How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Clay? Air Dry and Polymer 

DIY clay crafting is a common and favorite hobby among beginners as well as professionals. You can go for mineral clay or polymer clay to show off your creativity. 

Adding colors and designs to the craft gives an extra stunning look to your artwork. However, preserving this coloring and designing for longer needs sealing. 

This blog will specifically talk about how to seal acrylic paint on clay whether it’s air dry or polymer.  

When it comes to sealing acrylic paint on clay, the key lies in choosing the right sealants and employing the correct application methods. With a properly sealed clay surface, your paint will retain its vibrant colors and withstand everyday wear and tear.

Read this post for a detailed step-by-step procedure. Moreover, you’ll learn what sealers are available for you to utilize on clay and what other alternatives can work the same way.

Thanks to Joanna Zhou (a famous artist with the Youtube channel Maqaroon who shares a tutorial and DIY videos related to clay sculptures) for collaborating with our team of professional painters and artists to enhance our knowledge of sealing clay. 

What Can You Use To Seal Acrylic Paint On Clay?

When it comes to sealing polymer or air-dried clay, you have several options. Some are commonly used sealants that are made specifically for protection purposes, while others are alternatives. I’ve discussed both below:  

  • Acrylic Varnish

Varnishes are specifically developed to protect and seal paintings. They can be found in gloss, satin, and matte finishes. Varnishing acrylic paint on clay will not only protect it but also provide a desirable finish.  

  • Clear Polyurethane

Clear polyurethane is a durable sealant often used for wood surfaces, but it can also be applied to clay. When using polyurethane on acrylic paint, choose a water-based option and apply it with a brush. 

  • Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resin provides a thick, glossy, and highly protective coating. It can be applied to clay by mixing equal parts of resin and hardener. I recommend you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as the curing process may involve mixing, pouring, and heat application. 

  • Mod Podge

Mod Podge is a branded and very common craft painting sealer. It works well on many surfaces, but can you use a Mod Podge to seal clay? Yes, it is a popular sealant that works well on clay. It comes in different desirable finishes including gloss, matte, and satin, and provides your clay sculptures with long-lasting protection.  

Alternatives of Traditional Sealants For Clay

Well, you can also try out the following alternative options for protecting your clay structures. But keep in mind these alternatives may have different characteristics and finishes compared to traditional sealants, so you better test them on a small area or a test piece before applying them to your entire clay project.

  • Beeswax

Beeswax can be used as a natural sealant for clay. Melt the beeswax using a double boiler or a heat-resistant container in a pot of simmering water. Once melted, apply a thin layer of beeswax onto the clay surface using a brush or cloth. The beeswax will create a protective barrier and add a subtle sheen to the clay.

  • Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is a natural oil that can be used to seal and protect clay. Apply a small amount of linseed oil onto a cloth and rub it onto the clay surface in a circular motion. Allow it to soak in, and then wipe off any excess oil. Linseed oil will not only enhance the colors but provide a gentle sheen to the clay as well.

  • Shellac

Shellac is a sticky substance derived from insects and dissolved in alcohol. It can be used as a sealant for clay to provide a protective layer. You will have to mix shellac flakes with denatured alcohol according to the manufacturer’s instructions to create a shellac solution. 

  • Soy Wax

Soy wax can be used as a natural and non-toxic alternative to sealants for clay. You will need to melt the soy wax in a double boiler or a heat-resistant container in a pot of simmering water, followed by applying a thin layer of the melted soy wax onto the clay surface using a brush or cloth. Once it cools and solidifies, it will create a protective coating.

  • PVA Glue

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue can also be used as an alternative sealant for clay. PVA glue is a water-based adhesive that dries clear and creates a protective layer on the clay surface. 

How To Seal Air Dry Clay? Step By Step Procedure 

Once you pick up a specific sealant, as I mentioned above, next is how to accurately protect the paint on your clay object. Below is a beginner guide for sealing your air-dried clay:

Step 1: Get The Necessary Supplies

You’ll require the following simple supplies for sealing air dried clay:

  • Air-dried clay object
  • Acrylic paint
  • Clear acrylic sealer (spray or brush-on)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water (for cleaning brushes)
  • Newspaper or drop cloth (to protect your work surface)

Step 2: Prepare Your Working Area

Try to select a well-ventilated area for your clay painting and sealing, as the products contain strong-smelling fumes. I usually prefer working near a window or outside on my lawn.

Lay down newspaper or a cloth that you don’t mind if it gets dirty to protect your work surface from any potential paint or sealer spills.

Step 3: Paint Your Clay Object 

Using acrylic paint, apply your desired colors to the air-dried clay object. You can use a variety of brushes and techniques to achieve different effects and details. 

It is best to let the paint air dry very well before going to the main step of sealing. If the paint is still wet and you start sealing it, you’ll definitely spoil your work. 

Step 4: Apply The First Layer Of Sealer

Once the paint is dry, apply the first layer of clear acrylic sealer or any sealant option from the list I’ve discussed above. 

You can choose between a spray or brush-on sealer, depending on what suits you. If using a brush-on sealer, make sure to use a clean brush dedicated to the sealer application. 

Apply an even, thin coat of sealer over the painted surface and cover the entire object. If your object has small grooves, switch to a more fit and accurately sized brush to reach the inside of the groove.   

Moreover, avoid applying the sealer too thickly, as it may cause the paint to crack or bubble. 

On the other hand, if you’re opting for a spray sealant for clay, it is quite easy and straightforward. Just put on goggles, gloves, and a mask as personal protection, shake the spray well, and hold it a few inches away from the object. 

Start spraying by moving the object or spraying back and forth. Once you’re done, leave it for drying. 

Step 5: Sand Between The Layers (optional)

If you want an extra smooth finish, you can lightly sand the surface of the sealed object using fine-grit sandpaper. However, it is crucial to know how to sand

This step is optional and can help remove any imperfections or brush strokes. Remember to wipe away any dust with a cloth or a cleaning brush before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Apply Additional Layers of Sealer

After the first layer of sealant is dried and sanded (optional), apply additional thin layers on your clay object. This, in fact, helps to get you a durable finish. 

I usually recommend applying at least 2 layers for better coverage and protection. 

Step 7: Allow The Sealed Clay Dry

After applying the final layer of sealer, allow your clay object to cure according to the sealer’s instructions. This will ensure that the sealer fully hardens and protects the paint.

Once the sealer has fully cured, your acrylic-painted clay object should have a protective and glossy finish. Remember to handle your sealed object with care to prevent scratches or damage to the surface. 

How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Polymer Clay? 

Polymer clay is a synthetic formulation that mimics mineral clay. It is used for modeling and crafting and then hardened in an oven to conserve the structure.  

Sealing acrylic paint on polymer clay follows the same process as I discussed earlier for air-dry clay. You can go through above mentioned steps if you want to protect the design and paintings on your polymer sculptures. 

How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Ceramic?  

In order to seal acrylic paint on ceramic or pottery made with clay, you can go either for sealants or baking. 

You can apply products such as clear acrylic sealer, special kinds of adhesives such as super glue, or coat the object with clear lacquer.  

Another way is baking the clay-made potter or ceramic in an oven for a few hours so that the paint is cured and protected.  


What is the best way to seal clay?

The best way to seal your clay crafts and make them resistant to UV rays, harsh environmental factors, and scratches is by using a clear acrylic sealer or polyurethane. They will make the surface transparent and nonporous, restricting different elements from reaching the painted clay.  

Does acrylic paint stay on clay?

Acrylic paint adheres and can stay on clay, but it is recommended to seal it for additional protection. This will prevent the paint from chipping or flaking. 

How do you keep acrylic paint from peeling off clay?

If you want to keep acrylic paint from peeling off your clay objects or crafts, varnish the paint or use a clear sealant as a top coat. This will ensure the protection of the paint from harsh environments, reducing the chances of peeling. 

How to seal acrylic paint on a clay pot?

To seal clay pots after painting, use a spray sealer. It is a fast and convenient way to protect your painted pots from weathering and UV rays. Hold the spray a few inches away from the pot and move it over it from all angles to cover the surface entirely. Apply at least 2 layers for better coverage and protection. 

Conclusion – How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Clay

Whether you opt for a spray or brush-on sealer, make sure to follow the instructions above, go along the manufacturer’s suggestions, and allow sufficient drying time between each coat. 

With proper sealing, your acrylic-painted clay pieces will withstand the test of time and allow you to admire and enjoy your artistic efforts for years to come.

Jose Scott

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