Can You Paint Over Polycrylic?

Polycrylic, also known as “Polyacrylic Acid,” is a chemical layer coated on your wooden furniture and floors. It protects them from light, moisture, water, and temperature. Besides, your furniture gets a vibrant look without changing color tone.

But over time, this polycrylic protection dwindles. So, you have to think about repainting your wood stuff.

But can you paint over polycrylic? It’s the first concern that comes to mind when the scene transpires.

Yes, you can, but there’re some serious factors to justify beforehand, such as what kind of paint you’re using. Is it water-based, oil, chalk, or latex paint?

Depending on the paint type, you should take the initiative. Nonetheless, there’re many more things to consider before and after painting your DIY projects.

This in-depth guide will help you understand all about painting over polycrylic.

Note: You can use polycrylic acid before and after applying paints, depending on your paint type and surface.

Can You Paint Over Polycrylic

What’re the Methods of Coating Polycrylic?

The formula is the same no matter what way you follow to apply polycrylic. However, there’re two types of polycrylic coating methods used by carpenters and DIY project enthusiasts –

1. Spray-On Polycrylic Coating

People often use a spray machine to apply a thinner polycrylic coat on the wood. In general, polycrylic coats dry fast, so you need to finish the coating quicker. The method helps you with that purpose.  

2. Roll-On Polycrylic Coating

Applying polycrylic with a roller or brush is friendly for bigger projects. In this way, you get a solid coating over the surface. The wiggle process bursts the air bubbles that usually result from spraying. However, it takes more time to dry and finish. Also, it’s preferred when you want a thick layer of polycrylic.

How Do You Paint Over Polycrylic Finish?

Applying the paint on polycrylic becomes durable only if you follow the precautions and proper instructions. Read along to avoid mistakes.

Step 1: Scrapping/Sanding Existing Finish

First, you need to stencil over polycrylic. It’s necessary to polish the wood with sandpaper if the targeted wood surface is old. Use 300-grit sandpaper for the purpose.

Sand it outside of your home; the process will spread enough debris. When sanding is done, use a wet rag to wipe the surface.

Step 2: Applying Polycrylic to Woods

Before painting, apply a few layers of polyacid to your project surface. To do so –

1. Stir the Mix Before

Don’t apply the acid just after opening the can. Stir it till you’ve burst all bubbles inside. Otherwise, you’ll end up with air bubbles on the applied surface.

2. Applying Polycrylic with Brush

As mentioned before, polycrylic dries quite fast. So, dab it as fast as you can. You can use any paintbrush to apply polycrylic on wood since it’s a water-based mix. But I prefer using a synthetic brush.

Apply towards a 90-degree direction first. Then go left to right. It’ll make a solid application and flatten bubbles that appear afterward.

3. Applying Polycrylic with Spray

If you choose a spray, follow this method. People use spray for polycrylic applications because it takes less time. Plus, if you’ve joint pain issues, using a brush can be a nightmare.

Pour your spray tin with the acid. Move your hands consistently while spraying. Or else you’ll end up with infrequent coating. Keep the nozzle distance 18-inch away from the surface.

4. Applying Polycrylic with Rags

Don’t want to spend on brush or spray?

No worries. Grab a clean rag and damp it in the polycrylic can. Then quickly apply it to the surface, following the brushing method. Using rags is a harder approach but good because you can flatten all bubbles from the surfaces. 


Apply 2 coats if using rags or brush and 3 coats if applying polycrylic with a sprayer. Take an interval of 20-30 minutes after every coat to let it dry.

Step 3: Painting Over Polycrylic

When coated polycrylic becomes dry, you can start painting. Since you’re going to paint over wood, use a paint type that suits wood stuff. For example, acrylic, water, oil, and chalk paints.

Before starting painting, mix a little primer with your paints. Stir it thoroughly. Apply your first coat on the surface, then let it dry.

Depending on the type of paint, it might take 60 minutes to dry the first coat. When it’s done, go for a second coat. Wait 2 hours to let it dry. If you’re painting on a big exterior, allow 12 hours minimum between every coat.


It’s wise to make the first coat thin to make it dry fast, and then apply the second coat making it thicker than the first. You can speed up the drying intervals by using a dehumidifier, fan, or heater.  

What Type of Paint Should You Use to Paint Over Polycrylic?

There’re many types of paint to make you confused. But only a few are suitable for painting over polycrylic and wood surfaces.

1. Acrylic Paints for Polycrylic

Can you paint over polycrylic with acrylic paint? Yes, you can. Acrylic is actually a widely used paint type for applying over polycrylic acid. The paint is easy to use. Both paint and the acid blend well. Besides, the paint leaves a strong finish that resists stains. And you’ve lots of color options to pick from.

2. Chalk Paint for Polycrylic

For painting interior furniture, chalky paint is recommended by many architects. It’s because the paint adheres fine and takes less time to dry. The main issue with chalk paints is that they leave brush strokes after applying.

Unlike other paints, chalky paints require a polycrylic coat after applying the paint too. It keeps the paint from peeling off.   

3. Latex Paint for Polycrylic

There’s a myth that latex paint is the best for polycrylic surfaces, which’s actually wrong. It takes a long time to get a softer finish than other wood paints. Yet, people use latex due to its widespread availability in local hardware stores.

4. Milk Paint for Polycrylic

It creates a thin texture on the applied wooden surface if applied after polyacid. The paint is formulated with non-toxic powder and borax/lime. It’s comparably more eco-friendly paint than others.   

5. Oil Paint for Polycrylic

Yep! Oil paints blend great on furniture but come with a very expensive price tag. It’s a good choice for wooden projects since it’s durable, self-leveling, and suits maximum surface types. But it takes a long time to dry.  

Are Polycrylic and Polyurethane the Same Thing?

Like polycrylic, polyurethane is another coating type used before painting on wooden projects. It’s a synthetic resin adhesive that protects woods from external elements like water, moisture, etc. You can consider it a better and more costly alternative to polycrylic in some cases.

Polycrylic vs. Polyurethane – At a Glance

TypeWater-based mixOil, Water, Plastic-based liquid mix
Resistant toWater, moisture, temperature, humidityWater and moisture
ApplicationsWooden projects are mainly for light color furniture, indoor projects mainlyWood and oil surfaces, both indoor and outdoor projects
FinishesGlossyBoth satin and glossy
Surface Tone After DryingLeaves non-yellowing/transparent tone(Oil-based) Leaves amber tone, (Water-based) leaves yellow tone after drying
BenefitsEnvironmental-friendly and works on most surfacesLow odor and toxicity, last longer
Suitable forAcrylic, chalk, water paintsMilk, latex, chalk, water paints

Does Paint Stick to Polycrylic?

Polycrylic supports hold the paint with the surface through itself. But everything comes with a duration. Based on the paint type, it may stick to the surface more or less quickly.

Acrylic paints seem to perform better with polycrylic since it’s made of water. And latex paints stick to chemicals lesser time compared to other paints.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Polycrylic?

Without paint, you can apply polyurethane on polycrylic directly. Applying oil or water-based polyurethane on polycrylic makes the surface more protective.

Some carpenters prefer to scrape the existing polycrylic surface before. Then coat polyacid and next apply polyurethane. It makes the layer long-lasting. You can coat polyurethane with or without scrapping the existing polycrylic surface.  

And if you don’t want to go that far, simply sand the wood surface and then apply both liquids one by one.

Can I Use Household Items to Paint Over Polycrylic?

Yes, household items can be used to thicken acrylic paint. Here are some tips for thickening acrylic paint when painting over polycrylic: mix in small amounts of cornstarch, flour, or baby powder to achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, try adding a small amount of plaster of Paris or talcum powder to thicken the paint. Experiment and find the right ratio for your desired effect.

Will Polycrylic Keep Paint from Chipping?

You can keep wood paintings safe from chipping by using polycrylic. The chemical saves wood from interaction with water and temperature. And both cause your paint to chip. Polycrylic works as a shield here.

Can You Use Polycrylic Over White Paint?

Actually, it’s suggested by most interior designers to use polycrylic over a light color surface, for instance, white. This results in a transparent, glossy appearance, unlike polyurethane. So, be assured to use polycrylic over white color.   

Can you Chalk Paint Over Polycrylic?

Yes, you can use the paint both after and before applying the polyacid. Since chalky paints are less durable on the surface than acrylic paints, it’s better to apply two coats of polycrylic before dabbing the paint. And then apply another layer of it after using the paint.

Editor’s Verdict

For your professional and home-based DIY wood painting, polycrylic acid is a must. The eco-friendly chemical protects the wooden surface from being impacted by temperature, water, and humidity.

So, can you paint over polycrylic? Yes, but it’s more important to learn how to paint over polycrylic. I hope this detailed guidance settled all your queries. Let me know in the comment if you want to know something new.

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