Beginner seeks general paint advice

Hey folks, suggestions for paint and stains? I just walked into my local craft store and was overwhelmed with options! Bought one jar of pickling wash, because it was the last one in my favorite color. :slight_smile: I don’t even know what it is! How should a beginner proceed? My ideas are all over the place, so that’s not making it easier.


I understand, 3 days after getting my GF (just a couple of months ago) my wife spent a saturday taking me around to Hobby Lobby, Michael’s & other craft stores.

Now I’m getting digital coupons from their apps, constantly picking up unique pieces of wood etc. Liv’in the addiction. :+1:


My suggestion, although it’s not going to FEEL terribly helpful, is to figure out what you want to do first, and then get paint/stain to go with it. Otherwise you end up with a room full of items you don’t need for projects you may never tackle. This is from personal experience.

What do you want to paint? What is it made out of? Where is it going to go? Is it going to be handled a lot or hung on a wall? Inside or outside?


I got small jars of acrylic from Target. It’s the best source I have around and they work well for the small bits I paint, usually infilling text engraves or something.

But I know nothing about paint. Nothing mission critical needed.


Indoor things to hang. Some will be small pieces - some very small - and others will will be larger and require a lot more paint to cover. Ideas?

YouTube to the rescue! I learned a lot about acrylics over the last few days. Do any of you use heavy body paints with your laser projects? I’m leaning toward soft body, which appears to be best for most crafts, but also wondering in what contacts high flow and acrylic inks might be useful.

Also, does anyone gesso their pieces first to make a nice surface? Do you ever use any of the gel mediums, perhaps to extend your paint? What do you put on at the end to seal your work?

I see your other post, but I’d just get some decent quality craft acrylics. If you’re using draftboard or MDF, though, you’ll probably want to prime them first as the paint just soaks in.

A pickle wash should color the wood, but allow the grain to show through. Almost like a stain.

As for your other questions, it’s all really project-specific. I don’t use gel mediums, but I just use craft acrylic, not the thicker acrylic for painting on canvas (I think I actually have gel medium, but haven’t opened it and can’t remember why I got it). And I rarely have to seal acrylic for my uses. But if you needed something to be waterproof, or if it was going to be handled a lot, maybe you’d want a finish.

When you envision a project, it should inform the finish. I am a craft supply junkie, so I have all sorts of crazy things hanging around. I envision what I want it to look like, and then I figure out how to make it happen. Sometimes while I’m out and about I see something that creates a finish that I think will be cool and I buy it to play. But I don’t really suggest worrying about all the options out there until you need them for something. Just make something and go from there.


Great advice! Thanks!


if you are doing pours, or using a syringe to inject color, you might be better off with high flow. You certainly don’t want to put heavy body acrylic into an airbrush.

I gesso occasionally, if I know I’m going to hand-paint something later. I’ll use traditional gesso and a brush if I want the brush texture, or aerosol gesso if I want a thinner coating with a uniform surface.

So… Artist-quality/professional-grade paint vs. Student-grade paint: I was about to write up a thing about paint quality/price, but realized that it has already been written plenty of times. Here is a decent one:


This topic was automatically closed 32 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.