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Making acrylic craft paint more permanent on painted wood?

Not an art fair question. But some one may know. I am painting to customize a white painted rocking horse for my granddaughter’s first birthday. The horse’s mane, face, child’s name, some animals, etc.

The acrylic craft paint - the kind you buy in small bottles at craft stores - goes on perfectly well. But then I can scrape it off with a fingernail!

It is definitely white PAINT on the wood, not laminate. It came all white. It’s not even slick: it’s slightly textured. So it SHOULD have good adhesion. I have messaged the manufacturer but probably won’t get a reply in time. I need this done in 6 days and I have already put many hours into it.

I’ve used this same paint for many projects and never had a problem. I am also trying a clear paint on acrylic top coat on just the painted portions. I bought that originally because some paints were matte and some gloss: wanted to make them all satin like the horse finish. But I have no experience with the durability of that.

I thought of spraying the whole surface with some form of spray lacquer. But then the tint of the painted portions might not match the white color of the rest of the horse.

Thanks for your help.

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Sometimes surfaces have to scuffed up a bit, even if they feel and appear *not* glossy.
I work with chalk paint and this occurs from time to time. Try using some steel wool.

Perhaps, scuff then use a primer to bond to the previous surface, then paint on that. A pigmented shellac has good bonding properties, will hide what is underneath and be a good receptor for the next coat.

I have painted a lot of furniture and currently use wood panels as my substrate. You will need to make sure your piece is sanded or stripped thoroughly for it to work well. Chalk paint might adhere better. Spray paint will also chip off of an oil based surface. I might suggest you take a look at This is a water based colorful wood stain that is a fantastic medium. I found this product when I was repurposing furniture and continue to use it today as my primary medium for abstract art paintings on wood. This is a piece I just did which shows the vibrant colors achievable. 

Good luck!

Wow, Susi!  I love the vibrant colors!

Thank you! :)

First of all, you need to know that not all acrylics are the same!!! The amount of pigment is considerably less in the cheaper varieties and it does matter! Secondly, it may be painted with an oil base paint (the existing white paint on horse) which means that the acrylic being water based will never truly adhere. Rule of Thumb: oil can go over water, water cannot go over oil.

What to do?? I suggest giving the horse a good sanding to have a roughed up texture to start. Use better quality paint. Maybe try a KILZ primer (available at Home Depot) in case it is oil based to give you a surface that you can paint on. You may have more success with an oil based paint. Spraying a fixative/clear sealant like Krylon/other may help but it seems there is incompatibility between existing surface and your bottled acrylic. Good luck!

Get a pint of oil base paint. Craft acrylics are really cheap paints.


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