Can You Paint Over PVA Glue? [SOLVED]

Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue works as a great pouring medium. The question, though, is whether or not you can (or should) paint over it with acrylic paints. If you came to DreamyHome wondering if you can paint over PVA glue, you’re in the right place. Today we’re going to talk about whether or not you can, whether you should, and give a few helpful additional tips, just to be safe.

Can you paint over PVA glue? The short answer is yes.

While the basic question has been answered, there are a few things to keep in mind. Let’s dig into it, shall we?

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Can You Paint Over PVA Glue (and Why)?

PVA is rather popular with painters due to its texture and composition when mixed with acrylic paints, and its sturdy yet flexible dried state. Add in that it’s surprisingly inexpensive and easy to make at home, and you can see why people may want to do so.

In short, yes, you can paint with acrylic over PVA glue. However, professional painters (for homes) don’t use PVA for a reason.

Specifically, professionals don’t use PVA because it can cause damage when used to seal the plaster. Additionally, there are just better, more specialised products out there that are designed to do what we’re talking about – it’s called primer. Add in that paint can peel and chip very quickly if treated with PVA before application (improperly), and you can see why this is a slightly complicated answer.

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Tips For Using PVA

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what to do and not do if you decide to use PVA for a painting.

  1. Mixing acrylic and PVA glue – It’s okay to make pouring paint by mixing the two. Just remember to mix the paint, glue, and water together, adjusting for consistency.
  2. Can you paint over PVA glue? Yes and no. If you’re using water-based paints, PVA creates a waterproof barrier. That means that waterborne paints won’t stick. You can remove this layer with sandpaper, a sponge, and some warm water.
  3. How long does it take to dry PVA? Generally, PVA should be allowed a full day to dry. However, it should theoretically dry in roughly thirty minutes at 25° C and 50% humidity. If you’re painting in hotter or cooler environments, more humid areas, or a poorly ventilated room, you’ll need at least two hours.
  4. Why do people use PVA glue when painting? It’s used as a primer and gesso substitute due to its low cost when made at home. Specifically, it’s popular with artists who like to paint with pour-over techniques using acrylic paints on canvas. It can also be used on drywall to good effect, resulting in a more clear colour than if you neglected primer.
  5. How do I make PVA “gesso?” It’s easy! Combine 50 grams talcum powder with equal parts white glue, such as Elmer’s or PVA and white acrylic paint (~17 grams or 1 tbsp). Now, add water until you reach the consistency you want!

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What Not to Do

Do not use PVA on a wall before it’s painted. The paint will sit on top of the PVA rather than mixing and will peel.

Instead, use 3 parts of paint to one part water, allowing it to soak into the plaster. Allow it to dry, and then paint the topcoats as usual.

When drying PVA, it’s okay to try and speed up the process, but do it right:

  1. Don’t use PVA in an unventilated area. Instead, dry it with strong air circulation. If your room in quesion has poor ventilation, throw a few extra fans in the room to help out.
  2. Don’t apply PVA in large amounts. Instead, apply it in small (1 square meter or less) areas. This will allow it to dry more quickly and prevent you from overapplying.
  3. Don’t use a hairdryer to dry the PVA. Instead, turn up the heat in your home slightly, or turn the oven to the “warm” setting.
  4. Do not do what’s pictured above. Glue doesn’t go on the floor, silly!

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Final Thoughts

While painting over PVA has its bad side, doing so properly can actually turn out really well. If you’re struggling to afford the primer you need to paint your home (or canvas), PVA is a good, DIY alternative that is affordable and easy to use. It’s important that it’s allowed to dry properly, and isn’t painted over directly.

Instead, allow it time to dry, and if possible, make a pour-over solution (as shown above) to make things easier. If you’re using acrylic paints, PVA can help as a primer, bringing more vibrant colours to life. But if you’re using water-based paints, you’re going to have a bad time. PVA acts as a waterproofed surface and can result in chipping, flaking, or outright dripping. If you choose to use PVA as a primer or gesso substitute – don’t rush it. All good things come with time, and a perfect coat of paint is an excellent example of that statement.