Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood?

Can you use acrylic paint on stained wood?

YES, you can!

This is one of the numerous questions we often see people ask on forums and social media platforms. And that’s why we have decided to write this article.

It’s not a big deal to paint over stain and other wood finishes, but the key to success lies within the preparation process. If you can adequately prepare the surface, you’ve already won the battle.

And I will show you how to do just that in a minute so you can achieve a flawless result that lasts.

Things you may need for the job

  • 150 Grit Sandpaper
  • Wood Primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint Palette
  • Sponge Brush (Optional)
  • Few Paper Towels
  • A Bowl of Water
  • And Any Acrylic Paint Of Your Choice

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood?

Like I said earlier, you can use acrylic paint on stained wood and it will come out super beautiful. Below, I’ll be showing you how to do just that.

Make sure you read up to the expert tips section, as there will be some takeaways that might also be of help.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

Read Also: Watercolor Vs Oil Vs Gouache Vs Acrylic Paint

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Stained Wood

STEP 1: Choose the perfect operating theater

First and foremost, you want the perfect location to perform the procedure.

You may think this is just another red tape to cross, but your location matters a lot as it can either be a blessing or a curse to your productivity.

For me, I would choose a well-ventilated area to work, such as a balcony that welcomes a lot of air.

Now I’m not implying that acrylic is so toxic to humans. But some acrylic colors do contain toxic chemicals and can ooze out a strong odor that makes your head swirl when working in a closed up area.

For that reason, it’s imperative to work in a well-ventilated area.

STEP 2: Ensure the object is clean (optional)

Clean the stained wood with soapy water to remove any atom of dust, dirt, debris, or cobwebs. Then wipe dry it with a tack cloth.

STEP 3: Sand it down with a 150 grit sandpaper

Most stain products leave behind a waterproofing barrier that gives the wood a glossy, smooth finish. And sanding it down will help roughen the surface, allowing the acrylic to adhere excellently.

NOTE: When applying the 150 grit sandpaper, your objective is to make the surface rough enough for the paint to have something to hold. You are not here to strip the entire layer.

Occasionally, the stain may not be glossy, and the paint might not have trouble adhering to the wood. Either way, sanding is inevitable.

STEP 4: Wipe down the wood

After sanding the wood, sponge it down with a tack cloth as this will help remove any dust, dirt, and debris residues left by painting.

Using a fresh tack cloth is essential; a paper towel won’t do the trick.

STEP 5: Apply the primer

Next is to prime the wood. Priming always heightens the chances of adhesion as well. Aside from that, it fills any exterior pores, allowing the acrylic to absorb evenly.

More importantly, it is critical to apply a primer if the stain is a dark color. However, if you skip this step, your final color might come out differently due to the prior dark stain.

I’d recommend a spray-on primer since it is hassle-free and makes time your ally. Apply it evenly throughout the entire piece.

STEP 6: Paint the material

Once the primer is dry, you can start painting the wood.

Use a foam roller to apply at least three coats of paint to ensure adequate coverage. You should wait for two to four hours between each coat.

Finally, let it dry. Acrylic paints usually dry faster, but 24 hours of dry time is the recommended time to guarantee it has dried completely.

STEP 7: Finish it off with a sealant!

Acrylics could be a sturdy once they dry, but it’s still advisable to apply another line of defense for maximum protection. It is Because acrylics will succumb to external abuse sooner or later.

For this reason, it is essential to apply a sealant to seal in the paint. The sole purpose of it is to protect the paint from environmental elements, as well as regular wear and tear.

For items that will receive constant use, you should apply a considerable number of hard shellac coats.

I prefer using a spray-on sealant. This way, I can get the job done painlessly.

Expert Tips

If you’re switching between colors, it’s crucial to keep a bowl of clean water and paper towels next to you. Clean the brush each time you switch, so the remnant doesn’t mix to create something unintentionally.

For larger surfaces, squeeze out a large amount of acrylic onto the palette and apply them with a sponge or a foam brush.

When opting for the acrylic paint, you can buy acrylic in two grades: either Artist quality or Student quality.

Artist’s quality paint comes in a wide variety of colors that have a high concentration of finely ground pigment. Whereas, student grades are not only cheaper but also come in a smaller selection with lower pigment levels.

Artist’s grade has vivid pigment, which gives them that buttery consistency that goes on smoothly and makes them easier to blend. Therefore, they are the best bet.

As for what primer to use, most professionals would prefer shellac primer or oil-based. The stain is oil-based, so latex primer is not an option.

Further Reading:

Will acrylic paint adhere to stained wood?

As long as you sand the wood with at least a 150 grit sandpaper, you can use acrylic paint on stained wood.

Can I use acrylic paint on finished wood?

Acrylic paint does work on wood. In fact, acrylic paint is the easiest way to paint wood and probably also the cheapest way. But the wooden surface has to be prepared before painting it and sealed after painting it correctly in order to ensure the longevity of the paint job.

What happens if you paint over stained wood?

Most stained wood has been coated in a glossy polyurethane or varnish. If you paint over these glossy surfaces directly, the paint can’t properly grip the surface which may cause the paint to crack, chip, or peel off. In order to allow the paint to grip to the surface of your wood, you should sand away the gloss.

Can you paint over stained wood without sanding?

Can you paint over varnished wood without sanding? Yes. The oil based primer will stick to varnished or sealed wood. And then you can paint over it with latex paint.

Can you use acrylic paint on varnished wood?

You can paint over varnished wood as long as you use the right materials and painting process. The best paint to use is a water-based acrylic one. If you’re using an oil-based paint only use an oil-based primer, not an acrylic one. “Sweet, this means it can be done!

Can you use acrylic paint on wooden doors?

Acrylic is an excellent paint type for wood. However, you must take a few extra steps for the paint to adhere well and create a long-lasting finish. You will need to prepare the surface and seal the paint for the best results.

Is acrylic paint waterproof when dry?

Although it might be slightly water-resistant, it does not provide a waterproof coat. To make it waterproof, add a sealer over the acrylic paint. When the paint has dried, it is slightly water-resistant but will eventually start to peel or flake off.

How do you seal acrylic paint on wood?

An easy and natural way to seal acrylic paint on wood would be to use furniture wax. All you need to do is apply a small amount of the wax onto a cloth and then apply it to your wooden surface. Allow it to sit for a short time and then you can buff it with a soft lint-free cloth.

What is acrylic stain used for?

Cabot® Solid Color Acrylic Decking Stain is extremely durable exterior stains for use on all wood decking, outdoor furniture and fencing, as well as cement patios and walkways. 100% acrylic finish is also water repellent and fade resistant.

Can you paint on top of stained wood?

Yes, you can paint over stained wood. In fact, there are numerous correct ways to paint stained wood and the method you choose should depend on the type of stain used, the state of the wood, and whether or not you’re painting a piece of furniture or some other structure.


I hope we’ve answered your initial question on how can you use acrylic paint on stained wood?

Whenever you’re working on a regular wood or stained wood, remember to follow these steps as it will surely lead you to the promised land.

The bottom line, patience, and attention to detail are the true weapons when painting acrylic on stained wood.

And for those of us who think they can paint over stained wood without sanding, it is possible but at your own risk. It’s essential to remove the varnish with either sandpaper or a   so the paint can stick properly.

Also, you might be tempted to skip the priming process and paint right on top of the stained wood. Please don’t! You may not like the result at the end of the day.