How to Make Polycrylic Slippery — On Cornhole, Bean Bag, ACL Boards

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Polycrylic is known for its excellent protective properties when applied to wood surfaces. However, some individuals may seek to make it slippery for specific applications or preferences. 

So, in this article, let me provide insights into how to achieve a slippery surface with polycrylic. Let’s delve into the details!

Is Polycrylic Naturally Slippery?

Polycrylic is naturally slippery when the coats are thin and completely dry. It only requires applying at least five to a maximum of 10 coats. Also, the wood will not change color once you use it because polycrylic offers a clear water-based coat, unlike polyurethane.

Polyurethane makes your wood discolored upon aging and is a bit expensive compared to polycrylic. You can purchase polycrylic at a reasonable price, depending on the variety of finishes you want to achieve.

Polycrylic is slippery, given the coats have no residues, blotches, streaks, or bubbles. Therefore, ensure a proper application of polycrylic to achieve the smoothness of your cornhole boards. 

Why is Polycrylic Sticky Instead of Slippery?

You may encounter a sticky finish because polycrylic has a runny consistency making the application challenging to your cornhole boards. 

Aside from considering the best finish for cornhole boards, you must avoid using a roller to apply polycrylic because it’s a contributing factor to the sticky finish. 

Here are the following reasons why polycrylic becomes tacky instead of slippery.

polycrylic and paint spray

Making Your Polycrylic Slippery: Tools & Steps

Things You'll Need

Step #1: Sand the Surface

sanding wood piece

Before applying polycrylic to your cornhole boards, sand the surface using 320-grit sandpaper. This will remove the debris, dirt, dust, and raised grain on the surface. 

Also, sanding prepares the surface of the cornhole boards to have more adhesion for polycrylic. However, if the surface is wet, let the wood dry completely. Sanding wet woods form a messy surface and could clog the sandpaper.

Step #2: Tidy Up the Surface

Once you remove the impurities on the surface, you must tidy up the surface. 

removing dust with Eshazu Tack Cloth

A clean cornhole board will have a slippery surface, given that no dust, debris, hair, or raised grain on the board will be sealed in. Removing impurities in the finish will be a pain, and you will get a splotchy and tacky surface.

Step #3: Apply Polycrylic

After cleaning the surface, prepare your wipe-on polycrylic and apply it properly by following any instructions on the container. 

A wipe-on polycrylic is ideal for your cornhole boards because it quickly dries, so you won’t be bothered about the dust settling on the surface. And it may be a bit more expensive than a brush-on polycrylic, but a wipe-on offers a more slippery finish for your cornhole boards.

To begin your wipe-on polycrylic application, lay the cornhole board flat and wear your plastic gloves to keep a tidy workspace.

You should start by mixing the polycrylic paint using a stick or stirrer, particularly the bottom part of the container. Then get your plastic cup and pour the polycrylic. The cup should be large enough for your foam brush or clean, lint-free rag to dip in. 

prepare surface

Apply a thin layer of polycrylic using a brush or rags, and use a form brush for corners on your board. Thin layers dry quickly, preventing tacky and blotchy results. 

You must wipe on the board along the direction of the wood grain to ensure no bubbles are formed while applying the polycrylic. If appropriately used, the drying time will take two to three hours, and the curing time is at least 24 hours.

Step #4: Sand the Surface

Lightly sanding the surface of your cornhole board after each coat of polycrylic is essential, but be sure that the layer is completely dry before sanding. Using 320 or 220-grit sandpaper, gently smooth each layer to enhance adhesion between coats. 

Remember to remove any dust thoroughly before applying the next coat to achieve a smoother and more durable finish.

Step #5: Apply More Coats

You can apply three to five coats or a maximum of ten coats, given the surface is not slippery enough for your cornhole board. You can use the board without needing additional coats. 

using foam brush

Once the additional coats dry, scrape the surface using fine-grit sandpaper or abrasive pads. Then let the polycrylic finish cure for at least 24 hours. This will give all the layers plenty of time to adhere. 

Alternative Methods to Consider

In using cornhole boards, slipperiness is an essential property, so if you toss your bean bag, it should slide down without disruptions. Otherwise, your board needs fixing. So, here are the best methods to make your board slippery in addition to applying polycrylic: 

Applying Cornstarch

To prepare your cornhole boards, begin by applying a layer of cornstarch onto the surface. Cornstarch possesses natural properties that effectively eliminate stickiness, providing a smooth and non-adhesive surface for the game.

Although most bean bags are filled with kernel corn, they produce corn powder whenever you toss them while playing. The powder from the bean bags is released automatically. 


It makes the board slippery as the tiny particles scatter, reducing friction between the bags and the board. Thus, sliding bean bags is easier. You can also apply cornstarch directly to your cornhole board but prevent inhaling the powder as it causes breathing problems. 

Applying Olive Oil

Olive oil offers an excellent organic solution to improve the slipperiness of your board. However, you must apply olive oil [1] over a treated board. Otherwise, the wood will absorb the oil resulting in a tacky surface. 

So apply the olive oil once the surface is fully dried and cured. Then, pour olive oil into a clean rag and spread it evenly on the surface. Too much olive oil can make the surface tacky. 

olive oil

You must observe the cornhole board to see if the oil is adequate to fix the slipperiness of the surface.

The Best Finishes to Use on Cornhole Boards

Depending on your desired color and designs, you can use different finishes on cornhole boards. Here are the best finishes to use on cornhole boards.

How to Make Bean Bag Boards Not So Slippery?

To lessen the slipperiness of your bean bag on cornhole boards, here are the effective ways you must follow before playing. 

bean bag boards on the ground

You can create a grip spray by mixing water and cornstarch to form a paste. Apply this paste to the bottom of your cornhole board, allowing it to dry before playing. After the game, you can easily remove the paste using water and ensure it’s properly dried for the next round of play.

This DIY grip spray provides an effective solution for enhancing the board’s grip and ensuring a satisfying cornhole game.

cornstarch and water

What Finish Should be Used On ACL Boards?

You can use a water-based finish for American Cornhole League (ACL) boards. It is a clear coat offering a smooth texture.

ACL boards are commonly made of Birch plywood. Pro boards come with 3/4 inches, and each side is finished like glass, while comp boards are made of 5/8 inches. Other than birchwood, oak wood is also ideal for ACL boards.

How To Finish Your Bag Board

Here are the steps to finish your ACL bag board and start playing around.

Step #1: Clean the surface of your bag board by removing debris and dust.

Step #2: After you remove the residues on the surface, sand the board to create texture so the finishing coat adheres completely.

staining cornhole board

Step #3: Apply a thin layer of polyurethane finish and wipe along the direction of the wood grain.

Step #4: Once you apply the finish, let it dry and cure for at least 24 hours. 

Step #5: Lightly sand the surface if the initial coat is fully dried and cured.

Step #6: Apply at least five to ten coats of polyurethane to achieve the slippery texture of your ACL bag board.

Step #7: Ensure your board is dry and entirely cured.


How do you make polycrylic smooth?

To achieve a smooth and slippery surface with polycrylic, follow these steps: 

First, sand between layers using a fine-grit sandpaper like 400-grit to create a textured surface for each new coat to adhere to. 

Second, apply a small amount of olive oil to the polycrylic finish and buff it with a soft cloth to enhance slipperiness. 

Finally, for additional smoothness, sprinkle a light layer of cornstarch over the wet polycrylic and allow it to dry completely. Combining these methods will help you create a perfect, slippery finish on your cornhole boards for an enjoyable game.


Applying a polycrylic finish to your cornhole boards can enhance their durability and appearance, making them ideal for gameplay. 

By learning how to make polycrylic slippery using methods like olive oil, cornstarch, and proper sanding between coats, you can achieve the desired level of slipperiness for your bean bags. With these techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy a competitive and professional cornhole game.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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