Effectively Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood Surfaces: Solved!

A pair of wooden apples that have been painted with various modern designs in an array of bright colors.

Whether you’re painting fence posts, furniture, toys, or picture frames, applying acrylic paint to wood is a simple and fun process that can brighten up your space. 

While preparing the surface by sanding and priming and then applying the appropriate amount of paint is crucial, making sure that you properly seal the paint is an important step in ensuring the durability of your finished product.

How do you seal acrylic paint on wood surfaces? Options for sealing acrylic paint on wood surfaces include polycrylic finish, varnish, Mod Podge, spray sealant, and water-based polyurethane. Once the acrylic paint is completely dry, apply your chosen sealant with even, smooth strokes. Wait until the first layer is dry before re-applying.

Once you have decided on the kind of sealant you wish to apply, you will want to follow the simple process outlined in this article in order to ensure that your item is appropriately sealed.

In the following, you will learn about different kinds of sealant and how to apply them to wood surfaces. 

How To Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood

After painting with acrylic, it’s important to seal your wood surface in order to protect the paint from chipping, peeling, and damage from exposure to the elements and common wear and tear.

When applying liquid sealant, make sure that you are administering a thin coat with smooth, even brush strokes.

If you are using a spray sealant, make sure that you spray evenly and horizontally from the same distance throughout the application process.

Sealant can take some time to dry, so be sure to allow several hours to several days time to pass after applying sealant before touching or using the painted wooden object. 

Apply a Polycrylic Finish

Polycrylic finish is a low odor, nonflammable, protective topcoat that can be applied over bare wood or oil or water-based paints, making it a great choice for use on wooden projects painted with acrylic paints. 

Recommended Polycrylic Finish: Minwax Clear

1 gal Minwax 13333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based...
  • Protects and adds beauty to interior wood surfaces including woodwork, furniture, doors and cabinets
  • Crystal clear finish is ideal for use over light woods like maple, ash and birch as well as over...

Miniwax Clear Polycrylic Finish is a clear wood finish that is water based, making cleanup of accidental spills or drips fast and easy.

It is a quick-drying finish, meaning that you can apply a second coat in as little as 2 hours after applying the first coat. To use, simply brush a thin, even coat over completely dry paint. 

Apply Varnish

Varnish is a transparent protective coating that dries clear and hard. Varnish can effectively be applied to numerous materials, including wood.

Recommended Varnish: Liquitex

Liquitex Professional High Gloss Varnish, 237ml...
  • Archival; Permanent; Non-Removable; Gloss finish
  • Lightweight, non-toxic; Dries to a non-tacky, hard, flexible surface; Non-yellowing and...

Liquitex Varnish is a varnish that comes in various finishes. The high-gloss version is the perfect choice for projects that require a little extra shine, while the matte version can give your project a duller sheen.

Liquitex is a permanent, water-resistant varnish, making it a great choice for both indoor and outdoor projects.

To seal your project with Liquitex Varnish, first make sure that the painted surface is completely dry.

Depending on the thickness of the layers of paint that you applied, this could take anywhere from 72 hours to 2 weeks.

Next, you will want to gently stir the varnish. Then, using a broad brush, apply long, even strokes in a horizontal direction over the painted surface.

The thinner the layer, the more quickly it will dry, and the better it will look. Once you have applied the first coat, wait at least 3 hours to apply the second coat.

Apply Mod Podge

Mod Podge is a decoupage medium that can be used as a glue, sealant, and varnish. It can be used for a wide variety of arts and crafts projects, including as a sealant for wood.

Recommended Product: Mod Podge Complete Kit

Mod Podge Complete Decoupage Kit-Two 16oz Bottles...
  • Includes 1 Mod Podge Matte Finish 16oz, 1 Mod Podge Gloss Finish 16oz and 4pk Foam Brush Set
  • All-in-one glue, sealer for both your Matte and Gloss Needs Quick-drying for multiple coat build up

The Mod Podge Complete Kit includes two 16 ounce bottles of Mod Podge, which is a versatile, quick-drying, water-based product.

You can use the Matte Finish bottle for projects in which you would like to retain the muted appearance of most dried acrylic paints, or use the Gloss Finish to create a shinier presentation.

Although Mod Podge may look milky when applying, it does tend to dry clear.

The Mod Podge Complete Kit also comes with four foam brushes. To use, simply smooth even layers of Mod Podge over the painted surface using the foam brushes.

Allow each layer to dry for at least 15 minutes before applying the next. 

Apply Spray Sealant 

A spray sealant comes in an aerosol can and provides a protective gloss coating to your painted wood surface. 

Recommended Product: Krylon Crystal Clear

Krylon K01303007 Acrylic Spray Paint Crystal Clear...
  • Moisture-resistant and smudge-proof.
  • Improves artwork and photo contrast.

When it comes to sealants, Krylon Acrylic Coating Crystal Clear Spray Paint is an easy-to-apply choice. Spray sealants are great because they can quickly cover a lot of area with an even coating.

Krylon Crystal Clear Spray is a moisture-resistant, smudge-proof, and anti-yellowing spray that is dry to the touch after 15 minutes. 

To apply, shake the can thoroughly before use, and then simply spray an even coat over the wooden surface from a distance of at least 30 centimeters.

Make sure to wear a mask, gloves, and protective eye wear, and be sure to work in a well-ventilated area when using Krylon Crystal Clear Spray.

The spray should be completely dry and the wooden object ready to be handled after 4 hours. 

Apply Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is a low-odor, quick-drying sealant that dries transparent. Water-based polyurethane is a good choice for sealing wood surfaces that will remain indoors. 

Recommended Product: Varathane

Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate...
  • Protects indoor wood surfaces such as furniture, windows, cabinets, trim and more
  • Water based formula dries fast and cleans up with soap and water

Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane comes in a satin finish and is scratch and stain resistant. It dries to the touch in 30 minutes and can be safely handled after 2 hours. 

To apply, use a thick bristle brush and smooth, even strokes. Cover the entire wood surface, then allow the Varathane to dry for at least 2 hours before applying the next coat. 

Things To Consider Before Choosing a Sealant

Before you pick out a sealant, consider whether your project will remain indoors or outdoors and what level of protection you will need based on how much the item will be handled.

Tips When Sealing Acrylic Paint on Wood Surfaces

Before you apply sealant, make sure that you have properly sanded, primed, and painted the wooden surface.

It is also extremely important to make sure that the paint has completely dried before applying sealant.

If bubbles appear when applying sealant, smooth them out as quickly as possible to avoid having them visible in the finished product. 

Related Question:

Do You Need To Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood?

You don’t have to seal acrylic paint on wood, but it’s definitely a good idea if longevity and durability are important to you.

If you’re painting something temporary or something that you will want to repaint at some time in the future, it might be a good idea to skip the sealant.

Otherwise, it’s a good idea to seal acrylic paint on wood in order to protect the surface.


There are many different products that can be used to effectively seal acrylic paint on wood.

The important thing to remember when sealing acrylic paint on wood is to apply thin, even layers of sealant, and to let each layer dry completely before applying the next.

Last update on 2024-06-15 at 02:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.