Can you paint over polycrylic surface?

Can you paint over polycrylic surface Paint FAQs

So, you want to freshen something up with a polycrylic surface and wondering, asking yourself, can you paint over polycrylic surface? It is completely understandable. Adding color to any space can make it look larger, emphasize architectural details, and create original design solutions. Before applying paint over polycrylic surface, you need to understand what are you applying it at.

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What are polycrylic varnishes?

The basis of polycrylic varnishes/finishes, like Minwax Polycrylic, for example, is an acrylic or acrylate polymer. They are water-based colors. They do not have a strong odor and are quite environmentally friendly.

Acrylic varnishes have different degrees of gloss – matte, semi-matt, glossy, semi-gloss, silky-matt, and silky-gloss.

Currently, the following types of polyacrylate paints are produced: polyacrylate-urethane (based on hydroxyl-containing resins), hybrid polyacrylate (with carboxyl-containing resins) and glycidyl-containing polyacrylate (based on epoxidized resins).

So, can you paint over polycrylic surface or not?

It’s not that simple. It depends on the paint type. There is a huge variety of paints to choose from nowadays. And today, different types of paint intended for painting walls and interior objects, as well as artistic or designing work are produced by numerous companies. A wide variety of paints simplifies and complicates the process at the same time.

On the one hand, you can find paint for any purpose you can think of, on the other hand, there are so many options, so it becomes harder and harder to choose. Selecting the right paint for each use case is crucial. Therefore, it is significant to decide which paint suits the best. So, let’s talk about paints briefly.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paints – water-dispersion paints based on polyacrylates. Their name derives from the fact they mainly consist of acrylic resin. In short, it’s water-based paint. So applying polycrylic or acrylic should be fine and pretty quick. It takes from 5 to 30 hours to dry.

Acrylic paints and varnishes can be used on any non-greasy substrate such as glass, wood, metal, canvas, and the like. So, acrylic paint is used in various types of decor, for painting on fabric, and walls. In modern times, there are special acrylic paints for different surfaces, that are similar in properties to conventional ones but are more suitable for a particular surface.

Fresh acrylic paint can be easily removed from objects with water but requires special solvents when it dries. So applying polycrylic/acrylic should be an easy process.

Chalk paint

Can you paint over polycrylic surface with chalk paint, you might ask?

So, firstly, you need to clearly understand what chalk paints are. It is a solution consisting of chalk and water, to which a certain amount of mineral additives is added.

The latter, as a rule, are resin, silicates, and casein.

It can be applied to any substrate. Chalk paint does not make high demands on the state of the surface. Chalk paint is often used to decorate wood, metal, clay, PVC, and fabric.

Types of chalk paints

Every chalk paint currently sold is a water-based paint. Its name comes from the additives used.

Resin chalk paint

Contains natural and/or synthetic resins. Silicates are additionally introduced into the composition.

Dairy chalk paint

Casein is used as an additional component.

Oil chalk paint

Linseed oil is an additive.

This type of paint is really easy to use. It can be applied with a brush or just sprayed.

All thanks to Annie Sloan, an amazing British artist that invented that outstanding art supply.

In short, as we mentioned before, all of them are water-based paints, so any chalk paint can be used to paint over polycrylic.

Latex paint

Latex paints have been made with the addition of latex. The result is a powerful water-repellent effect, which means you can wash the surface as much as you want.

They are water-dispersion and water-based enamels that make it possible to obtain the surface of the required texture, ranging from matte to glossy. The coating itself is resistant to washing off and, if applied correctly, will last for a long time, due to the addition of synthetic latex to the composition. Latex paint dries quickly, which allows you to apply subsequent layers without long intervals.

Latex paint varies in structure. It can be matte and glossy. The material of the first type well masks all the imperfections of the walls, but visually narrows the space; therefore, matte latex paint is used mainly for large areas.

So, can you paint over polycrylic with that type of paint? — the answer is yes, you can paint over polycrylic with latex paint.

Oil-based paint

So, the next question is: Can you paint over polycrylic with oil-based paints?

Firstly, what is oil-based paint?

Nowadays, these paints are based on vegetable oils, organic and inorganic pigments, and fillers. These paints can be entirely natural, consisting only of vegetable oil or 3% desiccants, and may contain solvent or synthetic resins. Compositions with natural drying oil are more environmentally friendly and less smelly.

They are used in painting or for painting wooden, metal, and other surfaces, depending on the type of oil-based paint.

You might think that as oil-based paints are, obviously, not water-based paints, you shouldn’t paint over polycrylic with them. Well, it’s a bit tricky.

Even if it is not recommended to mix the paints themselves, you can’t apply polycrylic on the oil-painted surface but you can apply oil paint on polycrylic one.

A synthetic brush should be used if you want to paint over polycrylic with oil paint.

Enamel paint

This material is one of the types of paint coatings. Can you paint over polycrylic with it? Well, they perform well on any surface, so paint over polycrylic with this paint should be ok.


The composition of enamel paint includes the following 5 components:

  • Lacquer;
  • Solvent or white spirit;
  • Fillers;
  • Various functional additives;
  • Pigments of a certain color, the one that should be the shade of enamel paint.

Enamels can be used to perform various works, both external and internal, as they perform well on any surface. Enamel paints are suitable for any material: bare wood, or any wood surface for that matter, like wooden furniture, metal, concrete, and even bricks.

This type of paint has high moisture resistance and firmly protects the surface from external influences. So, it creates a perfect protective layer with a smooth finish. You need to simply prepare it – remove the old coating, any paint peeling, and dirt.

Important note. Please apply this paint carefully as it is flammable.

Milk paint

Milk paint is one of the most popular and oldest paints. A lot of ancient artists and craftsmen used it. The relevance of this has not been lost until now, especially because of its ease of use. The paint ingredients are pretty simple: casein (a type of milk protein), clay, lime, and earth or vegetable pigments.

These milky colors give the same deep, rich colors as in the good old days.

Milk paint is ideal for finishing stationery, shaker boxes, signboards and cabinets, screen-printing walls, and restoring antique furniture. Supplied as a dry powder, miscible with water and applied by brush, roller, or spray.

The second coat can be applied after an hour or so. For a fast-drying protective topcoat, apply a finishing oil, paste wax, or water-based acrylic to get a protective coat with a durable finish. So, you can definitely apply this to paint over polycrylic surfaces.

Paints of different colors mix well with each other. Snow-white paint can also be used to lighten the tone of the paint.

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To sum it up

Well. It seems like you are armed with the information you needed.

Polycrylic is an acrylic or acrylate polymer, as we now know. So if it is water-based paint, you can apply it on polycrylic surface. The most well-known water-based paints are acrylic paints, milk paints, latex paints, and chalk paints. So, gladly, you have plenty of options to choose from.

With oil paint, you should remember that you can’t apply polycrylic paint on a surface coated with oil-based paint but you can apply oil paint on a surface coated with water-based polycrylic colors.

Polycrylic dry fast, so if you require a fast-drying protective topcoat with a durable finish, polycyclic is what you absolutely should use.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to more frequently asked questions about polycrylic surfaces, coating polycrylic, and painting over different surfaces.

Can you paint over water-based polyurethane?

Firstly, we need to understand what the polyurethane is.

What is polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a synthetic polymer derived from polyol, a derivative of crude oil. It is mainly used for protection and facing surfaces.

There are two types of polyurethane paintings: oil-based and water-based.

The difference between the two types of polyurethane paintings

When it comes to durability, oil-based polyurethane is better than water-based polyurethane. In particular, in cases where there is a strong heating. Oil-based polyurethane shows the fullness of the wood, but a yellow tint may appear.

The water-based one is the type of color you should use if you are looking for a coating with minimal odor and toxicity.

The water-based polyurethane provides a clear finish unlike the oil-based option, which can have a yellowish tinge.

In addition, such a coating dries much faster and is best suited for surfaces that are not exposed to strong temperature changes. It is best used for bookcases, desks, picture frames, and small tables.

The difference between water-based polyurethane and polycrylic

Even in general, water-based polyurethanes do not have an amber tint, but some do cause white or light-colored surfaces to turn yellow after drying or become slightly hazy compared to darker finishes such as milk paint.

On the other hand, polycryl leaves a clear, non-yellowing surface, so it doesn’t change the look of lighter woods like maple or birch, or anything painted. White painting polycrylic is not recommended for use over dark paints or red mahogany stains, however, where it is transparent it can become somewhat opaque or milky.

So, to sum it all up

You can do it if the paint is water-based because the keywords in water-based polyurethane are “water-based”.

It is better to do it with proper pre-treatment of the base, making painting faster, more economical, and the result better.

We advise you to follow these simple rules:

If the previous paint is easily removed from the surface, then it is better to remove it.
Paint that can be washed off with water or solvents must also be removed. Silicate, casein residues are easy to remove with a 2% hydrochloric acid solution.

Before applying the first coat, make sure the base for painting is cleaned of dust, and dirt with a wet cloth or some other tools. In some cases, stain removal may be required.

A fresh primer must be applied under the fresh coat with a synthetic brush with fine brush strokes.

If you need to apply a second coat over an already painted surface, before applying a second coat, make sure that the first coat is dry.

But in general, polyurethane not only does not require thinning or a special product to create a better bond with wood, but it also sands easily on its own without clogging it with even fine grit sandpaper.

Remember to use fine, even brush strokes. A synthetic bristle brush would suit the best for it.

Light sanding between coats will improve the adhesion of the next coats. In no case is it recommended to use steel wool, as it can leave small particles that can cause rust on the surface.

Can I mix polycrylic with paint?

The general rule here is that if the basis for varnish and paint is the same, you can mix them. In that case, a polycrylic one is water-based, so any water-based paints are ok to paint over polycrylic surfaces with.

Do you have to sand polycrylic?

You shouldn’t sand water-based polycrylic, as long as you apply each coat of finish or fresh coat, or within a reasonable amount of time. If there are any dust or brush marks on the finish, lightly sanding with fine grit sandpaper will smooth them out and your next coat will look better if you work on a smooth surface.

But if you feel like a rough surface is needed for it to adhere well, sand polycrylic surface lightly.

Can you use polycrylic as a top coat?

Applying polycrylic as a top coat is a good idea. Polyacrylic varnishes are one of the best types of coatings used for decorative purposes for the treatment of wood of various species, metal, and glass.

They can emphasize shade and texture, to give shine. At the same time, acrylic varnish forms a strong layer when it dries quickly and has absolute transparency and purity. The combination of a mixture of organic solvents and an acrylic copolymer leads to the formation of this coating.

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My blog was created specifically to bring you the latest design trends. I graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York 10 years ago. I started drawing as a child. I was very fond of design and could even choose a style for my friends and relatives during the renovation.

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