Do You Need to Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting? With Easy Step




Are you going to take on a new DIY project with your air dry clay? One important question you might have is – do you need to seal air dry clay before painting? Well,

Do You Need to Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting

Yes, it is generally recommended to seal air-dry clay before painting it. Sealing the clay helps create a smooth surface, prevents the absorption of moisture, and improves the adhesion of paint. However, how do you seal air dry? Read on to find out all the details.

Definition Of Air Dry Clay Sealing 

For those of us who love art & want to make something special, the first thing that comes to mind is air dry clay. We all know that air clay, either earthen clay polymer clay or any type of clay, is a multipurpose material. By using this, you can create any projects you want. But those who are perfectly using sealing in their clay project are unique from all of them.

Air dry clay sealing is a process used to protect and preserve air dry clay projects. This technique involves applying a sealant, typically a varnish or lacquer, to the surface of the clay after it has dried completely. The sealant also prevents moisture from penetrating and causing damage. Sealing your air dry clay can enhance your project’s durability and longevity and also give your dry clay projects a glossy finish.

It also helps in maintaining the color and texture of your projects over time. There are many kinds of sealing available in the market. Different types of sealing provide you with different finishes, such as glossy, matte, or satin, depending on the type of sealant you use. The process of sealing your air dry is very simple. 

Do You Need To Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting?

You must be wondering: do I have to seal air dry clay before I start painting it?Yes, it’s generally recommended to seal air-dry clay before painting. Sealing the clay helps to create a smooth surface. Now, another question might be circling your mind: how to seal paint on clay.

Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting

You do not need to worry even a bit about that because you are at the right place to find the answer.  There are various sealers available for this purpose, such as acrylic sealer, Mod Podge, and varnish. Acrylic sealer for air dry clay is a very common sealer that many use on air dry clay before putting any color on it. 

Here’s A Simple Guide On How To Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting:

A Simple Guide On How To Seal Air Dry Clay Before Painting

1. Ensure your Clay is Completely Dry: 

Ensure that the air-dry clay is dry before applying any sealant. This may take a day or more, depending on the thickness of your project.

2. Smooth the Surface:

If there are any rough spots or imperfections on the dried clay surface, you can sand them lightly to create a smoother finish. It helps to create a smooth surface. You can use hot glue on air dry clay. It also gives you a smooth texture.

3. Choose a Sealer:

Select a suitable sealer for your project. Clear acrylic sealers or varnishes are normally used. Make sure the sealer is compatible with the type of paint you plan to use.

4. Apply the Sealer: 

Before using your sealer, follow the instructions, then use a brush or sponge to apply the sealer evenly over the entire surface of the dried clay. Allow it to dry completely.

Note: Always follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer of the sealer you choose, as different sealers may have different application and drying requirements. It is better to test the sealer on a small area of your project before applying it to the entire surface.

5. Sand Again (Optional):

This is completely optional, but I used it, and it gave my project more smother. After the sealer has dried, you may choose to lightly sand the surface again to ensure it is smooth and ready for painting.

6. Painting:

If your sealer is dry, you can proceed with painting your project. The sealed surface will provide a better foundation for the paint and will help prevent the clay from absorbing the pigment.

Benefits Of Sealing Air Dry Clay Before Painting

Sealing your air dry clay before painting offers several benefits there are many benefits I got from my project that is:

Benefits Of Sealing Air Dry Clay Before Painting

1. Smooth Surface: 

Sealing creates a smoother surface by filling in any pores or imperfections in the clay. I hope this results in a more even and refined finish for your painted project.

2. Improved Paint Adhesion:

Sealing provides a better surface for paint adhesion. The sealed surface prevents the paint from being absorbed too quickly into the porous clay, allowing you more control over the application and ensuring the paint adheres well.

3. Prevents Paint Absorption:

Air-dry clay is porous, and without sealing, it can absorb paint unevenly, leading to a blotchy or inconsistent appearance. Sealing creates a barrier, reducing the clay’s absorption of paint and allowing for a more vibrant and uniform color application.

4. Durability: 

The most important thing. Sealing adds a protective layer to the surface of the clay, helping to protect it from scratches, abrasions, and other potential damage. This can enhance the overall durability and longevity of your finished project.

5. Easier to Clean:

A sealed surface is often easier to clean than unsealed clay. If you’re planning to touch your project a lot or if it might get dirty, using a sealer makes it easier to keep it clean and looking good. 

6. Protection Against Moisture:

Sealing helps keep your project safe from water. Even though air-dry clay can handle some moisture, using a sealer adds an extra layer of protection. It makes your creation stronger and better able to handle different weather conditions.

7. Enhances Colors:

Sealing can enhance the vibrancy and richness of the colors you apply. It can also help you prevent the colors from appearing dull or muted due to the absorption of paint into the porous clay.

How To Seal Air-Dry Clay: A Beginner’s Guide

Sealing air dry clay is an essential step in the creation process, as it helps to protect your piece from moisture and damage. Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to seal air dry clay:

Materials Needed:

  • Air Dry Clay
  • Acrylic Paint (optional)
  • Sealant (Mod Podge, Clear Varnish, or Polyurethane)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sandpaper


1. Create Your Piece: 

First, you need to create your piece out of air clay and let it dry completely according to the package instructions.

2. Sand Your Piece: 

Once your piece is completely dried, use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges or surfaces.

3. Clean Your Piece: 

After sanding, clean off any dust with a damp cloth and let it dry again.

4. Paint Your Piece(Optional): 

If you want to add color to your piece before sealing it, now is the time! Use acrylic paint and let each layer of paint fully dry before adding another one. You can use nail polish on air dry clay.

5. Apply The Sealant: 

Once your paint has dried (if you choose this option), apply a thin layer of sealant using a brush over the entire surface of your clay project.

Note: Remember to clean your brushes immediately after use to prevent the sealant from hardening on them.

6:Let It Dry: 

Allow the sealant layer time to fully cure according to the instructions on its packaging before handling or displaying your finished project. For early drying, you can use a hair dryer on air dry clay.

7: Apply Additional Coats (Optional): 

Depending on how much protection you want for your piece, you may choose to apply additional coats of sealant after each previous coat has dried thoroughly.

What Is The Best Sealant For Air Dry Clay?

The answer to these questions may vary due to the availability of sealers. In general acrylic sealer works best on air dry clay due to its glossy finish on your clay creation, durable seal, and water-resistant effect. But you can use mod podge or varnishes also.

What Is The Best Sealant For Air Dry Clay

Tips To Enhance The Longevity Of Air Dry Clay Paint

After completing the project, the first matter I thought of was longevity. Here are some tips that I want to share with my readers. It will be helpful.

1. Seal the Clay: 

After painting your air-dry clay, it’s essential to seal it to protect the paint and enhance its longevity.

2. Use High-Quality Paint: 

The quality of paint you use on your air dry clay also affects its longevity. Painting air dry clay with acrylic paints is usually recommended because of their longevity. But you can also use markers on air dry clay. There might be different qualities of acrylic paints; you should use the best acrylic paint for air dry clay.

3. Apply Multiple Coats: 

Applying multiple thin coats of paint instead of one thick coat can help the paint last longer.

4. Allow Proper Drying Time: 

It’s crucial to let each layer of paint dry completely before applying another one, as this will prevent the layers from mixing and ensure that each layer adheres properly. If you use oil paint on air dry clay. Then, it will take a long time to dry.

5. Store Properly: 

Once painted, store your air clay in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and cracking over time.

6. Avoid Water Exposure: 

Try not to expose your painted air-dry clay pieces to water or moisture. Because of air dry clay holding water as a result, the paint peels off or fades faster.

7. Use Primer Before Painting: 

Using a primer before painting can help create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere better, enhancing its longevity.

8. Handle with Care: 

Handle your painted air-dry clay pieces gently because rough handling can cause chips and cracks in the paint over time.

9. Regular Maintenance: 

Regularly dusting off any dirt or debris on your painted piece will keep it looking fresh and vibrant for longer periods.

1o.Clean Before Painting: 

Make sure that you clean any dust or oil from your hands off of the piece before starting with primer/paint so that there is no interference with the adhesion process.

Painting Your Clay Sculpture

After drying and sealing the air dry clay sculpture, you might be thinking, What paint to use on air dry clay?”Painting and glazing air dry clay is the most interesting part of your clay sculpture.

You can use different kinds of paints such as acrylic paint, oil paint, tempera paint, acrylic markers, etc. Make sure not to paint on the wet clay. Use bright colors to make the clay piece more vivid. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you paint air dry clay before it dries?

If you paint air dry clay before it dries completely, the moisture from the paint can cause the clay to become soft again, which may lead to deformation or damage of your sculpture. 

Can you use Mod Podge to seal air dry clay?

Yes, you can use Mod Podge to seal air dry clay. It provides a protective coating that is why your clay saves from damage, and it gives your project a nice finish.

Can you paint directly on air dry clay?

Yes, you can paint directly on air dry clay. However, it is recommended to seal the clay with a clear sealer or varnish before painting to prevent moisture from affecting the paint.

Can you use washable paint on air dry clay?

Yes, you can use washable paint on air dry clay. However, it’s recommended to seal the clay with a clear sealer or varnish after painting and drying to protect the paint job.

Can you paint air dry clay before it dries?

No, it’s not recommended to paint air dry clay before it dries. The moisture in the clay can prevent the paint from adhering properly and may cause it to peel or flake off once the clay is fully dried.


The choice of whether to seal a dry clay sculpture is a decision of the artist himself. Some might like it in just the texture of the clay as it is and some might want it in glossy and sealed texture. However, artists make experiments on their sculptures to find the best look.

About the author

Written By

William Prince

William Prince

Meet William Prince!

With over 20 years of ceramic artistry experience, William Prince is not just a skilled potter; he’s a passionate guide to your pottery journey. William holds a Fine Arts degree specialized in pottery and he was also nurtured under the guidance of renowned potters. With over two decades of experience, he seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary aesthetics.

William’s inspiration stems from nature’s imperfections, translating them into unique, organic pottery pieces. As a patient and warm-hearted teacher, he’s known for conducting pottery workshops and classes, nurturing talents with his expertise. Join William on “” and let his mastery inspire your own pottery adventure. Uncover the magic of crafting pottery with a trusted mentor who’s dedicated to both the art and the artist.

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