Can You Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint? – Complete Guideline

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

Both of these are great mediums for artists, but which one is better?  Can you mix them or paint over them with the other one?  Which one is the best?  Each one has its own unique qualities.

The main question that artists want to know is can you mix acrylic and oil paint?  The answer is no, they should not be mixed together but there are ways you can use both of them on the same piece you are painting.  Why should you not mix them?

Read on to learn why you cannot mix acrylic and oil paint?  You will also learn about acrylic and oil paint, how you can use them in the same painting if you can use the same brush for both paints, and so much more.

Can You Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint?

Can You Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint

No, you cannot mix acrylic and oil paint.  The main reason is that they both have different properties.  If you mix them together, they will not be a compatible pair.  There are several reasons that acrylic paint and oil paint are not compatible, which is the reason they cannot be mixed together.

Can You Paint Oil Over Acrylic?

Drying

Both of these paints have different ways of drying.  There is a complex process for oil paint to dry so it takes longer to dry.  The complex process is due to chemical reactions.  Oil paint absorbs the oxygen, expanding it to the canvas as it dries.  Oil paint dries by what is referred to as siccative quality.

With acrylic paint, they are water-based so they dry faster.  When this type of paint starts to dry, the water begins to evaporate from the paint.  As a result, the paint will expand and flatten onto the canvas.

Cleaning and Aging

When you use acrylic paints, you do not need to worry about the colors drying out.  Acrylic paint will stay the way you painted it even as it becomes older.  With oil paints, as it gets older, the colors will not stay as vibrant as they were when you first painted the picture.  Oil paints will turn brown or yellowish in color.

When paintings age, they will need a spot cleaning at some point.  When you clean an acrylic painting, you can use a damp cloth but not with oil paint.  If you use water or a damp cloth on oil paint, the paint will come off.  For oil paint, you will have to use a dry soft brush to brush the dust off.

Texture

When you look closely at paintings you will see that acrylic paint is spongier and more permeable than oil paint, which has a smooth texture.  The difference in texture is why the acrylic paint will not stick to the oil paints.  It is also what causes the acrylic paint to flake.

What Happens when You Accidentally Mix Acrylic with Oil Paint?

What Happens when You Accidentally Mix Acrylic with Oil Paint

When you first mix acrylic paint with oil paint on your palette accidentally, it may seem all is good at first but when you start to apply them to your canvas, that is when you notice that you made a mistake.  The pigments in the acrylic and oil paint are not compatible and will not blend well.  After some time, these pigments will break down and ruin the canvas and the painting.

Acrylic paint cannot stick to oil paint.  As a result, it will dry and age, then start to flake off.  There is no set time when you would start to notice this issue.  Sometimes it will happen right away as it starts to dry but other times it could take weeks before it is noticeable.   There is no getting around this problem as it will eventually happen.

Are You Able to Paint Oils over Acrylic Paint?

Are You Able to Paint Oils over Acrylic Paint

Yes, but there is a certain way you have to do this.  You will need to start with the acrylic paint first but before you can use the oil paint, the acrylic paint has to be completely dried.  If the acrylic paint is damp and you start to try to put the oil paint over the top, the properties of the paints are going to clash.

When using both of these paints you have to make sure that you do not apply the acrylic paint too smooth or too thick onto the canvas.  You want to make sure that the oil will stick to the acrylic paint.  If you are one that primes their canvas before painting, make sure that it will work with both paints.

Can You Paint Acrylic over Oil?

Can You Paint Acrylic over Oil

It is not recommended that you paint acrylic paint over oil paint because the acrylic paints will not hold to the surface.  Also, the drying times are too different to use this process.

Can You Use the Same Paint Brushes for Oil and Acrylic?

Can You Use the Same Paint Brushes for Oil and Acrylic

Yes, you can but the real question is should you.  Most suggest that you have a set of brushes for acrylic paint and one for oil paint.  Even after you clean your brushes with soap and water and a solvent, there is still a chance that some of the paint will still be in the bristles.  As mentioned, these two mediums do not mix well so why use the same brush set for both paints.

For oil paint, most recommend that you use a brush with natural bristles but for water-based acrylic paints, you should use a brush with nylon bristles.  If you decide to use the same brush set for both acrylic and oil paint, always make sure that you clean them thoroughly after using them before you use them for the other type of paint.

Can You Mix Acrylic with Any Other Type of Paint?

Can You Mix Acrylic with Any Other Type of Paint

You can mix acrylic paint with latex paint.  They are not the same but are similar.  They both contain polymers and acrylic resin.  One difference is that acrylic paint is more chemical-based.  Latex paint is more water-based but they can work well together.  Generally, these two types of paint are mixed together when making paint to use on a house and they want the color to have a bit of a change.

You can also mix acrylic paint, which is water-based paint, with other water-based paints such as watercolors, tempera, or gouache colors.   If the oil paints are chemically modified and they are water mixable or water-soluble, then you can mix them with the water-based acrylic paint.

Is Acrylic or Oil Paint More Durable?

Is Acrylic or Oil Paint More Durable

It is shown that oil paint is more durable than acrylic paint.  This is why most artists prefer to use oil paint instead of acrylic paint.  Oil paint does not dry completely so it is bonded to the canvas and acts as a protective barrier for the painting against damage.  What this means is that water-based substances cannot seep through the oil paint and ruing your painting.

This is great if you want to hang your oil painting in the kitchen or bathroom where you may have humidity levels.

Final Verdict

Can you mix acrylic and oil paint, and the answer is no because of several reasons, one being that they are not compatible.  You can use oil paint over acrylic paint, but you have to make sure that the acrylic paint is completely dry.  We also discussed why oil paint is more durable.

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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