Best Acrylic Paint for Wood Crafts & Furniture: Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on April 7, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Are you tired of endlessly searching for the perfect acrylic paint that not only brings your wooden crafts and furniture to life but also withstands the test of time?

The quest for an ideal balance between affordability, durability, and quality can often feel like an elusive pursuit.

Fear not, as I am a professional acrylic painter and crafter and I’m here to simplify the process for you as much as I can.

In this Ultimate Guide, I have tips on how to navigate different types of paint for wood while in the store and what are some good brands for furniture, both indoor and outdoors or decoration and wood crafting.

This article contains affiliate links. It means no extra cost for you but a little commission (2-3%) for me to support my hobby and blog. Thank you!

Choosing the right paint for wood art projects and furniture is crucial for achieving the desired finish and durability.

Here are several types of paint I find commonly used for wood crafts and furniture:

  1. Acrylic Paint and Latex Paint:

Acrylic is the most popular type of paint for wood crafts! And I understand that – dozens of good quality brands and affordability.

  • Versatility: Suitable not just for acrylic painting on canvas, but for various wood surfaces, both indoor use and outdoor.
  • Quick Drying: Dries much more quickly compared to oil-based paints.
  • Low Odor: Has a lower odor compared to oil-based alternatives.
  • Recommendation: Behr, Rust-Oleum Latex Paint, ECOS paints (eco-friendly choice), Folk Art
  • Affordable.
  1. Chalk Paint:

Not the same as chalkboard paint.

  • Matte Finish: Chalk paint provides a trendy matte finish.
  • Ideal for creating a distressed or vintage look on furniture.
  • No Primer Needed: Often doesn’t require sanding or priming before application as most chalk paint specifically made for furniture and trims.
  • Recommendation: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint or budget choice –
  1. Milk Paint:
  • Natural Look: Milk paint offers a matte, vintage appearance with a slightly translucent finish.
  • Non-Toxic: Typically made from natural ingredients, making it eco-friendly.
  • Distressing: Easily distresses for a rustic look.
  • Recommendation: .
  1. Oil-Based Paint:
  • Durability: Provides a durable and long-lasting finish.
  • Smooth Finish: Offers a smooth, glossy finish when properly applied.
  • Water Resistance: Oil paints are resistant to water and moisture.
  • Recommendation: Benjamin Moore.
  1. Spray Paint:
  • Convenience: Convenient for small projects or intricate details, especially if there are corners or holes. Spray paints also come as primer+paint (2 in 1).
  • Even Coverage: Provides an even and smooth finish when used correctly. And no brush strokes
  • Variety of Finishes: Available in matte, satin, gloss, and metallic finishes.
  • Recommendation: Rust-Oleum or Krylon.
  1. Water-based polyurethane – as a protective finish
  • Clear Coat: Often used as a clear protective coat over painted wood. Doesn’t add color (and doesn’t come in any color variations)
  • Durability: Adds up to x3 durability and protects against scratches and wear.
  • Fast Drying: Dries faster than oil-based polyurethane.
  • Recommendation: Varathane Water-Based Polyurethane.
  1. Gel Stain:
  • Wood Grain Enhancement: Enhances the natural grain of the wood while providing color (limited palette though).
  • Easy Application: Gel stain is easy to apply and control.
  • Versatile: Suitable for cabinets, trim, doors, and furniture, raw wood, stain, and non-white painted surfaces.
  • Recommendation: General Finishes Gel Stain.

Before painting, it’s essential to properly prepare the wood surface by cleaning, sanding, and, if needed, applying a primer.

Read full guide: How to paint on wood with acrylic: Full Painting Guide

Wood Paint Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the paint

When it comes to painting wood, choices are a bit confusing on the market, we have stains, finishes, and paint. The choice is also heavily determined by the nature of our painting project and the skills or time we have.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

1. There are different types of paint for wood:

  • Latex paint and Acrylic Paint (water-based paint) are Ideal for indoor furniture, trim, and doors. Acrylic paint is perfect for wood crafts.
  • Milk paint and chalk paint are often the best choice for painting furniture.
  • Oil-based paints and enamel paints are good for exterior projects like wooden decks, doors, and trim because they are very durable.

2. What is your Type of Project?

  • For Indoor Furniture opt for a paint with good adhesion and resistance to scratches.
  • Exterior Deck look for a paint that withstands weather elements
  • For cabinets, you need paint with a smooth finish and scratch or touch-resistant.
  • For wood crafts, you need paint with good adhesion and opaque colors that won’t crack or peel.

3. Coverage:

  • Sometimes you need to cover the wooden grain completely – then choose paints.
  • But if you want to simply protect the wood or enhance the wood grain colors you should instead of paint use stains or polyurethane finishes.

4. Durability and Finish:

  • Matte Finish is a non-reflective finish that is good for interior walls or furniture. It covers imperfections well.
  • However glossy paints may be better when durability is a priority as this finish is the most durable. So for doors, trim, or areas with heavy use, you can choose gloss or high gloss.
  • Acrylic paints (professional quality paints), for example, are rated for “lightfastness” or fade-resistance with ASTM I being excellent resistance and ASTM IV or III almost non-resistant which means such paints can’t be for outdoor use.
  • Exterior paints and aerosol spray paint are the best choices for outdoors.

5. Wood Absorption

  • Wood is a porous and very absorbent surface by nature. Raw untreated, unfinished wood will be of course the most absorbent. This is why we use primers, sand the wood, and test. Otherwise, we risk uneven coverage and also paint waste.

6. Safety

  • Acrylic paint is non-toxic for use.
  • Meanwhile oil-based primers or paints can have a strong odor and thinners or primers can contain some chemicals
  • Soray paints are probably the most “unsafe” because there is a risk of inhaling it. Hence, always wear a mask or a respirator working with a sprayer.

Best acrylic paint brands for wood crafts – Ranked

In fact most acrylic paints will work just fine on wood, even craft or cheaper paint sets. However, Apple Barrel or brands like Folk Art and Arteza are leading the way.

Liquitex is a great choice too but it is pricier.

RankBrandPrice range
#1Apple Barrel and Folk Artaround $20 for 18 bottles
#2Acrylic Craft Paint Artezaaround $30 for 20 bottles
#3Liquitex Basics around $40 for 24 bottles
Good for pouring on woodHippie Crafter Acrylics
Handy Art 8 Color
Blick Studio Acrylic Paint Set of 24
Best paint pens for woodArtistro Acrylic Paint pens$15-20 for 12 pens

Liquitex Basics

One of the most popular and recommended acrylic paint among beginners and some Pros too! Liquitex is an old and well-known art brand has proven its quality for a long time already.

For beginners and painters on a budget, the Liquitex Basics are an excellent student-grade paint. They’re bright, have high-quality pigment, are lightfast, blend well, and dry to a satin sheen.

They also come in bright and metallic colors (which are less lightfast). UV-resistant and water-resistant acrylic colors are available from Basics.

Twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six, or forty-eight colors are included in the Liquitex Basics Sets for novices. I propose the 24-color set, which is a best-seller and has all the necessary colors.

Apart from Liquitex I know people also use Utrecht and Golden acrylics for wooden crafts but they are on a pricier side.

Acrylic Craft Paint Arteza

Arteza is one of the most affordable student grade acrylics, that are still showing great results. Arteza, as Blick, is not only a brand but an online marketplace.

They have everything a beginner may need (canvas, panels, brushes, paint, etc.).

I would say that it is a good option and a versatile paint for a beginner: you can use it on canvas, wood, and ceramics.

Apple Barrel

This piece is made with Apple Barrel acrylic paint

Apple Barrel is acrylic paint, great for wooden projects. I would recommend this paint for your small furniture projects and decor. I would not choose this paint to work on canvas.

Apple Barrel comes in 16 oz individual barrels and it has a matte finish. If you don’t need so much paint, go for their 18 pcs set – it will be enough for a couple of small decor projects.

Folk Art

This Folk Art set is universal and is a great option if you want to paint on different surfaces and don’t want to buy special paint for each one.

Handy Art 8 Color

Handy Art 8 Color is another cheap paint brand working on different surfaces, including wood. They are available both individually and in basic set of 8 primary colors.

Like all acrylics, they are water-based, dry to a semi-gloss finish, and become water-resistant, which makes them easy to clean.

Blick Studio Acrylic Paint

Blick, an art e-com giant, produces high-quality products for any needs (not only painting).

They have several paints, Blickrylic is the simplest one, for school mostly, Blick Studio – good student grade paint, and Blick Artists’.

Blick acrylics are high performant, bright and intense, and durable on wood. I didn’t try it on large wooden pieces yet, so I can’t recommend it for big projects.

They offer not only sets, but you can also buy any color you like or a smaller set.

Crayola Portfolio Series Acrylic Paint

Another student-grade acrylic paint is suitable for painting on wood (but also clay and fabric).

The colors are vivid, and the paint is quite thick due to its high viscosity. Water-resistant once dried.

If you want specific colors, better purchase individually, as Crayola only has a basic set of 6 colors, which is extremely cheap, by the way.

I haven’t met a lot of people who use this paint, but it seems legit.

Keep in mind that this is craft paint, so it may be not good for commercial projects.

Hippie Crafter Acrylic Paint

Hippie Crafter is one of my absolute favorite brands for pouring and painting.

They are proudly made in the US and apart from amazing style and customer service, they are actually oriented towards crafting themselves – even watching their social media you will always see new tricks and crafts artists are creating with the paint.

They are affordable, amazingly covering the surface with very dense opaque colors and nice creamy texture.

Please note, that Hippie Crafter pour paint has been thinned for pouring already, but you can actually use any paint for pouring as long as you will add some pouring medium to it such as Floetrol or any alternative.

Read my full review here: Great for Pouring – Hippie Crafter Acrylic Paint Review [3 Video Included]

Please note that the best results with acrylic paint on any surface are when you apply a top coat – a varnish or a spray finish (can use Rust-Oleum spray).

The high-quality paint like Liquitex or Golden will also always have more pigment in it, which makes it more expensive but also more vibrant sometimes.

The drying time of acrylics is also very quick so if you let it dry, it will be harder to correct mistakes. Thicker paint will dry slightly slower but I do not recommend such an application – it can crack.

Stick to thin layers.

Best acrylic paint pens for wood – My Top Pic

My absolute favorite paint pens for wood are pens from Artistro in medium and fine tips – they are “juicy”, works amazing on wood even without gesso or white base, have bright nice colors and dry quickly.

I tried specifically acrylic-based pens, but they also have oil-based markers.

ARTISTRO 12 Acrylic Paint Pens for Fabric, Canvas,…
12 bright colors: gold, silver, black, brown, orange, green, yellow, white, pink, red, blue, purple

One layer was enough for me to draw

Best acrylic paint pens for wood

Read full review: Artistro Acrylic Paint Pens Review – My New Favorite on Rocks & Wood

Alternative is Posca pens – trusted quality by professional artists, vivid colors, but they can be expensive especially if you only need paint markers for one-time use on wood.

The biggest challenge with using pens or markers is that they can bleed and fade. Paint pens perform the best as long as you draw with a steady hand and move quickly.

There is also a way of making pens painted wood last longer – with a spray finish. Brush-on sealant may lift up and make the pens messy, especially if they are water-based or weren’t fully dry.

Best acrylic paint for wood furniture & Outdoors

Rust-Oleum Brands Chalked Ultra Matte Paint

Verdict: Best option for indoor wooden furniture. Type: Chalk paint

The Chalked series comes in spray and liquid form and the colors are so nice! Soft pastel colors, quite trendy I should say.

I love the Country gray and Tate green most:

Rust-Oleum 371674 Chalked Ultra Matte Paint, 30 oz, Tate Green, (Pack of 1)

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Paint

Verdict: Best option for outdoor wooden furniture. Type: Oil-based

Both spray and liquid paints Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch are some of the most popular choice for painting furniture!

For Rust-Oleum spray paints you will need to apply 2 coats minimum, so calculate how many cans you need based on that.

ECOS Non-toxic paints for furniture and outdoors

Verdict: Best environment-friendly paint for walls and wood. Type: Acrylic-based

Ecos Paint stands out as a top choice for those seeking a durable, washable, yet sustainable and visually appealing finish for a wide range of projects on wooden surface, both indoors and outdoors.

They are super transparent about paint composition – not only compliant as a non-toxic but also conforms to CDPH 01350 which means these paints have zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

And the color range is simply impressive with so many tints available!

If you are looking for painting walls or furniture in your nursery, ECOS got you – they designed special Lullaby series specifically for babies rooms.

FolkArt Outdoor Gloss Acrylic

Verdict: Best craft paint for outdoor wood art projects. Type: Acrylic

Folk Art has long ago cracked the code of affordable yet performant craft acrylic and water-based enamel paint sets. They are cream-like liquid and fluid but still opaque.

They are extremely versatile and beginner-friendly and the variety of colors across different types of Folk Art paint is just amazing! Whenever I’m at my local art shop ther are just rows! of Folk Art.

I don’t buy sets of paint, but I always get a couple of golden bottles from them. Love them!

There are simply no major issues with Folk Art paints, I would only say that because they are very fluid some colors may appear more transparent than regular heavy-body type of acrylic paint.

FolkArt Home Decor Ultra Matte Chalk Paint

Verdict: Best craft paint for indoor wood art projects. Type: Acrylic-based paint

Unlike FolkArt oudoor this paint has an ultra-matte finish which is less durable than glossy but great for small indoor crafts, trims, and even smaller-scale furniture or wooden dollhouses.

The range of colors is lovely – they are soft, pastel, opaque colors that I think are perfect for any interior design as they don’t draw too much attention but are stylish and don’t look cheap!

To be completely fair these paints work great not just on wood – they have nice smooth coverage on almost any surface.

Get your set of chalk paint brushes for painting furniture: 15 Tested Chalk Paint Brushes For Trims and Furniture

Krylon Colormaxx Spray Paint + Primer

Verdict: Best spray paint for indoor and outdoor wood. Type: Paint+Primer

A huge advantage of Krylon Colormax spray paints is that they are rust and heat-resistant (not as much as professional heat-resistant paint but still) and do not require any priming for wood as they come as primer and color in one can!

I should say that applying spray paint is easier but messier. You need to cover up the ground as much as you can because spraying will get paint beyond just your piece of wood.

It also needs some testing to make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged and you will not end up with a blob of paint or uneven coverage.

But overall, Krylon doesn’t cause much issues in use and is beginner-friendly.


Can I paint wood furniture with acrylic paint?

Acrylic paint is one of the most versatile, durable, and easy-to-use paints for furniture and wood crafts. It is also quite affordable and doesn’t require many coats for smooth coverage.

What type of paint is best for wood furniture?

You can use oil-based, acrylic, Alkyd, chalk, milk, spray, and latex paint for wood furniture. Oil and alkyd paints are best for outdoor use, while chalk and acrylic are most often use for indoor furniture, cabinets and trims.

Do I need to seal wood before painting with acrylic paint?

It is ideal to seal and prime unfinished wood before painting it, as otherwise porous and absorbent wooden surface will soak all paint you apply. You will waste paint and have uneven coverage. Some paints like Krylon come as primer and paint in one can.

What is the best primer for wood furniture?

For indoor wood furniture, water-based primers like Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 or KILZ Premium Latex Primer are excellent choices.

They have low odor, quick drying times, and good adhesion. Water-based primers are also easy to clean up with soapy water.

On the other hand, for outdoor wood furniture that is exposed to the weather and wear and tear, oil-based and shellac primers such as Rust-Oleum Zinsser Cover Stain or BIN Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer are preferable.

Oil-based primers provide robust protection against moisture, rust, and harsh weather conditions.

Wrap Up

In the realm of acrylic painting and wooden crafts, the pursuit of the perfect balance between affordability, durability, and quality can often feel like a challenging quest.

I’ve covered some recommendations for the best acrylic paint brands, including budget-friendly options like Apple Barrel and special choices like Krylon spray paint or ECOS paints.

Whether you’re working on indoor furniture, outdoor projects, or decorative wood crafts, I hope I provided you with the knowledge needed to choose the right paint.

Last update on 2024-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API