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How to Paint Deer Antlers

Updated February 21, 2017

If you would like to paint deer antlers, you will need to address some important issues. First, you will need to determine whether or not the antlers are varnished and remove this glossy layer, prior to application. In addition, because antlers aren't suitable for paint adhesion, you will have to condition them, using friction-based abrasion techniques, prior to application. Finally, you should employ a specific application technique, or you may end up with unattractive runs.

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  1. Inspect to the antlers to see if they have a glossy varnish coat. Remove this coat by sanding it with 80-grit sandpaper. Sand until the antlers appear dull. Skip this step if the antlers already appear dull.

  2. Abrade unvarnished antlers to promote adhesion by sanding them with 120-grit sandpaper.

  3. Wipe down the antlers with a sticky tack cloth.

  4. Cover portions of the deer antlers you do not want painted with painter's tape. Place the antlers on a fabric dust sheet.

  5. Coat the abraded antlers with an acrylic latex spray primer. Hold the can 8 inches from the antlers as you apply. Wait two hours for the primed antlers to dry.

  6. Coat the primed antlers with an acrylic spray enamel. Apply the paint as you did the primer. Wait two hours for the painted antlers to dry.

  7. Tip

    If the deer antlers are still attached to the head, cover it with plastic dust sheets or masking paper. Tape the coverings in place with a low-tack painter's tape.


    Do not prime over unsanded deer antlers, or the finish will fail. Do not paint over unprimed deer antlers, or the paint will peel.

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Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric dust sheet
  • Acrylic latex spray primer
  • Acrylic spray enamel
  • Masking paper
  • Plastic dust sheet

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

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