Here at Homebody Hall, we believe with a little creativity and a lot of determination, you can make a fabulous piece of acrylic pour art out of just about anything. That includes your side tables or your dining table! Now, I’ll be very honest, painting furniture with acrylic paint is not my first choice. For furniture, I typically recommend chalk paint or oil-based paint. It just wears better with less effort. However, with proper prepping and sealing, you can create a stunning piece of furniture that will wow for years to come.
In this tutorial, we’ll be sprucing up a DIY, 8-foot, plywood dining table with a marbled acrylic pour paint runner. We’re performing a Dutch Pour technique, which involves utilizing air to move paint in a precise manner. This creates intricate veins and fades, resembling natural marble. The technique is very versatile. You can paint Ikea laminate countertops, any tabletop, or even flooring. Let’s dive in!
Get your bearings!
Using the Dutch Pour technique on a large surface is a rather advanced acrylic pour paint idea. If you’ve never dallied in the medium much, we recommend educating yourself with a few of our basic tutorials before you dive into a project this size!
Take the techniques featured in our Getting Started Tab and practice on a smaller piece of wood or canvas first. Learning to thin acrylic paint with pouring medium, learning its flow tendencies, and perfecting your movements all affect the final outcome, so take some time to practice on a scrap piece.
Gather your materials.
All the materials you need for this project can be found at your local big box store and craft store. I will list the exact materials that I used on the inspiration piece, but there are some substitutions you can make. I will try to point those out as we go along.
- Multipack of varied grit sandpaper (120 and 220 at least)
- 4-inch, straight edge, paintbrush (bristle type will depend on your sealer). If using a water-based poly, get a synthetic brush. If using oil-based or shellac, get a natural bristle brush.
- 1-inch smooth foam roller
- Zinser shellac-based primer– Any primer will do, but for painting on wood, I suggest a shellac-based primer because it sticks to anything, and any paint sticks to it. Plus, it helps block stains and seals in sap from leaking wood knots.
- 1 quart of white semi-gloss trim paint- I used Valspar Ultra White Trim Paint. You want to choose a semi-gloss or gloss for your base color.
- Black, light gray, and dark gray acrylic furniture paint-You can substitute here for cheap acrylic craft paint, Sloan chalk paint, or your favorite brand, as long as it is acrylic or latex.
- Non-yellowing Acrylic Polyurethane
- FolkArt Treasure Gold Lustre Paint
- Plastic mixing and pouring cups
- Popsicle sticks or stir sticks
- Plastic spoons
- Painter’s tape
- Paint-resistant drop cloth-large
- Waxed craft paper or heavy plastic sheeting
Alternatives and Tips
We specialize in acrylic pour painting at Homebody Hall, so we’re going to stick to acrylic paint for the tutorial. There are a few specialty acrylic furniture paint companies out there, and you can use conventional paint too. However, you will get even better effects by switching to enamels or oil-based paints. Enamel is a specialized oil-based paint that dries hard and glossy. It lasts forever, but it has cons.
Oil-based paints take ages to dry, up to 48 hours. That can be troublesome when paint pouring. White oil-based paints have a tendency to yellow eventually. They also expel harsh chemicals and smells, and therefore, require a ventilated area to paint in. Plus, if you use oil-based paint, you need to use an oil-based sealer. Choose the appropriate paint depending on your timeline, budget, and skill level.
Tip: Remember, oil can be applied over latex and acrylic, but acrylic and latex can not go over oil! If you choose to use oil or enamel paint, use an oil-based poly too.
Tip: You can use a paint/primer combination if you’re short on time. I don’t feel it works as well on raw wood as doing a separate coat of primer first, but furniture paints are getting better and better. Art is about exploration and creativity. If you want to try a primer/paint/sealer all-in-one, go for it!
Gather your tools.
Most of you won’t need to purchase any tools for this job. You can do it all by hand if you’re on a strict budget.
- An orbital sander or a hand sanding block to prep your surface.
- A hairdryer and a few plastic straws of various sizes to blow your paint veins.
- Shop-Vac (optional)
- Large level or straight line of some sort
Prepare your work area.
Unlike most of our projects, upcycling a dining table takes some space! Luckily, my dining room had ample amounts, but you may need to move your table to the garage. You need a well-ventilated area, especially if you’ll be using enamels. You’ll need a large drop cloth to place under your table. Don’t use a sheet as that will allow the excess paint that drips off the table to soak through to your floors. Remember, you’ll be sanding too, so think about the dust.
Step-by-Step Guide to Your Perfect Pour Paint Table Top
We’ve finally arrived at the fun part! It’s time to transform your boring table into something magnificent. You’ll be tempted to jump into mixing paint, and I totally get the excitement, but stave it off for a bit. The trick to properly painted furniture is prepping your surface well.
Step 1: Prep your surface!
Preparing the surface is the most important part of any furniture painting project. If your table has been previously stained, painted, or sealed, you’ll need to sand that finish off. Use your hand sander or orbital sander with 100 or 120-grit sandpaper until you have a clean finish. Pay attention to the wood grain and always sand, paint, and apply sealer going with the direction of the grain. You may want to wear a dust mask during this phase.
Tip: If you love the finish of your table currently, then you don’t want to sand the whole thing. You’ll want to perform steps three and four first. Then sand only the center area where you’ll be pouring your runner.
Step 2: Clean your surface thoroughly.
Use your Shop-Vac or a small broom and dustpan to clean up the dust. Then, clean the table with a damp rag and allow it to dry. I recommend performing a second light sanding with 220-grit sandpaper. The second sanding can be done quickly by hand. It just ensures a smoother finish. Clean again until all traces of dust are gone. It’s important that no dust particles remain on your table or in the air. They will cause bubbles and bumps to form when you apply your paint.
Step 3: Apply your primer.
Decide how wide you want your runner to be. My table is 4 feet wide, and I chose an 18-inch runner. Measure from the edge of your table and make a few marks in pencil down the length of the table. These marks will help you get a straight line when applying your painter’s tape.
For instance, if you want the edge of your runner to be 15 inches from the edge of the table, measure 15 inches in and make a mark. Move down 6-8 inches and do it again, until you’ve covered the length of the table. Then, do it all again on the other side. Line up your level or straight stick and connect the tick marks to make a straight line. Don’t mark it heavily, just a light pencil line will do.
Once you have your lines, stretch a strip of your favorite painter’s tape along the marks. Press it down thoroughly and ensure there are no gaps or bubbles. Using your smooth roller, apply a coat of shellac-based primer, and allow it to start drying. Remember to go with the wood grain.
Step 4: Prepare for paint pouring.
You could always apply your first layer of paint with a brush or roller, but since we are addicted to pouring paint, we’re going to take an extra step so we can get messy. Use your thick, plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to cover the rest of your table, outside of the runner area you’ll be working on. Make sure it’s sealed well at the edges. You don’t want paint leaking onto the other parts of your table.
Step 5: Prepare your paint mixtures.
You will need to thin your paint for pouring to make sure it doesn’t crack as it dries. I used a mixture of Floetrol and paint, with two parts pouring medium, and one part paint. Your mixture quotient will depend on the quality, age, and density of your paint. Typically, you want a warm honey consistency.
Mix each paint color separately in a plastic cup with your popsicle stick. Mix well, but not vigorously. You don’t want to introduce air bubbles. You will need to mix a larger portion of the white paint. I suggest using a quart-sized container at least.
For more paint-thinning tips and tricks, check out “How to Thin Acrylic Paint for Acrylic Pouring.”
Step 6: Pour your base coat.
Walk the length of your table and pour your semi-gloss white paint into your designated runner area. Ensure that the whole area is covered and that excess paint completely covers the edge of the table at each end. On my table, I chose to have the ends stained instead of marbled. To get this look, simply tape off the end of the table so that paint flows over the tape and doesn’t get on the wood.
Step 7: Pour your veins.
With your plastic cups and spoon, strategically pour thin veins of each of your other paint colors. I started with my black, using only a few, then mixed in the lighter shades of gray. Use your hair dryer on the cool, low setting to blow out the veins. I also recommend using the concentrator attachment for a more precise airflow. For even more detail, use a straw at a 45-degree angle and blow lightly.
The passage of air over the paint, causes it to spread out and mix with the white base, resulting in a feathered effect. The more you work it, the wider and fainter your veins will become. If you want to add golden veins or speckles to your runner, now is the time to do it. You can pour veins just like the other colors, or you can use a small paintbrush to flick speckles into the wet paint.
Step 8: Seal it up.
Acrylic pour paint typically takes 24 hours (72 if using enamel paints) to dry thoroughly, but it depends on the atmospheric conditions. Allow your paint to dry until hard to the touch, with no tacky spots (and then give it a few more hours for good measure). I prefer to remove all my painter’s tape and plastic barriers and place a new layer of sealant on the entire table. This prevents thickness in the runner and ensures that the table looks uniform.
Tip: After removing the painter’s tape, you’ll likely have small areas of bleed. Use a razor blade or your fingernail to gently remove them. Then apply some stain that matches the rest of your table to cover the bleeds.
When applying poly, you want to use long vertical strokes and avoid overworking the sealant. Visible brush strokes and clotting occur with short strokes and too many passes. Make sure your brush is well-coated and stays saturated during your passes.
I suggest at least two, if not three, coats of sealer, allowing it to dry thoroughly between coats. The real pros will even give it the most subtle sanding with some 400-grit sandpaper in between coats. Applying acrylic poly is a bit easier. It doesn’t clot as much, but it does dry faster. You still need to move quickly and avoid overworking to prevent brush strokes.
Tip: You can also use a self-leveling epoxy or resin as your clearcoat. This will produce a thick, shiny, and highly resistant finish. Epoxy is expensive, but it produces a luxurious finish that will last forever. Epoxy mixes are sold at Lowes and Home Depot. Just follow the instructions on the box and pour over the entire surface of your table, allowing it to flow over the edges. You may need to take a small paintbrush or popsicle stick to help coat the edges completely.
Step 9: Decorate and enjoy!
Your dining room upcycling project has come to an end, and boy is it fabulous! Allow your table to cure for three to four days before placing anything on it. Acrylic paint has a tendency to stick to objects when it’s not allowed to properly cure.
Closing Thoughts on Painting Furniture with Acrylic Paint
Painting furniture with acrylic paint may not be the top choice, but with enough preparation, you can produce a stunning and long-lasting piece. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on high-dollar specialized paints, use the conventional paints you have, good technique, and a strong sealer. With this method, you can give mass-produced Ikea furniture a unique twist, update your countertops (stay tuned for more on that in our next tutorial), or give an old side table a new life. Get creative. The options are endless.
Remember, the Dutch pour is one of the more detailed pour painting techniques. It’s not difficult, but if you have it in your budget, I would recommend mixing your paints and practicing on a spare piece of wood before tackling your table. This will allow you to play with the intensity and angle of your airflow, get just the right consistency, and experiment with vein patterns. Most importantly… have fun! If it’s a disaster, you can always sand it down and start again!
For more wild acrylic pour ideas, check out our entire section of non-canvas acrylic paint pouring ideas!
Now…go forth and pour!