Randy Charles
Professional Painter

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

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

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

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

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

Acrylic paint is perfect for artists applying color to a variety of pieces — canvas, glass, and wood. But despite its wide application versatility, is acrylic paint waterproof? Does it stand up to the elements, especially water damage?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as waterproof acrylic paint. If your outdoor paint-work is not properly finished with an acrylic paint sealer, it will wash off when the rain falls on it. Even though the paint sticks to a surface when it’s dry, it will wash off if exposed to water while it is still wet. Paint also can peel off or chip even after it has dried. Therefore, it is necessary to apply an acrylic sealer or polyurethane spray varnish to finish up the paint-work to extend its lasting period.

This article will cover the ways to make your acrylic projects waterproof. You will come across the reasons it is necessary to waterproof an acrylic painting. Finally, you will know if acrylic paint is waterproof on certain surfaces.

Does Acrylic Paint Repel Water?

Acrylic paints are slightly water-resistant, which makes them a bad idea for outdoor paint jobs. But there is a remedy for this. Acrylic sealing agents are available to make your paintings waterproof. These seals act as catalysts to their lifespan.

Carrying out fine prep work on the surface is key to achieving a great result. The surface must be solid, dry, and clean, having no imperfections and cracks.

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof

The following steps will give you the tools to achieve great prep work on different types of surfaces:

Ordinary Wood

  • Cover up any nail holes, damage, cracks, and joints present on the wall with patching paste.
  • Take off any appearance of sanding dust by sand smoothing with a tack cloth.
  • Use a primer to patch up all patched areas and bare wood.

Plaster Walls

  • Clean and treat with a mixture of vinegar and water (1-pint household and 1 gallon of water).
  • Continue this treatment until you achieve a hard surface.
  • Rinse with clear water, then allow it to dry/cure.
  • Use primer on it.


  • Nail or glue the panels in place
  • Fill up the panel joints and tape them before beginning the paint-work
  • When the patching materials and joint cement are very dry, carry out the sand smoothing and dust the surface before priming.


  • Always take off wallpapers before beginning the painting. To do this, use a steamer or chemical-based wallpaper remover.
  • When the wallpaper is out of the way, wash away any available bonding agents.
  • Rinse with clean water and let the wall dry completely before applying primer.

Previously Painted Surfaces

  • Wash away any form of oil, soap, or grease buildup using the right cleaner for that particular residue. Rinse well.
  • Take off powdery substances and loose paint.
  • Use patching or spackling compound to patch cracks and holes, if any. Let it dry up, then do sand smooth.
  • For nonporous or glossy surfaces, do a light sanding a get a dull finish, then clean up with an abrasive cleanser.
  • Take off any residue from the cleanser or sanding dust.
  • Ensure all bare areas are primed, then apply topcoat. Do not use “spot priming,” as it will make your work appear uneven.

Concrete, Masonry, Block, and Cement

  • Every new surface must be treated based on the supplier’s recommendations – most times, about 30 days.
  • Take away every form of curing agent.
  • Provide smooth surfaces by filling up all rough surfaces.
  • If the paint-work cannot hold for 30 days, you can wait 7 days for a complete cure of the surface before priming it with a masonry primer.

Carrying out the steps above before painting may positively affect the life span of a paint-work.

Read More:How Long Does Oil Painting Take to Dry?

The reason behind waterproofing acrylic paint

The main reason people waterproof their acrylic paint is to protect it from washing off in the rain. Other reasons may include protection from UV (Ultraviolet) rays, dust, and yellowing. It is vital to add this finishing touch to your painting if you want it to last longer. Waterproofing your acrylic paint projects the vibrancy of its color, something you will not get from normal acrylic paint.

An important tool for applying varnish to your acrylic paint is the foam poly brush. This brush type is best because its foam absorbs varnish and helps you achieve an even application. But when applying varnish to your acrylic paint, do not stay too long in one area because of the fast-dry nature of acrylic paint.

How do I make Acrylic paint waterproof?

You can make your acrylic paint waterproof simply by applying varnish (acrylic paint seals) to it. Making your acrylic paint waterproof depends on the material you want to paint. Fortunately, varnishing is not a technical task to perform. However, it is important to apply varnish the right way and with patience. Slow and steady will help you avoid fingerprints or anything else detrimental to your art. Applying the right methods will make the paint work appear evenly covered, and get your desired results.

Here are the different surfaces and how you can make acrylic paint waterproof over them.

How Do I Make Acrylic Paint Waterproof

On Canvas

Canvas is one of the most commonly used media for every kind of painting. By using Gesso primer, you can easily prepare a canvas surface. Although it is not necessary to do this on your canvas surface, it strengthens the bond between the paint and your canvas.

On Canvas

What you can do to waterproof your acrylic paint on this surface is simply apply the varnish using a clean brush. You must make this application evenly on the surface when the acrylic paint is completely dry, having no dirt or paint particles. This ensures the pigments shine through, highlighting your artwork.

Once you successfully apply the final coat of varnishing to the canvas painting, let it cure all night so that the paint layers, fabric, and varnish bond thoroughly.

On Metals

Acrylic paint easily sticks to metals. This is the reason acrylic paint is considered the best choice for metals. Many regular objects found in homes – picture frames, lamp-bases, doorknobs, and handles – look good with acrylics.

On Metals

The best varnish for this purpose is the Poly Varnish. Other options of varnishes for metals are okay as well.

Unlike the other surfaces, such as canvas and other fabrics that always require several coatings of varnish, metal surfaces require just one coat of varnish to get the job done.

On Wood

Applying varnish on wood transforms the look of the piece and gives it a glossy, polished texture. When the paintwork is complete, applying a polymer varnish will act as a protective seal to it. To achieve this result, applying double coatings on the wood surface is important. You can use a polymer varnish or some other wood varnish in this case. But regardless of the polytype you use, you must wait 24 hours between the two coats. By doing this, the varnish will bond well to the entire wooden surface, making it shine while being immune to contact with any form of liquid.

Varnishing Wood

On Masonite

Masonite is a type of wood formed from wood fibers. The method of varnishing Masonite is quite easy and similar to that of regular wood. Just apply polymer varnish over the acrylic paint on the surface of the Masonite. Only one coat is okay for Masonite surfaces because they are more delicate than the normal wood. But make sure the paint is completely dry before applying the sealant over it.

On Masonite

On Medium Density Fiber (MDF)

The MDF is another form of wood. Its texture and density are similar to those of Masonite. However, the distinct difference between these two materials is the MDF possesses a tougher surface, unlike the Masonite with a delicate surface.

Acrylic On Medium Density Fiber Mdf

Many crafters prefer MDF to Masonite because of the difference in rigidity. The first step is to prime the surface of the MDF canvas using Gesso or any other form of primer. This will make the paint stick properly to the surface. To waterproof an MDF surface, apply one coat of polymer varnish to the acrylic paint.

On Plastic

Not many paints go well on plastic materials. This is where acrylic paint displays its area of strength. With acrylics, you can turn the color of your plastic materials to whichever color you prefer. Also, they last on plastic surfaces for a substantial number of years.

On Plastic

However, you must apply multiple coats on plastic for proper paintwork. Otherwise, the paint will come off the surface quicker than expected. Once you complete the paintwork on a plastic surface, you can apply a varnish to it. This could be a single or double coat, giving your paintwork that resistant power to spillage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is acrylic paint waterproof on wood?

Although using acrylic paint on wood produces a fine result, acrylics are not waterproof on wood and will not stand the test of time. To have your outdoor acrylic paint last on wood surfaces, you need to prepare the surface before starting the paintwork. Most importantly, sealing the paint with an acrylic paint seal will strengthen the work done, therefore increasing its lifespan.

Is acrylic paint waterproof on fabric?

When acrylic paint dries up on fabric, it does not become waterproof. To make your paintwork waterproof on fabric, use fabric medium. Fabric medium is a combination of solvents and acrylic paint that alter the properties of the paint. This way, the acrylic paint is protected from contact with water.

Are acrylic paints waterproof on plastic?

It is okay to use acrylics paint on plastic, but it will not become waterproof after drying. Acrylic paint was not designed to be applied to plastic materials. This is the reason using a seal after completing any paintwork is necessary.

Is acrylic paint waterproof on metal?

Acrylics are perfect on metals but will not dry up as a waterproof material on them. Although it possesses some properties to resist water, it will eventually soften over time if exposed to water.

Should I use Resin or Polymer varnishes?

Resin varnishes will give you a shinier, clearer, and stronger finish. Resin is toxic and not water soluble, so use in a ventilated area and use mineral spirits for cleaning afterward. If you want a more matte or satin finish, use an isolation coat (2 parts varnish to 1 part water).

Polymer emulsion is non-toxic and can be cleaned with soap and water. Again, if you want a more matte/satin finish, use an isolation coat with your acrylic polymer.

Final Thought

While acrylic paint is good on many surfaces, there is a tendency for it to wash off over time. Acrylic paint is made of some compounds that enable it to be water resistant to an extent, though it is not waterproof.

If you seal acrylic art pieces, it protects the exterior paint from water and UV rays from the sun. This ensures your art remains for people to experience.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, 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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