How to Paint on a Slice of Tree Branch

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Tree branch slices are cross-sections of branches commonly used as coasters, plaques and for other decorative purposes. Though you can apply paint directly to a bare tree branch slice, the finish rapidly will peel away. Like all types of bare wood, tree branch slices ultimately will reject paint unless they're pre-treated with an adhesive base primer. If you've cut the slice yourself, preparation will prove relatively brief; however, if you plan to paint a decorative tree branch slice already finished with stain and/or sealer, you'll need to take extra measures to strip down this existing finish, or long-term adhesion will prove impossible.

Things You'll Need

  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloths
  • Canvas drop cloth
  • Acrylic spray primer
  • Shellac spray primer
  • Acrylic spray enamel
  • Polyester-bristled craft brushes
  • Acrylic enamel
  • Stencil
  • Let freshly cut tree branch slices dry for no less than six weeks. Do not attempt to paint a freshly cut tree branch slice, or the moisture within the wood will cause poor adhesion.

  • Sand finished tree branch slices with 60-grit sandpaper until the shiny, clear varnish topcoat appears dull. Skip this step if the slice is unfinished.

  • Smooth the tree branch slice by sanding it with 120-grit sandpaper.

  • Wipe down the tree branch slice with a tack cloth. Do not skip this critical step, or sawdust will prevent the bonding base from sticking.

  • Place the tree branch slice on a canvas drop cloth. Never use plastic drop cloths for this type of project, or paint might puddle.

  • Coat the tree branch slice with the right type of spray primer depending on the wood's condition. Use acrylic spray primer on bare slices; use shellac-based primer on stained slices. Encourage professional-looking results by applying a thin coat and maintaining 8 inches between the tree branch slice and spray tip. Let the slice dry for three hours.

  • Coat the primed slice with acrylic spray enamel. Apply a thin coat and maintain 8 inches between the tree branch slice and spray tip. Let the slice dry for three hours.

  • Add painted acrylic enamel designs and patterns if you wish, using craft brushes. Let the finished tree branch slice dry for three hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan to use the tree branch slice as a plaque or sign, you can use a stencil to create sharp, attractive letters and numbers on the wood.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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