Can you use acrylic paint on wood outside? Yes, you most certainly can! After sanding the wood, you’ll need a water or oil-based primer (depending on your paints), you’ll need to waterproof the work, and you’ll want to seal it with a varnish or a clear gloss so that it is protected against UV light and the weather.
A number of projects call for a little creativity, such as birdhouses, homemade garden markers for herbs, and more. This makes acrylics ideal and today I’ll tell you what you need to do to use them outside. By the way, while you are sprucing things up outside, don’t forget your aluminum siding. Check out our article here so that everything outside is looking fresh and at its best.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what it’s going to take if you want to use your acrylic paint outside!
Exterior wood is will need preparation if you want your acrylics to stick
Before we get properly started, if you are looking to paint some outdoor wood furniture, we’ve found some specialized instructions from a third party which you may access here. That said, for general outdoor wood projects then we’ll start out with the basic considerations.
First off, we need to prepare the surface. Assuming it’s already been sanded and cleaned we need to keep in mind that none but very specialized and expensive paints are going to work well on a bare wooden exterior – without a little treatment first.
You’ll want to apply a water-based acrylic primer to the surface that you wish to paint.
The only exception to this is if you are going to be finishing your work with a oil-based paint, in which case you need an oil-based primer. Easy peasy, right?
Apply your coat of primer and let it fully dry and then we are ready to proceed, unless you feel like sanding the surface lightly and then applying another coat, just to get a more workable texture. That will be up to you but it’s certainly something that you can do if you like.
Now, if you are planning to do something complex on a large surface, such as a mural or another composition, check out ‘Sketching and painting’ for tips on preparing your work in advance. Otherwise, just go ahead and get your painting done and we’re ready for the next considerations.
Waterproofing is going to be a must as well
At this point, your work is looking good but you might also be very paranoid about the possibility of surprise weather. Time and time again, history has shown that rain quite often comes with extremely suspicious timing.
Waterproof your work before it’s dry or the rain is going to get you! It might not happen this time, but eventually it will happen and you’ll wish that you took the extra time to waterproof the thing that you just spent hours painting.
This part isn’t very difficult and it’s really the last part of the process, so we’re almost finished here. Now, some of you are probably wondering if you ‘really have to do this’ if you’ve gotten yourself some specialized outdoor acrylic. Well, with some acrylics on the market, no, you don’t technically have to and it’s ultimately up to you.
For myself, I always like to add in that extra layer of protection. It gives me a little peace of mind and it doesn’t hurt, anyways. That extra coat and the extra time to apply it now is just a drop in the bucket compared to the years of enjoyment that it can add. So, why not spend a little time now to make your own work last a little longer?
Personally, I’ll go with added protection every single time.
Clear Gloss or Varnish will provide the finishing touch
Clear gloss is a great way to protect your work, provided that it’s going to be outside in a fairly shady area. This is because that gloss is not only very solid, but a wee bit on the shiny side. So, for some folks this means that it may not be the protective option of choice.
A good alternative that can protect your acrylic paint work on that wood is good ol’ varnish. Varnish not only seals up the work, but it will make just about any much more water resistant. You can make little wooden statues and stick them next to your Koi Pond, if you like, and the paint is going to be safely sealed and looking good for a long time.
Aside from the waterproofing, varnish also provides a little UV protection that can keep your colors from fading, so when you are planning your acrylic painting project then consider using some varnish to provide the finishing touch.
For wood, that’s going to mean using a Polymer varnish and you’ll want to use 2 coats for optimal protection. Now your painting is waterproofed, protected, and sealed safely away for a good, long time!
Some closing words on using acrylic paint on wood outside
So… can you use acrylic paint on wood outside? Yes, indeed, as long as you sand it, prime it, paint it, and then seal it up to protect your work. The preparation and the sealing are going to be vital for this to work properly but if you do this, then your acrylic paint will stick to the wood and should look it’s best.
If you would like a little more information about painting acrylic on wood in general, be sure to check out our ‘Can you use acrylic paint on wood’ article and you can get lots more information in preparation for your project.
Just use our tips and we hope that you’ll be enjoying your work for many years to come!