How to Prepare Wood for Acrylic Painting?

When it comes to acrylic painting, the surface you choose to paint on is important.

Not all surfaces are created equal, and some will give your paintings a much better-finished look than others.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare wood for acrylic painting so that you can achieve the best results possible.

preparing wood for acrylic painting

1. Clean the Surface of Your Wood Panel

Just as you would prepare your canvas before painting, you need to get the surface of your wood panel ready for a successful painting. Nobody likes artwork painted on an uneven and dirty surface.

You, therefore, need to ensure that your chosen wood panel is well-prepared to achieve the desired result.

Firstly, you have to clean off any dirt or debris from all surfaces of the wood panel – panel front, panel back, and cradled sides.

Depending on how dirty or dusty the wood is, you may need to use an air blower or vacuum blower.

2. Lay the Wood Panel on A Prop

After cleaning the surface of the wood panel, lay the wood panel on a flat surface but slightly raised by wood props. Support the wood panel on all four corners with the wood props. The essence of the props is to raise the wood to enable easy application of colors.

The props also enable you to wipe away color drips easily. The props should be just a few inches tall and should be clamped or glued to the panel back.

3. Sand the Surface of the Wood

Next, smoothen the surface of the wood by sanding it. This will create an even surface to work on. Skip this step if your wood panel already has a smooth surface.

To get a smooth surface, you need 140 to 280 grit sandpaper and a hand scraper to sand the wood.

You may replace the hand scraper with a hand plane depending on how rough the wood surface is.

Note that wood sanding can produce so much dust and also takes some time to get a perfect surface.

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Ensure that you sand along the grain pattern on the wood surface and not against it. Sanding against the grain pattern can make the sanding process a bit difficult.

After you’ve achieved a smooth surface, wipe off all dirt, stains, and wood dust left on the wood surface using a slightly dampened microfiber (or lint-free) cloth.

If you have a shop vac or vacuum cleaner, use that to minimize the dust by collecting the dust at its source.

4. Apply the First Layer of Sealant

Since you’re using acrylic paint, you need to apply the first coat of sealant on the wood surface. What the sealant does is prevent the wood’s natural components from interfering with the acrylic paint.

Otherwise, this may lead to a type of discoloration called SID (support-induced discoloration).

SID is a condition where a dry acrylic painting gradually changes its color due to the presence of impurities in the wood.

The sealant also blocks and covers up all the tiny pores that may be present on the wood surface. These tiny pores can either suck up paints or cause distortions or blemishes in the final painting.

Thinking of having a well-outlined pattern or design on your acrylic painting? Apply a sealant to your wood panel and allow it to dry.

5. Lightly Sand the Surface of Your Wood Again

After the first layer of sealant gets dried, your wood may feel somewhat coarse. That is because of the action of the sealant on the wood. It raised the wood grains.

You can paint on the surface like this. You need to sand the wood surface lightly with a fine sanding block or 220 grit sandpaper to smoothen it.

Mind you, this is not heavy sanding but slight sanding just to remove the raised wood grains.

6. Apply the Second Layer of Sealant

After the light sanding, clean the wood surface again with a slightly dampened microfiber (or lint-free) cloth. Then, apply the second layer of sealant. The second sealant coat makes the wood surface appear glossy.

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Although two coats of sealant are enough to prepare the wood for acrylic painting, you may choose to apply more sealant coats for more saturated seals.

It depends on the project you have and how you want the final painting.

7. Apply a Wood Primer (or Base Coat)

The next step involves applying a wood primer (or base coat) on the sealed wood surface.

To achieve a beautiful outcome with acrylic painting, it’s essential to prime the surface of your wood before painting. A wood primer is a preparatory coating used to help prepare the surface of the wood before painting.

Primer creates a surface on which paints can easily adhere. Normally, a dry wood surface is highly absorbent and will absorb much of the paint. However, applying a wood primer prevents the wood surface from absorbing too much paint.

The wood prime also does the magic of covering up any stains or knots on the wood surface. So, if you have stubborn stains, wood dust, or knots on your wood surface, the primer will do wonders.

The essence of applying wood primer on your wood surface is that it improves the overall appearance of your artwork, enhances the brightness of the colors, and improves its longevity.

You may wonder why you still need to apply a primer since you’ve already applied a sealant.

Mind you, the sealant doesn’t replace the primer. Both are different and have their individual functions.

While an expert painter can get away with just a primer, a beginner acrylic painter must apply the two to achieve the best acrylic painting.

8. Let the Painting Begin

Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for to bring your dream design to reality. You can’t wait to pick up your brush and palette to bring that amazing design to life.

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I need to inform you at this point that acrylic paints dry off quickly. It’s, therefore, advisable that you pour as little paint as you need per time into your palette to avoid wasting.

Pick any color you desire to serve as the background on which your main design will be painted. Using a wide flat paintbrush, apply the acrylic paint to the wood surface and allow it to dry. Then apply a second coat making the layer as thick as you desire.

Once the background layer is well dried, carefully apply the details of your design using a soft brush. Ensure to dip the bristles of your paintbrush frequently in water to prevent it from drying. Also, if you’re using different colors, be careful enough to keep the colors separately from one another to avoid mixing.

Take your time to carefully create your desired design and once you’re done painting, allow the painting to dry. Don’t be too excited or in a haste to touch your artwork. You may end up marring the design if it’s not properly dried.

Once the artwork is dried, reapply the sealant to seal your acrylic painting on the wood surface to avoid fading, chipping, or peeling off.

To Conclude

Acrylic painting is one of the most versatile and easy-to-use mediums for creating beautiful designs on wood.

The good thing about acrylic paint is that it can be used on any type of wood, from unfinished wood to varnished wood.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert painter, the steps involved in prepping wood for acrylic painting are quite simple.

I hope this guide will be useful the next time you decide to work on an acrylic painting project.

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