Acrylic vs Latex Paint: 9 Differences You Should Know

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Acrylic paint is almost completely pigmented and mixed with acrylic polymers, like a glue-like synthetic substance. Latex paint is a general type of paint that is mostly used on ceilings and walls.

Originally it used a natural rubber as a binder, but today they use a synthetic compound like vinyl or acrylic.

So, what other differences are there between the two? Are they both weather resistant, or is it just one of them? How do you use each one? Is one more expensive than the other one?

By the end of this article, you will know the difference between acrylic and latex paint. You will also know how to use each one. Read on to learn about acrylic vs. latex paint, and then decide which one to use for your project.

Acrylic vs. Latex Paint: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between acrylic and latex paint is the solvent. In acrylic paint, the solvents contain chemicals, and in latex paint, they are water-based. This means that once these paints dry, they will have many different qualities.

Acrylic Vs Latex Paint
Acrylic vs Latex Paint

Acrylic

  • Weather resistance: When dry, they produce a colorful, strong, and weather-resistant finish. They can better cope with UV rays and changes in temperature. It is also water-resistant and will thrive in the winter and rainy seasons.
  • Ease of use: These are not easy to use as the paint for art projects comes in tubes and is not immediately ready to use. To use them, you have to thin them out first. The cans are easier to use as you have to shake them to mix them. Since they also dry fast, if you are doing a huge project, some parts will dry quicker than others. This can result in an uneven consistency.
  • Cleaning: To clean up acrylic paint, you need rubbing alcohol or a specialty cleaner. It is water-resistant once it is dry, so you can easily clean the painted surface with warm water and soap. You cannot scrub acrylic paint surfaces because they can scratch or be scuffed easily.
  • Health risks: This type of paint has chemicals, so you need to make sure that y have extra ventilation when painting with acrylics. They are also flammable. You should always wear gloves when working with acrylics because of the chemicals.
  • Durability: If you are painting something for the outside or the exterior of a surface, you should use these paints because they are more durable. This paint is also very flexible. On wood, as it contracts and expands based on temperatures, this paint can handle it without cracking. Because it is breathable, it will help to prevent mold and mildew and let moisture evaporate. They are also more durable because they have plasticizers, a substance that is added to the resins to give them a finished texture that is plastic-like and soft. It makes it better to resist wear and tear.
  • Adhesion: They have better adhesion because of the extra additives and chemicals in the paint. They have extra adhesion, so they can be used to paint surfaces like metal and concrete. This paint will adhere to almost any surface as long as it is properly primed and prepped.
  • Cost and availability: These can be hard to find because water-based latex is more popular. They are more expensive on average, but due to their durability, it may be worth it to use acrylic paints.
  • Colors: There are fewer color options.
  • Shelf life: With acrylic paint, it is very thick, and because it comes in tubes, you can squeeze out what you need if you are painting murals or other artwork. For other uses, it comes in a spray can. You can use what you need and then store the rest later.

Latex

  • Weather resistance: This paint is not weather resistant as its finish is not as strong as acrylic paint, so they are better suited for indoor projects.
  • Ease of use: It is easy to apply and can give you better coverage with fewer coats. It dries quickly, so you can generally complete the job in one day. Regarding drying times,  it will all vary according to the finish. The glossier it is, the longer it will take to dry.
  • Cleaning: It is easy to clean up after you are finished painting. Any paint you need to remove can be done with warm water. This paint is also water-resistant; the painted surfaces can be washed with warm water and soap. Because it has a harder shell, you can also scrub it.
  • Health risks: This paint is water-based and has no health risks. Even though this is water-based, you should always ensure the room is ventilated.
  • Durability: This is not a good paint to use outdoors or on exterior surfaces because when it dries, the paint becomes brittle and harder than acrylic paint. With scratches, it is more durable, but on the other hand, latex paint is more likely to crack or chip. It is not that durable because it does not have any chemical binder to improve its durability.
  • Adhesion: Being water-based, they do not have good adhesion because they lack the additives and chemicals to give them adhesion properties. Although it will adhere to some surfaces, it will peel off if you use it on concrete.
  • Cost and availability: It is cheaper, and you can purchase it in bulk sizes for larger jobs.
  • Colors: This paint is available in many colors and finishes.
  • Shelf life: Latex paint cannot be stored easily because once you open the container and air gets to it, it will not last long when stored it. The reason is that the paint’s hardening or cure in the container does not last when exposed to air.

Which paint Should you Use?

When deciding which to use, acrylic or latex paint, you need to consider several factors before choosing which paint to use.

Paints
  • Is your painting surface interior or exterior? Acrylic paint is better outdoors, and latex paint is better indoors.
  • Budget? Latex is cheaper than acrylic.
  • Surface area to cover? Acrylics are better for smaller surface areas but use latex for larger areas.
  • Type of finish? Acrylic will give you a more durable finish than latex. Also, acrylic paint is more colorful, but it can be painted over or sealed easier with latex.

How to use Acrylic Paint

One of the more popular ways to use acrylic paint is to paint murals and other artwork. It is also great to use outdoors and on exterior surfaces. That is because it is more weather-resistant.

How to use Latex Paint

This type of paint is generally used for painting large areas, such as walls and ceilings. The reason is that it is available in bulk sizes and is cheaper. Most will use latex paint for low-traffic areas.

Related ReadingCan You Use Acrylic Paint on Guitar?

Can You Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint?

Yes, they can be mixed as they are very compatible, but it is not usually recommended. If you do, the thing to remember is to mix them; you have to do it correctly. Latex is considered to house paint, and acrylic paint is considered an artist’s paint. When you add acrylic paint to latex, it will quickly change the final color.

Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint
Can You Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint?

To mix them, you need to start with small amounts of each paint to check the final consistency and color. You want to make sure that is what you want to achieve. Starting small will help you know the exact ratio to add together to get the consistency and texture for your project. It will help prevent any waste of the paints.

Many artists dislike mixing latex with acrylic paint because it will not last as long as the acrylic colors would. On the plus side, adding the two paints will give you the exact color, consistency, and texture you want without having to pay for another paint variant.

The main difference between the two is the moisture content. The excessive moisture content found in latex paint can dilute acrylic paint. After drying, this can create a different effect. The final result will depend on the brand of latex paint used.

To mix them, you will need one pint of latex paint, tubes of acrylic paint, a paint stirrer, and a small container to mix them in.

Read More: Latex Vs Enamel Paint

Steps To Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint Correctly

Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint Correctly
Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint Correctly
  • Step 1: Pour a small amount of latex paint into the container, even if you paint a large surface.
  • Step 2: Squeeze a small amount of acrylic paint into the latex paint and stir.
  • Step 3: Make sure you have mixed them completely to get an accurate feel for the consistency and color. Test a small bit on a piece of paper or a corner of your project that will not be that noticeable. This way, you can check the color to see if it is what you want. If you want a more vibrant color, add more acrylic paint.

If it is too thick, add some water to get the right consistency. If you have any leftover paint, ensure it is stored correctly so you will not have any issues with drying out. If you want to give some permanency to your painting, you can use some exterior paint binders in the mixture.

Read More: Can You Paint With Oil Based Paint Over Latex?

Conclusion

In this article, we have covered all that you need to know about Acrylics vs. latex paint. Each one has been discussed in detail regarding its durability, ease of use, and more. We have even covered what to use and how to mix them. With this information, you will know which paint to use for your project.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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