Unfinished wood crafts can be transformed in countless ways with paint. Whether you are looking to add a touch of whimsey with hand painted details or a coat of solid color, here is how to paint unfinished wood crafts. But first, let’s gather the most important materials.

Materials to Paint Unfinished Wood Crafts

Gather these tools upfront if you plan to work on unfinished wood:

  • Piece of wooden craft (block, plaque, box, etc.)
  • Sanding paper
  • Primer
  • Wooden craft accessories (snowman body parts, wreath supplies, etc.)
  • Craft glue (white glue or hot glue)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic craft paints in desired colors
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint

You can also stock important painting PPE like gas masks and goggles if you’re using spray paint.

Types of Paint to Use on Unfinished Wood Crafts

If you want to paint unfinished wood crafts, there are a few types of paints you should consider.

  • Latex paints are ideal if you are looking for general coverage with a fast-drying, durable finish. They work well on both interior and exterior surfaces.
  • Acrylic paint for wood crafts have the same qualities as latex paints and can also be used on unfinished wood crafts. These paints dry more quickly than latex paints and are easy to clean up.
  • Oil-based paints are available in both gloss and matte finishes. These paints work well on unfinished wood crafts but require a longer drying time and a more thorough clean up process.
  • Spray paint is another option for painting unfinished wood crafts. Spray paint is available in both oil-based and acrylic varieties and provides even coverage with little effort.

Before you start painting, decide what kind of look you are going for on your craft project. There are two basic ways to paint your unfinished wooden craft project.

The first is to use acrylic craft paint, which dries quickly and gives a bright color. The second is to use the color wash method using watered down acrylic craft paint, which makes the grain stand out more and gives the piece an aged look.

How to Prepare Wood Surfaces Before Painting Unfinished Crafts

Painting unfinished wood crafts is an easy and inexpensive way to create a personalized decor item. By following a few steps, you can create your own art or give new life to old home decor items.

Remove or cover hardware if applicable.

Use a screwdriver or hammer, if necessary, to remove any hardware on the wood surface. Place all screws and other hardware in a cup or bag so they will not get lost.

Prepare the Surface

  • Clean the surface with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser and rinse thoroughly with water. Let dry completely before painting.
  • If there are imperfections in the wood such as knots or rough spots, apply wood filler with a putty knife and let it dry before sanding.
  • Sand the wood craft with fine-grit sandpaper. This helps the paint adhere better to the wood and gets rid of any splinters that might snag on clothing or scratch skin.

After sanding, wipe off the surface with a tack cloth to remove any dust before painting.

Prime the Surface

To seal the wood:

  • Apply a coat of shellac-based primer with a paintbrush or roller.
  • Let the primer dry completely,
  • Sand and wipe off any dust before applying more coats.

You may need as many as three coats of primer to fully cover the surface and prevent bleeding through from the wood’s grain pattern.

The important thing to remember is you should use a good primer on your wood projects before painting them.

Primer will give your piece of furniture an even coat of paint, which will allow you to have smooth coverage on top of any rough spots where the grain may show through.


Paint your wooden craft with acrylic paints after priming it. Acrylic paints will give you more coverage than tempura paint, but both can be used successfully on wood crafts. Use a foam brush for best results because it doesn’t leave brush marks in your paint like other brushes do.

Decorate unfinished wood crafts with craft acrylic paint using synthetic paintbrushes specifically designed for use with acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is water based so you can clean brushes easily using soap and water between colors or projects.

Acrylics can also be mixed to create custom colors or shades, which is ideal when you have a specific color scheme in mind for your unfinished wood craft project.

Preparing Your Workspace for a Painting Project

Before you start to paint unfinished wood crafts, make sure your work space is ready.

  • Remove the contents of all drawers, and set them aside.
  • If you don’t have a dedicated work area outside, cover your work surface with a drop cloth.
  • Next, put down two or three layers of newspaper on top of the drop cloth.
  • Use painter’s tape to temporarily secure the drop cloth and newspaper to your work surface so they don’t move while you’re working.
  • Open windows to ensure proper ventilation.

Lastly, get rid of fire sources, or potential causes, as the chemicals in paints may be flammable.

Final Words

Painting unfinished wood crafts can be fun and the results are often very satisfying.

It is best to go slow and steady, especially when painting smaller projects.

If you are new to painting or are a bit rusty, it will help to do some research online before you start, especially if you’re considering a residential painting service. There is a lot of information out there to help you with your project, whether you plan to DIY or hire professionals.

Happy Painting!

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