Can you use acrylic paint on wood?

Acrylics are craft paints that are perfect for a variety of creative projects. Acrylic paints are the most popular paints for art projects. Mainly because it dries quickly and is easy to apply and obtain, it also doesn’t release any toxins or fumes, so you can use it to paint inside or in enclosed areas without any problems. So, Can you use acrylic paint on wood?

Acrylic paint is suitable for wood. First, sand the wood surface to make a good adhesion and produce a long-lasting finish, then apply at least two coats of sealer, two coats of primer for good results, and then start applying the acrylic paint to ensure the longevity of the paint job. Acrylic is an excellent type of wood coating.

In this article, I’ll answer in-depth whether acrylic paint is suitable for wood, how to prepare the wood for painting, how to seal the paint afterward.

let’s continue!

How to paint on wood with acrylics

Turning an old piece of wood into something beautiful using a little paint is easier than you think. For this reason, acrylic on wood is your best bet.

While it is possible to paint on wood immediately, we recommend that you take a few steps to take your artwork to the next level and ensure a neater, longer-lasting finish. This step-by-step guide will teach you how to paint on wood with acrylic.

Can you use acrylic paint on wood
acrylic paint on wood

To paint a wood surface with acrylic paint, you will need :

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Wood primer
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Sponge brush (optional)
  • A bowl of water
  • Towel

Step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Protect your working area

You should protect your work area before you start painting. Go to a well-ventilated area or open a window. Larger projects are best handled outdoors or in a garage. The smell of acrylics can be a headache, so opt for a fan or protective mask if needed.

Cover with a tarp or newspaper to prevent paint from entering your work area. Cover your clothing with protective items and wear gloves when handling paint.

Step 2: Prepare your wood

The key to successful wood painting is preparing the wood correctly. This is no different from preparing your canvas properly before applying paint to it. Having a good job base makes a difference. First, start by sanding the wood. The step is critical to getting a smooth surface. If your wood has already been sanded, skip this step.However, if you need to sand the wood, we recommend using 140 to 180 grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Simply wipe away any excess particles with a clean cloth and make sure your wood is as smooth as possible.

To prepare your wood for painting properly, you must first clean the surface.

Therefore, use a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris from the surface.

Before proceeding to the next step, the wood must be dry. Therefore, if you use too much water, you will have to wait for the wood to dry enough for the primer.

Step 3: Apply primer

This step often goes wrong when painting on wood. When applying acrylic paint to wood without a primer, your project is less likely to come out in the desired manner. Applying a thin coat of wood primer will help seal the wood and make the acrylic paint easier to apply. Lighter colors will also appear more vibrant when a primer is applied. Allow this primer to dry thoroughly before proceeding. If you are finding a smoother surface, repeat the sanding and priming process until you achieve the texture you want. The smoother, the better!

You can use any wood primer you like, but I recommend using Gesso as a primer or KILZ Premium Wood Primer.

Gesso is the best primer for almost any acrylic paint application. You can buy it at your local craft store or on Amazon. If you prefer, you can even make your own Gesso. It’s straightforward to make!

Step 4: Apply acrylic paint

Squeeze a little paint onto the surface, then apply the primer to the wood. You can use a towel and water to clean up any spills. You need to wash the brush to switch or mix colors by dipping it in water.

Also, You can use a sponge brush to apply paint to larger areas. Use a variety of brushes and brush sizes to apply the paint, depending on your design. Let it dry in between colors.

Acrylics dry quickly, so use a small amount of paint as you work. Avoid letting the paint dry on the brush. Otherwise, it may ruin your brush. Do not fill the paint to the tip of the brush. Instead, grab a small amount of paint when you need more.

Too much paint may damage the brush or cause the wood to warp. Both of these effects make it more difficult to apply paint evenly.

It is best to start with a base coat. Choose the favorite color for the background color and add a small amount to the palette. Note that acrylic paints dry quickly, so only pour out your background color at this stage. You can use any type of acrylic paint you like to paint on the wood. If you are looking for some, check out our excellent collection of acrylic paints here.

Use a broad, flat brush to paint over the wood. Let the acrylic paint dry before applying the second coat, then apply the paint to the back. Most acrylic paints take 20 minutes to dry. However, this will depend on the brand of paint you use and the thickness of the layers.

Step 5: Let the paint dry

Once you have finished painting the design, place the painted wood in a safe place to dry. Wait for the paint to dry before replacing any knobs or drawers.

Some acrylics can take up to 24 hours to dry completely. Smaller projects can be completed in as little as two hours. When the paint is no longer sticky to the touch, it is ready to be sealed.

Once your background layer is dry, it’s time to add details. Use the soft brush of your choice for this operation, and be careful when working with acrylics. Make sure to often dip the brush in water to keep the bristles clean and soft. It is still essential to do this even if you only use one color. Once you have finished your piece, let it dry completely.

Winsor & Newton Galeria acrylic paints offer professional results at an affordable price and perfect for wood painting.

Step 6: Sealing Acrylic Paint

You do not always have to seal the acrylic paint afterward, but it is recommended that you do so to ensure the longevity of your paint job. The topcoat will prevent the paint from scratching and flaking and protect the paint from liquids and dirt. Therefore, if you want your paint job to last, then it is recommended that you seal the paint with a sealer or varnish.

All paint will eventually peel and flake – but painted wood, especially when exposed to the elements on the outside, is particularly susceptible to this.

Therefore, it is vital to use a sealer to protect your paint job.

If your wood project is outside, exposed to the elements, or it could get wet, such as a table, then sealing it with a clear varnish is the best way to go.

Varnish is a sealer that can be purchased at any hardware store. It is easy to apply, just brush or roll it on, and very strong and flexible.

It will protect your painting job from water, UV rays, scratches, etc. while not altering the vibrancy of the color in any way.

The varnish should be applied in multiple thin layers, and each layer should be allowed to dry completely before adding the next layer.

This will ensure that the varnish will dry well while remaining clear.

You should prepare the surface with a primer before applying paint and then seal the paint job for best results.

Types of wood surfaces you can paint

There are many reasons to paint wood. This material is relatively inexpensive and you can reuse the old wood instead of throwing them away. Craft projects made from wood are fun for kids. Some people enjoy making wood art or repainting wooden furniture to spruce it up and give it a new look. It is common to repaint furniture with acrylic paint, but it must be sealed afterward.

When painting wood, it is best to avoid hardwoods. Sometimes, acrylic paints are challenging to adhere well.

But most importantly, avoid using plywood. No matter how much primer or sealer you use, the paint will fill the oak holes, and the result will not be attractive. Choose woods such as soft maple or poplar to get a smooth finish. They are cheaper, hold paint well, and are more resistant to shrinkage or warping.

Is it safe to apply acrylic paint on wood?

Water-based acrylic paints are usually non-toxic and are considered safe. It is recommended that the paint be used on wood.

Because of the water base, acrylics do not produce the same pungent odor or harmful chemicals as oil-based paints. However, even a non-toxic paint can become unsafe if you swallow it. A guide from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says some water-based acrylics contain ammonia and formaldehyde, which can irritate if you ingest them.

Use craft paints that carry the Institute for Arts and Creative Materials Approved Products (AP) seal of approval for safety or children’s crafts. They certify non-toxic products, so acrylic paints that meet their safety standards are non-toxic and ideal for children.

Which paint is best for wood?

When choosing a color for your project, there are several different acrylic paints to choose from. You can purchase two grades of acrylics: artist quality and student quality. Artist-quality paint (sometimes called “professional”) offers more color and finer pigments. In other words, it is a higher quality paint.

Student colors are cheaper and usually offer weaker and fewer colors. The difference can be subtle, but it is evident when the artist uses more professional pigments to the trained eye.

Drying time of acrylic paints on wood

Like any other paint, acrylic paints have completely different drying times when applied to different materials, and acrylic paints are no exception.

Acrylic usually paints dry on wood within one hour. But if you are applying a very thick coat of paint, for example, pouring acrylic, then the drying time may be more than 48 hours. In general, if the paint is no longer wet and there are no longer saturated spots on the paint, then it should be dry.

Best Acrylic Paints for Wood

Before buying acrylic paint for wood, consider the following features

There are some key features you need to consider before purchasing a paint kit. 

Ask yourself the following questions. 

  • Is the paint formulated for wood? 
  • Is it non-toxic? 
  • Will it adhere well to the wood? 
  • Does the kit come in all the colors I need? 
  • Does it have the consistency: thick vs. thin
  • What type of finish do you want: shiny vs. matte

Answering th questions will help you to narrow search. You may also want to purchase multiple sets of different consistencies and finishes. 

The best type of acrylic paint on wood is artist-grade or student grade. However, many brands perform well on wood.

Artist-grade paints come in various colors, but student grade paints are usually cheaper. Professional acrylicacrylic paints are more vibrant in color and easier to blend or layer. Check the paint bottle to see a list of recommended finishes for best results. Double-check that the paint is suitable for the wood.

Best Overall – Liquitex Professional Heavy Duty Body Acrylic Paint Set

For all the right reasons, this classic acrylic paint kit from Liquitex is our top choice. First, the paint dries to a UV-resistant coating protecting your wood from the sun’s damaging rays. 

Since the products in this acrylic paint kit won’t yellow, you can be sure to get the color you want, the way you want it. Plus, you might be happy to know that bright colors are permanent, meaning your paint job will look like new for years.

If you prefer a satin finish, these Liquitex acrylic paints are ideal. They dry to a beautiful satin finish. 

What we like more about this product

  • These coatings are flexible when they dry, so they won’t crack. 
  • They have a creamy consistency and good surface resistance. Therefore, they work well even on porous woods. 
  • Their “increased open time” feature means that they take longer to dry, giving you plenty of time to perfect your paint job. 
  • These paints are available in a diversity palette.

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint Kit

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint, 20 colors/bottle 2 oz/59 ml. Richly pigmented multi-surface craft paint, Halloween pumpkins and decorative art supplies, canvas, rocks, wood, fabric, leather, paper, This Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint Set comes in 20 vibrant colors. The small 59 ml bottle is perfect for small wood projects. You can also use paints on rocks, fabric, paper, leather, canvas, walls or other crafts.

These paints are rich in color and produce excellent results. You can use these paints for both indoor and outdoor items. They are designed not to fade or wear off over time. Plus, you don’t have to buy an Arteza sealer. These paints are self-sealing and certified non-toxic, so they are also suitable for children’s wood craft projects.

Majic Paints RePurpose

The Majic Paints RePurpose line is perfect for adding acrylic coatings to wood furniture, cabinets, doors, etc. You can even use the paint on metal, copper, tile, brick or glass. It comes in a quart-sized jar and is available in many colors. The paint produces a smooth and satin finish that looks great on various DIY projects.

The water base in this product produces long-lasting and durable results. The formula is safe to use and is superior to many oil-based paints.

This is a great paint option if you are painting wood furniture or pre-stained wood. majic Paints is easy to apply and requires no sanding or priming of the surface. Other finishes are available, including wood finishing products.

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish

Rust-Oleum is a well known paint brand. Their Milk Paint Finish line is perfect for painting interior wood furniture and trim. The cans come with 32 fluid ounces of paint and a choice of six colors before you painting. Use to add accent details or create unique brush effects on wood surfaces.

This acrylics is water-based and low in harmful VOC’s. It is easy to clean with soap with water. Plus, the results are long-lasting. Even on older antique furniture, you only need to apply one coat. The matte finish offers a light texture, and you can customize the look in various ways.

The brand even offers a chalk option instead of Milk Paint to achieve a matte finish. Chalk paint is ordinary in wood. You can paint over the product to cover the entire surface in one coat, and acrylic paint is suitable for various surfaces. However, it is only suitable for indoor use, while Milk Paint finishes are ideal for indoor or outdoor use.

Best general purpose acrylic paint for wood: CRAFTS 4 ALL Acrylic Paint Set

Crafts 4 All’s Acrylic Paint Kit is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable acrylic paint set. The kits are available in 12-packs and 24-packs to suit your needs and budget. These coatings are easy to apply and can be used on various surfaces, including ceramic, wood, plastic and glass. With clear, vibrant color, it’s safe and easy to apply. These paints are an excellent choice for novice painters and professionals alike.


  • These paints are vivid and long lasting
  • They are easy to mix and blend
  • They can be used to paint a variety of surfaces
  • They are made from high quality raw materials and are rich in color

Best Budget-Friendly: CASTLE ART SUPPLIES Acrylic Paint Kits

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly acrylic paint kit but refuse to compromise on quality, Castle Art Supplies acrylic paint kits are perfect. These non-toxic paints are available in 24 and 48 colors and can be used on various surfaces such as fabric, wood, canvas and paper. This is also a fast-drying paint that allows you to layer colors without worrying about making a mess. This is an excellent option for beginners learning to paint on different surfaces.


  • available in a wide range of vibrant colors
  • an established and trusted brand
  • can be used on a variety of surfaces
  • provide you with long-lasting colors
  • easy to clean
  • dries quickly

Most popular acrylic paint on wood: APPLE BARREL Matte Acrylic Paint Kit

The most popular acrylic paint kit is the Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint Kit. This is a trendy kit because it is suitable for artists of all skill levels. This non-toxic, water-based paint is available in a variety of colors. It can be used on various surfaces such as polystyrene foam, terra cotta, wood, pewter, etc. This acrylic paint can be applied in various ways and dries very quickly, resulting in beautiful, long-lasting colors. These coatings are perfect for all types of art and craft projects, and these coatings are very easy to mix.

The Benefits

  • available in a wide range of vibrant colors
  • This is an established and trusted brand
  • can be used on a variety of surfaces
  • They will provide you with long-lasting color
  • It is easy to clean
  • It dries quickly

Delta Creative Ceramcoat acrylic paint – perfect for decorative painting 

Delta Creative Ceramcoat is a high quality acrylic paint available in a wide range of colors – you are sure to find your favorite choice.

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

The rich, creamy consistency of this paint provides excellent coverage. In addition, the coating has a rich color formula that ensures your paint project stays vibrant for a long time, even if you don’t seal the acrylic coating.

What we like more about this product

  • Ceramcoat is available in a wide range of colors, allowing you to choose the option you like best.  
  • It has a wide range of formulations to provide high-quality finishes for complex and straightforward designs. 
  • It provides consistent quality on different surfaces.
  • The rich, creamy formula stays vibrant for a long time. Adding a sealer after painting can help maintain vibrancy for years. 
  • Its excellent coverage is suitable for porous surfaces.  

Multi-Color FolkArt Multi-Surface Coatings – Best for Multiple Surfaces

Not sure which acrylic paint type is right for your type of wood? This high-performance, multi-surface coating from FolkArt is designed to cover any surface.

It glides on any wood surface with a smooth, creamy consistency, excellent coverage and a beautiful satin or matte finish. You can use it for both outdoor and indoor projects with satisfying results.

If the fast drying characteristics of acrylic paints bother you, FolkArt is a professional quality multi-surface paint for you. They dry significantly slower so you can spend time working on your project.

The paints are available in a wide range of colors. In addition, its artist-quality formula means you can use it for any decorative painting.  

If you need a special finish, this paint will meet your needs. High quality paints are available in unique finishes, including chalk paint, enamel, neon and glitter.

What we like more about this product

  • The artist-quality formula of this paint makes it ideal for decorative painting.
  • Its formula is easy to use in any paint project.
  • This coating is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and safe for everyday use.

Primer or Sealer

Sealer protects the wood. It creates a barrier that does not allow the wood to soak the paint or be altered by environmental factors.

Sealer is applied before primer.

Sometimes called a sizing to avoid confusion with the sealer we use to finish and protect paintings.

Examples: PVA adhesive, Golden CAC, etc. The primer is the base layer. It makes the paint adhere better and helps us create the painting as we imagine it.

The primer is used after the sealer.

Example: gesso

Acrylic Wood Sealer on Furniture

Student-grade acrylic paint is a good choice for beginners, but I recommend using artist-quality paint on projects you want to keep long-term. Most artists will mix two paints and mix and match depending on what they are trying to accomplish with the project.

Best primer for acrylic paint on wood

Before you begin painting, you wiil need to prepare your project. Choose a primer designed for wood that works well with acrylics.

Here are some introductory books to consider. 

Sargent Art Gesso: A lightweight paint with acrylics and oil paints. Waterproof when the wood is dry. 

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye: It is designed for outdoor and interior wood. The spray design is ideal for quick application.

DecoArt Multi-Purpose Primer: An affordable primer that can be used on various surfaces. The transparent colors are perfect for applying colored acrylics.

Best acrylic paint sealer for wood

The second major question for new painters is: “Will the acrylic paint wash off the wood?”

No, as long as you seal your project the right way with the sealer specified for wood!

Sealants, also known as varnishes, provide a protective coating to your paint. They come in various finishes such as gloss and matte.

The following acrylic paint sealers for wood are recommended.

DecoArt Multi-Purpose Primer and Sealer

This is a top product that saves you time, effort and money. This primer and sealer combination from DecoArt means that you do not have to buy a separate sealer for your wood and then you can use it over the acrylic paint.

It seals the pores in the wood while improving the adhesion of our acrylic coatings. After sanding the surface, you can continue to apply one or two coats of this affordable primer to the wood. 

It is versatile and you can use it on wood, glass, metal, glazed ceramics, plaster and terracotta.


How long does it take for the acrylic paint to dry completely?

Acrylic paints do not take long to dry. They can be scorched in 30 minutes. However, the right conditions are essential and the type of wood you are painting will affect the drying time. A furniture item may take up to 24 hours to dry completely.  

Can you paint wood with acrylic paint?

Yes, but it is crucial to prepare the surface before applying the paint. A high-quality acrylic paint should be used to obtain the best results. Do I need to apply a primer before applying acrylic paint? It is possible to apply acrylic paint to wood without a primer, but we do not recommend this as it will not achieve the desired finish.

Why seal wood after applying acrylic paint?

Sealing is unnecessary when using acrylic paint on wood, but it is essential. After applying a coat of acrylic paint, Sealing your wood helps ensure the paint job’s longevity. Painted surfaces will lose color over time. Sealing will lock in the color and prevent the wood from discoloring. 

If painted wood is left outdoors, the paint layer may wear or chip if it is not sealed. However, protective coatings such as varnish ensure that the surface is durable and protected from liquids and dirt.

Can I apply acrylic paint to wood furniture?

Yes, but most wooden furniture is sealed with a topcoat that needs to be removed before acrylic paint can be applied. Thorough preparation and sanding must be done before applying the paint.

Can you apply acrylic paint on stained wood? 

Yes, you can apply acrylic paint on any knid of wood, including stained wood panels. However, make sure you sand the surface of the wood to remove the top stain layer and apply a primer to improve adhesion before painting. 

Can you paint wood furniture with acrylic paint?

Yes, you can paint wood furniture with acrylic paint just like any other wood, but make sure you prepare it well before painting. Also, be sure to apply at least two coats of sealer to the painted surface to protect it.  

Can you apply acrylic paint on wood without a primer? 

Yes, primer can be skipped when using acrylic paint, but this will result in poor results. Without a primer, the color of acrylic paint may appear less vibrant and sometimes blotchy. A thin primer before painting is essential to seal the wood and improve paint adhesion.

What do you use to prime the wood before acrylic painting?

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

Will acrylic paints wash off the wood?

Since acrylic paints are water-based, they can be easily washed off the wood by various methods. Nonetheless, we recommend using soap and water to treat acrylic paint spills as soon as they occur. You can also use topical alcohol, sandpaper, a hot air gun or solvents to remove the acrylic paint.

Final Words

Acrylic paint is one of the best choices for wood, whether you are doing a small craft project to paint an entire wood dresser. Wood is an affordable and adaptable artistic medium. You can even repaint old wood furniture to get a modern look.

Acrylic paints are suitable for wood. As long as you treat, prime, paint and seal your wood, it will not harm your wood. Once you’re done, you can have a stunning finished product.

So whether you are painting on plain wood or stained wood, remember to follow the steps and check out other articles for more information about your project.

Have fun with your painting.

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