Can You Paint Over Polycrylic? (Acrylic, Latex, & More)

Polycrylic is a durable sealant that goes well on wood. But over time, you may become bored of the finish and want to paint over it. But can you paint over polycrylic? Here is the answer to that.

You can paint over polycrylic but you shouldn’t paint over polycrylic with an oil-based stain, paint, or sealant. Oil-based paints will not stick properly to polycrylic unless the polycrylic finish is primed.

This is because the polycrylic finish is water-based and thus, flexible. Oil-based paints are rigid and as such wouldn’t thrive on the flexible nature of polycrylic.

However, you can paint over polycrylic using water-based paints like latex and 100% acrylic paint. Water-based paints will stick properly to polycrylic finish since both paints are water-based. Also, water-based paints are flexible and will do well on polycrylic.

Can You Apply Paint Over Polycrylic?

You can paint over a polycrylic finish. This is because polycrylic is a water-based finish. Also, polycrylic doesn’t contain chemicals that will repel paint. However, you shouldn’t apply any oil-based paint or stain over polycrylic.

This is because oil paints are rigid and will not be able to cope with the flexible nature of polycrylic. This will cause the oil paint to peel off.  Also, before you can apply paint over polycrylic, you’ll have to sand and prime the polycrylic finish first.

Polycrylic is a polymer that contains simple esters, urethane, and polyacrylates. All of these compounds do not repel paints. So the chemical make-up of polycrylic makes it possible to paint over the finish.

Also, polycrylic finish is not as strong or impermeable as other finishes like oil-based polyurethane. So it’s easier for the paint to bite into the polycrylic finish. But like most sealants, you’ll need to sand and prime the polycrylic finish before you can paint over it.

Sanding the polycrylic helps to scuff the finish so the paint can grip and adhere better. Priming also helps to produce a smooth surface for the paint to be applied on. Once the polycrylic has been well-sanded and primed, it can be painted over.

However, polycrylic is very picky when it comes to top coats. Though polycrylic can be painted over, not every paint type will stick to a polycrylic finish. So which paint will stick to polycrylic? Let’s take a closer look.

What Paint Will Stick To Polycrylic?

Water-based paints generally stick to polycrylic. But the best paint to use on polycrylic is acrylic paint. That’s because polycrylic and acrylic paint contain polyacrylate resins that bind the paint particles together.

Since both paints have similar paint binders, paint adhesion between the coats will be improved. That makes acrylic paint stick better to polycrylic.

Every paint type is made up of 4 ingredients; the binder, (to hold paints together), the solvent (to dissolve paint particles), the paint pigments (to give color), and additives (to improve the finish). Two factors that determine if a paint type will stick to another are the paint solvent and binder. Polycrylic and acrylic paints have the same binder and solvent.

Just like acrylic paints, polycrylic is a water-based finish. Polycrylic and acrylic paints both use water as the vehicle (or solvent) in the paint particles. The water-based nature of both paint solvents makes the paints compatible since water-based paints adhere to each other. But the binder is the real reason why acrylic paint is good on polycrylic.

The binder as explained earlier holds the paint particles together. The strength and adhesion of the paint depends on the qualities of the binder. For acrylic and polycrylic paints, the paint binder is usually polyacrylate resins.

Polyacrylate resins are synthesized from acrylic esters which are also present in acrylic paints. The similarity of the paint binders makes acrylic paints stick better to polycrylic than any other paint type.

Can You Put Acrylic Paint Over Polycrylic?

Can You Put Acrylic Paint Over Polycrylic?

You can put acrylic over polycrylic finish. This is because both paints have a very similar make-up. The similarity of the solvent and binder in both paints makes them compatible.

So, acrylic paint will stick and go on fine on polycrylic. But before you can apply acrylic paint over polycrylic, the polycrylic must have cured. Also, you need to sand and prime the polycrylic finish. Without sanding and priming, acrylic paint will still stick to polycrylic but the finish will not be smooth.

Polycrylic finish is a strong and moisture-resistant sealant. The top layer of polycrylic when dry prevents paints from sitting well on the polycrylic finish.

Oil-based paints especially will not adhere to polycrylic. If oil-based paint is applied over polycrylic, it will peel off. But acrylic paint can be applied over polycrylic due to the similarity between both paints.

Also, you need to let the polycrylic cure before applying acrylic paint over it. Polycrylic can take up to 48 hours to fully cure. If the paint isn’t fully cured and you apply acrylic paint over it, the whole finish will become blurred.

Also, the acrylic color will become cloudy. This is because there is still moisture inside the polycrylic coating. This moisture will not be evaporated properly and it will eventually gunk up the pigments or colorants in the acrylic paint.

Can You Apply Latex Over Polycrylic?

Can You Apply Latex Over Polycrylic?

Latex paint can be applied over polycrylic due to the water-based nature of both paints. Since both paints use water as the solvent, they are compatible. Also, latex paints and polycrylic are designed to expand and contract based on temperature variations and humidity. 

So, if latex paint is used over polycrylic, it will withstand the movement of the polycrylic underneath. This will make the latex resistant to wear and tear, unlike rigid oil-based paints. However, you need to sand before using latex on polycrylic.

Latex paints can be used over a polycrylic finish. The major reason for this is because both paints have a similar make-up in terms of the paint solvent and elasticity. Many painters also use latex paint pigments to tint or color polycrylic since polycrylic doesn’t have any color or tint being a clear finish.

One main reason paints don’t stick well to polycrylic is because polycrylic finish is flexible. The flexibility of the finish is so it can protect the wood underneath. Polycrylic will expand, contract, and shift based on temperature changes. The finish expands during hot weather and contracts when the temperature drops to ensure that moisture doesn’t penetrate the wood.

The consistent movement of the polycrylic will cause many paints to crack and peel off if used over the polycrylic. This is why oil paints don’t stick since oil paints are rigid or hard.

Latex paint however is also flexible. The word “latex” refers to the elastic features of the paint. So, latex paints will withstand the movement of the polycrylic. Plus, since both paints are water-based, there will be good paint adhesion between both paints.

Can I Use Chalk Paint Over Polycrylic?

Can I Use Chalk Paint Over Polycrylic?

You can use chalk paint over polycrylic since chalk paint like polycrylic is water-based. Also, chalk paint and polycrylic are both ideal for indoor use and for materials that wouldn’t see a lot of action.

But chalk isn’t the best paint to use on polycrylic. This is because chalk isn’t durable. Plus, chalk paint will not adhere to a high-gloss polycrylic finish. Polycrylic comes in different finishes such as high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and matte.

For semi-gloss, satin, and matte, chalk paint will stick to the polycrylic. However, chalk will peel off a high-gloss polycrylic finish. It’s better to apply polycrylic over chalk rather than applying chalk over polycrylic.

How Long To Wait Before Painting Over Polycrylic

It’s always a good idea to let polycrylic finish cure fully before painting over it. On average, polycrylic finish dries to touch within 2 hours. Top-quality polycrylic like Minwax polycrylic dry enough to touch in less than 30 minutes.

But before the polycrylic can be painted over, it’s best to allow it to cure for at least 24 hours. In humid conditions, let the polycrylic cure for 72 hours before painting over it.

If the polycrylic isn’t fully cured, then moisture will settle underneath the paint applied over it. This will make the paint cloudy and unclear. Highly pigmented paints like acrylic will gunk up if the polycrylic doesn’t cure first.

Final Words

Overall, you can paint over polycrylic but always ensure to paint over polycrylic with a water-based paint or stain.

Oil-based paints are not ideal for use on a polycrylic finish. Also, you can seal the paint with polycrylic once the finish has cured.

Leave a Comment