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Painting With Acrylics On Wood | Complete Guide

Painting on wood is a great way to upgrade your wooden furniture or make outdoor signs.

But painting with acrylic paint on wood is not as easy as painting on a canvas, since it requires some additional steps to get good results that will stand the test of time.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about painting on wood with acrylics.

Ready to get started?!

How to paint on wood with acrylics?

No matter what type of wood you are painting, you will always be following the same steps:

  1. Sand down the wood
  2. Apply a primer to the wood
  3. Paint a base/background layer (optional)
  4. Paint whatever you want
  5. Seal the painting

Sounds easy right?

Of course there is a little bit more to it. But these are the 5 essential steps to keep in mind.

Let’s look at some other details you should know.

What kind of acrylic paint do you use on wood?

Most acrylic paints that you can find in the store can be used on wood. You don’t have to buy acrylic paint specifically designed for painting on wood. However, in general artist grade paints are better quality than student grade paints, and would therefore work better on wood as well.

Some good acrylic paint sets to consider are:

How do you prep wood for acrylic paint?

To prep the wood for acrylic painting you will have to smoothen the surface by sanding it down, remove any dust or dirt, and apply a primer to the wood. If you prepare the wood correctly, you will have no problem painting on it with acrylic paint.

For sanding the wood, pretty much any kind of sandpaper will work. I normally like to go with 150 ~ 200 grit sandpaper. Even if the wood is already very smooth, it is a good idea to sand it anyway. Because the wood you buy in the store often has a thin coating on it that makes painting difficult. By sanding the wood, you effectively remove this coating layer as well.

Do you need to prime wood before painting with acrylics?

You need to prime the wood before painting on it with acrylics. By priming the wood, you prevent the paint from sinking into the wood, which make it easier to paint. Priming can also help light colors appear more vibrant. If the wood is very porous, you might have to prime the wood several times.

Although you can use different primers, normally Gesso works just fine. And if you work with acrylics frequently, you probably already have some Gesso lying around. If not, you can buy Gesso on Amazon right here.

You can apply the Gesso to the wood (or almost any other type of surface) just like regular paint. Simply use a paint brush to cover the entire surface. The only thing you will have to be careful of is to make sure that it is evenly coating over the entire surface.

Does acrylic paint wash off wood?

You can easily wash wet acrylic paint off wood, since the paint is water-based. Once they paint has dried, it becomes more resistant to water but isn’t 100% waterproof. To prevent the acrylic paint from washing off in the rain you will have to apply a sealant.

How do you seal acrylic paint on wood?

After the acrylic paint has dried, you can apply a sealer of your choice over the entire painting. Make sure to apply a thin and even coating to the entire surface. Sometimes you might have to apply more than one coating. Be careful with sealers that can change the finish of your painting.

Some sealers are liquid and need to be applied to the surface with a paint brush. While other sealers are in aerosol form and can be applied by spraying it directly over the painting. It’s normally easier to get an even coating using an aerosol.

There are many sealers to choose from. The most important difference you want to keep your eye on is what kind of finish the sealer gives. Although most sealers give a clear flat finish, others might give a matte or glossy finish.

Some sealer popular sealers include:

Also make sure to read the instructions of the sealant you are using. Some sealants need several days to dry completely. So during that time you don’t want to expose the wood to any rain.

If you are applying several layers of sealant, you also want to make sure the previous layer is completely dry before applying the new one.

Can acrylic paint be used on wood outside?

You can use acrylic paint on wood outside. However, before painting you will have to prepare the wood by sanding it, removing any dust or dirt, and applying a primer. Once you are done painting, you will also need to apply a sealer to make sure the paint won’t be washed away in the rain.

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