latex versus acrylic paint

Acrylic vs Latex Paint – Choosing the Right Paint for Your Project

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When you are redecorating your home or refurbishing your furniture you are faced with numerous choices, from what type of paint to use, to what color and finish. We will be considering two types of paint, acrylic vs latex paint. Each one of these paints has pros and cons and certain types of paint are best suited for certain types of projects. In this article, we will be helping make your choice easier by laying out the main differences between acrylic vs latex paint.



Latex vs Acrylic Paint

Many DIY painters trust or believe in one type of paint for everything, however, experience has taught us that different projects need different types of paints. This article will help explain what latex versus acrylic paint means. The main difference between acrylic and latex paint has to do with the composition. Acrylic paint is chemically based, while latex paints are established as water-based.

The elements found within acrylic paints give them more elasticity when compared to latex paint. Cleaning up also slightly varies between the two. Latex paint requires only soap and water to clean up, however, acrylic paint when dry is not water-soluble. So, you need to make sure your acrylic paint does not dry on your brushes or clothes. Clean your brushes immediately after use and wipe your clothes straight away with warm soapy water.

Another difference between acrylic and latex paint; acrylic paint seems to be more resilient and durable, but they are also more expensive. As regards many of the commercial paints, the latex paints are praised for their durability and are always compared to other latex-based paints and never compared with acrylic paints.

When doing artwork, acrylic paint is the preferred paint and when it comes to commercial and home painting, then latex paint is preferred. Now that the main differences between acrylic vs latex paint have been covered, let us consider them in greater detail.

is acrylic paint water based


Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is made up of an acrylic resin and polymer solution in which a pigment is suspended. Is acrylic paint water-based? This type of paint is chemical-based which means that they are water-resistant when dry, and they dry extremely fast. This characteristic is an advantage when used on smaller crafting projects but is not recommended for large areas like walls.

Acrylic paints do not mix well with any type of oil-based paint and will have difficulty adhering to a building wall that was previously coated with oil paint. Acrylic paint is easy to use and adheres to almost any porous surface even if it has not been prepped beforehand.

So, where would you use acrylic paint? Particularly with small craft projects or any surface that contracts or expands easily, in other words, porous materials. If you want to paint your outdoor furniture then acrylic paint is the answer, as it can withstand weather conditions far better than any latex paint. Acrylic paints also seem to be the more popular of the two types of paint.


Latex Paint

What is latex paint and is latex paint water-based? Latex paint is water-based and is in many aspects similar to acrylic paint, as it contains acrylic resins in its formulation. This type of paint is preferred when painting large areas, not just because it dries slower but also because you can purchase it in larger quantities. The main ingredients in latex paint include a resin (binder), pigment, an extender (limestone), and water (thinner).

The term ‘latex paint’ can be a little misleading, as there is no rubber in its formulation. The paint is made of polymers and acrylic resin. In the early 1940s, when latex paint was discovered, they used the resin from the rubber tree as a base. However, today they use a water-soluble base, and the term ‘latex paint’ remains. All paints that are water-based today can be described as ‘latex paints’ and it is solely a generic term.

What is latex paint used for? Seeing that it is supplied in big quantities, it is preferred when painting large areas like your house walls, or even bigger commercial and industrial structures. Since latex paint is not as durable, it is perfect for areas that have less wear and tear such as your kitchen cupboards.

is latex paint water based



Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic Paint is best used when applied to any outdoor projects or smaller art or craft projects. Many users apply exterior acrylics to their residential outdoor surfaces, as these paints are resistant to UV light and water.


  • Due to its chemical composition, it has greater elasticity and can expand and contract with varying temperatures reducing the effect of cracking and flaking
  • Ideal paint for outdoor projects
  • Once it has dried properly it is water-resistant, UV-resistant, and also fade-resistant
  • They are durable and work well on any porous surface
  • You can apply it easily to many different surfaces
  • The painted surface is smooth and level
  • Does not require extensive preparation before applying
  • Has a breathable capability that allows moisture to escape and reduces the effect of blistering
  • Dries quickly
  • Comes in a variety of vibrant colors


  • Because they are chemical-based the paint is a lot more difficult to clean up, especially after it has dried
  • Might contain toxins, always read the label
  • You need to use the spray paint in a well-ventilated area and use protective equipment
  • The paint when dry is not as hard as oil-based paint, so it will show some scuff marks in areas that have an increase in traffic movement
  • Only come in small containers

acrlic vs latex paint



Pros and Cons of Latex Paint

Latex Paint is best used when applying to larger areas like house walls and commercial or industrial structures. The paint is also versatile and can be used on surfaces such as concrete, wood, metal, or brick.


  • They are cheaper than acrylic paint
  • Available in a variety of different colors
  • Can be purchased at almost every hardware and paint store
  • Much easier to clean with some water and soap
  • Latex paints dry fast and are an advantage when painting on large areas
  • Requires fewer coats to cover the surface area
  • Latex paint is non-toxic
  • Dries much quicker than acrylic paint but still requires some time to cure properly
  • Latex paints can easily be cleaned using soap and water
  • Retains the color for much longer than other paints
  • Can be applied to areas that have high humidity, as it is resistant to mildew and mold


  • If you are painting on a surface that has imperfections, then the paint will tend to peel
  • Do not buy low quality latex paint as it will chip and not last long
  • They are not water or UV-resistant
  • Surface preparation is important before applying the paint, otherwise, it will scratch and chip
  • Not a good option for surfaces that experience temperature fluctuations as it is not very elastic



Acrylic Latex Paint

What is acrylic latex paint? This is a water-based latex paint that makes use of 100% acrylic in its formulation instead of vinyl and is regarded as high-quality latex paint. When a greater percentage of acrylic resin is used in the make-up of the paint, the better it adheres to the surface and the more durable it becomes. When vinyl is used in the paint formulation it produces much cheaper paint.

Most of the exterior latex paints tend to have 100% or a large percentage of acrylic in their make-up. This makes the paint more resistant to harsh weather conditions and makes it more elastic.  Interior latex paints make use of a firmer resin in their make-up, like vinyl, and are, therefore, much cheaper. Paint manufacturers make these options available to give you good quality paint but at an acceptable price. We recommend, if you are painting outdoor furniture or an item that is handled very often, you should go with 100% acrylic latex paint for exterior use.

The acrylic latex paint has proven to be popular with amateur or DIY painters, as it is easy to apply and cleans easily using soap and water. The acrylic resins in the make-up of the paint allow for easy application and give off fewer odors or fumes when compared to oil-based paints. The paint is fairly thin and requires more coats to cover any flaws.

Acrylic latex paints are supplied in a large variety of finishes from matte to high gloss and by using additives can produce different textures. Acrylic latex paint dries very quickly within a few hours; however, it takes a few weeks to cure completely.


  • It is environmentally friendly as opposed to oil-based paint
  • Easy to clean-up after painting by using soap and water
  • Has superior adhesion
  • Is very breathable
  • Retains color over time
  • Is very flexible
  • Opaque in color


  • Does not stick to shiny or glossy surfaces
  • Is not suitable for use on unprimed steel surfaces, as the water-base may cause rust
  • The water-base can raise the grain of wood that is not primed

acrylic latex



Painting Your Furniture with Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint will adhere well to wood surfaces but be sure to sand and prime the wood before you apply the paint, as this will guarantee the best results. Acrylic paint is ideal for use on any outdoor furniture as it will expand and contract together with temperature changes.

To start the process use a scraper to remove any old paint on the furniture, then sand it down using fine-grit sandpaper. Next, wash it down to remove all the wood dust and allow it to dry out completely. When ready, apply your paint. You will probably need to apply three coats of acrylic paint and remember to allow the paint to dry properly between coats, which will normally take around four to five hours.

Here is a list of some of the materials you will need to complete the job:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Sponges and cloths
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Various grades of sandpaper
  • Acrylic primer
  • Paint scraper
  • Disposable gloves
  • Respirator or mask



Painting Your Furniture with Latex Paint

When painting your furniture with latex paint, you need to ensure that the wood surface is properly prepared, as latex paint has been known to chip if the surface has not been prepped properly beforehand.

Is latex paint water-based? Yes, latex paint is water-based and will, therefore, not mix well with any oil-based paints. So, if your furniture has been previously painted with oil-based paint, you will have to remove all of the old paint before you can apply your latex paint. Latex paint is ideal for use on furniture that is kept indoors like dressers or chairs.

Sand the piece of furniture well using fine-grit sandpaper and then make sure all the wood dust is removed using a wet cloth.  Let the wood dry and then carry on to the next step. Apply a coat of primer on the furniture and then apply the latex paint. Normally, about three coats should be sufficient. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before applying each coat, which should usually take about two hours. You are not finished yet, as we suggested you apply a top or seal coat to help protect your furniture further. Here is a list of some of the materials you will need to complete the job:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Various grade sod sandpaper
  • Sponges and cloths
  • Latex paint
  • Water-based primer
  • Protective finish or topcoat
  • Disposable gloves

latex versus acrylic paint



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Acrylic Latex Paint?

It is a latex paint that is made-up of 100% acrylic resin as a binder, this makes it extremely durable and is a perfect choice for painting on surfaces that need to resist varying weather conditions.


Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

Acrylic paint is water-based and not oil-based. This makes the paint safer to use and easier to clean up. This is a versatile paint thanks to its convenient water base.


Is Latex Paint Water Based?

Yes, the latex paints are water-based. Water is used as the carrier to make the paints safer and more environmentally friendly.


Is Acrylic Paint Tougher than Latex Paints?

Acrylic paint lasts longer, as it is chemical based which makes it more durable. Acrylic latex paint is the most durable of them all.


Does Latex Paint Dry Fast on Walls?

Latex paint can dry in a few hours but takes about 14 days or even up to 60 days to cure properly. The drying time does depend on the specific product used and the air temperature of the room.


Can I Paint Over an Oil Painted Surface with Latex Paint?

No, you need to first make sure that all the old oil-based paint has been removed, or else your latex paint will not be able to adhere to the surface properly.


What Paint is Best for the Bathroom or Kitchen?

Seeing that these are high-moisture areas we recommend that you use the 100% Acrylic Latex Paint, and generally the satin finish paint provides the best moisture-resistance.


Does Temperature Affect Latex Paint?

Yes, if you are painting indoors make sure the temperature is correct according to the manufactures instructions. When painting outdoors try to wait for a day where the temperature is not too hot or too cold and the humidity is not too high, as this may affect the drying time.


Painting is an essential part of DIY projects and home makeovers, but getting the right paint can sometimes be a challenge. This article should have cleared the air on the differences between these paints, and which ones will be best for your project.


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