Does Acrylic Paint Work on Wood?

acrylic paint is one of the best paints you can use on wood – which is why it is such a popular medium.

acrylic paint is very popular to use in art projects because it dries very quickly and easily.

It doesn’t let off any fumes or toxins, so you can use this to paint inside, or in an enclosed area with no issues whatsoever to your health.

But does acrylic paint work on wood? Yes, it does. Wood can be painted with acrylic paints but without correctly preparing the surface of the wood the acrylic paint will chip off eventually.

One might say that acrylic paint was created to be used on wood. Not only is wood sturdy enough to be used with acrylic paint, but the graining on the wood can provide an interesting look to your design.

To keep your acrylic design or paint smooth and to prevent it from chipping, you will need to treat the wood.

You should not just take a paintbrush and start painting onto a piece of wood straightaway.

You will at least need to cover it in two even layers of something called gesso (plaster used for painting on wood), and then once you have covered your piece of wood in acrylic paint, then you need to coat it in a sealant to protect it – particularly if your wood is outside.

Should you Prepare your Wood Before Drawing on it?

You should prepare any surface that you are working with before drawing on it, no matter what it is.

Obviously, paper and canvas materials are clean (or should be) when you receive it, but if you are working on a non-traditional project, such as painting a design into a table, then it should be prepared.

You will want to wipe the wood down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris from the surface. This might not sound like a big deal, but it could not only affect how you draw your design (such as if your pencil or charcoal passes over a dirt clump) but also how well the paint adheres to the wood.

Leaving dirt and debris is just one way for chipping and peeling to get a headstart.

This step only takes a few minutes – yet it’s one of the most important ones. Don’t skip it in an effort to save time.

Even if it doesn’t seem like you’re removing any sort of debris – you are, and it has a huge effect on the outcome of your project.

How Well Does Acrylic Paint Adhere to Wood?

Acrylic paint adheres to wood almost like a second skin – which isn’t actually a good thing. You should never paint directly onto wood – not unless you just enjoy wasting your time and money.

Painting directly onto wood guarantees that the acrylic paint will start to peel and chip away sooner, rather than later.

This applies to repainting over old coats of paint that have begun to chip away – just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

There are some steps involved in doing so, but the application of an acrylic paint design is not difficult, nor do you have to do anything out of the norm to keep it.

Once you have washed the wood off, applied the paint, and then covered it in a seal to protect it from the elements, you’re finished and don’t need to worry about the paint chipping, peeling, or fading away for a long while – mainly if you have painted a bench or a table that is used frequently.

If you intend to paint a piece of wood for a project to hang on your wall or elsewhere, then you don’t need to worry about normal wear and tear.

Acrylic paint adheres well to wood due to the steps that you take to lay it down.

After you have cleaned the wood, you can apply something called gesso (plaster used for painting on wood), into an even layer twice – once vertically, once horizontally, allowing it to dry between coats.

You should let each layer dry at least thirty minutes between coats. This ensures that the entire piece of wood is covered completely.

Then all you have to do is paint – whether you are painting an even coat of a single acrylic paint color, or if you intend on making a design.

It would be better if you sketched out your design onto paper before doing it on the wood, but if you make any mistakes, you can paint over it quite easily.

Allow it to dry thoroughly between coats of paint, particularly if you are trying to build up dimensions and depth by adding more paint.

Do You Have to Seal Acrylic Paint After You are Finished?

Yes, you will have to seal the acrylic paint when you are finished – this is dependent on a few factors.

The wood itself is very porous, so sealing might be needed. There are two main types of wood – porous and non-porous.

Non-porous wood refers to softwoods that don’t have pores. Porous wood, on the other hand, is made up of small vessels (pores) that trees use for the production of sap.

When those trees are cut down and cut against the grain, the vessels are exposed, and they are now called pores.

These pores affect the strength and look of the wood – particularly when it comes to blotching. For example, wood with larger sized pores – such as mahogany – need a lot more stain and are more prone to blotching anything that is put on it.

So if you want to protect the design that you have made or even just want to make sure that the paint doesn’t streak, then you should seal the acrylic paint when you are finished painting.

Sealing acrylic paint on wood is a multi-step process that should be undertaken seriously.

All paint chip and peels away eventually – but the paint on wood, particularly outside where it is exposed to the elements, are especially prone to this.

Before you use acrylic paint on the wood you’ve chosen to use, you need to prepare the wood.

The wood needs to be cleaned with a clean, damp cloth before you can do anything to it.

Any debris or dirt should be removed in order to allow the sealant, acrylic paint, and whatever else you intend to put onto the wood to adhere cleanly.

To further remove any dirt, you could use something called a tack cloth to blot the wood – this is a special cloth that removes any microscopic dirt.

After you have cleaned the wood, apply the sealant.

You should use an acrylic sealant, and apply it using either a paintbrush or a damp sponge, lightly.

Let it dry and then repeat this step – you should ultimately do two coats of sealant at least. If there is any excess sealant left on the wood, then you can sand it to get rid of it – but do it lightly.

Once you have finished lightly sanding the wood, wipe it down again with a damp cloth to get rid of any debris.

Your next step will be to apply the acrylic primer.

This step is important as it helps the acrylic paint adhere easier to the wood by giving it ridges and grooves for the paint to “cling” to.

You generally only need to apply one layer of this, but if you bought a cheaper primer, then you should apply a second coat after the first one dries.

Overall, you should allow the primer to dry over the next several hours. You want it to be completely dry when you touch it – not sticky or tacky at all. Don’t rush this step, just allow it to dry.

Once your primer is dry, you can choose to coat it with a clear sealant. This sealant should be either polyacrylic or wax-based, depending on the type of finish that you want (glossy or flat).

Use a sponge or paintbrush to apply it, depending on the surface – if it is flat, use a paintbrush, if it has grooves, use a sponge. When this coat of sealant dries, apply another one.

You will want this sealant to be allowed to dry at least two weeks, if not three. Do not put anything on top of the wood or start painting it, even if it feels dry for that entire length of time.

It might feel dry, but it is not. Let it dry in its own time (of two to three weeks), before doing anything else to the wood.