How to Seal Acrylic Painting?

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Canvas

Whether you are a painter or a collector, the goal is the same. People seal acrylic paint to offer an optimal rendering to your painting and guarantee it the best possible conservation. Would you like to know how to seal acrylic paint?

Here is what I’ve found:

How to Seal Acrylic Paintings?

  • Let the acrylic painting dry
  • Choose a soft, fine-bristle brush or an airbrush
  • Apply or spray the first coat of varnish evenly and allow to dry
  • Apply a second coat of protection
  • Repeat again and wash the brush

That’s a quick snapshot, In this article, we will also discuss:

  • Why Do You Need to Seal Acrylic Painting?
  • How Many Coats of Varnish Should You Put on Acrylic Painting?
  • How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry before Varnishing on Canvas?
  • What Happens If The Acrylic Painting Is Varnished too Early?
  • What Do You Use to Seal The Acrylic Painting?
  • How to Seal Acrylic Painting with The Varnish?

Some artists choose not to spray varnish for acrylic paint, as was the case with many impressionists. This is to keep their paintings looking more natural. But as we will see, applying acrylic sealer spray on your paint brings a lot of advantages. Clear acrylic spray sealer can be applied to any material.

So, let’s keep going!

Why You Need to Seal Acrylic Painting?

Some of the advantages of applying acrylic paint sealers are the following: 

Evens out paint shine

The differences between shiny and matte areas, inherent in the execution of a painting, can significantly bother the viewer. The varnish will even out the shine.

Color enhancement

After applying the varnish, the painting will gain saturation and therefore enhance the color.

Oil painting appearance

Applying sealant to a water-based painting like acrylic can make your work have an oil painting appearance. It is the best way to make acrylic look like oil.

Protection against contamination

The acrylic is soft enough on the surface; it traps dust. In addition, dust becomes embedded in the micro-pores specific to acrylic. Varnish will clog pores, and its more complex surface than acrylic allows dust to slip off.

Once the varnish is dirty, it can be removed using a specific product to apply a new layer. For this to be possible, you must use a reversible varnish. The varnish removal operation can be carried out every 5 to 10 years.

Protection against excess temperatures

The varnish protects the acrylic from extreme temperatures, which can be reached very quickly.

UV protection

Some varnishes contain a UVLS stabilizer which protects the paint from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.

how to seal acrylic paint with varnish

How Many Coats of Varnish Should You Put on Acrylic Painting?

Usually, 2-3 coats of varnish will be enough to protect your acrylic painting. Still, if the varnish is uneven after drying, you can eventually apply another coat to get the effect you want. It is generally recommended that each coat of varnish be thinned and then sprayed several times.

How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry before Varnishing on Canvas?

Please spray the acrylic paint evenly and make sure the painted surface is completely dry for 3-5 days before varnishing, depending on the thickness and quality of the acrylic paint. And your space is well ventilated and free of dust.

What Happens If The Acrylic Painting Is Varnished too Early?

If you varnish your acrylic prematurely before the acrylic paint is completely dry, it can ruin your painting, as the varnish can become cloudy due to moisture retention. It is generally recommended to wait at least 3-5 days, but some acrylic artists wait 1-2 weeks or even longer to ensure that the acrylic paint is completely dry.

What Do You Use to Seal The Acrylic Painting?

To answer what to seal acrylic paint with, you have to know that acrylic sealing has two phases: applying the insulating layer and the varnish layer.

The isolating layer

The isolating layer is applied between the pictorial layer and the sealing. The layer will therefore allow the varnish to be removed without touching the paint.

To apply the isolating layer, do the following:

  • Prepare a mixture of 2 parts of acrylic gel such as the Golden Gel Mediums Soft Gel (Gloss) with 1 part of water. The Golden Soft Gel has the required qualities of leveling and evacuation of the foam.
  • If the gel forms up, allow it to sit before applying.
  • Spread quickly, to avoid streaks if the gel begins to dry. Do not apply a thick layer, rather apply 2 thin layers if necessary.

The varnish layer

The varnish layer is the actual seal that stays on the painting and adds function and aesthetics to the painting you’re protecting.

As for the choice of varnish, use a reversible varnish to allow a subsequent renovation of the painting by replacing the layer of varnish.

Please note, most of the varnishes sold are final. So far, one of the only reversible is the Liquitex Soluvar Gloss Varnish.

Glossy or matte?

The choice of matte or gloss varnish would be dependent on what finish you’re looking to get and what material the paint is done on.

Gloss seal

Gloss varnish saturates colors well, respects the depth of blacks. If you’re sealing acrylic paint on wood furniture, gloss seals are items you want to avoid. 

However, the shiny appearance is a question of taste and comfort when strong lighting reflections are present. Meanwhile, gloss varnishes like the Mod Podge Spray Acrylic Sealer are crystal clear and dry quickly.

Matt seal

For certain types of paintings or in difficult lighting conditions (window opposite the painting), matt varnish may seem attractive. But it tends to de-saturate the colors and make the blacks milkier.

The matt varnish is the best option if you are sealing acrylic paint on wood. It’s ideal if you are looking to protect the natural look of wood.

If you opt for the matt, carry out all the previous coats (gel and varnish) with a shiny product, and only use the mat varnish for the last coat. The matt effect will be there while limiting the accumulation of white veils.

Water-based or solvent-based?

Varnishes can be based on solvent or water. But in what situations would you need to use one or the other?


Are you looking for how to seal acrylic paint on fabric, leather, or metal? Then water-based varnishes are ideal.

Water-based varnish (acrylic polymer) has the advantage of being odorless. The downside is that it gives a not very hard surface and dries very quickly (you have to be careful not to leave traces of brush strokes).


This varnish known as MSA (Mineral Spirit Acrylic) gives a more complex surface, but it must be used in a very ventilated room or outdoors.

How to Seal Acrylic Painting with The Varnish?

When you’re ready to apply the varnish, some of the application methods to consider are as follows:

Is it best to use a spray or brush to apply the varnish? Find out below!

Applying by brush

If the paint layer is relatively smooth, preferably use a brush. The brush must be soft, with fine hair, and dedicated to varnish because it must remain in excellent condition so as not to see traces of the brush or loose hair.

To apply, the steps are as follows:

  • Position the table horizontally
  • Pour the varnish in a shallow dish to be able to impregnate only the 1st quarter of the brush.
  • Make a full pass on the painting from top to bottom.
  • Make a second pass from left to right
  • Do not apply on the parts which have started to dry.

Applying by spray

Are you looking for how to seal acrylic paint for outdoor use? Then you may want to use a spray. But you have to choose an outdoor acrylic paint sealer.

If the paint has a lot of impastos or textures, use a spray to limit varnish accumulations in deep hollows.

For obvious health reasons, apply the spray outdoors and places with enough ventilation. After application, let the varnish dry and repeat 2 or 3 times.

Once the varnish has been applied, leave to dry, protecting the painting from dust: cover the paint with a board slightly raised with shims, or for large formats, place the painting facing a wall.


Is varnishing a canvas painted with acrylic mandatory?

It all depends on the situation. This should be done when this product brings added value to the work. The varnish will protect the colors of the canvas and prolong its life, especially when it is exposed on a wall or in a bright place.

Applying a varnish protects your canvas from external aggressions such as pollution, dust, or the various stains that can occur. Also, it is easier to clean a varnish than to clean paint.

How do you protect acrylic paint that is still fluid?

Practice makes perfect, so you will have to try a few varnishes on your works until you get your pictures to shine with a minimum of layers of varnish. Since varnish is an oily mixture with glossy resins and solvents that evaporate in the air, it is necessary to varnish your works in an open space, sufficiently ventilated and with a mask.

Suppose you want to varnish a liquid acrylic paint in which you have added silicone oil. In that case, you may have to add more layers of varnish, even when the first coat has not yet dried, since the silicone will try to repel the varnish, creating unvarnished circular areas.

Place the first layer of varnish; if these gaps form, wait for this layer to thicken. Without drying completely, place a second coat in the areas that had not been soaked in the varnish. Allow drying entirely before applying the second coat.

Why do you need to varnish a painting?

 The varnish protects your painting from external aggressions. The varnish protects your painting from the sun. In the long term, UV rays may tarnish the colors of your painting. Thanks to anti UV varnishes, you will increase the life of your painting and protect it from these UV rays. This is very important so that your painting does not get damaged.

Finally, the varnish allows you to even your painting. In particular, there are differences in mattress and shine that appear on your paintings with both acrylic paint and oil paint. Your painting will have a professional look, and above all, the varnish will revive the colors of your paintings and give them some pep!

How to seal acrylic paint on ceramic tiles?

Painting on ceramic or glass surfaces is not recommended as acrylics have inferior adhesion to glazed ceramics. The paint will not form a permanent bond and can be easily scratched off.

If you want to seal acrylic paint on ceramic surfaces: first allow the acrylic paint to dry on the ceramic surface for 2-3 days, then seal the tiles with 2-3 coats of clear water-based polyurethane sealer. Each coat of polyurethane must be completely dry on the surface before the next coat is applied. Be careful not to use oil-based polyurethane as it tends to yellow over time.

How to seal acrylic paint on candles?

Do not use any sealant when using acrylic paint on candles. Be careful to use water-based, non-toxic acrylic paint, and your candles will be safe to burn after the paint has dried for a few hours.

How to seal acrylic paint with mod podge?

You can use Mod Podge to seal your acrylic paper and other surfaces. If you choose to use Mod Podge to seal your work, you will need to allow the acrylic paint to dry completely and then apply Mod Podge in thin, even coats to the surface of your painting.

After applying the first layer, smooth the paper to prevent wrinkling. Allow each layer to dry for at least 15 minutes before adding the next layer. Use at least two coats of Mod Podge, but you need to provide sufficient drying time between coats.

How to seal acrylic paint on air dry clay?

Acrylic paints are among the most suitable types of paint for air-drying clay modeling. However, it is necessary to seal the paint after application. You can use varnish or Mod Podge to seal the air-dried clay.

How to seal acrylic paint on burlap?

You can use varnishes and then heat and blow dry them to seal the acrylic coating on the burlap. The burlap clothes will last longer, and it is usually most straightforward to use an iron to heat them.

How to seal acrylic paint on plastic ornaments models?

You can use acrylic paints to paint on a plastic model or ornaments, prime it with Minwax Polycrylic Clear Gloss, wait for it to dry, and finally apply an even coat of sealer to seal it. Use a matte sealer for plastic models in general.

How to seal a wood board before painting with acrylics?

If you are going to paint with acrylic on wood board, you will need to seal the surface with furniture wax and prime the varnish first to enhance adhesion and whiten the surface to optimize the paint’s color. As a general rule, at least two coats of sealer should be applied to the wood board to protect the wood, and then, after these have dried, a primer should be applied to.

How to remove acrylic paint sealer from concrete?

Using a solvent-based stripper is the most common method of removing old sealers from patios. Apply a solvent-based stripper such as xylene to the sealer on the patio, wait a while, put on gloves to strip the sealer, and finally wash the concrete surface with water and allow it to dry completely.

How do you seal acrylic pour painting to overpaint?

Applying varnish or enamel spray is a common and effective means of sealing acrylic pour painting.

Have I covered all the questions about How to Seal Acrylic Paintings?

Varnishing acrylic paint is not that complicated. Already if you have made an acrylic painting, you need to choose a varnish for acrylic paint. Then you have the choice between solvent-based varnish or varnish based on ‘water. Solvent-based varnishes are greasy, silky, syrupy, easy to use, and also you can clean it easily with white spirit, for example.

Then you have the choice between different finishes: matte, glossy, or satin, according to your wishes and the rendering you want. Don’t forget, for isolating the layers of sealant and the painting; you need something like the Golden Gel Mediums Soft Gel. For applying the sealer, you need a reversible layer such as the Liquitex Soluvar Gloss Varnish. And if you want a gloss varnish that offers a crystal clear finish, choose the Mod Podge Spray Acrylic Sealer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *