Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood Furniture?

Does acrylic paint work on wood?
Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood?

Acrylic paint is likely the most popular paint type for art projects. You may be familiar with such creative projects on canvas and other art painting surfaces, but can you use acrylic paint on wood?

Wood tends to have an even natural texture ideal for a wide range of painting projects. But the use of acrylic paint on wood and household furniture may be uncommon to most people. So, can you use acrylic paint on wood?

Let’s find out.

Does acrylic paint work on wood? 

YES. Acrylic paint is a great option for wood because it won’t shrink or crack the surface. Simply clean your wood with soap and water, apply an even coat of acrylic to remove any bubbles created by drying time (10 minutes). Wait 20-25 seconds before adding another touch-up layer if needed.

Note: you must prep the wood first for the paint to adhere well to the wooden surface.

Prepping the wood involves doing two main activities: creating a smooth surface leading to an even finish and sealing up the pores on wood that could soak up the paint.

Wood is naturally porous and could absorb the paint leading to warping and texture issues. However, the best acrylic paint can create excellent, long-lasting results with the proper wood surface preparation. 

How to Prep the Wood for Acrylic Paint 

This step aims to create a smooth and even wood surface to prepare it for painting. Otherwise, you may end up with a textured painted surface likely to peel off soon after applying acrylic paint. 

What you Will Need for This Exercise

  • A wide, flat paintbrush 
  • Medium grit sandpaper, preferably with 140-rated grain 
  • Fine grit sandpaper, preferably with 180-rated grain   
  • A tarp 
  • A sealant such as Gac-100
  • Wood primer such as Liquid Professional Gesso 
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Protective face mask to keep you from inhaling the sanding dust
  • Safety glasses to protect your eyes while working (optional). 

Steps to follow 

Once you have all the supplies in place, you can proceed with the prepping exercise. Here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process. 

Step 1: Prepare your workstation

Wood dust, sealer, and primer can mess up the surfaces around your workstation. Cover them with a drop cloth before you begin working to prevent unnecessary messes and spills on such surfaces. 

Also, wear your safety face mask to protect you from inhaling the sanding dust. You can choose to wear goggles if you wish to lean on the side of caution, but this isn’t essential. 

You don’t want the sanding dust to remain suspended in the air, so ensure you work in a well-ventilated area. If you are working indoors, consider opening the windows or keep your fans running. 

For larger acrylic paintwork, you may consider working outdoors. 

Step 2: Sand the wood 

Sanding ensures the wood is smooth and the final result has a desirable, even texture. 

Begin with medium grain sandpaper and finish off with fine-grit sandpaper. For example, you could use a 140-grit sanding pad or sanding block for a start. Then switch to 180-grit sandpaper for a smoother finish. 

Sand along the direction of the wood grain and not against it.

Wood grain refers to the lines you see when you look at a piece of wood. So, sand along the direction of these lines. 

Sanding across (against the grain) would likely create undesirable scratches on the lumber, which would defeat the whole purpose of sanding. 

Step 3: Wipe the sanding dust and clean the wood

Whatever you apply next (sealer, primer, and paint) will need to go on a clean wood surface. That means you should wipe out the sawdust before proceeding with the subsequent steps. 

Use a dry brush to wipe away the sanding dust and any residue on the lumber. This process is essential in ensuring you end up with a smooth textured finish when you paint.

Next, clean the piece with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dirt. Ensure you wring off any excess water from the cloth before wiping the wood with it. You don’t want the rag to be soaked as the water might wet the wood and raise its grain. 

Once clean, allow the workpiece to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Seal the wood

Wood is naturally porous and could soak up the paint. You don’t want that outcome, so you need to seal those pores before applying the acrylic paint. 

Start by scuff sanding the wood with 180-grit sandpaper in even, circular motions. Wipe away the dust with a dry rag or paper towel, then apply the sealer.

In this case, we recommend using a wide brush to apply a light coat of Gac-100 on the entire surface you wish to paint. Then, let the sealer cover every inch of the wood surface and allow it to dry.

Wash the brush in water immediately since the product dries fast. After about half an hour, scuff sand the surface, apply another thin coat of the sealer and let it dry. 

Step 5: Prime the wood with liquid professional gesso

After the two coats of sealer have dried, it is time to apply the primer. We recommend using gesso for this purpose—it is the best primer for every acrylic paint application.

You could also use KILZ Premium wood primer. It is effective, and you can buy it online on Amazon or from your local craft store. The same rule applies to gesso, which is our preferred choice. 

Both types of primer will stick to most surfaces and are easy to use.  

Whichever primer you pick, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper and apply it in thin layers using a brush or a roller.

Using a roller instead of a painter’s brush can help you achieve a smoother and even finish with ease. 

You can apply two layers of the primer for better coverage and leave the surface to dry overnight.

Difference Between Priming and Sealing the Wood 

Applying one to two layers of sealer and primer may seem like a lengthy process. However, if you are tempted to find a shortcut, here is a reason to rethink. 

Sealer and primer aren’t the same. Instead, they have different purposes essential for achieving better results when you apply acrylic paint. 

  • What is priming? When you apply a primer to something like canvas or wood, you create a foundation layer that improves the adhesion of the paint to follow. Priming ensures the paint sticks well to the surface of your workpiece.  
  • What is sealing? Like the term suggests, a sealer protects the surface of your workpiece by sealing it off. In this case, its purpose is to block the wood pores to prevent them from sucking up the paint and warping due to the additional moisture.  

Should you seal, prime, or do both before applying acrylic paint? 

When using acrylic paints on wood, it is best to seal and prime before painting. 

However, you can buy and use a primer-sealer combo to save some time on the application. Some products combine a sealer and primer in one unit, allowing you to apply the two together in less time and layers. 

Otherwise, the correct process is to seal the wood and then prime it before applying acrylic paint. 

Note:

This wood surface preparation process is only necessary for raw or unprimed wood. You can skip altogether if you buy an already primed wood panel. 

Related: How To Paint Fake Wood Paneling Without Sanding

Primed wood panels are often referred to as Gesso panels. What you want is a ready-to-use wood primed with a universal or acrylic primer.

Check the label or product listing to ensure you aren’t buying oil-primed panels made for oil painters. Such options can’t work with acrylic paint. 

The Best Primer for Acrylic Paint on Wood

We have emphasized how important it is to prime the surface when using acrylic paints on wood. But the quality of the primer also matters so you need to go for the best you can find. Here are two options for you to consider. 

Sargent art gesso 

We love this surface primer because it’s versatile and provides surface priming for acrylic and oil paints. This gesso will be your go-to surface preparation solution if you have two separate wood paint projects involving acrylic and oil paint.

It dries to a water-resistant coat, creating a protective base coat for your painted wood surface. This protection can go a long way in preventing water damage and undesirable discoloration.  

The product is AP Certified and non-toxic, so it is eco-friendly and safe to use on wood painting projects. 

DecoArt multi-purpose primer & sealer

Here is a top-rated product that saves you time, energy, and money. This primer and sealer combo from DecoArt means you don’t have to buy a sealer separately for your wood before you can use it on your acrylic paintwork.

It seals the wood pores and improves the adhesion of our acrylic paint at the same time. Once you have sanded the surface, you can proceed to apply one or two layers of this affordably priced primer on your wood. 

And, it is so versatile you can use it on wood, glass, metal, glazed ceramics, plaster, and terra cotta. 

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Wood 

Once you finish sanding, sealing, and priming your workpiece, you can proceed to paint it. 

Acrylic paint is one of the easiest (and cheapest) to use on wood. However, you will need to clean the brush as soon as you are done painting because the paint dries pretty fast. 

While working on your project, you could dip the paintbrush in a bowl of water to keep it wet when you aren’t using it. Don’t let the brush sit in the water for several minutes since the soaking could affect the bristles. 

A better alternative is to wet the brush by dipping it in water and resting it on the edge of the bowl, outside of the water.  

What you will need for this task 

  • Acrylic paint 
  • A paintbrush 
  • Towel or rag 
  • Sponge brush (optional)
  • Bowl of water (optional)
  • Drop cloth 
  • Face mask, so you don’t breathe in sanding dust
  • Protective hand gloves 

Steps to follow 

Like any elaborate project, you will need to tackle the exercise step by step. Here is the procedure to follow. 

Step 1: Prepare your work area and protect yourself  

Acrylic paints can have a strong odor that could affect you depending on your threshold for such stimuli. Therefore, it is best to tackle your project outdoors.

If you are working indoors, ensure you open the windows or have fans running to ventilate the place. 

Next, wear a protective face mask to help reduce the paint odors reaching your nose. If you are sensitive to strong scents, this protection could minimize their effect on you. 

You also need to protect the surfaces around your workstation from any paint spills. Cover them with a drop cloth or newspaper, depending on the size of your project. 

Before you start painting, wear hand gloves. You don’t want to have the paint soiling your hands. 

Step 2: Apply the paint. 

Start by scuff sanding the dry workpiece. Then, squeeze the paint onto the surface you want to paint. For a large project, consider working in small areas at a time because the paint dries quickly. And use a sponge brush to apply the paint. 

Keep some water in a bowl nearby. You will want to clean up any spills with a damp rag as you go. You will also need to dip your paintbrush in the water to avoid letting the paint dry on the bristles. 

You will also need to wash the used paintbrush to switch from one color to the next for different colors. 

If you are creating a varied design on your wood, ensure you use multiple brushes with a range of sizes suiting your intended design.

Step 3: Allow the paint to dry

After creating your design or applying the paint, it is time to let the wood dry. Keep it in a safe place away from curious children or playful pets. 

While acrylic painted surfaces can dry in as little as two hours, it will be safe to allow your wood up to 24 hours of drying time.

Step 4: Seal the wood

After the surface is completely dry, you can apply a sealer to it. Ensure the paint is no longer tacky to the touch before sealing it. 

You need to seal acrylic paint on the wood to ensure it will last longer and prevent it from chipping. You can use varnish or gesso for this purpose. In any case, be sure to apply at least two thin coats of the sealer, letting each layer dry completely before applying the next for the best results. 

The sealer will protect your painted surface against water damage, the sun’s damaging UV rays, peeling, scratching, and more. Sealing also locks the vibrant colors in, allowing your piece to look good for longer. 

Depending on your chosen type, you can spray the sealer on your wood or apply it using a brush. If you opt for a spray sealer, keep the sprays short to cover the wood surface. 

Once you have applied the final coat of the sealer, allow it to dry for approximately 6 to 12 hours. 

Step 5: Clean up immediately 

After completing the paint job, clean your brushes immediately. Letting the product stay on the bristles can damage them.  

You should get rid of acrylic paint spills from surfaces quickly with soap and water. They are easier to clean if you do it before the spills are dry. 

Five Best Acrylic Paints for Wood

Most acrylic paints are generally easy to use, even for someone with little painting experience. But not all acrylic paints are equal. Selecting the best acrylic paint for wood can enhance your painting experience and improve the quality of your results.

We have done in-depth research and found some of the best acrylic paints for wood you can choose from. Here are the top five.

Best Overall – Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Set

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Set, Classic 6
1,856 Reviews
Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Set, Classic 6
  • Basic palette for the student, beginner, or professional.
  • Set includes six 2-oz tubes of Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic paint
  • Colors include Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Naphthol Crimson, Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade), Phthalocyanine Green (Blue Shade), Mars Black and Titanium White

This classic acrylic paint set from Liquitex is our top pick for all the right reasons. First, the paint dries to a UV-resistant coat, protecting your wood from the damaging effects of sun rays. 

Since the products in this acrylic paint set are not yellowing, you can be sure to achieve the intended color exactly as you desire it. Also, you might be delighted to know that the bright colors are permanent, meaning your paint job will remain as good as new for years. 

If you are a fan of satin finishes, these Liquitex acrylic paints are the ideal choice for you. They dry to a beautiful satin finish. 

What We Liked More About The Product

  • These paints are flexible when dry, so they won’t crack. 
  • They boast a creamy consistency with good surface drag. As such, they will work excellently, even for porous wood. 
  • Their “increased open time” feature means they take longer to dry, allowing you sufficient time to perfect your paint job. 
  • The paints are available in a vast range of color palettes. This variety allows you to choose what you like the most. 

What Could Be Improved

  • The paints are pricey, with a 2-ounce tube starting at around $10.



Best for Large Projects – Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint in Assorted Colors

Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint in Assorted Colors (16 Ounce), 21119 White
16,743 Reviews
Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint in Assorted Colors (16 Ounce), 21119 White
  • White acrylic paint for use on general craft projects
  • Dries to a matte finish
  • Use on wood, paper, canvas, Styrofoam, paper mache, and so much more
  • Indoor use only
  • Water-based, non-toxic, made in the USA

If you are working on a large wood painting project, this acrylic paint set from Apple Barrel is your best bet.  The paint has the least dense consistency of all acrylic paints in this review. This quality means you can pour it on your wood and spread it out over a large surface with much ease. 

Most artists using this paint find it suitable for wood. It also performs well on canvas and paper. Its creamy formula allows it to glide smoothly over the wood surface, offering satisfactory results. 

It is, however, crucial you apply a sealer on the wood before painting. The thinness of this paint means it can easily seep into wood pores if you don’t seal them. Additionally, consider sealing the painted surface afterward for longer-lasting results. 

The other thing to love about this paint is its drying time. It dries pretty quickly, so you can be done with your project in a matter of hours. 

What We Liked More About The Product

  • The paint is non-toxic, so you can apply it without wearing a face mask. 
  • It has a creamy consistency that glides smoothly on the wood surface. This property makes it easy to paint large wood surfaces.   
  • This paint has a water-based formula, so any spills are easy to clean  
  • It dries quickly to a beautiful gloss, satin, and matte finish, so you can choose what you prefer. 

What Could Be Improved

  • Some users complain of the paint crackling off canvass surfaces when applied in thick layers.  



Delta Creative Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint – best for decorative painting 

Delta Creative Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint Set in 16 (2-Ounce) Assorted Colors,
388 Reviews
Delta Creative Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint Set in 16 (2-Ounce) Assorted Colors,
  • CONVENIENT SIZES - This versatile modern acrylic paint set includes 16 - 2 oz bottles of colorful craft paint. The colors in this kit include: White, Rosy Beige, Bright Yellow, Yellow, Pumpkin, Tangerine, Fuchsia, Bright Red, GP Purple, Purple, Turquoise, Tahiti Blue, Navy Blue, Leaf Green, Burnt Umber, and Black
  • MATTE FINISH - This brilliant acrylic paint dries to a smooth, matte finish - perfect for all your arts and crafts!
  • USE ON MULTIPLE SURFACES - Use this acrylic paint on a variety of surfaces such as wood, paper, canvas, Styrofoam, paper mache, and so much more
  • EASY CLEAN UP - Clean up is easy with this acrylic paint! Simply clean up while wet with soap and water
  • AMERICAN MADE - This Delta Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint kit is proudly made in the USA

The Delta Creative Ceramcoat is a high-quality acrylic paint available in a range of colors—you can be sure to find your most preferred option.

The paint is formulated to offer the best outcomes for decorative painting. It is perfect for wood, chipboard, terra cotta, paper, plaster, and any hard surface. In particular, we love how the quality of finish remains consistent across all these surfaces. 

The rich, creamy consistency of this paint offers excellent coverage. Additionally, the paint boasts a rich color formulation that ensures your paint projects remain vibrant for a long time, even if you don’t seal acrylic paint.

What We Liked More About The Product

  • The Ceramcoat is available in a vast color palette to let you select your most preferred options.  
  • It has a rich formulation offering high-quality finishes on simple and complex designs. 
  • It offers consistent quality across different surfaces.
  • The rich, creamy formula remains vibrant for a long time. Adding a sealant after painting can help preserve the vibrancy for years. 
  • Its exceptional coverage works well with porous surfaces.  

What Could Be Improved

  • Some tints are slightly different when dry.



FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint in Assorted Colors – best for multiple surfaces   

FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint in Assorted Colors (2 oz), , Pearl Peridot
27 Reviews
FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint in Assorted Colors (2 oz), , Pearl Peridot
  • Excellent coverage
  • Works on almost any surface
  • Pearl finish
  • Water-based, non-toxic
  • Made in the USA

Not sure which acrylic paint type will work well for your wood type? No problem—this high-performance, multi-surface paint from FolkArt is designed to cover any surface.

It has a smooth, creamy consistency that glides over any wood surface, providing excellent coverage and a nice satin or matte finish. And, you can use it for both indoor and outdoor projects with satisfactory results. 

If the fast-drying property of acrylic paints bothers you, this professional-quality, multi-surface paint from FolkArt is for you. They dry significantly slower, so you can take your time with your project. 

The paint is available in a wide variety of colors to choose from. In addition, its artist quality formula means you can use it for any decorative painting.  

If you desire specialty finishes, this paint will cater to your needs. The high-quality paint is available in special finishes, including chalk paint, enamel, neon, and glitter.

What We Liked More About The Product

  • The paint’s artist quality formula makes it ideal for decorative painting.  
  • It is formulated to be easy to use on any paint project.  
  • The non-toxic formula makes this paint environmentally friendly and safe for everyday use. 

What Could Be Improved

  • The paint has an odor that may not sit well with some users. 



Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set – most versatile 

Sale
Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set - 60 Vibrant Colors for Beginner and Professional Artists - Quality Art Supplies for Painting on Wood, Canvas, Fabric, and Glass
1,133 Reviews
Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set - 60 Vibrant Colors for Beginner and Professional Artists - Quality Art Supplies for Painting on Wood, Canvas, Fabric, and Glass
  • Vibrant Color: Bring your art to life using our non-toxic acrylic paints, available in 60 vivid pigments that will suit your palette.
  • Multipurpose: Fancy some acrylic craft paint for wood, canvas, glass, or even fabric? These art paints have the consistency and durability to work as all the above and more.
  • Blend: The acrylics in this paint kit are formulated to bring out maximum brilliance and clarity with a buttery consistency for easy mixing and blending of colors.
  • The Ultimate Craft Paint Set: Create a masterpiece with our selection of 60 eye-catching colors, packaged in easy-to-use acrylic paint tubes.
  • Master the fine art of gift giving! This acrylic painting set is perfect for the budding Picasso just starting out, or for the seasoned studio artist.

The Crafts 4 All acrylic paint set has been designed with multiple surfaces in mind. This versatility makes it ideal for any wood choice.

To achieve excellent coverage over your wooden surface, you can put your money on this acrylic paint set. It features a unique formula with a buttery consistency that ensures an excellent texture and easy adherence to any wood surface.

The paint is also easy to blend and mix, so you can get pretty much any shade and look you want. 

Each color option is pigmented to bring out maximum color clarity and brilliance to your paint project. 

As a nice bonus, the acrylic paint set comes with three free paintbrushes, so you don’t have to spend money buying your own. 

What We Liked More About The Product

  • It is affordable
  • You can use a readily available regular extension pole to save your back
  • It is re-usable
  • It saves you time and money

What Could Be Improved

  • The fast drying time can be a problem for some people in some instances.



Why Seal the Wood After Applying Acrylic Paint? 

Sealing isn’t a requirement when using acrylic paints on wood, but it is essential. Sealing your wood after applying a coat of acrylic paint helps guarantee the longevity of the paint job. 

Acrylic paints can be chalky. As such, the painted surface can lose its color over time. Sealing will lock in the color and keep the wood from discoloring. 

If the painted wood stays outdoors, the paint layer can wear off or chip if unsealed. However, a protective coating such as varnish ensures the surface is durable and impervious to liquids and dirt.  

The layer of sealant blocks the pores on the wood and keeps it from absorbing water and moisture that could cause warping.  

Best Acrylic Paint Sealer for Wood

After painting with acrylic paint, you need to seal your wood with a high-quality topcoat to prevent the acrylic product from chipping or washing off the surface. Here is a quick pointer in the right direction. 

Plaid Clear Acrylic Sealer Spray

Sale
Plaid Clear Acrylic Sealer Aerosol Spray, 6 Ounce (Pack of 1), Matte
412 Reviews
Plaid Clear Acrylic Sealer Aerosol Spray, 6 Ounce (Pack of 1), Matte
  • Easy to use
  • Stays durable
  • Dries clear
  • Non-yellowing
  • Can be used over water base and oil base paint

This product is easy to use. Since it is a spray, you do not need special skills to use it with the best results. 

We love how versatile it is; you can use this sealer over your water-based acrylic paint and preserve the rest of the bottle for your oil-based painted furniture. Even better, it dries clear, so it will not affect your paint’s color. 




Aleene’s Spray Gloss Finish

Sale
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
13,238 Reviews
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
  • Acrylic sealer spray provide a protective, clear finish
  • Give a glossy luster to virtually any indoor or outdoor project
  • A durable protective finish
  • Applies clear and dries gloss
  • Spray-on formula goes ono simply and evenly.

This acrylic sealer is specially formulated to protect a painted surface in both indoor and outdoor environments. It gives your acrylic-painted surface a glossy luster that is beautiful and protective against scratches and water damage. 

Because this product is clear, it will not alter the color of your paint job. Instead, it will give it a lustrous finish that enhances its brightness. 




FAQs

Can you use acrylic paint on stained wood? 

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on any type of wood, including stained wooden panels. But ensure you sand the wood surface to remove the top stain layer and apply a primer to improve adherence before painting it. 

Can you paint a wooden furniture with acrylic paint?

Yes, you can paint furniture with acrylic paint like any other wood, but ensure you prep it before painting it. Additionally, be sure to apply at least two layers of sealer on the painted surface afterward to protect it. 

Does it take a long time for acrylic paint to completely dry?

Acrylic paint can take as little as 30 minutes to dry completely. However, the weather conditions, the thickness of the paint layers, and the wood type will affect the drying time. Thick layers of acrylic paint and suboptimal drying conditions can prolong the drying time up to 48 hours.   

Can you use acrylic paint on wood without a primer? 

Yes, it is possible to skip using a primer when painting wood with acrylics, but this may lead to undesired results. Without a primer, the acrylic paint colors may appear less vibrant and sometimes splotchy. Applying a thin layer of primer before painting is essential in sealing the wood and improving the adhesion of the paint.  

What do you prime wood with before acrylic painting?

A high-quality gesso is the most recommended primer to use on acrylic paint projects. A single coat of the primer is usually sufficient, but you can add another layer for even better results. 

Do acrylic paints wash off wood?

Since acrylic paints are water-based, they can easily wash off wood through various methods. Still, we recommend dealing with acrylic paint spills using soap and water immediately after they occur. You can also remove acrylic paints with rubbing alcohol, sandpaper, heat gun, or solvents.

Wrap Up

So, Can you Use Acrylic Paint on Wood? 

Acrylic is an excellent paint type for use on wood. However, you must prepare the wood surface by sanding, sealing, and priming it for the paint to adhere well and create a durable finish. 

We hope you enjoyed this guide and it helped answer your questions regarding acrylic paint use on wood. Please share any thoughts or comments on the section below. 

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