Painting on Wood : Steps by step guide on how to paint on wooden surface

A step by step detailed guide on how to paint on wood using acrylic paint with brush and roller. Best practice for sanding and repainting

Can you apply acrylic paints on wooden furniture? 

Yes, acrylic paints can be used on wooden furniture. In fact, they are a popular choice for painting wooden surfaces, after latex and chalk paint. Acrylic paints work well on wood as it is a non-glossy surface that allows the paint to adhere easily.

Acrylic paints are incredibly versatile and can be used on a wide range of surfaces such as paper, canvas, metal, leather, fabric, and wood. These paints are water-based and fast-drying, and they are non-toxic. They contain color pigments that are suspended and spread using an acrylic polymer emulsion, which gives them rich and vibrant colors.

Acrylic paints are perfect for small scale art projects, such as painting wooden frames, console tables, or any accent pieces.

The wooden surface must be prepared before you begin to paint. If you do not prepare the surface, you will see the grains of the wood after you seal the paint. The end product will not have a smooth finish.

To ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish, follow these step-by-step instructions when painting wooden furniture with acrylic paint.

So to paint a wood piece with a smooth long-lasting finish, follow this step-by-step guide.

1. Prep your Wood Surface

The first step in preparing the wood is sanding. If the wood has already been sanded down, you can skip this step. 

However, if it hasn't, sanding the surface with 280-320 grit wet or dry sandpaper will help to create a smooth and even surface. It's important to sand in the direction of the wood grains, rather than against them, for the best results.

After sanding, be sure to thoroughly remove any loose particles using a lint-free cloth. This will help to ensure a clean surface for painting.

2. Apply a Primer

Painting Brush on wooden surface

This measure often goes amiss when it comes to painting on wood. Do not forget to apply primer if you want the paint to adhere well to the surface. So lay a primer coat and let it dry for a couple of hours. Use a foam brush or a roller to apply primer.

A roller or a foam brush instead of a painter’s brush can give you a smoother and even finish. Apply the second layer of the primer for better coverage and leave it to dry overnight. 

A coating of acrylic wood primer will make lighter colors appear more vibrant. If you are seeking a much smoother surface, repeat the process of sanding till you reach the desired feel. The softer, the better!

3. Sanding the Primer

Sand it down again before painting. Use 220-grit sandpaper, and apply mild pressure to stop gouging the primer. Remove the primer dust using a flat brush, followed by a gentle swipe of the tack cloth.

4. Start Painting with Brush

To begin painting your wooden surface with acrylic paint, select the desired background color and squeeze a small amount onto your palette. 

Keep in mind that acrylic paint dries quickly, so it's best not to pour out all of the paint at once. Have a bowl of water nearby to dip your paintbrush in if the paint starts to thicken or the bristles dry out.

Using a broad, flat paintbrush start painting the surface of the wood. Begin with the edges and slowly work your way to cover the entire surface. Allow the paint to dry for a few hours before applying a second coat, if necessary.

The drying time for acrylic paint varies depending on the consistency and thickness of the paint layers applied. Most acrylic paints will dry within 20 minutes, but it's best to leave your wooden surface to dry overnight for optimal results.

5. Paint using a Roller 

Roller Paint with red color

Using a roller is another option to consider when painting your wooden surface. It is essential to invest in a good quality roller to achieve a smooth finish. 

Cheap rollers can cause issues such as paint marks and a rough appearance. A six-inch foam roller is a suitable size to use, and replacement roller covers can be purchased separately or together.

To paint with a roller, pour approximately four ounces of paint into a tray. Dip the roller gently into the paint, and roll it up and down the tray's slope a couple of times to spread the paint onto the roller pad.

Next, transfer the roller onto the wood and begin to roll the paint onto the surface. Start with light pressure only and increase it gently to release the paint if necessary. High-density foam rollers can sometimes trap paint in the roller mat. You can wash and reuse the covers, or replace them with a new one.

6. Sand the first coat

You can achieve a much smoother coating if you opt to sand and paint one last time. Sanding the paint coat brings down bumps and inconsistencies introduced by the roller or brush. 

Using 220-grit sandpaper, sand lightly by hand or attach the paper to the orbital sander and then operate lightly through the surface. Don't use pressure on the sander other than the weight of the sander.

After sanding, gently remove the dust from the surface.

7. Paint second coat

Apply a last coat of paint using a brush or roller as you want. This will be the final coat, so be careful not to make any mistakes here. Allow the paint to dry overnight or more before using it.

8. Apply a Sealant

Applying a sealant is essential to protect the underlying layer. It will protect your work from flaking or peeling. You will find many types of sealers in the market, choose as per your need.

You can choose from gloss, matte, satin, and a lot more. It is up to you whether you want to use spray sealer or brush sealer. Both have different application methods, but the results are the same. 

Apply a thin coat of the sealant and allow it to dry. Now you have your finished and sealed furniture ready.

Best Practices for Sanding:

The best suggestion for sanding between coats is to start with coarser grit sandpaper, follow up with medium grit, and complete with fine-grit sandpaper. 

A good hint: Spray a fine mist of water over the sanded surface that may raise the grain. Remember that the best approach to sand is in the direction of the grain. Otherwise, it might damage your surface.

Best Practices for Repainting:

If you are repainting a piece, the first thing to do is check the current paint condition of the surface. If you find the paint is peeling from the surface, scrape it to get rid of old paint coats. Then, make the surface smooth with 180 grit sandpaper.

Never attempt to paint a present wood surface without preparing the surface. Applying an immediate coat of paint over the old coating won't function and will tend to peel, primarily if it includes a shiny finish.

Painting tips

Use a brush and a roller: Paintbrushes and rollers each have unique usage. Rollers cover large areas quickly but can't reach corners or narrow spaces. If you want smooth surfaces, go for a high-density foam roller. 

Use paintbrushes for painting the corners and edges to get a clean, smooth finish. And use rollers for painting large areas to save time. Brushing after rolling to remove lines is an expert technique called back-brushing.