Acrylic Paint Vs. Enamel: Which One Is Better?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Often, we find it very difficult to choose the right paint to finish our buildings. We tend to dabble around which is best and which is more durable and cost-friendly. For Acrylic paint Vs. Enamel: which one is better? The answer is based on certain key factors.

Acrylic paint is water-based paint, whereas Enamel is oil-based paint. Acrylic paint requires you to prepare the surface before painting, while Enamel is a straight-up paint. Other numerous factors could determine which is better. Kindly read on to find out more and know which choice is for you.

Acrylic paint Vs. Enamel: Comparison chart

Description Acrylic Paint Enamel Paint
Appearance Not smooth surface Smooth surface
Finish Matte Glossy
Durability Very Durable Less Durable
Coverage Less coverage Excellent coverage
Maintenance Easy to maintain Requires extra effort to maintain
Cost Very Affordable Expensive
Ease Of Use Requires the use of a primer for the paint to adhere better. Can be used without the use of a primer and can be removed easily using some mineral spirits.

Overview of Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular paint in the arts industry. It comprises various color pigments in an acrylic polymer blend form. It is known to be water-based and non-toxic. Acrylic paint can be used on different surfaces, although some require adequate preparation before painting.

Overview Of Acrylic Paint

Some of the surfaces/ materials Acrylic paints work on include;

  • Canvass
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Wall
  • Plastic
  • Our skin, and lots more.

Acrylic paint has some amazing benefits that cannot be overlooked. Sadly, there are also some drawbacks associated with Acrylic paint. A few of its benefits and drawbacks will be discussed below.


There are lots of amazing benefits that make Acrylic paint stand out. Some of them are;

  • Easy To Clean: It is very easy to clean and requires no extra solvent. All you need is just a little soap and water to wipe off any mess.
  • Dry Time: Acrylic paint dries very fast. You dont need to wait too long for it to be ready for you to overpaint on. Its dry time is extremely short.
  • Safe: Children who love painting can freely use Acrylic paint without fear of any hazards. Acrylic paint contains no harmful chemicals, is non-toxic, and is safe to use by children.
  • Price: It is very affordable and pocket friendly. You dont need to clear out your bank account. It is also flexible and durable.
  • Versatile: Acrylic paints are versatile. You can use it on anything, but the surfaces must be oil and wax-free.
  • Water-soluble: Acrylic paints work perfectly with water. You can easily wash it off your brushes and even your hands without extra effort.
  • Color variance: Colors come in different shades. Acrylic paints allow you to choose from a wide range of colors.


There are also some drawbacks associated with Acrylic paints; some of them are listed below;

  • Poor Appearance: Acrylic paints become water-resistant when dry. Although it becomes water-resistant, the color tends to appear darker as well. Once it is dried completely, the surface will look a little different from what you initially painted.
  • Extra Effort: Acrylic paint dries very fast. Therefore while painting, you need to put in extra speed. This is to prevent the paint from drying before completing your work.
  • Removal: Acrylic paint is easy to clean off when it is still wet. But once its dried, it becomes difficult to remove from your nails or clothes.
  • Layering: Acrylic paint does not give perfect work with just one layer. You have to repeatedly coat on a couple of layers to achieve perfect work.
  • Low coverage: Painting with Acrylic doesn’t guarantee broad coverage. On the contrary, it provides less coverage.
  • Wear off: Surfaces painted with Acrylic tend to peel off over time. You begin to notice some clean off on the surface gradually.

How to use Acrylic paint on wood

Painting on wood is usually quite tasking. As most times, you aren’t sure of what output it will bring. Judging from the fact that Acrylic paints are water-resistant and best used indoors. To paint on wood requires a few steps:

How To Use Acrylic Paint On Wood

  1. Prep the surface of the wood properly
  2. Apply the first layer of paint
  3. Repeatedly apply the paint after each layer until the grain nature of the wood is no longer visible.
  4. Seal it up with some varnish.

Overview of Enamel paint

Enamel paint is an oil-based paint that lasts long. It is strong and durable and is mainly used on surfaces made of metal. You can also use them on surfaces like plastic, wood, copper, glass, e.t.c. Enamel paint is highly resistant to moisture and is, therefore, the best choice for all outside surfaces.

Overview Of Enamel Paint

Some of these surfaces where enamel paint works include;

  • Handrails
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Cabinets in the bathroom, and lots more. Enamel paints have amazing benefits that cannot be overlooked, although there are some drawbacks as well. Some of these amazing benefits are listed below.


  • Glossy and Durable Finish: Enamel paint, when used on surfaces, provides a glossy and durable finish. This durable finishing keeps rust far away from the surface. And makes the surface beautiful.
  • Excellent coverage: When you apply Enamel paint on a surface, it spreads and gives it excellent coverage. This makes the finished work very attractive.
  • Resistant to moisture: The oil-based content makes Enamel paint highly resistant to moisture. This moisture resistance gives room for you to wash the painted surface as often as required. This is also what makes it suitable for outdoor surfaces.
  • UV- resistant: Enamel paint can withstand degradation. Which could result from exposure to ultraviolet light. Compared to other paints, it is rated the best in terms of UV- resistance.
  • Resistant to fading: Most paints tend to chip or fade. But with Enamel paint, there is rarely a case of fading.
  • Surface adherence: Its oil nature makes it easy to stick on many surfaces.


Sadly as wonderful as Enamel paint is, there are some drawbacks associated with it. Some of them are listed below;

  • Odor: Enamel paint has a strong offensive odor that can cause harm to both children and adults. It contains a chemical that makes them toxic and gives off that offensive odor.
    Therefore children should not use it, and you mustn’t keep it around their play area.
  • Insoluble: Enamel paint can be a little bit difficult to mix properly. It requires extra effort to get it to mix to the required texture. Most times, it never mixes well at all.
  • Requires Solvent: When you make a mess while using Enamel paint. You will require extra solvents for thinning and wiping off the mess. It doesnt get off easily.
  • Difficult to clean up: Unlike other paints, this oil-based paint is usually difficult to clean up.
  • Cost-effective: Enamel paint is quite expensive and sometimes unaffordable. Thats why you might spend a lot if the surface to paint is large.
  • Storage: If you leave it for too long, Enamel paint can separate.

What Are the Differences Between Acrylic Paint And Enamel Paint

Painting is fun, especially when using the right choice of paint. There are various types of paints, but Acrylic and Enamel paints stand out. They are very popular and widely used daily. Choosing which is most times confusing.

Acrylic Paint Vs. Enamel Which One Is Better

Although some differences could make your choice lighter. These differences for better understanding are broken down into little subheadings. Kindly browse through to find out more.


Acrylic paint is water-based paint, whereas Enamel Paint is oil-based paint. This means Acrylic paint is basically made up of 70% water content, and Enamel paint is made up of 70% oil content. This base plays a major role in determining what surface they can be safely used on. For metal surfaces, oil-based is preferred, and for wooden surfaces, you can use a water base.


Durability, in this sense, means the strength to last for a long time without deteriorating. Enamel paint could be rated higher in this quality compared to Acrylic. As it has a high resistance to cracks and fades.

Dry Time

Before painting or choosing a type of paint. You must know the actual time it will take to dry after painting. For jobs with short durations, you should choose a paint that will dry fast. And for jobs with unlimited durations, you can opt for a paint that dries within 24hours or less.

Acrylic paint takes 2 to 3 hours for the paints to dry. On the other hand, Enamel paint takes 6 to 24 hours to dry completely.

Color Variation

Acrylic paint is open to a wide range of colors. It can be found in every shade. For Enamel paints, there are just a few colors available. This could be very challenging as, most times, you don’t get the exact shade you need.

Clean up

Some paints require little to no effort to clean, whereas others require extra effort to clean. For Enamel and Acrylic paints are no exceptions. Acrylic paint is more environmentally friendly compared to Enamel. Enamel paints require paint thinner, whereas you can use just soap and water to clean up Acrylic paints.


Enamel and Acrylic paint vary to a large extent in usage. If you have a large-scale project, you can comfortably use Enamel paint. It has been proven to be good for indoors and outdoor. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, can be used for small-scale projects and touch-ups. It should not be used outdoor as it can easily wash off or fade away, especially under extreme weather conditions.


Generally, paints are not 100% safe to be around. Some are toxic, and others are non-toxic. Enamel paint is very toxic and should not be used by children. On the other hand, Acrylic paint is safe, non-toxic, and can safely be used by children.


Some surfaces usually pose difficult for paints to stick on. These surfaces require prepping and, most times use of primer on the surface before painting. For Acrylic paints, prepping is mandatory if you want the paint to stick properly on the surface. On the reverse side, there is no need for prepping before painting.


Price usually affects 25% of whatever choice you make. It could be expensive and unaffordable or less affordable. Enamel paints are expensive compared to Acrylic. Acrylic paints are very affordable.

Acrylic Paint Vs. Enamel: Which One Is Right For You?

Painting gives an exotic finish to every surface, ranging from opaque to glossy and lots more. With paints, surfaces can never look the same. Your old-looking room can transform into a bright and attractive little palace. A lot of factors determine Acrylic Paint vs. Enamel: Which one is right for you?

Acrylic Paint Vs. Enamel - Which One Is Right For You

While Enamel paint has a glossy look, Acrylic paint has a matte finish. Also, Enamel paint is expensive to afford; on the other hand, Acrylic is very affordable. Let’s look at some other factors that can determine your choice of which is right for you.


If you want to redecorate your room, paints, curtains, and interior, you should opt for Acrylic paint. This is because Acrylic paint is best for indoors and gives it a matte finish. Although you can also use Enamel paint, Acrylic will give it a better look.


If you want to keep your children busy with this artwork, it is important to choose rightly. Enamel paint is toxic and contains chemicals with an offensive odor. On the other hand, Acrylic paint is nontoxic, contains no chemicals, and is safe to use. Children can safely use Acrylic paint without fear of hazards.


Enamel paints are mainly used for metal surfaces and can also be used on other surfaces like plastic and wood. On the other hand, you can Use Acrylic Paint On Glass to decorate and make it beautiful. Decorations gotten from paints are usually beautiful compared to crafts. It gives a house or building a different ambiance.


If you are thinking of repainting your house, you will need paint to give you a perfect finish. Enamel paint gives a glossy finish, and Acrylic paint gives a matte finish. For a house that you want its exterior to look “wow!” you need a paint that will give you a glossy finish.


Some paints are rather expensive and unaffordable. Its advisable you choose which you can afford and still have some change in your pocket. Enamel paint is expensive and could be unaffordable. On the other side, Acrylic paint is affordable and pocket friendly.


The essence of painting is to give color to whatever surface it is being used on. This color gives an extra beauty and ambiance to the furniture or surface. Acrylic paints can retain their color over time. On the other side, surfaces painted with Enamel tend to turn yellow.


Most paints come in either water-resistant or waterproof form. Acrylic paints are highly water-resistant. This is why they are best used indoors, like painting a piece of indoor furniture. On the other side, Enamel paints are highly waterproof. They can safely be used outdoors for building finishing, outdoor furniture, handrails, etc.

Can You Apply Acrylic Paint Over Enamel?

You can apply Acrylic Paint over Enamel paint, but you have to prep the surface. If you apply the paint without prepping the surface, it won’t adhere, and the color will fade quickly. This is because there is an interference between the sheen of the Enamel and Acrylic. You can follow these simple steps to prep the surface before applying Acrylic paint over Enamel.

STEP 1: Get a soft clean cloth and any cleaning detergent of your choice.

STEP 2: Clean the surface properly with the soft cloth and detergent

STEP 3: Get sandpaper. Use this sandpaper to remove the glossy layer at the top

STEP 4: Do this repeatedly to create a smooth surface for the Acrylic paint

STEP 5: Apply the latex primer over the paint. This will enable the surface to bond to the thin layers.

STEP 6: Allow each layer to dry before applying another.

STEP 7: Allow the coating to dry completely. After drying, you can apply Acrylic paint over Enamel.

Can You Apply Enamel Paint Over Acrylic?

You can apply Enamel Paint over Acrylic. The good news is that you don’t need to prep or a primer for the surface. The following steps will guide you successfully;

STEP 1: Get a dry cloth and a cleaning detergent.

STEP 2: Use the dry cloth and cleaning detergent to clean the surface properly.

STEP 3: Ensure the surface is properly dry.

STEP 4: Apply Enamel Paint over Acrylic

STEP 5: Apply it repeatedly on various thin layers, not just one thick layer

Can You Mix Enamel and Acrylic Paints?

You can mix Enamel and Acrylic paints, but it requires extra caution. This is because they are not supposed to be mixed. Enamel is an oil-based paint, whereas Acrylic is a solvent-based paint. They are both different in their make-up.

Final Words

Every project may require a different type of paint. Many factors determine Acrylic paint vs. Enamel: Which One is better. For instance, the surface you want to use the paint on determines which one is better. Also, your budget, the children, and the appearance you aim to achieve will guide your decision. Moreover, you can apply both paints over each other but must follow the right steps to avoid doing shabby work.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

Leave a Comment

five + two =