Can You Use Oil Paint on Fabric?

Oil paint can be easier to work with than fabric paint. However, before doing so, you might want to know if you can use oil paint on fabric.

Yes, you can use oil paint on fabric. However, you will need to ensure you prepare the fabric correctly first.

Why Use Oil Paint on Fabric?

There are a few reasons why someone might opt to use oil paint instead of fabric paint when working with textiles. 

Oil paint is much easier to work with than fabric paint. If you want to paint on a simple design, then fabric paint is fine. However, if you have a more complex design in mind, oil paint will make it stand out.

Oil paint blends better than fabric paint, and its colors tend to be more vibrant. That makes it a better choice for a complex work of textile art. It usually looks better than other paints that you can also use on textiles, such as acrylic and airbrush paint.

Why Do You Need to Prep Fabric Before Using Oil Paint?

The major downside of using oil paint compared to fabric paint is that you need to prepare the fabric beforehand. In contrast, fabric paint does not require much preparation.

Oil paint formula is also more corrosive to fabric. Without a protective under-layer, it could even disintegrate fabric. It also has less longevity than fabric paint, so you may find that your oil paint will deteriorate over time.

Preparing the Fabric

The first step in preparing your fabric for painting is to wash it.

If you are using oil paint, you will need to include the extra step of applying primer. The best primer when using oil paint on fabric is acrylic gesso. Acrylic gesso creates a uniform background for your artwork.

The best method for applying acrylic gesso is to use two thin layers, letting the fabric dry completely between coats. Once the gesso is dry, you can then apply your oil paint.

How to Take Care of Oil Paint on Fabric

Oil paint on fabric can be fragile, so you need to preserve it.

The first step in preserving your oil paint is to let it dry. Oil paint will take at least 24 hours to dry, although thicker layers of paint may take even longer, particularly on thin fabrics.

Oil paint is also prone to cracking when applied to fabric. Also, avoid washing the garment as much as possible. If you need to wash it, hand wash it only as putting a painted garment in the machine will cause the paint to crack.


You can use oil paint on fabric. Oil paint has better colors and blending ability than fabric paint but is prone to cracking once it dries. 

If you are using oil paint, you must prep the fabric beforehand with acrylic gesso. Otherwise, the paint could disintegrate the fabric. 

After you finish painting, give the fabric enough time to dry completely before moving it, as this could cause the paint to crack.

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