Do I Need To Seal Acrylic Paint On Wood?

Do I need to seal acrylic paint on wood

When it comes to your acrylics, there are certainly outdoor-rated varieties out there that boast to be all that you need for painting wood without the extra effort of sealing.

If you are wondering ‘do I need to seal acrylic paint on wood’ anyway than my personal opinion on the subject is always going to be ‘yes’. Unless you are using specialized outdoor acrylics, your paintwork will be vulnerable both to UV light and to the elements. Even with outdoor acrylics, sealing is a good idea simply for the added protection and can keep your work looking good for many years to come.

Today we’ll go into other reasons why it is a good idea, as well as some of the best sealant agents to use, and finally give you the ‘cliff’s notes’ version of how to properly seal your work.

Why sealing is a very good ideawhy sealing is a good idea

Sealing just makes good sense. Acrylics can take a little time to dry and even the water-resistant, outdoor varieties can come to ruin if moisture gets there too soon. Sealing helps to provide an extra protective layer that will keep your colors looking their best for a longer time and will make your piece less prone to chipping.

In my opinion, this is certainly worth the extra effort. Sealant isn’t hard to apply, plus you can apply the second coat fairly quickly after the first, instead of having to wait for it to completely dry.

The end result will likely be a little shinier, but it’s also going to be a whole lot tougher and this is critical if you want to enjoy your work for many years to come.

Note: If you are thinking about painting fiberglass door instead of a wooden one, consider checking ‘How to paint a fiberglass door’ out as the steps will differ from the wooden variety. We’ll likely post a door-specific article as well, later, so keep an eye on the site! You can also check out ‘Can you use acrylic paint on wood’ for a little more comprehensive info on the subject!

What are the best sealants for acrylic paint on wood?

What are the best sealants for acrylic paint on woodWhen it comes to choosing the best sealant for using acrylic paint on wood, you’ve got a number of options out there. Typically, you want to go with a water-based polyurethane or a polycrylic seal.

If you decide to go with the polyurethane, it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to find, but you will want to make sure that you go with a water-based polyurethane ONLY. There are a number of brands out there that are solvent-based, and you don’t want to go with these as they are going to damage your paint and you’ll have to sand and start over from scratch!

Now, you may have also heard a rumor that you can use hairspray to seal acrylic paint on wood. Is that true? Well, a little bit yes but mostly no. While it can work a treat with water-based paints, with other sorts of paints you can get a nasty reaction that will definitely affect your finished product.

Further, hairspray isn’t really going to waterproof your work and it really only functions as a temporary sort of seal. You want to go with an actual sealant so that you can protect your work in a more permanent fashion.

Varnish is another great way to preserve your acrylics on wood and some sites suggest that it can even increase the value. You can learn a little more on that here.

Steps to seal acrylic paint on woodSteps to seal acrylic paint on wood

Applying sealant is indeed quick and easy and in this section I’ll address the quick steps for getting it done. The fastest way is going to be spray sealant, but if you decide to go with that then only use short, controlled sprays. This will help to avoid dripping and save you a little headache later.

Sealing basically breaks down into 3 easy steps:

  • Your first coat – Apply a thin coat of your sealant, using a sponge, a paintbrush, or a spray-layer that you’ll put on thinly with quick, controlled sprays.
  • Let that first coat dry – Depending on the sealant, this is the part that takes the longest. While some sealants will let you apply a second coat quite quickly, if you aren’t sure about the sealant then give it 6 to 12 hours to thoroughly dry. Sealant sometimes feels dry after half an hour, but if you aren’t certain and the labelling isn’t clear, always err on the side of caution.
  • Layer it up – Add a second layer and then let it dry completely and you should have a good base of protection for your work. If you like, you can certainly add more layers, but that is really going to be up to you. Keep in mind that those coats build up so that the finished work doesn’t make your piece too shiny or glassy and you should be good.

As with anything, a little practice will ensure that sealing can be easily done with hardly a second thought, so don’t be discouraged if the first few times seem to go a bit slowly. It’ll be second-nature before you know it!

In closing: Always seal your work for best results

Do you really need to seal acrylic paint on wood? If it’s ‘outside acrylic paint’, then technically no, but even then sealing your work can add years of protection and with standard acrylics is going to be critical that you seal it. Otherwise, the weather and ultraviolet rays from the sun will quickly damage your work.

Painting with acrylics really is always a treat. You can mix up just about any color (and the choices are amazing even with basic colors, as you can see in our article ‘What colors make blue’) and if you work carefully and take steps to preserve it, then you can enjoy your work for years!

You can’t always predict what time is going to do, but you can certainly do your best to prepare for it and if you’ve taken the time to do the work in the first place, then why not do it right? If your acrylic paint says that you don’t need sealant, my personal advice is that you simply ignore this and seal it anyway.

Your work deserves it!


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