How to Seal Acrylic Paint: FAQs, Tutorial and Useful Tips

You’ve spent hours on your latest acrylic painting and it’s finally complete. You’re thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to show it off to your friends and family, but before you do, there’s one more thing that needs to be done: sealing the paint!

Sealing acrylic paint is an important step in protecting your artwork from fading or yellowing over time as well as ensuring a protective barrier against spills or contact with other materials. In this article, we will answer some common questions about sealing acrylic paint, provide a full-length tutorial for those who want to seal their own paintings at home, and offer some handy tips for beginners looking to protect their work.

Why Should You Seal Acrylic Painting?

Today we are going to answer one of the most frequently asked questions: “How do I seal acrylic paint?” We will talk about different sealing methods and materials that can be used for it as well as give some useful tips which might come in handy when working with artists’ paints. But first things first… So what is the purpose of sealing your artwork after all?

The main purpose of sealing your artwork is to protect it from the elements and extend its life.

Sealing will help keep your colors vibrant, stop paint from cracking or flaking and slow down the spread of dirt, dust, and other contaminants on the surface. It is especially important to seal paintings that are going to be displayed in a public place or hung in an area with high traffic, where they are more likely to get dirty quickly.

Now that we know why we should seal our artwork, let’s take a look at different methods and materials that can be used for this purpose.

What Do You Use to Seal an Acrylic Painting?

There are many types of sealants available on the market, but not all of them are appropriate for acrylics. The type of sealant you use will depend on the surface that your painting is displayed on as well as how it will be used.

Spray Varnish

One popular way to seal acrylic paint is by using spray varnish. There are many types of spray varnishes available on the market, both for art and model-making. You can find a large variety of acrylic varnishes in different finishes: matte, satin or gloss, etc.

You will often see people recommending using hair spray to seal paint when they run out of their favorite spray varnish but remember that your artwork deserves the best!

Hair sprays are cheaper than good quality varnishes and contain fewer protective agents which makes them not as effective at sealing paint.

They also leave sticky residue on the surface and degrade over time due to exposure to sunlight (UV) which eventually leads to cracking or peeling off. So avoid cheap substitutes if you care about the longevity of your painting!

Gesso or Glaze Medium

Acrylic paint can also be sealed by applying a layer of gesso (or glaze medium) on top. This method is especially good for making colored pencils, pastels, and graphite sketches stand out more. If you decide to use this technique then it means that the surface underneath has to be completely dry before applying any white/clear base so allow enough time for your artwork to fully cure if necessary.

Even though both these materials are water-based there is still some risk of damaging the surface when using them together with water-soluble paints unless they have dried out properly first. Another thing worth mentioning here is that while gesso is a good sealer, it can also be used as an undercoat for acrylic paint and makes a great primer.

Acrylic Polymer Varnish

One of the most common sealing options for acrylic paintings is a type of gloss high-gloss varnish known as an “acrylic polymer varnish.” These can be purchased from your local art supply store or online.

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Acrylic polymer varnishes create a glossy finish and offer greater protection than matte finishes since they have better resistance to water damage and yellowing over time. In addition, these types of varnishes provide increased flexibility which makes them more durable against contact with other materials such as oils or solvents found in markers or even fingerprints from handling the piece too roughly.

They’re also easy to apply directly over the paint surface with a brush or sponge, and most can be applied in several coats for increased protection.

Acrylic Resin Varnish

An alternative to acrylic polymer varnishes are acrylic resin varnishes. Acrylic resins offer an extremely glossy finish which is ideal for showcasing your artwork. These types of varnish can also be used on top of other mediums, such as pastel or oil paints, making it a great option if you’re looking for increased protection against water damage while still allowing the original texture behind the paint surface to show through.

However, unlike acrylic polymer varnishes that tend to dry quickly upon application, acrylic resins take up to 24 hours before they fully cure depending on how much was applied; this makes them more difficult to work with since multiple coats may need to be applied in order to achieve the desired level of protection.

In addition, acrylic resins are also more susceptible to yellowing over time when exposed to UV light and should not be used on surfaces that may come into contact with food or drink.

So those are popular ways of sealing acrylic paint. All of them have their own benefits and drawbacks so it’s up to you to decide which one will work best for your particular project. Just keep in mind that no matter which method you choose, always test it on a small area first to make sure the results are what you expected!

Glossy, Satin, or Matte?

When choosing a sealant for your acrylic painting, it’s important to decide what type of finish you want.

Some artists prefer using a matte finish while others like their paintings to have high shine so be sure that you check out both kinds before deciding which one works best for your project.

Glossy finishes are ideal if you want to showcase the paint surface and create an eye-catching effect. Satin finishes provide a subtle level of sheen and protection without being too glossy, while matte finishes will give your painting a more natural look and feel.

You can also check out our Best Varnish for Acrylic Paintings guide if you’re interested!

How to Seal Acrylic Paint: A Full Tutorial

Now that we’ve answered some of the most common questions about sealing acrylic paint, it’s time for a full tutorial on how to do it yourself. In this section, we will provide step-by-step instructions for applying acrylic polymer varnish as well as tips for those who want to try other methods of sealing their paintings.

Step One: Choose the Right Sealant

The type of sealant you use is important and not all products are appropriate for acrylic paintings. As mentioned earlier, an acrylic polymer varnish is a good choice because it offers a glossy finish, water resistance, and flexibility. If you plan to display your painting in an area with direct sunlight or fluorescent light, then you will want to use a sealant that offers UV protection.

Step Two: Preparation

Before applying any type of sealant, it’s important to prepare the painting surface properly. This means removing all dust and dirt from the canvas with a brush or vacuum cleaner. It’s also important to remove any oils or fingerprints which may have accumulated on the paint surface.

One way to do this is by using a degreaser such as denatured alcohol which can be sprayed directly onto the painting surface and wiped off with a paper towel. After the surface has been cleaned, it should be completely dry before moving to the next step.

Step Three: Apply Sealant

Once your painting is clean and dry, you can begin sealing it. This process will vary depending on whether you’re using an acrylic polymer varnish or another type of sealant.

The following steps apply specifically to applying an acrylic polymer varnish over the top of your painting’s existing paint layers while remaining aware that if another method is being used instead then different instructions may need to be followed at this point.

The first thing to do when applying acrylic polymer varnish over the top of an already-painted surface, such as a canvas or board, is to brush on one thin coat using long vertical strokes with the bristles at a 45-degree angle. The purpose of this step is twofold; it smooths out any rough patches created by previous paint layers while also giving the surface more grip so that subsequent coats will adhere better without forming air bubbles underneath them.

Make sure you let each layer dry thoroughly before moving on to the next phase because otherwise, these issues can become even worse!

Once all previous layers have dried completely, apply another thin coat of varnish in the same way as before. This time, however, use horizontal strokes instead so that the entire surface is covered evenly. Again, allow this layer to dry completely before moving on.

Step Four: Apply Final Coat

Now it’s time for the final coat! For this step, you will want to apply a thicker layer of varnish than the previous two coats. The reason for this is that you want the sealant to form a solid barrier over the top of your painting which will protect it from UV light and other forms of damage.

After applying the third coat, wait until it dries completely (usually around 24 hours) before displaying or framing your artwork. If you’re not sure whether the sealant has dried completely, you can use a fingernail to make a small dent in the surface – if it’s still wet, the dent will disappear within a few seconds.

When framing or displaying acrylic paintings that have been sealed with an acrylic polymer varnish, it’s important to keep them out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat such as radiators, fireplaces, or stoves. This is because even though the sealant may offer some protection against UV light and other forms of damage, it’s not 100% effective, and too much exposure could still cause problems over time.

How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Wood

Sealing your acrylic paint on wood is important for a few reasons. First, it will protect the paint surface from water damage and yellowing over time. Second, it will help to prevent scratches or other forms of wear and tear that may occur over time. Finally, it will give your painting a more polished look and finish.

The best way of sealing acrylic paint on wood for outdoors is with a coat of primer before painting and then applying two coats of matte water-based polyurethane varnish after finishing your masterpiece.

You can also get great results by using artist-grade spray lacquer if you don’t want the hassle associated with brushing all over multiple times. Sealing topcoats should ideally be done in a well-ventilated area, and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Glass

Sealing acrylic paint on glass is not as important as sealing it on wood since glass does not deteriorate in weather conditions. However, if you want to protect your artwork from dirt or other contaminants, a coat of sealant is still recommended. You can use any type of clear sealants such as polyurethane spray, lacquer, or even Mod Podge (a glue and varnish mix). It’s best to apply two thin coats rather than one thick coat so that the sealant doesn’t bubble up when it dries.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Plastic

Sealing acrylic paint on plastic is very similar to sealing it on glass, although you should be more generous when applying the sealant since this material may tend to absorb liquids. Again, any type of clear varnish (e.g., polyurethane spray or lacquer) will do the trick and it’s best to apply two thin coats rather than one thick coat so that bubbles don’t form when drying occurs.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Sealing acrylic paint on fabric is a bit more tricky than sealing it on other surfaces. You have to take into account that different fabrics absorb sealants differently, so you may have to do some experimenting before finding the right type of sealant for your project.

A good option is to use an acrylic-based textile medium which will help to protect your painting from fading and dust accumulation. You can also use a water-based or oil-based varnish but be sure to test it out on a small area first as some sealants may cause the fabric to change color or shrink over time.

Tips for Successful Sealing

No matter what type of surface you’re sealing your acrylic paint on, it’s important to follow a few simple tips for successful results:

  • Don’t apply the sealant in direct sunlight or in a dusty environment.
  • Make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying the sealant.
  • Apply thin coats rather than one thick coat – this will help avoid bubbling when the sealant dries.
  • Allow each coat of sealant to dry completely before applying the next one.
  • Don’t forget to test out the sealant on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t cause any adverse effects (e.g., color change, shrinkage, etc.)
  • When working with spray varnish, always use it in well-ventilated areas and avoid contact with eyes and skin. Also, wear gloves if necessary.
  • If using gesso or glaze medium, always make sure the surface is completely dry before applying.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using spray lacquer or other types of aerosol sealants.
  • Always seal your artwork in a timely manner after it’s finished to avoid any problems down the line.

People Also Ask

What Is Mod Podge?
Should You Pre-Seal Your Wood Surface Before Painting?
How Often Should You Seal Paintings With Acrylic Paints?
Will Acrylic Paint Stay On Wood Outside?

Conclusion

Now that you know how to seal acrylic paint, it’s time to put this knowledge to good use! Whether you want to protect your artwork from wear and tear, water damage, or other contaminants, the techniques above will help you get started.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your acrylic paintings are properly protected and will last for many years to come.

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What Is Mod Podge?
Mod Podge is a glue and varnish mix that comes in matte, glossy, sparkly, or glittery finishes. It's water-resistant once it dries but it can also be used as an adhesive to hold things together (e.g., scrapbooking).
Should You Pre-Seal Your Wood Surface Before Painting?
Some artists recommend pre-sealing your wood surface before painting with acrylics. Pre-sealers are often used to make the paint color more uniform and prevent it from bleeding through thinner coats of paint.
How Often Should You Seal Paintings With Acrylic Paints?
The general rule of thumb is to seal your paintings with acrylic paints as soon as they're finished. This will help protect them from fading, dust accumulation, and other damage that may occur over time. However, if you plan on displaying the painting in a dusty or high-traffic area, it's a good idea to seal it more often (e.g., every few months). You can also test out different types of sealants to see which ones work best for your needs.
Will Acrylic Paint Stay On Wood Outside?
If you're using an outdoor sealant, acrylic paint will stay on wood outside as long as it's protected from the elements. Sun and water can cause the paint to fade over time so it's important to use a sealant that will help protect it from these elements.