

After you’re done with the painting, you need to seal the paint. The best choice of product among craft makers is The Mod Podge CS11302. For painting, we recommend the Crafts 4 All Acrylic 12 Paint Set. Before painting, priming the wood will ensure the paint adheres properly. And the best for this is the Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3.

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