How to Stain Wood with Acrylic Paint

How to stain wood with acrylic paint.  Great for those times when you don’t have a regular water base wood stain available and you need to get a project done. Great for pallet wood projects

How to stain wood with acrylic paint, easy and budget-friendly.

Sometimes I don’t have a stain on hand to use when I am ready to start a project and I want a stained wood finish. I have to improvise and this is how I do it.

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Wood boards being stained with acrylic paint with text, pamelagroppe.com

Why use acrylic paint instead of stain?

Sometimes I start on a project and realize I don’t have everything I need, so I improvise. 

This simple trick is easy, fast drying, and does a good job of staining wood for my hand-painted signs or rustic painting projects.

This is a small wood square cut from a 1 x 6 pine board. I am going to paint a design on it but I want a wood stain background.

How to stain wood using acrylics

Mix a bit of Burnt Umber paint with some water, I don’t have a specific ratio to give you. 

I mix the two until it is kind of liquid.  I would say that it is 1/3 water 2/3 paint.

Brush it on as evenly as you can making swift strokes along with the grain of the wood. 

In these first strokes, I could tell the stain was a bit thick so I had to add more water.

In the video, I mix up a larger batch in a small jar as I was staining larger pieces of wood.

And that is how I stain wood with acrylic paint.

I have all my pieces stained and I didn’t have to make an extra trip to the paint store for wood stain. 

You can also stain in colors if you wish.  Do some test pieces and find one you really like.

Burnt Umber is my go-to choice for a dark wood finish.

What wood to stain with acrylics

I don’t think this would be advisable on a large wood project if you are wanting a consistent color overall.

For the background from my signs or other rustic art projects, it works well.

The inconsistent nuances add to the rustic appeal of my hand-painted designs. 

If there is a spot I don’t like, (the orange on the right block above) then I cover it with the painted design.

And that is pretty much it! Easy wasn’t it?

If you want to paint a Faux Wood Background hop on over to my tutorial.

Here is a painting tutorial I did on a wood background using this method to stain.

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Happy Painting!

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  1. Hi I read that using baby wipes gives a more even coating. I gave it a try and I was surprised how well it came out. No need to water it down the wipes are all ready wet.

    1. I haven’t tried that but my only concern would be the ingredients in the wipes affecting the reliability of the paint. Some things can tamper with the integrity of acrylics making them either not adhere well or affect their colorfastness. Make sense?

    2. I have successfully used paper towel. Works well! Fold it into a brush shape and the wipe on the stain and wipe it off quickly.

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