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The Last Step – Paint Your Wood Carvings! Useful Tips for You

painting wooden turtle

Look at your finished carving. You just put away your instruments and have some time to admire what you’ve made. The only thing that this precious thing lacks is some brightness of colour. If that’s your case and you’re here to find out the difference between paints, some rules for painting wood and get some answers to your questions on how to paint a wood carving art - sit back and keep reading.

It’s very easy to damage your carving when it’s finished if you don’t know how to paint or seal it. The unfinished wood will dry and crack over time and the incorrectly applied paint will crack or flake. So don’t rush into experimenting without reading on the topic at least a little first, introduce yourself to the basic points of doing it right and then you’ll be happy with a great colourful result that you got.

So, how to not damage your wooden creation with paint? Are there limitations to kinds of paint, what kind of paint do you use on wood carvings? How do you seal wood carvings after painting and keep them safe for a long period of time? Well, we are going to cover all of these questions here.

How To Paint Woodcarvings

So, how do you paint wood carving? That mostly depends on the size of your project and the goal you want to reach with painting, plus the effort you’re willing to make.

What you need to remember before painting: always use a primer before applying the paint to the wood. It will help the paint sit more evenly and not fall into small cracks in the wood.

For small projects and easy application it’s the most reasonable option to use acrylic paints. There are a lot of colors and types of them, they are very easy to apply and they don’t need a lot of time to dry. They are also waterproof after drying so that’s a definite advantage. For bigger projects it’s the most convenient to use latex paints. They are quite similar to acrylics, but latex paints are sold in bigger quantities so it only makes sense to purchase more paint for more surface to cover with it. It also has a lot of different finishing options: gloss, semi-gloss, matte, satin, etc.

When you choose the primer for paint, look at the material which is in the basis of the paint that you chose. Grab a latex-based primer for latex paints and water-based or oil-based primers according to the paint type you want. For acrylics it’s common to use gesso. 

wood painting

The next question you can ask after applying primers and paints is “What oil do you use for wood carvings?” And that would be the correct question. No carving should stay without a finishing layer or two of protection - if you want it to live for more than a year, of course.

Keep in mind that there are various types of finishings as there are for paints. You might want to stick to a chemical but stronger one or an oil weaker one, that is up to you. Of course, if you want to carve kitchen utensils, it won’t be a good idea to use chemical finishings. And it won’t be smart to do oil finish for a wooden sign that will stay under the sun and rain outside.

Stronger chemical finishings that are also called layered finish are a great choice if you are doing outside statues or big furniture pieces. This finish will protect your carving better but it has a few disadvantages. You can’t use it for spoons, bowls, etc. or you’re risking poisoning there. And it also takes quite a long time to dry. Consider the fact that you need to apply a few layers since that’s the reason why it’s called layered - and you’ll understand that it may take up to a few days. But it’s certainly worth it if you need a strong protection layer.

The more careful oil finish is great for kitchen utensils made of wood or any wooden carving that will stay inside as a decor element. It dries faster and isn’t poisonous, but it’s certainly not as strong so you have some things to compare. One of the most common oils for finish is linseed oil.

Hopefully this article has answered your questions about how to paint woodcarvings and seal them after. Happy carving and painting to you!

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