The 5 Best Paint Pens For Wood

Bustle / Amazon

For creating art projects that will last, you need the best paint pens for wood. Whether you prefer an oil-based or water-based pen, the right writing tool can help make Etsy-quality decor or beautiful signage for your yard or wedding.

Oil-Based Vs. Water-Based Pens

An oil-based paint will take longer to dry, but will typically last longer (and cost less) than a water-based paint. Conversely, water-based paint pens will dry faster, but then also need an additional step, like adding a sealant, to protect it from the elements since it's not as permanent as an oil-based option. Note that many water-based pens are filled with acrylic paint, which is also water-based.

Tip Size

Once you’ve chosen between oil-based and water-based, the most important feature to look for is the right tip size for your project, with tips ranging from extra fine to broad. (However, I found the broad tip options tended to be more limited in color variety so they're not featured here.) In terms of tip shape, a round bullet shape is the most common, especially for wood surfaces.

Lastly, if you’re sharing your paint pens with younger artists, or even have pets running around, a nontoxic pen is the safest bet.

Now you’re ready to check out the best paint pens for wood. Keep in mind that all of them are super versatile and highly rated on Amazon.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


The Overall Best Water-Based Paint Pens

  • Fine Point Tip

This 15-pack of water-based paint pens might be the most-coveted paint pens on this list. They feature a fine tip for detailed work, and they promise to work on more than just wood surfaces — you can use them to decorate glass, ceramic, metal, plastic, and canvas. Plus, this pack features every color of the rainbow and then some. Also, Posca markers have been around since 1983, and have a solid reputation in the artist community. With a 4.6-star customer rating on Amazon and over 1,500 reviews, this pick is a fan favorite, and is immensely popular with craft vloggers. While these are advertised as waterproof, the Posca guide suggests spraying a water-based varnish over your art to keep it safe from the elements. As an added bonus, these pens are particularly great for kids since they’re nontoxic.

A helpful review: “This is the second time I’ve bought these markers for my project and they worked just as well as the first batch I bought. I do a lot of wood work and they work amazing on wood. Worth the money and I’ll probably end up buying them again at some point.”


A Long-Lasting Water-Based Option At More Affordable Price

  • Medium Point Tip

These acrylic water-based pens are more affordable than my first pick, if you calculate the price per pen. And if you're looking to color in larger areas of wood, the medium tip size lends itself nicely to bigger projects.

The Elmer's 5-pack featured here is in their 'Eastern Empire' palette, but you can also choose from seven different color themes (at varying price points), including: “pearlescent pizazz,” “bright,” and “retro twist again.” Since they’re water-based, they should do the trick for indoor pieces but outdoor art pieces will require a sealant to weatherproof them.

Like all the pens featured in this list, these don’t just work on wood — you can use them on plastic, cloth, or even to decorate the walls of your nursery, office, or bedroom. They’re also nontoxic and promise to be streak-free.

A helpful review: “These are really excellent. The were long lasting, dried fast, and paint flowed fairly easily (tip: push down for more paint, less pressure for better control). There was no dripping or accidental over-release of paint. I used these primarily to stencil & free-hand paint letters on wooden signs a wedding. I used just the purple & green and after 20+ double-sided signs I still had not run out of paint. [...]"


The Overall Best Oil-Based Paint Pens

  • Medium Point Tip

At a reasonable price point, this 12-pack of paint pens by Beric offers super bright, oil-based paint pens with medium point tips that work on everything from wood to glass to canvas to ceramic surfaces. Fans love that they don't drip or glob and the colors are "vibrant and true."

They’ve also been tested for safety, so artists of all ages can use them, and they come with a 4.4-star customer rating on Amazon with over 600 reviews. As an oil-based paint, these are “weather-resistant” as well, so you can rest easy knowing any artwork of yours that lives outdoors won’t be washed away (or faded in the sun).

A helpful review: “I bought a pack of these to try for a Wood Sign library program. They worked so well on the demo that I went ahead and ordered another pack! The colors are vibrant and they made this project a whole lot easier for the creators! Great to have on hand for mug projects too!"


An Oil-Based Option With Fine Tips For Detail

  • Fine Point Tip

Backed by an impressive 4.6-star customer rating on Amazon with over 1,200 reviews, this high-quality set of oil-based pens comes with 15 dazzling shades, covering all the essential hues. They have a fine tip for precise writing and other artistic details.

They allow you to paint not just wood surfaces, but rock, ceramic, glass, canvas, plastic, porcelain, and metal surfaces as well, and since they're permanent and water- and fade- resistant, you don't need to mess around with a sealant.

A helpful review: “LOVE!! Hint: Make sure you shake well and pump the tip by pressing down multiple times on a piece of cardboard until the ink starts to flow. It takes several pumps to get them primed, then they are ready to go!! I LOVE these pens for rocks, driftwood, shells. Going to try plastic and metal soon. Paint applies evenly and accurately. Easy to control. Definitely recommend if you like painting on mixed and rough materials. They are durable and the paint is bright/vivid. Awesome!!! Will be buying more!!”


The Best On A Budget: An Oil-Based Multipack With Medium & Fine Tips

  • 20 Medium Point Tip and 4 Fine Point Tip

If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, this 24-pack of oil-based paint pens just might be the ticket. You'll find all the colors of the rainbow represented in this pick, and in addition to wood, these pens can paint on glass, ceramic, plastic, stone, and metal surfaces. They promise to be quick-drying, water-resistant, and fade-resistant, and they're made with premium Japanese inks and tips. Plus, they have a 4.6-star customer rating on Amazon with nearly 300 reviews.

A helpful review: "I love these paint pens! Colors are vibrant and there's plenty of variety compared to other brands. I like the fact that I don't have to go over the same spot multiple times to get a bold color. Quality is great, especially for the price!"