Engraving is a fun way to get creative and put your own personal touch on your projects or favorite items. However, sometimes it’s worth adding additional elements to your engraving to boost the excitement, such as color.
While color laser engraving is possible, it has its limits, including its ability to be done on limited materials and the cost. Luckily an easy way to add color to your engravings is by using paint. The Laser engraving paint effect involves filling the engraved area with colored paint.
In this article, we’ll explain how to achieve the ideal laser engraving paint effect to enhance your projects and give them that pop of color you’ve been missing!
What Is Laser Engraving?
Let’s start with a recap on what exactly laser engraving is.
Laser engraving is the process of evaporating materials into fumes to leave a permanent engraving. This is done using a machine called a laser engraver.
Due to the nature of the process, laser engraving can’t be done in color. However, there are ways in which you can add color to your final product. Let’s examine everything you need to know about achieving a laser engraving paint effect and how you can paint laser engravings to finish your projects.
Put simply, attaining that laser engraving paint effect involves filling the engraved area with colored paint. The most important component of this process is the paint itself.
The paint used to do this is typically acrylic paint, and the process is called acrylic infill. Acrylic paint usually results in a clean finish on your engraving that other types of paint can’t achieve to the same extent.
Laserbits Pro Color Fill Kit is the one we use and is our best recommendation. I will leave the link here. We are not affiliated with them we just love how well it works! LaserBits Pro Color Fill Sample Kit comes with eight colors in a 1 oz. size. The kit includes: Black, Bright Red, Titanium White, Bright Blue, Bronze, Copper, Bright Silver and Bright Gold
Color is also an essential factor to consider when painting laser-engraved materials. If you’re painting a dark-colored material, finding the right color that will pop in the engraving can be trickier. Metallic paints are often the best choice for dark-colored materials.
Once you have chosen your paint, it’s time to select your material.
Not every type of material that you can use for laser engraving can be painted – at least not to the same quality. Some materials have an excessive amount of grain in which paint can get stuck in. One example is wood, which requires a slightly more complicated process to paint (more on this later).
The easiest material to paint is acrylic, as there is no grain for the excess paint to get onto, so it could be easily wiped off. Metal also works excellently for painting. Other materials ideal for laser engraving paint include marble and stone, although their surface may not be as smooth, and therefore it may be more difficult to wipe off the excess paint.
What’s more, you want to ensure that the color of each of these materials is light enough for the paint to be seen.
Now let’s talk about the act of painting laser engraving itself.
Once you have chosen the paint and your material, you can do your engraving the way you typically would.
Once your piece is laser-cut and engraved, you can fill the engraving with paint. The best tool for this process is a spatula to ensure you get the right amount of paint.
First, spread a blob of paint with your spatula over the engraved area as if you’re icing a cake. If you’re using several different colors, apply the paint only to the specific area where you want a particular color. From here, leave the paint to dry entirely.
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to remove the excess paint from around the engravings. To do this, you’ll want to use a polishing compound that’s safe to remove paint from your chosen material. Add the compound to a microfiber cloth, then slowly remove the excess paint. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when doing this part, as the compound can irritate your skin.
Once you’ve removed the excess paint, your engraved piece is finished! Now let’s look at how to get the laser engraving paint effect on wood.
How to Paint Wood With Laser Engravings
As mentioned, painting engraved wood is more complicated, as you can’t simply wipe off the excess paint from the wood. However, there is a way to get around this hurdle and achieve the laser engraving effect on wood. The process has to start before you engrave the wood.
To start, seal the wood’s surface with varnish and let it dry. From there, apply masking tape over the entire surface of your wood piece.
Once your wood is covered, you can engrave as you usually would, paying attention to the settings on your laser engraver to account for the masking tape on the wood.
Once you’ve engraved the wood, you can paint the engraving with the color of your choice. Depending on the size of your engraving, you can use the spatula method, or you can also use a small paintbrush for smaller engravings.
Once the engraving paint is dry, slowly remove the masking tape to reveal your newly painted engraved work! If the paint bled slightly, just sand the surface to get cleaner lines.
I wrote an article on laser engraving wood – everything you need to know which may be helpful. I will link to the article here.
Use the instructions in this how-to video when laser engraving items like red alder and bamboo cutting boards, piano and particle finish plaques, and rosewood boxes.
If you’re tired of the scorched or burned color created by laser engraving materials and want to add additional uniqueness to your pieces, painting your engravings may be the best way to achieve that.
Getting the laser engraving paint effect is easier than you might think and can significantly impact your finished product. Just be mindful of the type of paint and material you’re working with to ensure you get your desired results every time.