How to Paint Cornhole Boards: DIY Tips
What Is Cornhole?
Cornhole is a lawn game played with beanbags and wooden boards. The objective is to toss the bags into a hole on the boards; this yields 3 points. Getting the bag on the board is worth 1 point.
Painting and Personalizing Your Set
Put your creativity to good use and make your cornhole set pleasing to the eyes with a DIY paint job. As a bonus, painting your set also protects the wood. Follow the instructions below to get started.
Overview of the Steps
- Get ready to paint by applying wood putty and sanding.
- Apply primer.
- Lay out the design.
- Pick your paint.
- Paint your boards.
- Apply MinWax.
- Go play!
1. Get Ready to Paint
One of the most fulfilling parts of creating your own cornhole sets is the design. You've already put in a lot of time and work to make the set; now you want to make sure it looks great so you can show it off to your friends. Before you get ready to prime and paint it, you must do some prep work.
- Take some wood putty and fill in all the holes from the screws and nails and any other blemishes that might be in the surface. If you chose to use a really nice piece of hardwood plywood, you will hopefully have very few things to fill.
- After the putty dries, make sure you give a nice hand sanding to the entire surface so everything is smooth and flush.
- Take a lightly damp rag and wipe off the surfaces to get rid of any dust that might be remaining before you begin to use the primer.
2. Apply Primer
Since the boards are made out of plywood, we need to get a nice base for our paint. The first step in the process is put primer on everything. I used a Rustoleum primer that sticks to anything. This is important to give your paint a solid surface to stick to. This process should be a very quick part, since you don't have to worry about making it look perfect.
One warning is that primer is nearly impossible to get off of anything (including yourself). I used a super cheap sponge brush to apply the primer so I could just toss it in the trash afterwards. DO NOT use a quality brush, as it will be ruined once this process is finished. This part doesn't need to look great; just make sure all the wood is covered.
3. Lay Out the Design
The best part of the process is getting to design and paint your board however you want. There really are no limits. You can be as creative or simple as you want. Slight warning: More creative designs take more time and more patience, but are well worth it in the end. If you want straight, crisp lines on your boards, then painters tape is essential. I always use Frog Tape; I think it is by far the best painters tape around. You can measure out your designs, mark with a pencil, and lay your tape down.
I chose a variety of stripes on my boards, fairly simple. This process was a bit more time consuming simply because I chose to use 4 different colors. This means you have to apply multiple coats and continue letting them dry before you can move on to the next color. Also, more colors equals more money (cost). So consider that before you lay out your design. You shouldn't need more than a quart of any color of paint, so don't waste money buying paint by the gallon.
4. Pick Your Paint
There are a few key issues to address when beginning the painting process.
- Choosing the correct type of paint is very important. If you aren't familiar with paints, you will be completely lost when you walk into Home Depot, Lowe's, or some other paint store. There are a million types of paints, and often the associates aren't as knowledgeable as they should be in order to give appropriate advice.
- When you are choosing your paint, you want to choose an Exterior Semi-Gloss Enamel. I never get an oil-based paint because it's such a hassle to clean and ruins everything else it touches (hence why I hate primer). So save yourself a headache and get a water-based latex paint and life will go more smoothly.
- I chose a Behr Premium Plus paint and they can color it any way you want. It washes out of your brushes very easily and off of your hands, etc.
- Like I said earlier, there is no reason to get more than a quart of any color; a quart is more than enough to paint your boards with multiple coats.
5. Paint Your Boards
Continue to be patient as you paint. It's very important that you don't leave any drips or bubbles in your paint. For this reason, I always use a brush and never a roller. Make sure you put multiple coats of each paint; you want this to be a quality product. Let paint completely dry before you apply each additional coat.
6. Apply MinWax
Once you have everything painted the way you desire, there is one more critical step to go. To protect the paint and your cornhole set, you need to add a clear coat polycrylic. Essentially, you are waxing your board with a clear coat. This will protect everything you have just labored hours on, but it will also make your board shiny and slick.
The best product for this stage is made by MINWAX. It's water based Polycrylic protective finish. I'll warn you that it isn't too cheap, but don't skip out on this step. Once again, you won't need a lot of this, so a quart will be plenty.
When you apply this to the board, make sure your paint is extra dry before starting the process. Follow the directions on the can, but essentially, you apply it just like you would paint. If you are nervous, there are plenty of YouTube videos that can help show you how to apply the polycrylic.
- Apply nice, thick coats. The more coats the better. I always do a minimum of 5 coats, but usually like to apply 7-8 coats.
- Once again, it's very important to let it completely dry before each coating.
- Use a brush, not a roller.
7. Go Play!
Last but not least, after everything has had time to dry completely, it is time to take your beautiful creation outside and test it out.
Questions & Answers
Is the Minwax better in Satin or Matte finish?
I would strongly recommend you use the clear semi-gloss finish.Helpful 77
What is the difference between polycrylic and a water based polyurethane? And which would you recommend? I read that the water based polyurethane is supposed to be applied with multiple thin coats, but you mentioned thick coats of polycrylic. Thanks.
Polycrylic has very little smell and is much less toxic than polyurethane. That is one of the reasons I prefer it. Polyurethane also comes in oil base or water base options, while Polycrylic only comes as water base. Both Polycrylic and polyurethane will give you a good finished product. I believe Polycrylic is easier to work with, cleaner, and safer. It's a personal preference.Helpful 92
After poly, can I put decals on or do I use poly over decal?
You want to put your poly on over the decals. This will smooth out any ridges or bumps and also help “glue” the decal down.Helpful 57
Minwax Polycrylic says 'interior only', is it okay for outdoor play?
I would not leave the boards out in the weather though... The reason it is an indoor use only is that you want to avoid extreme temperatures as well as rain. Being a water-based product, extreme heat or extreme cold could damage the finish. Water could also damage it. I've left my boards outside many days and they are fine, but it would be wisest to bring them indoors (shed or garage) when not using them.Helpful 45
I always seem to have trouble with painter's tape. I put it on fine, but am not sure when the best time to take it off is. Is it better to remove it right away while the paint is still wet (and redo the tape for multiple coats), or after the paint is dry?
You need to get a quality painter's tape. I would leave it on for all of the coats and remove it at the end.
If you tried to redo the tape each time, you would have a very difficult time perfectly matching the line.
So, buy a great tape, and just leave it on until the last coat.Helpful 36