Can You Put Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Ever wondered if you can apply polyurethane over acrylic paint? The answer is yes, it’s absolutely possible and quite beneficial. In this article, we’ll take you step by step on how to properly achieve a beautiful and long-lasting finish using polyurethane over your artwork or craft projects with acrylic paint.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint?

Yes, it’s entirely possible to apply a coat of polyurethane over acrylic paint. However, the key to making this combination successful lies in preparing the surface properly and ensuring that your acrylic paint is completely dry before applying polyurethane.


Yes, it is possible to apply polyurethane over acrylic paint.

You can put polyurethane over acrylic paint. First, the painted surface must be clean and dry. The acrylic paint needs time to fully cure or harden. This part is important for a good finish.

After that, you can choose the right kind of polyurethane for your project. Most times, water-based polyurethane works well with acrylic paint but other types may also work! To apply it, use a brush and make sure each coat is thin and even.

Preparing the surface and allowing the acrylic paint to fully cure is important.

Before you put polyurethane over acrylic paint, it’s crucial to get the surface ready. The paint should be dry and dust or debris cleaned off. The dry paint makes sure a smooth finish is there when you apply the polyurethane.

Next, let your painted surface cure for 21 to 30 days at least before using any coat of polyurethane. This wait keeps chips away from the finish later on.

In any cases where wet paint meets polyurethane without drying time first, problems happen.

Choosing the right type of polyurethane for acrylic paint is crucial.

Picking the right polyurethane makes a big difference. There are two types: water-based and oil-based. For acrylic paint, both can work well.

Water-based ones, like polycrylic, won’t make your paint job shine as much but they stay white longer.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint

Using polyurethane over acrylic paint presents several advantages such as increased durability, water resistance, UV protection, easy cleaning and enhanced finish. However, it also has some downsides like possible compatibility issues with different types of paint and a tendency to yellow over time.

Advantages: increased durability, water resistance, UV protection, easy to clean, enhances the finish.

Using polyurethane over acrylic paint has many perks. The added layer gives the paint more strength.

Polyurethane acts like sunglasses for your paint too. It blocks harmful UV rays from the sun that can fade colors over time.

Disadvantages: potential compatibility issues, yellowing over time.

Using polyurethane over acrylic paint is not always smooth. Sometimes problems arise. The two materials, polyurethane and acrylic paint, might not stick well together. This lack of bonding may cause the painted surface to chip or flake.

Also, be careful when you use oil-based polyurethane on acrylic paint! Over time, this type of polyurethane can turn yellow.

How to Apply Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint

Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface. Once it’s clean, apply a thin layer of polyurethane with either a brush or roller. Allow enough drying time between each coat for best results.

For an ultra-smooth finish, consider sanding between coats.

Properly clean and prepare the surface.

First, clear the surface of any dirt, dust, oil, or grease.

Dry it fully before adding other coats of paint or sealer like polyurethane. Sanding the surface also helps in getting ready for some painting fun! It will save time later because your next coat can flow on smoothly without bumps to work around.

Apply thin, even coats of polyurethane using a brush or roller.

Pick up your brush or roller. This is the tool you will use to put polyurethane over your acrylic paint. Make sure to dip it in the polyurethane and wipe off any extra drop. Now, start at one end of your painted surface.

Slowly follow a straight path with the brush or roller on this surface.

Be gentle but make every stroke count! You want thin, even lines of polyurethane on that paint below it. Thin lines help create a smooth finish when dry – like glass, so calm and clear!

You also control how much polyurethane goes on the acrylic paint by using these tools yourself!

Allow sufficient drying time between finish coats.

It’s key to let each coat of polyurethane dry. Wait until the first coat is completely dry before you put on the next one.

Sanding between coats may be necessary for a smoother finish.

Let’s talk about the role of sanding between coats of polyurethane. It helps the next coat stick well to the surface. Sanding also makes the paint smooth by removing bumps or uneven spots.

You want a clean, smooth surface before you put on more polyurethane. Use fine-grit sandpaper for best results.

Clean up any spills or drips immediately.

Keep a close watch while applying polyurethane over acrylic paint. Use soap and warm water for cleaning water-based polyurethane.

For oil-based types, an all-purpose cleaner works well. Quick action prevents messes from drying hard and ruining the finish of your painting job.

Alternatives to Polyurethane for Sealing Acrylic Paint

There are other suitable alternatives to polyurethane for sealing acrylic paint, such as Polycrylic protective finish, varnish, or clear coat aerosol sealant. Each of these alternatives offers unique advantages and considerations.

Whether it’s protecting a mural from wear-and-tear or applying an appealing gloss finish over your latest acrylic paint project, choosing the right sealer can make all the difference.

Polycrylic protective finish, varnish, clear coat aerosol sealant.

Polycrylic protective finish is a safe bet for your painting jobs. This water-based formula offers a strong shield for wood and paint creations. It lays on thick, but you won’t see brush strokes! Varnish adds an extra shine that makes your work look great.

It’s like varnish puts the spotlight on what you painted!

Clear-coat aerosol sealant is another neat trick up your sleeve. You spray it on!

Each alternative has its own advantages and considerations.

You can use different sealers instead of polyurethane. Polycrylic is one option. It dries clear and protects the paint from moisture and scratches just like polyurethane. Another choice is varnish, which comes in both gloss and matte finishes to match any art style.

A third alternative is clear coat aerosol sealant, which goes on fast and doesn’t need a brush or roller.

Research and choose the best option based on your specific needs.

Different options are available to use over acrylic paint, other than polyurethane. Clear coat aerosol sealant or varnish might work well for your project.

Some people like the Polycrylic protective finish. It works just as good as polyurethane but it will not turn yellow with time.


Placing polyurethane over acrylic paint gives your artwork a shiny finish and helps it last longer.

Acrylic on wood has its own charm when covered by polyurethane. Overall, using polyurethane makes your artwork stronger and better shielded from harm.


Can we put polyurethane over acrylic paint?

Yes, you can use polyurethane to seal and protect the acrylic paint once it is dry.

Which type of polyurethane should I use?

The type of polyurethane you use can range from water-based to resin varnish, depending on your need for a glossy finish or a clean surface.

Should I let each coat dry before applying another?

Indeed! You have to make sure to let one layer of Polyurethane fully cure or dry prior to adding more coats for best results.

Will there be any color changes when I use Polyurethane over Acrylic Paint?

While it’s important that every creation gets a protective coating due to its vulnerability towards natural conditions like fading under sunlight, in some instances, unwanted yellow bubbles might appear if not applied in well-ventilated areas, so carefulness becomes a necessity here!

Can you put polyurethane on top of acrylic paint once it is dry?

Yes, you can apply polyurethane over acrylic paint. However, ensure that the paint is dry before using polyurethane. This is because fresh acrylic paint can take a while to cure and might get easily damaged if a coat of urethane is applied prematurely.

Do you need to let the acrylic paint dry before using polyurethane?

Yes, it’s critical to let the paint dry before applying a clear coat of polyurethane. Acrylic paint can take several hours to a couple of days to fully dry, depending on the thickness of the paint layer.

Can you use Minwax polyurethane on top of acrylic paint?

Yes, you can use Minwax polyurethane over acrylic paint. Whether you choose a satin, gloss, or semi-gloss finish, Minwax polyurethane will provide a durable finish. However, it’s important to let the paint dry properly before applying.

What type of polyurethane could I use over acrylic paint?

Both water-based and oil-based polyurethane can be used over acrylic paint. However, water-based polyurethane tends to be clearer and less prone to yellowing over time. Oil-based polyurethane will add a slight color tone, especially on light colors, and may cause yellowing or fading.

How to apply polyurethane over acrylic paint?

Polyurethane is commonly applied with a brush, roller, or spray. Make sure to apply an even coat and follow the instructions based on the type of polyurethane you are using. Always allow ample time for the paint and apply polyurethane layers to dry.

Can you make acrylic paint waterproof by using polyurethane on top?

Yes, applying polyurethane on top of acrylic paint is a common method to make the paint waterproof. The urethane creates a clear coat that provides a durable finish, protecting the paint from water damage.

How long should I wait to put polyurethane over acrylic paint?

The length of time to wait before applying polyurethane over paint largely depends on the type of paint used. Typically, for acrylic paint, you should wait until the paint is fully dry, which can take between 24 to 48 hours.

Can applying polyurethane over acrylic paint cause yellowing?

Yes, using certain types of polyurethane, particularly oil-based polyurethane, over acrylic paint could cause yellowing or fading. It’s best to use water-based polyurethane over acrylic paint to avoid this issue.

Can you spray polyurethane over acrylic paint?

Yes, you can use spray polyurethane over acrylic paint. This type can be easier to clean up and provide an even finish. However, as with other types, remember to let the paint dry before using polyurethane.

Why should you put polyurethane over acrylic paint?

One common reason to put polyurethane over acrylic paint is to protect it with a coat that provides a durable finish. Polyurethane also enhances the appearance of the paint, adding sheen options such as satin or gloss finishes.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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