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Learn How To Make An Acrylic Painting Waterproof Right Now

Acrylic paints are the most versatile media that could achieve brilliant effects on almost everything you put it to. Fabric, wood, cloth, stone, even metal?

How To Make An Acrylic Painting Waterproof

You name it!

Not only can acrylic look beautiful on objects placed indoors, but they could also be used on things that could be kept outside as premium quality acrylics could also be resistant to weather fluctuations.

Acrylics are thick and bright in texture and color-essence. While they might stick to a lot of surfaces when wet, these could actually get washed off with water before they dry out completely.

And this could be that one thing which can completely ruin your artwork in a matter of seconds, leaving out patches in its wake.

Now the good news is you could actually make your acrylic painting waterproof right away! Want to know how? Simply continue reading to know more!

How To Make An Acrylic Painting Waterproof

What Exactly is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is created by mixing pigment with acrylic polymer emulsion.

For those who are not acquainted with the what acrylic polymer emulsion is, it’s just a serious word for “water-based paint.”

Acrylic polymer emulsion also makes the acrylic paint to dry out quickly. This is because as it is a water-based paint, the water evaporates away quickly leaving the paint to dry and harden on the surface of the medium.

Why Should You Waterproof Your Painting?

Why Should You Waterproof Your Painting?

Although acrylic paints can be quite resilient and tough in nature providing great adherence to any surface while they’re wet, it could get washed off, ruining whatever medium it’s used on.

If you accidentally spill water on your painting or if it gets ruined by raindrops or any water-source for that matter, the water will rapidly dilute the paint, separating the pigment from the emulsion and forming tiny bubbles all over the surface.

Artworks ruined this way cannot be recovered, restored or repainted on to reverse the damage.

Although dried acrylics can seldom get ruined by water, it is always a good idea to waterproof it nevertheless.

You could do it with either a varnish that is a unique acrylic gloss or any other sort of protective top coat finish designed for acrylic paintwork.

How can varnishing work?

Varnish puts a sealing layer on your artwork protecting it from external solvents and contaminants.

Varnishing also makes your painting waterproof to a considerable degree. This means you could keep your painting near a water source if you want to without worrying too much about getting it all messed up.

One other benefit of varnishing is that it protects the paint from fading away with time as it’s exposed to bright light over a prolonged duration.

What makes varnish waterproof?

Varnish is made using oil, resin, solvent, and or driers. Whereas oil and resin are known as water-repellents, solvents and driers make the finishing tough and resistant to the onslaught of water.

All of these ingredients combine to make the varnish a perfectly water-resistant paint protector.

You could also get different types of varnishes with varying amounts of these substances meant to be used on different kinds of paints such oil paintings etc.

How can you efficiently varnish your painting?

Fortunately, varnishing is not at all a difficult feat to achieve! However, it should be done correctly and patiently to get the desired results, ensuring to cover all areas evenly. Do not sit to varnish if you are in a hurry. Make sure to have enough time on hand to do it just right way.

Since, the procedure to varnish will depend on the kind of material and surface you are putting it on, the steps to do it will vary for different media.

That is why we have discussed the steps to the procedure of varnishing with respect to the different kinds of materials in the following slots. Have a look!

How can you efficiently varnish your painting?

  1. Varnishing acrylic on canvas

Canvas is the most popular media for any and every kind of paintwork.

You could prime the surface of your canvas with Gesso. Although it’s not a mandatory step to follow as such, this helps to bind the paints on your canvas surface strongly.

You could get a variety of online varnishes for canvas.

All you have to do is apply the varnish (such as polymer) coats with a clean brush evenly on the canvas once the paint is absolutely dry and free of any dried paint particle or dirt.

Once you’ve applied the final coat to the surface, leave it aside overnight to bind the layers of paint, fabric, and varnish together. This will provide you with the kind of results you want.

  1. Waterproofing acrylic on metal

Acrylic paints can stick to metals really well. This is why acrylics are often deemed as the best, non-reactive colors for putting on metals.

Everyday objects and fixtures found at home such as lamp-bases, picture-frames, handles, and doorknobs are often and can ideally be painted with acrylic pigments.

You could use Poly Varnish or other kinds of metal varnishes easily for these purposes.

Unlike canvas or other fabrics that usually require multiple coats of varnish, you could get all of the varnish job done for metals at just one go, giving it a single coat.

  1. Varnishing wood

Woods can be very efficiently varnished. One of the most exciting facts about varnishing wood that it can transform the sheer look of the wooden object as soon as put varnish on it, providing a darker, absolutely stunning color tone to it, along with glossy, polished texture.

After you’re done painting on wood, you could use a polymer varnish to put a protective sealing layer on top of the painting.

For this purpose, you’d have to put two coats over the wooden surface. You can either use a polymer varnish or any other wood varnish for that matter.

But no matter whatever you use, you should wait at least a day in between before applying the second coat after the first one.

This way, the sealing agent will bind well to the entire surface making it resistant to accidental spillage or other any other damaging consequence involving liquids.

  1. Varnishing Acrylic on Masonite

Masonite is a kind of wood that is formed of wood fibers compressed incredibly thin. To varnish, masonite is as easy as varnishing your normal wood as it involves almost the same steps. Use polymer varnish to seal your acrylic work on the masonite surface.

In the case of masonites, try going with a single layer of varnish as the material could be a tad bit more delicate than your regular wood.

Due to the same reason, avoid being too rough with the surface while painting or varnishing. Use a softer brush and ensure the paint is entirely dried out before putting varnish on it.

  1. Waterproofing Acrylic On MDF

MDF or Medium-Density Fiber is another kind of wood. It is similar to the texture and almost in density to Masonite. However, the only difference between MDF and Masonite is that MDF has a harder surface, where's Masonite is more delicate.

MDF is more often considered a better medium for crafts and especially for working with liquid pigments than Masonite, owing to its more concrete and harder composition.

It is also used for various other decorative elements as it can be easily cut and designed according to preferences.

However, we would advise you to first prime the surface of your MDF canvas with anything such as Gesso or some other primer so that the paints can stick well to the surface. Priming the MDF surface will also help the varnish to apply well and last long on this material.

You can use Poly Varnish to waterproof your acrylic work on the MDF surface. You would just require one coat or so to varnish your MDF canvas.

  1. Water Protecting Acrylic on Plastic

And did we also mention that you can efficiently paint plastic with acrylics? Because, yes you can! Although not many kinds of paints will stay put on materials like plastic, acrylics do last on such surfaces for a substantial period of time.

However, while painting on plastic, do know that you will have to put quite a few coats to get the job done correctly; otherwise, the paints might peel or scrub off easily and quickly.

And once you have got the paint job done on plastic, you can proceed on to varnishing the surface with a quick coat or two. This will seal in the paints for good and make it resistant to spillage.

How to Waterproof Acrylic on Glass?

Glass is an exclusive and novel surface for art and craft projects, to begin with, and so can be the ways of working with it as well! Do take proper measures of application of paints on glass surface and dry it over the span of a day or two before you proceed with the waterproofing or varnishing procedures.

A particular way of varnishing glass is to simply leave it aside for 3 weeks after you put the first coat on it.

A second way of sealing the acrylic paint on the glass surface is to put it in the oven. You can proceed on to “bake” the glass for approximately 30-45 minutes with the oven cranked up to about 350 degrees.

But very careful during this procedure as this time will depend on the type and quality of the paints you apply. Because although it can be a quicker method, it might also cause nasty fumes.

Baking a glass that has as a coat of varnish will create fumes that can fill and coat your oven. If you use this method, make sure to thoroughly cleanse and air out the oven after baking the glass.

As both of these methods could take a lot of time, you can either decide to go the long route to ensure proper waterproofing for your glass and acrylic project or can get the job done up in other quicker ways that might involve meticulous cleaning afterward.

Special tools for varnishing

Even though there aren’t any “special” tools as such for applying varnish, you could go for a soft foam poly brush for the purpose. This is considered to be an appropriate application tool as the foam can absorb the varnish to help apply it evenly on to the surface.

Be careful to paint even strokes and avoid keeping the brush for long on a specific area as this will be visible through the varnish.

Also, avoid putting your hand on your fingers on the surface during the process as it can damage the varnish. Make sure to keep the surface steady at all times.

So, although you needn’t have any special tool for varnishing, make sure to have something underneath the surface during the application process to secure it from damage.

Can the varnish ruin your brush?

Acrylic paints and varnish are pretty sticky and dry out rather quickly. And if you do not wash your brushes thoroughly right after use, these can damage the bristles.

However, contrary to what you might think, it only requires for you to clean your brushes thoroughly with water and to dry them off properly after each use to ensure their longevity.

Another amazing thing is that varnishes also come as sprays and could be used in place of a brush any day. Yet, you do have to spray quite a few layers to get a proper coat if you opt for one.

Types of Varnishes for Acrylics

A wide range of varnishes is available for acrylics. Although the gloss-finish varnish is often used for a number of arts and craft projects, you could also avail these in matte and satin finishes.

While a matte varnish will impart a bit of shine to the overall finish, satin varnishes can protect the pigments from sun damage apart from giving it a gleaming finish.

Pro tip

Although it’s not necessary for you to prime the surface of your canvas before painting or varnishing, doing so can actually get you better effects, especially if you’re going to varnish it.

Priming can not only help the pigments remain neatly composed on the surface, but it can also impart an additional shine to the varnished finish.


This is was all on how you could effectively waterproof your acrylic painting right away!

If you follow the steps mentioned above and procedures correctly not only will you be able to save your precious artwork from water damage but it will also provide a lasting finish to your creation!

And we’ll be back with more on such subjects!

Till next time!

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