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How to Use Acrylic Paint on Wood

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Yes! You can use acrylic paint on wood. And this is our guide that will teach you how to do it, including:

  • Materials you need
  • How to prepare the wood
  • How to dry & cure the wood
  • How to protect the wood
  • And more!
How to Use Acrylic Paint on Wood

Acrylic paint is an excellent choice for artists and DIY enthusiasts alike due to its wide range of colors, easy application, and quick drying time.

But what makes acrylic paint an excellent option for wood?

  1. It adheres well to wood surfaces, creating vibrant and long-lasting colors.
  2. Acrylic paint is water-resistant once dry, providing a protective layer that helps preserve your wooden masterpiece.
  3. Its flexibility makes it less prone to cracking, ensuring your artwork remains intact over time.

In this article, I’ll give you a comprehensive guide on how to use acrylic paint on wood, covering everything from surface preparation to sealing your finished work.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, I hope this guide will help you create beautiful and durable wooden art pieces. So, let’s dive in and get started on this exciting journey!

Materials Needed for Using Acrylic on Wood

Alright, let’s gather everything we need to start our acrylic painting project on wood.

Acrylic Paint

Obviously, you’re going to need some acrylic paints. There are so many colors to choose from, so go with the ones that suit your vision. If you’re having trouble picking colors, just remember, having a mix of primary colors and some extra shades can be pretty handy (trust me on that one).


The next (very obvious) piece of supplies you’ll need is a set of paintbrushes. Honestly, you can use anything you have lying around – don’t get too hung up on it. I recommend having a good mix of sizes and shapes to create different effects and cover various areas.

Wood Surface

And of course, you’ll need a wood surface to paint on. If possible, choose one that’s smooth and free from knots to make your painting experience easier. But really, any piece of wood will do.


To prep the wood for the acrylic paint, you’ll need sandpaper for smoothing the surface and ensuring the paint sticks well.


A primer is also a must, as it helps seal the wood and creates a smooth base for the acrylics.

Varnish or Sealer

Once you’re done painting, you’ll want to protect your artwork with a varnish or sealer to keep it looking fresh.

Palette & Water Container

A palette and water container are essential for organizing your paint and brushes as you work.

Drop Cloth

And don’t forget a drop cloth or protective covering to keep your workspace clean from spills.

Cleaning Materials

Lastly, grab some cleaning materials like paper towels and soap for easy cleanup after you’ve finished painting.

With all these materials and tools ready, you’re all set to start your acrylic painting adventure on wood. Have fun and happy painting!

How to Prepare the Wood for Acrylic Paint

Before we dive into painting, it’s crucial to prepare the wood surface properly. As mentioned previously, it’s important to select the right type of wood.

Ideally, you’ll want a smooth and knot-free surface, so consider woods like birch, maple, or poplar. These are easy to work with and provide a great canvas for your acrylic paint.

Sanding the Wood

Next up is sanding the wood. Why is sanding important? It helps create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to and ensures an even finish. To sand properly, start with a coarser sandpaper, like 80-grit, and work your way up to a finer one, like 220-grit. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.

Clean the Wood

Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s time to clean the wood. Removing dust and debris is essential for a clean surface that allows the paint to stick well. Simply use a slightly damp cloth or tack cloth to wipe away any dust from the sanding process. Make sure the surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Apply the Primer

Now, let’s talk about applying primer. Primer is important because it seals the wood and provides a smooth, even base for your acrylics. To choose the right primer, look for one specifically designed for use with acrylic paints and wood surfaces. When applying the primer, use a brush or roller to apply an even coat. Remember to let it dry completely before you start painting.

With the wood surface prepared, you’re now ready to bring your artistic vision to life using acrylic paint. Enjoy the process, and don’t forget to have fun!

Painting techniques and tips for acrylic on wood

Now that your wood surface is prepped and ready, let’s discuss some painting techniques and tips to help you create a fantastic piece of art.

Choosing the right paint colors is essential for a successful project.

Think about the overall look you want to achieve and select colors that work well together. You can always test them on a scrap piece of wood before starting your main project.

Mixing acrylic paints can be fun and help you create unique shades.

To mix colors, use a palette and start with small amounts of paint. Combine the colors gently and adjust until you achieve the desired hue.

Related: Check out how I used some acrylic paint to create a “mossy” look on some clay pots.

Basic painting techniques:

  • Dry brushing involves using a brush with very little paint, allowing the bristles to create a textured effect.
  • Stippling is a technique where you use the tip of your brush to apply small dots or dabs of paint, creating interesting patterns and textures.
  • Glazing means applying a thin, transparent layer of paint over a dried base color to create depth and a smooth finish.

Get Creative with Textures and Patterns

To create texture and patterns, try using different brush sizes and shapes or even unconventional tools like sponges or palette knives. Experiment with various techniques to find the ones that work best for your project.

Smooth & Even Coverage

For smooth and even coverage, apply thin layers of paint using a flat brush. Be patient and allow each layer to dry before applying the next one. This will prevent unwanted streaks and ensure a clean finish.

Add Depth

Layering and blending colors can add depth and dimension to your artwork. To blend colors, apply one color next to another and use a clean, slightly damp brush to gently mix the two while they’re still wet.

Don’t Worry About Mistakes

If you make a mistake, don’t worry! Acrylic paint is quite forgiving. Simply wait for the paint to dry and then paint over the error with the correct color. For more significant mistakes, you may need to sand the area lightly and reapply primer before painting again.

With these techniques and tips, you’re well on your way to creating a beautiful acrylic painting on wood. Remember, practice makes perfect, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and methods. Happy painting!

Drying and Curing Acrylic Paint on Wood

When it comes to acrylic painting on wood, understanding the drying and curing process is essential for achieving the best results. These two stages play a crucial role in the durability and longevity of your artwork. In this section, we’ll discuss the drying time, factors affecting it, the curing process, and some tips for proper curing. Let’s dive in to ensure your acrylic masterpiece stands the test of time!

Drying Time

Understanding the drying time of acrylic paint is essential for a successful project. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Acrylic paint generally dries within 10-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the paint layer.
  • Allow each layer to dry completely before adding another to prevent unwanted texture or color mixing.

Factors Affecting Drying Time

Several factors can influence the drying time of acrylic paint on wood. Be aware of the following:

  • Temperature: Higher temperatures can speed up drying, while lower temperatures slow it down.
  • Humidity: High humidity levels may prolong drying time, while low humidity can cause paint to dry faster.
  • Paint thickness: Thicker layers of paint will take longer to dry than thin layers.

Curing Process

Proper curing of acrylic paint is crucial for long-lasting results. Consider these points:

  • Curing refers to the process of the paint hardening and reaching its maximum durability.
  • Acrylic paint generally takes 2-4 weeks to cure fully, depending on the factors mentioned above.
  • Avoid exposing the painted wood to moisture or extreme temperatures during the curing process.

Tips for Proper Curing

To ensure your acrylic painting on wood cures well, follow these tips:

  • Store the painted wood in a dry, well-ventilated area during the curing process.
  • Keep the project away from direct sunlight or sources of heat.
  • Be patient, and avoid handling or sealing the painted surface until it’s fully cured.

By understanding drying and curing, you’ll be able to create durable and long-lasting acrylic paintings on wood. Patience is key, so take your time and enjoy the process!

How to Protect the Painted Wood

Once you’ve completed your acrylic painting on wood and allowed it to dry and cure, it’s essential to protect your artwork to ensure its longevity. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of sealing or varnishing, how to choose the right product, application tips, and maintenance advice for keeping your painted wood looking beautiful for years to come.

Use a Sealer or Varnish

Protecting your painted wood is a crucial step in the process. Consider the following:

  • Sealing or varnishing creates a protective barrier against moisture, dirt, and UV rays.
  • A good sealant helps prevent fading, peeling, and cracking over time.
  • It enhances the overall appearance and durability of your artwork.

How to Choose the Right Sealer or Varnish

  • Look for sealers or varnishes specifically designed for use with acrylic paint on wood.
  • Choose between matte, satin, or gloss finishes, depending on your desired look.
  • Water-based products are generally easier to use and clean up than solvent-based options.

How to Apply the Sealer or Varnish

  • Ensure the acrylic paint is fully cured before sealing or varnishing.
  • Apply the sealer or varnish with a clean, soft brush in thin, even coats.
  • Allow each coat to dry completely before applying additional layers, if needed.

Maintenance Tips

  • Clean the surface gently with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the paint or sealant.
  • Protect the painted wood from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight, if possible.

For additional tips, you can reference this article from the Smithsonian about caring for acrylic paintings.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, from gathering the necessary materials and tools to preparing the wood surface, painting techniques, drying and curing, and finally, protecting your finished artwork.

Acrylic paint is a versatile and forgiving medium, perfect for creating stunning pieces on wood surfaces.

As you embark on your acrylic painting journey, remember that practice makes perfect, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and styles.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process of creating something beautiful and unique. We hope this guide has been helpful and inspires you to bring your artistic vision to life on wood.

Happy painting, y’all!

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