Can You Use Polyurethane On Acrylic Paint?

Can You Use Polyurethane On Acrylic PaintThere are a lot of ways that you can go about sealing acrylic paint and today we’re going to explore one of them a little. Can you use polyurethane on acrylic paint? As it turns out, you can, provide that you’ve prepared the surface properly. It does come with a caveat, however, as it can give your work a bit of an amber or yellow hue that is especially noticeable with light colors. You might like that look, however, but you won’t know until you try it!

In this article we’ll explore the subject and we’ll also touch on polycrylic as a sealer just to satisfy your curiosity in that regard.

Let’s talk about your acrylic paint and ‘sealing the deal’!

Will polyurethane ruin acrylic paint?Will polyurethane ruin acrylic paint

No, polyurethane will not ruin acrylic paint and you can use either an oil-based or a water-based polyurethane when you are doing the coating. If you are painting on canvas, then you won’t really need any special preparation, but with some other surfaces such as wood then you will want to do a little light sanding or at the very least, you should add some primer, just to make sure that your polyurethane is going to properly stick.

While it will protect the surface, that caveat that I mention still holds true. The finished effect has a bit of yellow to amber to it and this is something that you will definitely notice. Just consider the colors that you are coating over in this fashion so that you don’t have a ‘filter effect’ messing with the overall composition when it affects these colors.

You can get a very interesting look, so it’s worth playing with a little just to see if you like it. We all have our own little ‘signatures’ when it comes to our work and you might just find that the yellowy-amber tint plays well with some of your favorite color choices.

Try it out and see if you like it – it’s all part of the fun!

How do you apply polyurethane to acrylic paint?

How do you apply polyurethane to acrylic paintIf you want to apply polyurethane to acrylic paint, then the first thing that you need to do is to wait until your acrylic is properly dry. Give it at least a few hours, just in case you’ve got a bottom layer drying more slowly than a layer on top of it, because you don’t want any surprises later after you apply the polyurethane seal.

Once you are satisfied that it’s dry and safe to seal up, make sure that your work is dust free and we are ready for the next step. It’s pretty simple, really. You just want to lay down some newspapers and open up your window and maybe stick a fan nearby so that you have plenty of air circulation. You’re going to need a little more protection, however, because polyurethane is pretty darned toxic.

If you don’t have a respirator mask to filter the air, then you’ll want to get one. After that, applying the polyurethane is a matter of brushing it on with a paintbrush or you could carefully use a roller. Two coats is best and I recommend that after the first coat dries, you give it a light sanding before applying the second coat.

Once it’s all dry then you’re done! You can even get somewhat of a ‘glass’ finish if you let it cure and then start lightly sanding the thick coat with a 600-grit sandpaper and work slowly up to higher grits, but it takes a while. You know how to do it now, so the rest is up to you!

Can you use Polycrylic to seal acrylic painting?Can you use Polycrylic to seal acrylic painting

Yes, you could, though it’s not as durable as polyurethane or as standard varnish. Polyurethane finish is available as oil or water based, with the oil being the more durable of the two, while polycrylic is strictly water-based and still a little weaker than polyurethane or varnish options.

To give you an idea of the strength of polycrylic, the best way to understand it is to know one of it’s common uses. Polycrylic is often employed in treating the inside of cabinets and drawers so that they can has a thin protective coat that doesn’t need to withstand a lot of damage, because they are housed inside the furniture itself.

About the only area where polycrylic scores any points is that it is much less toxic than polyurethane and it’s also not flammable. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is very much so.

In summary

So, can you use polyurethane on acrylic paint? Yes, you can. While it’s a bit on the toxic side where fumes are concerned and highly flammable, polyurethane can be used as a sealing finish though you should expect some yellowing or a little amber color in the finished coat and this could affect your overall color scheme.

All in all, I still think that varnish is the way to go, but if you want to get experimental then by all means, have yourself a good time with polyurethane and polycrylic finishes. Just in case it might help, I’ve got a 3rd party link for you here that will tell you much more about the differences between the two that I didn’t have space for today.

Have with fun with your sealing experiments and I’ll see you again soon!