Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood? Check Out The Answer

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Wood

Do you know that acrylic paint is one of the least toxic paints? And what’s more, it’s water-soluble when wet but has a water-resistant and durable surface once it dries. Thus, you can easily add more coatings without destroying the previous one.

One good thing about acrylic paints is that they are effective on a wide range of surfaces. But here’s one big question many users have been asking. 

Can you use acrylic paint on wood?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on wood. You’ll find that it’s easy to use acrylic paint on wood. It’s also very affordable. Furthermore, you can paint with acrylics on all wood types. 

It’s almost as though wood is the best surface to use the paint. And that’s because of the flawless finish it leaves when applied correctly.

However, you have to prepare the wood surface before painting it. You also have to seal it after painting. If you do these correctly, your painting project will last longer.

Preparing the wood correctly before painting will also help to keep it smooth and prevent chipping. Additionally, sealing your work after will give it added longevity. So never paint directly on wood without prior preparations.

How To Paint Wood With Acrylic Paint

Before you start painting, ensure that the room you intend to use is well-ventilated. You can also do it outside or on your balcony. That’s because acrylic paint usually has a strong odor. And it’s not convenient for a place that’s not well-ventilated.

The tools you need include: 

  • 140 to 180-grit sandpaper
  • Wood Primer
  • A paint palette
  • Wood sealant 
  • A bowl of water
  • A paintbrush
  • Paper towels or microfiber cloth
  • The acrylic paint

Make sure all the tools are ready before you start the wood painting process.

Step#1: Fine-sand the wood 

The first thing you do before you paint the wood is to fine-sand it. Doing this helps smoothen the wood surface, making it easy to apply acrylic paint. 

Use 140 to 180-grit sandpaper (medium sandpaper). Make sure you don’t sand against the grain. Instead, do it in the same direction it runs. Grains are tiny straight lines on the wood that run in one order. Sand the wood in that direction.

Step#2: Clean the wood surface 

After you sand the wood, please clean it up. It ensures that no dust or dirt gets stuck to the surface when you paint. Clean the wood surface with a paper towel until you’re sure there’s no dirt on it.

You can also dampen a microfiber cloth a bit to clean off every last bit of dust. However, make sure you don’t add much moisture. That’s because you may have to wait for some time for the wood to dry if it gets wet.

Or you can clean it with a tack cloth. It does a great job at removing debris with no need for moisture.

Step#3: Apply sealant 

Next, apply sealant on the wood surface. Ensure it covers all the areas you want to paint. Start with a small portion at a time so you can cover every part.

According to the manufacturer’s manual, apply the first layer and leave it for some time to dry. After that, apply a second coat on it for added protection. Then leave it for 24 hours to dry completely.

Step#4: Prime the wood 

Now, it’s time to prime the wood. You can choose to use a brush-on or spray primer.

The primer helps to fill all the wood pores and creates a welcoming surface for the acrylic paint. Apply a coat or two. But ensure you wait for the first to dry properly before the subsequent coating. Ensure you cover every inch of the wood.

Note that you can skip this step if the sealer you used in the previous step is a 2-in-1 (primer and sealant).

It’s essential to seal the wood surface to ensure safety from Support Induced Discoloration (SID). It’s a discoloration on the wood that turns it amber yellow after some time.

SID happens as a result of impurities that come in contact with soft shades of acrylic paint. So, sealing the wood protects it from distorting due to humidity shifts.

Step#5: Trace the design on the wood

If you intend to make a specific design on the wood, you need to trace it. It’ll be helpful if you have a stencil, graphite or tracing paper, and a tracing tool. 

First, use tracing paper to copy the design from the blueprint. Then place the graphite paper on the wood surface. Ensure the graphite side is facing down. Now place the tracing paper over the graphite paper. 

Use the outline of the pattern to transfer the design to the wood surface.

Step#6: Mix your acrylic paint

The next thing is to get ready to mix your acrylic paint. Prepare your palette.

Ensure you have a bowl of water and paper towels. They’ll come in handy for washing the paint from the brush while mixing and changing colors. That way, the colors won’t blend when you don’t want them to.

Now, squeeze out the first paint color you intend to use on the palette. If you already know the other colors you need, you can squeeze bits of them here and there on the palette.

If you’re painting a large wood surface, use a foam brush or sponge to apply the paint instead of a paintbrush.

Step#7: Paint the wood

One of the most important steps is to paint the wood with your acrylic paints. If you’re using a design, follow the pattern. 

You can use various types of brushes depending on the wood surface. For instance, a flat brush is excellent for painting curves and a foam brush for a lustrous or matte design. But a small round brush is helpful for precision painting.

For a large design, start with a sponge. It gives a fun background when used for its unique texture. Leave drying time after the application. After that, you can finish with any variety of paintbrushes depending on the result you want.

You can also make blended colors. But you’ll need to wash the brush after applying the first color. Next, apply the second while both are still wet. And then use a paper towel to clean the paintbrush between colors continuously. 

The ability to use blended colors makes acrylic paint best for wood projects.

If you’re using one color for the painting, then apply about two to three coats. Let the paint dry before each application. Gently scuff each layer when it dries to help it adhere to the next layer.

Step#8: Let it dry

Once you finish painting, let it dry completely. 

In case the wood has a flip side, turn it over. Ensure you sealed and primed the entire work to get the best results. If it has a base, paint that first and make sure it dries. It allows you to turn the wood without laying it on its side.

After you finish, leave the paint for some time to allow it to cure. It may take a few hours to days, depending on some factors like weather.

Step#9: Seal the paint

When the project dries completely, then you can seal the paint. It helps prevent damage and helps it last longer. 

First, wipe the surface to make sure that no dust gets trapped. Ensure you use a clear sealant. 

Spray the sealant on the wood. However, use a brush or roller to apply it if you’re working on a large flat surface. You can use a sponge if it’s a hard-to-reach corner of furniture or curved craft design. 

Ensure you use a quality brush when applying the sealant. That’s because any loose bristles will get stuck in it. You want to keep the final finish flawless.

Apply several coats or as recommended by the manufacturer, but keep them thin. It prevents a very thick film. It also minimizes ugly brush strokes and helps the project dry faster. 

Using Acrylic Paint On Stained Wood

When you want to alter the color of old furniture, acrylic paints still come in handy. However, you’ll need to get rid of the protective coating on the previous stain before you start.

Additionally, the method you’ll use for painting the stained wood depends on some things. They include the state of the wood and the stain type on the surface.

Like the steps for regular wood, you need to prepare the tools and the surface before starting painting.

After that, you need to sand it. Use at least 150-grit sandpaper to do it. The sanding required depends on the state of the wood. Many stained pieces of furniture have a smooth, glossy finish that is waterproof. So they need proper sanding.

If the old stain is not glossy, you can easily paint over it without much sanding. Ensure you clean the wood to remove dirt or dust.

Next, prime the wood. Use a wood primer and ensure you apply it correctly either by spraying or using a paintbrush. If not done correctly, the final color may appear different than what you expected because of the previous stain. A stain-killer primer will be best for this.

When the primer dries, you can start painting. Apply several coatings, especially if the acrylic paint has a light-based color. Ensure each coating dries before the next application. 

Allow the wood to dry completely. It may take up to 24 hours. Finally, apply a sealant following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, let it dry.


You can use acrylic paint on wood, even if it’s stained wood. It looks stunning on wood and lasts long, as long as you prepare it before painting. All you have to do is sand, seal, and prime, and your wood is ready for painting. 

Once you seal it after painting, you’ll have an excellent finished product. No matter how your wood is, using the guidelines in this article will help you do great work.


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