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How to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof

how to make air dry clay waterproof

If you love making ornaments, sculptures, or home decorations, you might want to discover some different techniques and art media. Well, using air-dry clay is one of the best options if you want to elevate your craft-making.

Anyhow, how do air-dry clay and traditional clay differ from one another? Although they can be both molded and shaped easily, air-dry clay has its distinct characteristics. Air-dry clay is a multifunctional art medium that quickly hardens and cures in an area with a normal temperature.

Unlike traditional clays, air-dry clays don’t need to undergo a firing or heating process to cure. Once they’re hard and dry, they can already be painted and decorated using your chosen art medium. If you have a rubber stamp, you can freely use it to incorporate texture and additional designs to air-dry clay.

Yes, using air-dry clay is an exceptional option as it can help you create almost anything that comes into your artistic mind. However, it’s important to make sure that every craft project you finish will be durable and long-lasting. Making it waterproof is one of the best solutions. But what are the effective ways to make air-dry clay waterproof? Read on for some tips, reminders, and instructions.

Air Dry Clay Waterproofing – Is It Possible?

This activity might be extra challenging for you because it is difficult to make air-dry clay or any object that’s made out of clay to be water-resistant. Why is that so? It’s because it can absorb moisture, and worse, once the water is absorbed, the air-dry clay will start to soften and the design of your craft project will be ruined.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to make air-dry clay waterproof. There are several ways on how to do that effectively.

How to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof with Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint can resist water. After getting your sculpture or ornament dried out completely, you can start applying a coat of acrylic paint to make it waterproof. This will help especially if the piece you’re making is meant to be displayed outdoors.

To apply the acrylic paint, you must use a high-quality brush. Make sure that it applies color very evenly. Do not use a paintbrush that’s starting to lose some bristles as it can ruin the paint.

Furthermore, once the acrylic paint dries out, you should seal it properly. Otherwise, the paint will just fade out and peel off easily. To make it completely waterproof, you can use an acrylic spray sealer.

Just remember, it is advisable to not dilute the acrylic paint with water to avoid softening the air-dry clay. Moreover, mixing acrylic paint with water might give the air-dry clay some cracks. That’s why it’s always important to use pure acrylic paint.

How to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof with Polyurethane Varnish

air dry clay waterproofing

Brushing a few layers of varnish is one of the most effective ways to protect your project against water. Varnishing your sculpture or ornament after drying out the clay will make it waterproof. One advantage of adding layers of varnish is that they’re transparent. Meaning, you can varnish your project even after it’s painted.

One of the best kinds of varnish is polyurethane varnish. It can help your sculpture or ornament withstand water as this type of varnish is normally used in yachts and other outdoor decorations.
If you want to learn how to varnish your project properly, follow the steps below:

  • Prepare a clear polyurethane varnish
  • Place your sculpture or ornament on a non-porous surface such as tile, glass, or plastic
  • Use an old paintbrush for varnishing
  • Gently slide the varnish brush onto your project and make sure to cover all of the areas
  • Let the varnish completely dry out for several hours
  • Once the varnish dries out, add another layer of varnish to your project
  • Once the second layer of varnish dries out, add the last layer of varnish to give it utmost protection
  • Leave it to dry for several hours and your sculpture or ornament should be waterproof already

Following these steps can help your project be protected against water and dust. Varnishing can add a lot of benefits. It can increase the longevity and durability of the air-dry clay.

Other Tips on How to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof

Aside from the effective ways we discussed earlier, you can also make air-dry clay waterproof with a different method. You will just need to use a few things such as waterproof wood glue, acrylic paint, thin-set mortar, house paint, and polyurethane spray and you can make your sculpture or ornament waterproof. You can follow the steps below:

  • Mix waterproof wood glue with acrylic paint equally. The main objective of this step is to make the wood glue a little diluted with acrylic paint. Apply the mixture onto your project and let it dry for 1 day.
  • Combine 4 to 6 spoons of thin-set mortar with 1 to 2 spoons of water. Mix it continuously until the mixture gets thicker. Once done, apply the mixture onto your project with an old paintbrush. Make sure to cover each area.
  • To seal the thin-set mortar layer, gently apply a layer of house paint. It is advisable to use glossy house paint to make the air-dry clay extra water-resistant.
  • To decorate your project, apply acrylic paint. Make sure to use a good brush to make the paint evenly distributed.
  • Use a polyurethane spray to seal it. Let your project dry out for several hours and it should be waterproof already.

If you’re planning to display your project outdoors for a very long time, it is very wise to follow this method. You’ll be certain that your air-dry clay project will last for a very long time.


Making air-dry clay waterproof is not an easy task to do but it will be worth it once you’re finished. Every sculpture or ornament you make deserves to be maintained properly. It would be a waste if you’re not going to keep your project well-protected. Therefore, with the steps and ways we tackled, you can protect your well-loved projects and make them waterproof.

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