How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood – 10 Effective Sealers [Beginner’s Guide]

After doing a fluid art pour on wood or simply applying some paint on wood furniture, do you know what is the best way to seal the acrylic paint? Well, today I am going to show you how to seal acrylic paint on wood so that your work of art and paint finish lasts a long time without yellowing, cracking, or fading.

I will teach you the steps to properly seal acrylic paint on wood with various types of sealants such as wax, polyacrylic sealant, polyurethane, clear spray sealant, glue, varnish, glaze, and even epoxy resin.

Why You Should Seal Painted Wood

Everyone enjoys having nicely painted furniture or a nice piece of art displayed in their home or business... and if you enjoy acrylic pouring as much as I do, then you might even consider paint pouring on a piece of furniture.

Even though the majority of acrylic paints, when painted over wood, dry with UV resistance, flexibility, and permanence, elements such as water and dirt or scratches done over the years may quickly deteriorate the acrylic surface if you don't add a coat of high-quality sealer, further destroying the wood.

So to prevent your paint from fading or peeling as the years go by, the paint has to be applied and sealed properly after application, specially if the piece of art is placed in a sunny area or other harsh weather conditions. 

And since wood is a porous and highly absorbent material, it is also a good idea to seal it with a coat of sealant or primer before paint pouring on it so that there is better paint adhesion. After your project is all painted and finished, you will also need to add another coating of sealant over the layer of paint to protect it, and prolong the life and vibrancy of the colors.

So, how do we prep the wood and what kind of sealant should you use on painted wood? Keep reading to find out.

FIY... you should follow the application guidelines listed on the sealant's packaging as well as the steps mentioned in this tutorial to ensure the best results. If you perform the procedure incorrectly the first time, you could ruin your project or simply end up having to spend extra time and money fixing it.

Steps on How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood

  • Sanding

Wood preparation is the backbone of achieving great paint results. As part of the prepping step, you will need to sand the wood. Sanding your wood is necessary to have a clear and smooth finish. To achieve a flawlessly smooth surface, use a sanding sponge or 140-180 grit sandpaper. 

  • Clean Up

After sanding is completed, it's time to clean your craft. The wood won't be able to absorb the primer, paint, or sealer if the surface is not well cleaned because of the remaining dust and wood grains, so make sure you clean the surface really well before going to the next step. Just use a clean, dry sponge or towel to dust off your piece of wood. 

  • Prep Wood Piece with Sealant/Primer

Adding a coat of wood sealant or primer to the piece of wood prior to adding paint to it will keep the paint from peeling off in the future, protect the paint layer from grime and stains found inside the wood, and ensure the finished project feels and looks smooth, while also enhancing its durability. 

When it comes to wood sealants or primers, there are several options available on the market... liquid gesso, wood primer, and artistic grade primers. Some will come in an aerosol form or paintable form, and you will even find them in different colors such as white, black, or clear. Which one you use will come down to personal taste and the condition of your wood surface. 

If the wood surface is damaged and has lots of crevices, you'll probably want to use a thick binding primer like the Peel Stop Triple Thick from Zinsser or some gesso. If your piece of wood is new and pretty smooth, an aerosol type of primer like the Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover primer will do just fine.

Here are some of the most popular wood sealants/primers on the market. 

Apply a light layer of your favorite sealer or primer with a brush or spray, then let it dry. 

If your piece of wood has gaps, cracks, or holes, the coat of sealer/primer will fill out these gaps and make the surface smooth and even.

After letting it dry, add another layer if necessary to make sure the entire area is covered and holes are filled in. 

  • Painting The Wood

After priming the wood, it's time to add paint some paint to it. Make sure the paint is properly mixed for the type of application that you are planning on doing. Apply with a fresh brush, sponge, spray, or by paint pouring.

If you are NOT doing paint pouring over your wood piece, then apply carefully two to three coats of paint, and let each coat dry completely before adding another. This enhances paint adhesion.

Give the wood adequate time to cure after the final layer; this process could take a few hours or a few days, depending on the type of paint that you are using and the amount of layers you applied.

  • Acrylic Paint Sealer

After the paint has thoroughly dried, it is advised that you give the wood an extra day to absorb the paint and cure. Then you will want to add a top coat of acrylic sealer to protect the paint from uv light, the weather, dust, etc.

Remember to wipe off your painted surface with a clean cloth before applying acrylic paint sealant. Apply a thin layer of acrylic sealer to your wood using a brush or a sprayer. Before adding a second coat, allow the sealer to complete the manufacturer's recommended drying time.

So which type of sealant should you use as a top coat? Let's take a look at some of the options you have down below.

Types of Sealants

There are many types of sealants on the market that will provide different types of protection and give different finishes (matte, satin, and glossy) to your project. So let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.

#1. Spray Topcoat

Spray top coats are easy and convenient to apply, however, you will most likely have to add several coats of it if you want better protection. They are available in matte, satin, and glossy finishes so you can achieve whatever finish you desire for your side table, armchair, or even artwork. A clear glossy finish can make surfaces scratch-resistant, extending the lifespan of your furniture or artwork. There are some great spray topcoats that provide UV resistance and also add durability. Try Aleene's Acrylic Sealer in Gloss Finish or Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating.

#2. Gel Medium

A gel medium is usually used to thicken up acrylic paint and alter its consistency. Gel medium can also serve as a sealer for acrylic paint. Gel medium produces a thick, glossy finish that is ideal for shielding hardwood surfaces from UV rays and scratches when combined with acrylic paint.

There are numerous finishes with gel medium, including matte, satin, and high-gloss.

Additionally, gel medium can be colored with pigments to provide a variety of effects. Gel medium is simple to use; just combine it with your paint before evenly brushing it on.

#3. Glaze

A glaze is also another type of medium that is usually applied as a top coat on art projects. However, depending on the glaze you choose, it might not be completely non-yellowing, it is not heat resistant, and also is not great for outdoor artwork or furniture. So use it for indoor projects or on items that won't go be handled daily (like furniture).

#4. PVA Glue

PVA glue is cheap product you can find almost anywhere. It can be used as an adhesive or bonding agent as well as an acrylic paint sealer. 

PVA glue comes in a range of finishes, including matte, satin, and high gloss, and might be non-yellowing, depending on the brand.

For a cheap and easy way to seal acrylic paint, just water down some PVA glue (one part water to one part glue) and apply with a brush several coats of this mixture on top of your painted wood. Make sure you allow each layer of PVA sealer to dry properly before applying another coat.

#5. Mod Podge

A form of decoupage substance called Mod Podge can also be used to seal acrylic paint. It is affordable and readily available almost in any craft store.

The thing I like most about Mod Podge is that it comes in different finishes like matte, satin, gloss, and ultra gloss as well as in spray form in case you don't want to use a brush. There's even dishwasher safe Mod Podge, a matte antique version, Mod Podge for outdoors, a hard coat version, and more.

So choose the one that best fits your needs.

#6. Polycrylic

Polycrylic is a durable sealer for indoor furniture that will go through extensive wear and tear or for artwork that needs some protection from moisture damage, sunlight, etc. Minwax Polycrylic is probably one of the most popular brands used by artists. You can also find it in spray or liquid form, and in different finishes like matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.

#7. Polyurethane

This is a durable clear sealant that can be used on stained or painted wood. Polyurethane provides much better protection than Polycrylic when it comes to protection from scratches and exposure to sunlight. However, keep in mind that there are many varieties to choose from.

First, you might find some oil-based varieties that will form a very durable coat, however, they might yellow over time. That is why I prefer the water-based ones

The water-based varieties are less toxic and will not yellow over time. The cons are that this variety costs a little bit more and has a lower resistance to chemicals and heat.

You can also find Polyurethane in spray form as well as liquid form, and can choose between different finishes.

#8. Wax

Wax can be used to seal acrylic paint on wood and give your finished product a lovely, velvety, soft sheen, it might not be the best option for highly used items like furniture. Even though xax is water resistant and gives a lovely finish, it can scratch and wear off easily. So while wax can be used to seal paint on wood , it offers minimal protection. 

If you decide to use wax, apply a small amount of it onto a cloth and then apply it to your painted wooden surface. Allow the wax to sit for a short time and then you can buff it with a soft lint-free cloth.

#9. Artist Grade Varnish

If you are looking to protect your artwork for many years to come, then choosing an artist grade varnish is the way to go. These varnishes are usually made of some type of acrylic polymers. Many different brands of artist grade varnishes are readily available in craft stores.

Even though this type of top coat is more expensive than the options mentioned previously, it will ensure that your artwork or painted wood project is of archivable quality.

Again... you can find them in different finishes and in many different brands. The one that I like the best is Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish.

#10. Epoxy Resin

I really love how my artwork, table tops, and other painted furniture pieces look whenever I add a coat of epoxy resin to seal off the paint. I love the fact that epoxy/resin can be used to give depth to my art, will greatly enhance the colors, will dry with a hard finish, and is a lot glossier and more durable than acrylic polymer varnishes.

But it's beauty comes with a cost. Mixing epoxy can be a gooey mess if not careful when mixing and applying it, requires accurate measurements of resin and hardener, requires proper mixing, is more toxic so you need to work in well-ventilated areas while using protective gear, and can be more expensive.

But I believe it's beauty is worth it!

I really like the Heat Resistant Stone Coat Countertops Epoxy and the KS Resin for artists. 

Things to Look for Before Choosing a Sealant

There are a few considerations to make when selecting an acrylic paint sealant.

Non-yellowing

First, choose an acrylic paint sealant that doesn't turn yellow over time. Even the highest-quality acrylic paints, which are renowned for their lightfastness, can become amber-yellow after a few years if they are not properly sealed. 

Your paintings' color and vibrancy will be preserved for years to come with the help of a non-yellowing sealer.

UV Resistant

If your painted wood project will sit out in the sun, you need to choose a sealant that offers UV protection so that it can shield your acrylic paints from fading under UV rays and other environmental conditions. Make sure the sealant you choose will offer the level of protection you require by carefully reading the label.

Durability

Choose the type of sealer that will give you the durability that you need or desire. For example, the protection that a piece of artwork that will sit on your wall inside your home will require less protection and durability than a painted wooden table that will be used daily. So choose accordingly.

Conclusion

Although sealing your craft is optional, it can give it a new aesthetic to your wooden project and shield it from atmosphere-related harm. 

I highly recommend sealing acrylic paint on your wooden projects so that you can easily clean them up if something is spilled on them or if dirt or grime need to be wiped off.

All the sealers we've looked at so far will give your projects some form of protection, however, look at all the pros and cons of each and choose wisely depending on what type of project you will be working on.


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