Can You Use Fabric Paint On Wood? A Detailed Guide

Making artistic decorations with fabric paint is quickly becoming a popular DIY trend. While fabric paint is intended for fabric, many crafters wonder if it can be used on other surfaces like wood. The short answer is yes, you can use fabric paint on wood if you prepare the surface properly first.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using fabric paint on wood. You’ll learn how to prepare and seal the wood, what types of fabric paint work best, tips for getting smooth coverage, and how to finish your project for maximum durability.

Choosing the Right Type of Wood

When it comes to using fabric paint on wood, choosing the right type of wood is crucial for achieving the desired results. Different types of wood have different characteristics that can affect how well the fabric paint adheres and how the final result looks.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting wood for your project:

Porous vs. Non-Porous Woods

One important factor to consider is whether the wood is porous or non-porous. Porous woods, such as pine or cedar, have small pores that allow the paint to penetrate and adhere to the surface. Non-porous woods, like maple or cherry, have a smoother surface with fewer or no visible pores.

While fabric paint can be used on both types of wood, it may have better adhesion and durability on porous woods.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure whether your wood is porous or non-porous, you can perform a simple test. Drop a small amount of water onto the wood’s surface. If it absorbs quickly, the wood is likely porous. If the water beads up or takes a while to absorb, it is likely non-porous.

Smooth vs. Rough Woods

Another factor to consider is the texture of the wood. Smooth woods, such as birch or poplar, have a fine and even surface that can provide a clean and polished look. On the other hand, rough woods, like oak or pine with visible grains, can add a rustic and textured appearance to your project.

The choice between smooth and rough wood depends on the desired aesthetic and the type of fabric paint you plan to use.

Pro tip: If you’re using a fabric paint that requires a smooth surface, you can sand the wood to achieve a smoother finish. However, keep in mind that sanding may alter the appearance of the wood, so it’s important to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.

Remember, selecting the right type of wood is essential when using fabric paint. It can affect how well the paint adheres, how the final result looks, and how durable it is over time. So take the time to consider the characteristics of the wood you’re using for your project, and you’ll be on your way to creating fabulous painted wood pieces!

Preparing and Sealing the Wood

Before you start using fabric paint on wood, it is important to properly prepare and seal the wood surface. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and lasts longer. Here are the steps you should follow:


The first step is to sand the wood surface. Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas or imperfections. Sanding helps create a smooth and even surface for the paint to adhere to. Make sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain for the best results.


After sanding, it is crucial to clean the wood surface thoroughly. Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. This will ensure that the paint adheres properly and prevents any particles from interfering with the final finish.

Allow the wood to dry completely before moving on to the next step.


Sealing the wood is an important step to prevent the paint from bleeding or seeping into the wood fibers. There are several options for sealing the wood surface, depending on your preference and the type of paint you are using.

One popular option is to apply a coat of primer specifically designed for wood surfaces. This will create a smooth and stable base for the fabric paint. Another option is to use a clear sealant or varnish to protect the wood and enhance the durability of the paint.

Apply the sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and allow it to dry completely before applying the fabric paint.

By properly preparing and sealing the wood, you will ensure that your fabric paint adheres well and provides a long-lasting finish. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both the fabric paint and the sealant to achieve the best results.

Choosing Fabric Paints

When it comes to using fabric paint on wood, it’s important to choose the right type of paint for the best results. Here are some factors to consider when selecting fabric paints:

Acrylic vs. Fabric Dye

One of the first decisions to make is whether to use acrylic fabric paint or fabric dye. Acrylic fabric paint is a popular choice for wood projects as it offers excellent coverage and durability. It adheres well to wood surfaces and provides vibrant colors.

On the other hand, fabric dye is more commonly used for natural fabrics like cotton or silk and may not work as effectively on wood. It’s important to note that fabric dye requires a different application process and may not provide the same level of opacity as acrylic fabric paint.

Opacity vs. Transparency

When selecting fabric paint for wood, consider whether you want an opaque or transparent finish. Opaque fabric paints provide solid coverage and are ideal for creating bold designs on wood. They can completely cover the underlying wood grain and offer a solid, vibrant color.

Transparent fabric paints, on the other hand, allow the wood grain to show through, creating a more natural and rustic look. This can be especially appealing if you want to maintain the wood’s natural beauty while still adding a touch of color.

It’s worth mentioning that some fabric paints offer a range of opacity options, allowing you to customize the level of coverage according to your preferences. This can be particularly useful when working on intricate designs or when you want to achieve different effects on different parts of the wood surface.

When choosing fabric paints, be sure to read product descriptions and labels to understand their specific characteristics and suitability for wood surfaces. Additionally, it can be helpful to check out online tutorials or forums where fellow crafters share their experiences and recommendations for using fabric paint on wood.

Applying Fabric Paint to Wood

When it comes to painting on wood, most people tend to reach for traditional wood paint. However, did you know that you can also use fabric paint on wood? Fabric paint is a versatile medium that can be used on various surfaces, including wood.

It allows you to create unique and colorful designs on your wooden projects, giving them a personalized touch. In this detailed guide, we will walk you through the process of applying fabric paint to wood, covering essential steps such as base coating, building layers, and blending.

Base Coating

The first step in applying fabric paint to wood is to prepare the surface by applying a base coat. This base coat helps the fabric paint adhere better to the wood and provides a smooth canvas for your design.

Before you start painting, make sure to clean the wood surface thoroughly and sand it if necessary. Then, apply a layer of gesso or acrylic paint as a base coat. Gesso is a primer that creates a barrier between the wood and the fabric paint, ensuring better adhesion and preventing the wood from absorbing too much paint.

You can also use acrylic paint as a base coat, as it provides good coverage and helps the fabric paint colors appear more vibrant.

Building Layers

Once the base coat is dry, you can start building layers with fabric paint. This is where you can get creative and experiment with different techniques and designs. Fabric paint is available in various forms, such as squeeze bottles, spray bottles, or markers, allowing you to apply it in different ways.

You can use a brush to paint directly onto the wood or use stencils to create intricate patterns. To add texture and depth to your design, consider using different colors and layering them on top of each other. This will give your wooden project a visually appealing and dimensional look.


Blending is an important technique when working with fabric paint on wood. It allows you to create smooth transitions between colors and achieve a more realistic or artistic effect. To blend colors, start by applying one color to the wood and let it dry completely.

Then, apply another color next to it and use a brush or sponge to blend the two colors together. You can also use a wet brush or spray bottle to slightly moisten the paint and make blending easier. Experiment with different blending techniques, such as feathering or stippling, to create unique effects and gradients on your wooden surface.

Remember to let each layer of fabric paint dry completely before applying the next layer or blending colors. This will help prevent smudging or mixing of colors. Once your design is complete, you can seal the fabric paint on wood by applying a clear varnish or sealant.

This will protect the paint from chipping or fading over time, ensuring the longevity of your artwork.

So next time you have a wooden project in mind, don’t hesitate to try using fabric paint. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities and allows you to create stunning and personalized designs that will surely impress. Give it a go and let your creativity shine!

Sealing and Protecting the Finished Project

After completing your wood project using fabric paint, it is essential to properly seal and protect it to ensure its longevity and durability. By sealing the wood, you can prevent the paint from chipping, fading, or being damaged by external factors such as moisture or sunlight.

Clear Coats

One common method of sealing fabric paint on wood is by using clear coats. These clear coats come in various finishes, such as matte, satin, or glossy, allowing you to choose the desired look for your project. Clear coats provide a protective layer over the paint, shielding it from potential damage.

They also enhance the appearance of the paint by adding a smooth and polished finish.

When applying a clear coat, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Apply thin and even layers, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. This will help you achieve a professional-looking finish and ensure maximum protection for your painted wood project.


Another effective option for sealing fabric paint on wood is using polyurethane. Polyurethane is a clear, protective finish that forms a hard, durable coating on the surface. It provides excellent resistance against scratches, stains, and water damage.

Polyurethane is available in both oil-based and water-based formulas, allowing you to choose the one that suits your preferences and project requirements.

To apply polyurethane, use a brush or a foam applicator, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply thin and even coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Sand the surface lightly between coats to achieve a smooth finish.

Once the polyurethane is fully dry, your painted wood project will have a protective layer that enhances its durability and longevity.


After sealing your fabric paint on wood, it is important to maintain it properly to ensure its long-lasting beauty. Avoid exposing the painted wood to excessive moisture, direct sunlight, or extreme temperatures, as these factors can damage the paint or the sealant over time.

Regularly clean the painted wood using a soft cloth or a mild cleaner to remove dust or dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can scratch or damage the paint. By taking proper care of your painted wood project, you can enjoy its vibrant colors and unique design for years to come.

For more detailed information on wood sealing techniques and product recommendations, you can visit reputable websites such as or


With the right preparation and techniques, fabric paint can adhere beautifully to wood for a fun, crafty project. Just be sure to seal and protect your creation properly so it will last for years to come.

We hope this guide gave you all the tips you need to start decorating wooden surfaces with vivid fabric paints.

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