Painting Over Polycrylic (Can You Do it & Paints To Use)

Polycrylic is a water-based sealant used over bare wood or paints. So, can you paint over polycrylic?

You can paint over satin or matte polycrylic it doesn’t have a glossy finish that repels paint. However, you can’t paint over high-gloss polycrylic without sanding. 

That’s because the high-gloss finish has a glossy sheen that prevents paints from sticking over it. So, you must remove (sand off) the glossy layer first and then apply paint over it. 

It’s recommended to use water-based paint over it because they have the same solvent (water). 

Polycrylic Dry Time Before Painting Over it

You must wait until the polycrylic coating dries fully (cures) before applying paint over it. On average, it takes polycrylic 24-72 hours to dry fully (cure). However, the dry time depends on the humidity levels, room temperature, and thickness of the coat. In moist conditions, the dry time is increased to 72 hours. 

Polycrylic dries faster than most sealants because it’s water-based and uses water as its solvent. Since water evaporates fast, the sealant will dry fast too.

But, you must wait until the coating cures before applying paint over it. Once it cures, the paint particles compact and the coating becomes hard and strong enough to handle another coating. If you paint over it too soon, the whole finish will turn sticky or tacky. 

How To Paint Over Polycrylic?

Since polycrylic is water-based, you can paint over it. Water-based sealants don’t have a glossy finish or additives that prevent paint from sticking. 

Polycrylic is a polymer that contains simple esters, urethane, and polyacrylates. All of these compounds do not repel paints. So its formula makes it possible to paint over it.

Also, the sealant has low moisture-resistant qualities, so it’s easier for paints to penetrate and stick over it. Because of its low moisture-resistant qualities, it’s recommended to use it on indoor or low-moisture surfaces only. 

It’s not recommended to apply oil-based paints over polycrylic. That’s because polycrylic is a flexible finish that expands and contracts (based on temperature change), and oil-based paint doesn’t. So, when the sealant starts to expand or contract, the oil-based paint will start to crack and peel off. 

To do so:

  1. Clean the finish with a damped rag (with water).
  2. Sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit). Use coarse-grit sandpaper for high-gloss polycrylic. 
  3. After sanding, remove the dust. 
  4. Apply 3 coats of paint over it. 
  5. Seal the final coat with a sealer. 

Sanding will remove the glossy layer and leave behind a textured finish that the paint can stick to. Polycrylic has a weak glossy finish, so you don’t need to sand too much. Sanding also removes imperfections from the finish. 

Water-based Paints

You can apply acrylic, latex, and chalk paint over polycrylic. That’s because polycrylic is water-based and is compatible with water-based paints. However, the finish must dry fully before painting over it. 

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). If the paints have the same solvent and binder they are compatible with each other. Polycrylic and water-based paints have the same solvent and binder. 

Also, they expand and contract based on temperature changes. So, once the polycrylic underneath expands, the water-based paints also expand. This means the water-based paint won’t crack or peel off over it. 

Oil-based Paints

You shouldn’t apply oil-based paints over polycrylic. That’s because oil-based paints don’t expand or contract, while polycrylic does. So, once the finish underneath expands, the oil-based paints won’t. This leads to a cracked finish.

So, oil-based paint will stick and stay over it for a while. But since polycrylic is flexible and oil-based paint isn’t, the finish won’t last long. Also, because of the oil deposits the oil-based paint has, the finish will get a yellow tint.

So, applying oil-based paints over polycrylic isn’t recommended. 

Mixing Paint With Polycrylic

You can mix polycrylic with water-based paint. That’s because they have the same solvent (water) and binder. So, the paint and sealant are compatible. 

Polycrylic is a clear coat that has no pigments (no color). To get a colored finish, you must add pigments to the formula of polycrylic or mix it with water-based paints. If you mix polycrylic with water-based paint, you will get a durable and colorful finish. 

It’s recommended to mix polycrylic with acrylic paint because acrylic has the most pigments among all water-based paints. You can mix it with latex and chalk paint too, but the finish won’t have a bright colorful finish. 

You shouldn’t mix polycrylic with oil-based paint. That’s because oil-based paint uses oil as its solvent, while polycrylic uses water as its solvent. Since oil and water don’t mix, the finish will have an inconsistent flow and color. 

Final Words

You can apply water-based paint over polycrylic because they have the same solvent and binder, so they are compatible. 

However, for high-gloss polycrylic, you must sand (remove) the finish or glossy layer first. That’s because the high-gloss finish will prevent paint from penetrating the surface and sticking. 

You can’t apply oil-based paint over it. That’s because the sealant is flexible and will expand, while oil-based paint isn’t flexible and won’t expand. 

You can also mix it with water-based paint before applying it to get a colorful and durable finish. 

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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