Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood? The Modern Genre of Wood Painting

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood

Nowadays, Acrylic paint is really a huge hit and it has become a popular choice with craftsmen, artists, and DIY hobbyists. The biggest advantage of painting with acrylics is their versatility, especially on wood surfaces or wood projects. But is it really a worthy choice for wood paint? Or Can you use acrylic paint on wood?  

The answer is yes; acrylic paint works well on wood. To get the glossy finish, you should prepare the surface first, like sanding and priming. Then choosing the right Acrylic, mixing it with the proper ratio, and brushing gently helps you get the desired result.  

However, it’s a pretty decent technique that needs to be done with a step-by-step process. Don’t be in a rush if you are a beginner or DIY hobbyist. In the following discussion, we will discuss the ins and outs of acrylic and wood painting.

What is acrylic paint – The Changing Face of Painting?


According to, acrylic paint is a versatile and quick-drying artist’s medium. The active ingredients of this type of paint formula are silicone oils, stabilizers (or metal soaps), defoamers, plasticizers, and acrylic polymer emulsion.  Though it is a water-soluble paint, it becomes water-resistant when it dries. 

Who is for:

If you are a newbie who is looking for a cheap, easy, and convenient medium for painting, investing in acrylic paint would be best. Besides this, it has become a professional artist’s favorite as well. 

Chemistry and use:

You can dilute acrylic paint as little or as much as preferred and based on the dilution of paint; you will get oil painting, gouache, or watercolor.

Acrylic paint is ideal for different surfaces that’s why many craftsmen and artists find them beneficial, especially for the following painting projects. 

  • Metal 
  • Leather 
  • Plastic
  • Ceramic
  • fabric
  • cars and houses
  • models for trains
  • Canvas 
  • Panels
  • Stones etc. 

Besides these, one of the most significant mediums of Acrylic paint application is wood surface. Let’s talk about whether acrylic paint is good for wood or not.

Can you use acrylic paint on wood (In-depth Answer)?

Earlier I answered that using acrylic paint on wood is possible. Basically, if you plan to paint the wood surface (small or large) with acrylic paint, then you will get an extra facility because wood is adaptable enough to receive water-based paint. 

Besides, the natural texture gives the wood surface a lead in the run of the painting. Untreated wood is a porous substance and it comes with fiber that can help the surface deeply absorb the paint. 

On the other hand, according to acrylic paint formulation, you will find three main ingredients, including 

  • Pigment (gives the paint its color)
  • An acrylic binder (holds the pigment in place and forms a protective film) 
  • Acrylic Vehicle (facilitates the binding process) 

All these chemicals found in acrylic paint make it more prone to stick to wood. Apart from these, most people prefer using acrylic paint on wood because it is a bit affordable. 

The behavior of acrylic Paint on Woods During Application:

When dealing with bare wood, the maximum paint of the first coat is consumed by the pores of wood cells leading to warping and texture problems. So starting with priming and sealing would be best to prevent acrylic paint from penetrating deeper into the wood (the pit membrane in the wood cell allows it to pass through). 

Note: The wood consumes comparatively less paint than different porous materials like stucco, concrete, and plaster (because the wood has a cellular structure rather than sponge-like).  

However, based on the types of wood, the cavities of wood cells vary, showing different results regarding the penetration of paint. 

Is acrylic paint good for wood?

The straightforward answer is yes, acrylic paint is good for wood. Do you know why? It is because the possibility of acrylic paint cracking or shrinking on the wood surface is minimal.  (If it happens for different reasons, it is recoverable.)

Unlike any other surface or medium, acrylic paint sticks to the wood surface and can’t be removed, so your paint will not degrade, crack, or peel over time.

To get a long-lasting, better-quality result, you need to clean the surface first with soapy water. 

Then use an even coat of paint to ensure no bubbles during the 10-minute dry time. If you need another coat of paint, then wait for 20 to 25 seconds. 

Note: The preparation of the wood surface for Acrylic means the following two points:

  • Ensuring an even surface to get a smooth finish
  • Sealing the wood pores to prevent paint from absorbing/soaking.

art by Acrylic painting on wood Video

Expert’s recommendations: Is acrylic paint good for wood?

Acrylic paints are good for pretty much anything, but they need many gloss layers ~Maria Ananieva Artist / Art Instructor.  

Acrylic paint is my first preference and I always apply it to my wood painting project. Firstly, I use a primer that is compatible with my paint. I found great results by using acrylic paint in high volume traffic areas like bars and restaurants ~Christine Marie, Graphic Designer, Decorative Painter, Muralist. 

Sure, acrylic paint is highly compatible with wood and many people found great results. You need to prepare the surface to prevent any unwanted sinking or cracking ~Dan Goorevitch, Artist at Self-Employment. 

Acrylic paint is popular as a versatile item that adheres to almost anything, including wood ~Chris Brown, Ex Art School, Ex Fulltime Scenic Artist, Now self-employed Artist/Muralist. 

Yes, Applying Acrylic paint would bring satisfactory results on wood. But you need to ensure that the primer you use features a molecular structure that firmly adheres to the bare wood ~Matthew Duska, Professional Educator Art, History, Theology. 

It isn’t a problem to use acrylic paint on wood. This type of paint is the preferable option by artists for decorative purposes. Unlike latex paints that are best for walls, acrylics are preferable for painting metal, fabrics, canvas, ceramics, and wood ~Jack Luis, Home Painter at Repaint Now. 

Types of Wood Surfaces that influence the painting result: 

However, the process isn’t as simple as throwing some paint on the wood.  The application of acrylic paint mostly depends on the type of wood. 

According to expert painters, to get better results in wood painting, you need to avoid hardwoods. Sometimes, it can be more challenging for Acrylic to stick well. 

Don’t try to use Acrylic on oak plywood because it has a highly porous surface. It doesn’t matter how much sealer or primer you use; the oak pores will absorb the paint.  Besides this, the end result would be bad, and not appealing. 

So what wood surfaces would be best to get a smooth painting result? Well, the answer is soft poplar or maple wood. Following are the top 3 reasons why softwood surfaces are best:

  • They are less pricey
  • Highly resistant to warping or shrinking and 
  • They hold the paint well. 

Read Also: Can Pressure Treated Wood Be Painted?

How to paint on wood with acrylics -Step-by-step process? 

Although you can use acrylic paint on unprepared or untreated wood, it’s not the recommended way. To get a smooth finish, you should go through a proper process. Let’s talk about the step-by-step process of how to paint wood with acrylics. 

Things you need to paint on wood with Acrylic:

Before starting the painting job, make sure you have the following things. These items are a must-have because without having proper machinery, you can never achieve your goal.

Items You Need
acrylic paint
Wood primer
Sandpaper (fine grit) 
Sponge brush (optional)
Cleaning rag/ towel 
Hand gloves
Face mask 

Once you collect all the items, then you are ready to go for further steps.

Step-by-step process to paint on wood with acrylics: 

Step 1: Make sure the paint area is protected 

Firstly, you need to protect your paint area before starting painting. It is better to start the job in a well well-ventilated paint area. You should choose an outdoor or garage area for dealing with larger paint projects. 

Tips: Use a newspaper or tarp to protect the paint from your paint area. Also, you should cover the clothing or other furniture with something protective. 

Warning: Don’t forget to wear a face mask to avoid any strong odor from Acrylics. Wear hand gloves when dealing with paint. 

Step 2: Prepare the wood to ensure an even surface 

How do you make a smooth and even surface on the wood? What is the easiest way to get the best result? The only possible answer is sanding the wood. 

My preference is to use fine or medium grit sandpaper ( within 140 to 180 grit). You can choose 180 Grit Sandpaper for Wood Finishing by Arilier or 180 Grit Dry Wet SandPaper by ‎Lanxi MAXMAN Tools for sanding purposes. Make sure you cover every corner and crevice where paint is needed. 

Once you finish sanding, clean the debris or dust by using a wet cleaning reg or wet towel. 

Tip: Don’t use too much water. Make sure the surface is completely dried. Now the wood surface is totally ready for priming. 

Note: If the surface is pre-sanded, then you can skip this step.

Step 3: Use a wood primer over the surface

Like any other painting job, you need to make sure that you have the right primer for your painting needs. INSL-X SXA11009A-01 Stix Acrylic  Primer could be better for priming wood surfaces. 

Also, you can choose all-purpose primers like Gesso. Priming helps the painting to adhere well to the surface. 

It can make your painting look brighter and last longer. Besides these, priming is good for filling exterior pores, reducing warping, and absorbing moisture. 

You can find some wood primer in both spray and manual formulas. The maximum you will get is liquid options that need a paintbrush.  

After applying the first coat of primer, let it dry to move on to the next. If needed, you can use multiple coats. 

You can choose a roller paintbrush to get an even finish. MOTASOM 4Pcs Wood Graining Painting Tool could be a good choice as a roller paintbrush. 

Step 4: use a stencil or painting tape for a specific design on wood: 

It is recommended to use a stencil (a thin sheet of plastic, cardboard, or metal with a letter or pattern) to cover the sections for a specific wood design. If you don’t paint any certain spots, use paint tape. 

Most interestingly, you can use tracing paper if you want to copy a pattern or design to the wood surface. In this regard, A4 Size Artist’s Tracing Paper is my favorite. 

Step 5: It’s acrylic Painting time

Now the wood is quite prepared, so it’s time for acrylic painting. Pour some paint into a bucket and start painting the wood surface (primed and sanded) with a paintbrush. Don’t worry if you find any paint residue spills from the wood. Keep a wet towel or cleaning reg to solve such issues. 

A bowl of water could be a great help when you need to wash off the paintbrush for applying mixed colors or paints. In addition, keeping a sponge brush could be a bonus for covering large areas. Feel free to use different types and sizes of paintbrushes if needed for covering different wood designs. You can get the help of the Rosmax Artist Paint Brush Set because it has 15 different sizes.

Tips: Use a small amount of paint while working because Acrylic is a fast-drying pigment. Keep your paintbrush protected from drying because it can ruin your brush.

Step 6: let the paint dry 

Finally, let the painted wood dry after the painting session and ensure safety.

Note: Don’t try to remove any drawers or knobs immediately after painting.

You don’t need to wait more than two hours if you have small projects. In some cases, you may need to wait for 24 hours for a complete dry. However, whenever you see there is no tacky feel to touch the surface, you are ready to seal. Enjoy. 

You Can Also Check: Can You Spray Paint Wood? Does It Make A Flawless Finish?

Do you need prime wood for acrylic painting?

I think in my previous discussion, it’s clear that priming the wood plays a significant role. If you want, you can paint without priming, but you probably don’t get your desired finishing. 

Also, acrylic paint on wood without a primer can increase the cost because this way, maximum paint will be absorbed by the wood’s pores. If you want to seal the wood easily, then there is no alternative to start the painting with priming. 

Note: You will find two common components on a paint: pigment and Binder. Primer has more binder than the paint; this is why primer increases the stickiness of the paint.

How to prime wood for acrylic painting

Do you need to seal acrylic paint on wood?

Yes, you need to seal the acrylic paint on the wood after completing the final paint touch. Why do you need to seal acrylic paint on wood? It is because sealing is good for protecting your paint from peeling or chipping. 

Besides, it can give your wood painting a bright appearance. If you don’t seal the wood after painting, chances are the wood will turn amber-yellow or brown. Wood has a nature to contain impurities. 

You will find plenty of sealers from different brands for doing this job. Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Wood Finish could be one of the top clear wood sealers for sealing paint on wood. 

Besides this, you can choose Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Exterior Sealer to deal with any larger wood painting projects. 

How to seal acrylic paint on wood?

Sealing acrylic paint on wood isn’t rocket science. You can do the job easily by following the step-by-step processes.

Step-by-step processes to seal  acrylic paint on wood: 

  • Firstly, pour a small portion of polyacrylic sealer on one side of the painting surface. 
  • Secondly, use a foam brush and spread the sealer into the painting. While spreading, use light and even pressure. Make sure you cover every corner of the surface with a sealing agent. 
  • Thirdly, make sure you put an even coat of sealant through the entire painting surface. One important thing you need to ensure is that you clean the foam brush between each coat application. 
  • Finally, end the sealing by applying 2 to 4 coats of a sealing agent like Polycrylic. Let the surface dry for 6 to 12 hours. Within 30 minutes, the sealer will look dry to touch but allow it to dry completely.

Different methods to seal  acrylic paint on wood:

Besides this method, you can seal the painting surface in the following ways:

  • Varnish (Protective sealer that dries clear and hard): For example, you can use Liquitex High Gloss Varnish-8oz to seal the paint. 
  • Mod Podge (decoupage medium): Complete Decoupage Kit – Two 16oz Bottles of Mod could be best. 
  • Spray Sealant like Krylon Acrylic Coating Crystal Clear Spray Paint. 
  • Water-Based Polyurethane (Fast-drying sealant): Rust-Oleum 200241H Water-Based Ultimate wouldn’t be a wrong choice. 

How to make acrylic paint smooth on wood?

You can follow several techniques to make your acrylic paint smooth on wood.  Let’s point out a list of things that give your painting a smooth finish on a wood surface.

  • Firstly, you need to choose an even surface for painting.
  • Secondly, you should start painting with a soft synthetic brush like Taklon Artist Filbert Brush. 
  • Thirdly, use a thin layer of Acrylic instead of a heavy layer. You can use soft body acrylics, for example, because these are thinner. 
  • Fourth, you can try a flow improver to lower the viscosity of the acrylic paint. Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Medium Flow Improver works well in this regard (before use, read the instruction on the level to maintain the ratio). 
  • Fifth, ensure your paintbrush is fully loaded with paint to avoid streaks. 
  • Sixth, use a soft brush to blend any visible brush strokes before the paint dries. Also, ensure that you have a clean and right size brush.  
  • Seventh, To ensure a smooth layer of paint, you can use an airbrush.

How long does Acrylic paint take to dry on wood?

The drying time of acrylic paint (Max types) on wood is an hour or two, but it becomes dry to touch within 20 to 30 minutes. 

Usually, the artist-grade Acrylic dries more quickly than the average type. 

Typically, you need to wait for 6 to 12 hours to get a fully cured painted wood surface. However, the paint layer over the wood can change the ultimate drying time. It will need 48 hours to dry the Thicket layers of acrylic paint. 

Experts say it is better to leave the paint to dry for at least 12 hours. When you feel that there is no sticky to the touch or no visible spot, the paint is fully dried. 

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs): use acrylic paint on wood

Can you use acrylic paint on stained wood?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on stained wood but you need to sand it with at least 150 grit sandpaper. However, the end result will depend on the type of stain and the overall condition of the wood. 

The wood state will let you know how much sanding you need to make the surface smooth and even.  If the stain is glossy enough, then sanding will take a long time. 

Can you use acrylic paint on wood doors?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on wood doors. It is recommended to choose exterior acrylic paint for your wood doors. 

But Why Exterior acrylic paint? It is because exterior Acrylic works better. After all, it is flexible. Also, it features a mildewcides agent that can keep your wood door protected from harsh weather. 

Note: Before using acrylic paint on wood doors, ensure there is no grease, dirt, or rust and it is super clean. 

Can you use acrylic paint on the walls?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on walls. It doesn’t matter if you choose exterior or interior Acrylic; it shines well on walls. 

However, if you are worried about getting the best result, then you can think about my favorite, the lightfastness version. 

Why do I like this most? It is because it has a high adhering and resistance capacity over the wall.

Can you use acrylic paint on wood furniture?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on wood furniture like wood surfaces. But again, you need to make sure that you prepare the surface as the wood painting demands. 

Typically, wooden furniture comes with a topcoat, for example, varnish. If you want better adhering, then you need to remove the varnish from the wood furniture. 

Can you use acrylic paint on outdoor wood?

Yes, you will find acrylic paint perfect for objects like outdoor wood like any other thing. For example, you can use Acrylic for items stored outside, like birdhouses. But you need to ensure that it isn’t exposed to water; otherwise, it will lose its color. 

Is acrylic paint waterproof on wood?

Nope, it ain’t waterproof on wood, but to a certain degree, it is water-resistant. So it is better to use a sealer on the paint to make it long-lasting and protected from water. 

Our final thoughts: 

Acrylic paint is formulated by mixing pigments with acrylic polymer emulsion.  Essentially, this makes it water-based paint.  Its relatively quick drying time (often just a few minutes) makes it even more acceptable to all. Besides, you no longer have to worry about the allergies and odors to the solvents so common to oil painting.  So there is no dilemma in using this solvent on wood or wood-made crafts.

About Adam Larry

Hello everyone! I’m Adam Larry, a pro woodworker, an expert project planner, and woodworking tools expert also owner of this website. From hand tools to power tools, I have extensive knowledge of all aspects of woodworking and take pride in creating beautiful and functional pieces for clients. I feel glad to share my woodworking experience with you with enormous excitement and enthusiasm.

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