Sealing the Deal: How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood for a Lasting Masterpiece!

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Woodworking is a craft that marries creativity and skill, allowing artisans to create magnificent pieces of art from raw materials. Acrylic paint is popular due to its versatility and vibrant hues. However, sealing acrylic paint on wood is of utmost importance to ensure the longevity and protection of these painted masterpieces.

This comprehensive guide delves into the significance of sealing acrylic paint on wood and explores the benefits of using different sealers. We will walk you through a step-by-step process to effectively seal acrylic paint on wood, recommend the best sealers for your projects, and provide valuable tips to achieve stunning results.

Why You Should Seal Painted Wood

Protecting Against UV, Water, and Wear Damage

While versatile and beautiful, acrylic paint is not impervious to the elements. UV rays from the sun can cause fading and discoloration, water can lead to warping and rot, and everyday wear and tear can chip or scratch the paint. 

Sealing acrylic paint on wood creates a protective barrier, shielding the paint from these environmental factors and preserving its brilliance for years.

Enhancing the Durability and Longevity of the Paint

Unsealed acrylic paint on wood may suffer from abrasions and lose its luster over time. By applying a suitable sealer, you enhance the durability of the paint, making it more resistant to scratches, scuffs, and other forms of damage. 

preparing acrylic paint

It ensures that your artful creations can withstand the test of time and retain their visual appeal.

Ensuring Better Paint Adhesion on Wood Surfaces

Acrylic paint adheres better to a sealed wood surface, as unsealed wood may absorb moisture from the paint, leading to uneven color distribution and a less professional finish. 

Properly sealing the wood provides a stable foundation for the paint, resulting in a smoother and more polished appearance.

Steps on How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood

Before we explore the various types of sealants, let’s take a detailed look at the step-by-step process of sealing acrylic paint on wood:

1. Sanding the Wood Surface for a Smooth Finish

Start by sanding the wood surface using fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding helps achieve a smooth and even surface, which is crucial for a flawless paint application. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid creating unsightly scratches.

sand wood

2. Cleaning the Surface to Remove Dust and Dirt

After sanding, clean the wood surface thoroughly to eliminate any dust, dirt, or debris. A soft or tack cloth can be used to wipe away particles gently. A clean surface ensures better adhesion of the sealer and paint.

3. Applying a Coat of Wood Sealant or Primer

Apply a wood sealant or primer coat to the sanded and cleaned surface. The sealant acts as a protective barrier, preventing the paint from being absorbed into the wood and ensuring better adhesion. Allow the sealant to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Adding Multiple Coats of Acrylic Paint

Once the sealant is dry, add multiple coats of acrylic paint to achieve your desired color intensity. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Building up the paint in layers ensures a rich and even color distribution.

acrylic paint

5. Applying Acrylic Paint Sealer for Protection

After the final coat of acrylic paint has dried, it’s time to apply the acrylic paint sealer. The sealer will protect the paint and add a layer that enhances its longevity. The choice of sealer is vital, and we’ll explore various options in the following sections.

Different Types of Sealants

Various sealants are available for sealing acrylic paint on wood, each offering unique properties and applications. Here’s an overview of the most common types:

Type of Sealant



Water-Based Polyurethane

Clear, durable finish

Furniture, indoor projects

Furniture Wax

Soft, low-luster finish

Decorative items, small projects

Glaze or Varnish

Glossy, hard-wearing finish

Various woodworking projects

Acrylic Resin Varnish

Clear, waterproof coating

Outdoor projects

Acrylic Polymer Varnish

Clear, resists yellowing

Preserving paint color

Mod Podge

Sealer and adhesive

Decoupage, mixed media projects

Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) Glue

Affordable and versatile

Budget-friendly projects


Quick-drying, protective

Projects with tight deadlines


Strong, durable finish

Heavily used items


Soft, natural finish

Vintage or distressed looks

Artist Grade Varnish

Professional-grade protection

High-quality artwork

Epoxy Resin

Thick, high-gloss finish

Bar tops, glossy coatings

The choice of sealant will depend on factors such as the level of protection needed, the desired finish, and whether the item will be used indoors or outdoors.

Things to Look for Before Choosing a Sealant

Olympic Elite Advanced Solid Color Stain and Sealant in One

Before selecting a sealer to use on your acrylic-painted wood project, consider the following factors:

Non-Yellowing Properties

Opt for sealants that resist yellowing over time, especially if your project involves lighter paint colors. Yellowing can significantly alter the appearance of the paint and may not be desirable for specific projects.

UV Resistance for Outdoor Projects

Choose a sealer with UV resistance if your woodcraft is exposed to sunlight. UV rays can cause fading and discoloration, but a UV-resistant sealer will help maintain the vibrancy of the paint, even with prolonged exposure to the sun.

furniture set

Durability for Heavily Used Items

For furniture or other items subject to frequent use and handling, opt for a durable sealer that can withstand wear, scratches, and moisture.

Finish Preference (Matte, Glossy, Satin)

Consider the finish you desire for your project. Sealants come in various finishes, such as matte, glossy, and satin, each offering a distinct appearance. Choose the one that best complements your design vision.

Recommended Acrylic Paint Sealers for Wood

Based on the factors mentioned above, here are two highly recommended acrylic paint sealers for wood:

LIQUITEX High Gloss Varnish

LIQUITEX High Gloss Varnish is an excellent choice for artists and woodworkers looking to achieve a glossy and vibrant finish on their acrylic-painted wood projects. This varnish offers superior protection against UV damage and resists discoloration over time.  LIQUITEX High Gloss Varnish is ideal for both indoor and outdoor projects, ensuring your creations retain their brilliance

LIQUITEX High Gloss Varnish

It dries clear, preserving the paint’s original colors, and provides a durable, high-gloss finish that enhances the visual appeal of the artwork.

KRYLON Acrylic Spray Paint Crystal Clear

KRYLON Acrylic Spray Paint Crystal Clear is a convenient and easy-to-use option for sealing acrylic paint on wood. This spray-on sealer provides a crystal-clear finish that enhances the paint’s colors without adding additional tint.

It offers excellent protection against UV rays, preventing fading and discoloration, making it a suitable choice for indoor and outdoor projects. The spray format allows for even coverage and a smooth finish, making it a favorite among artists and DIY enthusiasts.

How to Apply Different Sealants on Acrylic-Painted Wood

Now that we have explored various sealants and their properties let’s understand how to use them effectively on acrylic-painted wood:

PVA Glue as an Acrylic Paint Sealer

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) glue is a budget-friendly alternative for sealing acrylic paint on wood. Dilute PVA glue with water and apply it evenly to the painted surface using a brush. 

PVA glue

The glue will create a protective layer, adding durability to your project. While it may not offer the same level of protection as commercial sealers, it is a cost-effective option for smaller or less critical projects.

See Also: UV Glue 

Polyacrylic as an Acrylic Paint Sealer

Polyacrylic is a water-based sealer that offers quick drying times and protection against wear and tear. It is suitable for various woodworking projects, including furniture and decorative items. 

Apply the polyacrylic with a brush in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Its non-yellowing properties make it ideal for maintaining the paint’s original colors.

Polyurethane as an Acrylic Paint Sealer

Polyurethane is a popular choice for heavily used items and outdoor projects due to its exceptional durability. It is available in water- and oil-based variants, with the former being more user-friendly and less prone to yellowing over time. 

Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane

Apply polyurethane with a brush or spray it on for a protective finish to guard against scratches and moisture.

Mod Podge as an Acrylic Paint Sealer

Mod Podge [1] is a sealer and an adhesive, making it a versatile option for mixed media projects and decoupage. 

Apply Mod Podge to the painted surface using a brush to create a clear and protective coating. It is beneficial for adding texture and dimension to your artwork.

Tips and Tricks for Applying Sealants

Achieving impeccable results when sealing acrylic paint on wood requires attention to detail and the application of helpful advice. To enhance your sealing process, consider implementing the following practical pointers:

Working on a Budget with PVA Glue

If you work on a tight budget or undertake a smaller project, using PVA glue as a sealer can be a cost-effective and viable solution. PVA glue is readily available and inexpensive, making it an accessible option for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts. 

pouring PVA glue

To use PVA glue as a sealer, dilute it with a small amount of water to achieve a consistency that is easy to apply. Then, carefully brush or roll the diluted glue onto the painted surface, ensuring even coverage. 

While PVA glue may not offer the same level of protection and longevity as commercial sealers, it can be suitable for decorative or non-high-traffic projects.

Reading Product Labels for Preparation

Before applying any sealer, reading and understanding the product label is crucial. Each sealer may have specific instructions and recommendations for application. 

Attention to details such as drying times, the recommended number of coats, and any sanding requirements between coats.  

sealing acrylic paint on wood

Some sealers may also have temperature and humidity specifications for optimal application. By adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines, you can achieve the best possible results and ensure the longevity of your sealed wood projects.

Using a Gloss Finish for Brightness

If you want to enhance your acrylic-painted wood’s vibrancy and visual impact, consider using a gloss-finish sealer. Glossy sealers have a high reflective index, reflecting more light than matte or satin finishes. 

This property results in a heightened brightness and intensity of the colors in your artwork. The gloss finish can bring out the slightest nuances in your brushwork, creating a visually stunning and eye-catching piece. 

However, remember that glossy finishes may also emphasize imperfections or brushstrokes, so ensure your paint application is smooth and consistent before sealing.

Applying Sealants in Thin Layers for Best Results

When sealing acrylic paint on wood, a common mistake is applying sealants in thick layers. Thick coats can lead to drips, uneven coverage, and prolonged drying. Applying sealants in thin and even layers is essential to achieve the best results. 

sealing acrylic paint

Use a brush or a roller to spread the sealer smoothly across the surface, avoiding excess buildup. Multiple thin coats are preferable over a single thick application, allowing for better adhesion and faster drying.

Additionally, thin layers provide a more even and professional-looking finish, ensuring your painted wood project remains visually appealing and protected.

Applying Sealants with a Roller or Sponge Brush

Using a brush to apply sealers can be time-consuming and labor-intensive for larger wood projects, such as furniture or sizable decorative items. Utilizing a roller or a sponge brush can significantly speed up the application process while ensuring even coverage. 

Rollers and sponge brushes cover larger areas quickly and efficiently, reducing the risk of streaks or uneven patches. However, be mindful of air bubbles that may form when using a roller. To avoid this, roll the sealer gently and evenly, and consider using a foam roller for a smoother finish.

Performing a Test Piece Before Sealing the Entire Project

Testing a small and inconspicuous area before sealing your acrylic-painted wood project is prudent. 

test sealant first

This allows you to observe how the sealer interacts with the paint and wood, providing valuable insight into the final appearance and performance of the sealer. Testing also helps you identify potential issues, such as compatibility problems or unexpected reactions. 

By performing a test piece, you can make adjustments or choose an alternative sealer if necessary, ensuring that the final sealing process meets your expectations and enhances the overall quality of your woodworking masterpiece.


In the world of woodworking, sealing acrylic paint on wood is a critical step in preserving the beauty and durability of your creations. By protecting against UV, water, and wear damage, applying a sealer ensures that your artful projects can withstand the test of time. Better paint adhesion on wood surfaces guarantees a more professional and long-lasting finish.

Throughout this guide, we have explored the various benefits of using different types of sealers, providing recommendations for specific projects and preferences. Remember to consider essential factors like non-yellowing properties, UV resistance, durability, and finish preference when choosing the suitable sealer for your artwork. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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