Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Walls? How to Step By Step

Bob Thomas


Acrylic paint is a versatile and popular choice for many DIY enthusiasts and professional painters alike.

But can you use acrylic paint on walls?

The answer is yes, and this article will show you how to do it properly.

From selecting the right tools and materials to providing step-by-step instructions, we've got you covered.

Let's dive in!

Quick Summary

To use acrylic paint on walls, follow these steps: 1) Choose the right acrylic paint, 2) Clean the wall, 3) Apply a primer, 4) Paint the wall with acrylic paint, and 5) Apply a protective topcoat. Following these steps ensures a durable and professional finish.

Choose the Right Acrylic Paint

There are various types of acrylic paint available, but for painting walls, it's best to choose a high-quality, water-based acrylic paint designed specifically for interior use.

These paints are durable, easy to clean, and have low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), making them safer for indoor use.

Different Types Of Acrylics:

Heavy Body Acrylics: These paints have a thick consistency and are ideal for creating textured effects on canvas or other surfaces.

They're best suited for art projects or feature walls in living rooms, bedrooms, or studios where a more artistic touch is desired.

Soft Body Acrylics: With a smoother consistency, soft body acrylics are great for painting large areas and blending colors.

They work well for general wall painting in bedrooms, living rooms, and hallways where a smooth finish is preferred.

Fluid Acrylics: These paints have a thinner consistency that can be easily applied with a brush or airbrush.

They are suitable for detailed work, such as murals or stenciled designs in children's rooms, dining rooms, or feature walls.

Acrylic Gouache: Acrylic gouache has a matte finish and is perfect for creating flat, vibrant colors.

It's a good choice for painting accent walls or creating bold patterns in bedrooms, living rooms, or offices.

Acrylic Latex: Acrylic latex paints are water-based and specifically designed for interior and exterior use.

They're durable, easy to clean, and have low VOCs, making them ideal for any room in the house, including kitchens and bathrooms, where moisture and humidity can be an issue.

Acrylic Enamel: This type of paint is known for its durability and resistance to stains and scuffs.

It's perfect for high-traffic areas such as hallways, staircases, and playrooms, as well as surfaces that require frequent cleaning, like kitchen and bathroom walls.

Clean the Wall

Before you start painting, it's crucial to clean the wall to remove any dirt, dust, or grease.

Use a sponge or cloth and a mild detergent mixed with water to clean the surface.

Rinse with clean water and allow the wall to dry completely.

Pro Tip: For areas with stubborn stains or marks, use a stain-blocking primer to prevent them from bleeding through the new paint.

Apply a Primer

To ensure proper adhesion and a smooth, even finish, it's essential to apply a primer to the wall.

Choose a high-quality, water-based primer designed for use with acrylic paint.

Apply the primer with a roller or brush, and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Paint the Wall with Acrylic Paint

Now it's time to paint the wall with acrylic paint.

Use a high-quality, synthetic brush or roller to apply the paint.

Start by cutting in the edges and corners with a brush, then use a roller to paint the larger areas of the wall.

Apply the paint in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Two to three coats are typically needed for full coverage and a professional finish.

Apply a Protective Topcoat

To protect your newly painted wall and make it more resistant to stains and scratches, apply a water-based, clear acrylic sealer or varnish.

Use a brush or roller to apply the topcoat, following the manufacturer's instructions for drying times between coats.

Additional Tips

Test the color: Paint a small patch on the wall and let it dry before committing to the entire room. This allows you to see how the color looks in different lighting conditions and make adjustments if needed.

Maintain a wet edge: To avoid streaks and lap marks, paint one wall at a time and maintain a wet edge by overlapping each new stroke with the previous one. This helps the paint blend seamlessly.

Use a paint grid: Instead of a paint tray, use a paint grid inside a 5-gallon bucket. This allows you to load your roller more evenly and reduces the risk of drips and spills.

Apply multiple thin coats: Applying multiple thin coats of paint will give you a more even finish than one thick coat. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Avoid painting in extreme temperatures or humidity: Acrylic paint can be sensitive to temperature and humidity. Try to paint in moderate conditions to ensure the best results.

Use a roller extension: A roller extension can make painting walls much easier, especially for high or hard-to-reach areas. This helps prevent straining and provides a more even application.

Protect your belongings: Remove or cover furniture, flooring, and other items in the room to protect them from paint splatters.

Ventilate the space: Keep windows open and use fans to improve air circulation. This helps the paint dry faster and reduces the fumes.

Be patient: Allow the paint to dry completely before removing tape or repositioning furniture. This can help prevent damage to the newly painted surface.

Clean up promptly: Clean your brushes, rollers, and other tools immediately after use to prolong their life and make future painting projects easier.

Risks and Considerations

Health hazards: Some acrylic paints may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause respiratory issues or other health problems.

Choose low-VOC or VOC-free acrylic paints to minimize these risks.

Allergies and sensitivities: Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to specific paint components.

If you're concerned, consider testing a small area of the wall first or consulting with a healthcare professional.

Surface preparation: Failing to properly prepare the surface can lead to poor paint adhesion, peeling, or other issues.

Make sure the walls are clean, dry, and free of any loose paint, dirt, or debris before painting.

Color discrepancies: Colors can look different on a wall than they do on a paint swatch or digital representation.

Test a small area before committing to a color to avoid disappointment.

Drying time: Acrylic paint can take longer to dry in high humidity or low temperatures.

Ensure adequate ventilation and avoid painting during extreme weather conditions.

Cleanup challenges: Acrylic paint is water-soluble when wet but becomes water-resistant once dry.

Prompt cleanup is crucial to avoid permanent staining on tools or surfaces.

Environmental impact: The production, use, and disposal of acrylic paint can have environmental consequences. Opt for eco-friendly brands or consider alternatives like lime or clay-based paints.

Accidents and spills: Painting can be messy, and accidents can happen. Take precautions to protect your belongings, flooring, and yourself from paint splatters and spills.

Cost considerations: High-quality acrylic paints can be expensive.

Consider your budget and weigh the benefits of investing in premium paints against potential cost savings.

Skill level: Painting walls may seem simple, but achieving professional-looking results can be challenging for inexperienced painters.

If you're unsure about your ability to complete the project, consider hiring a professional painter.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. What types of surfaces can acrylic paint be used on?

  A: Acrylic paint can be used on various surfaces, including drywall, plaster, wood, masonry, and even metal, with proper surface preparation and priming.

Q. Do I need to prime the walls before using acrylic paint?

  A: Priming is recommended, especially when painting over dark colors, stains, or uneven surfaces.

Priming helps improve paint adhesion, provides a uniform base, and can prevent paint from soaking into porous surfaces.

Q. How do I prepare the surface for acrylic paint?

  A: Proper surface preparation is essential for a successful paint job. Clean the walls with a mild detergent and water, remove any loose paint, repair cracks or holes, and sand rough areas.

Ensure the surface is clean, dry, and free of dust or debris before painting.

Q. How many coats of acrylic paint are needed for walls?

  A: The number of coats needed depends on the paint's opacity and the wall's existing color.

Generally, two coats are sufficient for adequate coverage, but additional coats may be necessary for darker or brighter colors.

Q. What tools should I use to apply acrylic paint on walls?

  A: Use a high-quality paintbrush or roller for applying acrylic paint on walls.

A brush is suitable for cutting in edges and corners, while a roller helps achieve a smooth, even finish over large areas.

Q. How do I clean up after using acrylic paint?

  A: Acrylic paint is water-soluble when wet, so clean brushes, rollers, and other tools with warm water and mild soap immediately after use.

Once dry, acrylic paint becomes water-resistant and is more challenging to remove.

Q. Can I mix different brands of acrylic paint?

  A: Mixing different brands of acrylic paint is generally not recommended, as they may have different formulations that could affect drying time, adhesion, and finish.

Stick to one brand to ensure consistency and optimal results.

Q. How long does acrylic paint take to dry on walls?

  A: Acrylic paint dries relatively quickly, usually within a couple of hours, but it can take up to 24 hours for the paint to cure fully.

Drying time can vary depending on factors such as humidity, temperature, and paint thickness.

Q. Is acrylic paint safe for use in children's rooms and nurseries?

  A: Look for low-VOC or VOC-free acrylic paints, which are safer for children's rooms and nurseries due to lower levels of harmful chemicals.

Always ensure proper ventilation during and after painting to minimize potential health risks.


Using acrylic paint on walls is a great way to achieve a durable, easy-to-clean, and professional finish.

By following the steps outlined above, you can transform your space and add a touch of your personal style. So grab your paintbrush and start painting!

Suggested Products:

  1. High-quality acrylic wall paint: A premium acrylic wall paint provides excellent coverage, durability, and color retention, ensuring your walls look beautiful for a long time.
  2. Primer: A good quality primer creates a uniform base for your acrylic paint, enhancing adhesion and preventing paint from soaking into porous surfaces.
  3. Paintbrushes and rollers: High-quality paintbrushes and rollers ensure smooth, even application of acrylic paint on walls, helping you achieve a professional finish.
  4. Painter's tape: Using painter's tape can help you achieve clean edges and protect adjacent surfaces from paint splatter, making your painting project look neat and precise.
  5. Drop cloths: Protect your floors and furniture from paint drips and spills by using drop cloths, which can save you time and effort during cleanup.
  6. Sandpaper: Sanding your walls with the appropriate grit sandpaper helps create a smooth surface and remove any rough spots, allowing the acrylic paint to adhere better.
  7. Mild detergent: Cleaning your walls with a mild detergent and water removes dirt, grease, and other contaminants, ensuring better paint adhesion and a cleaner finish.
  8. Paint trays and liners: Paint trays and liners help you manage your paint supply and make it easier to load paint onto your brushes and rollers, minimizing waste and mess.
  9. Extension poles: Extension poles allow you to paint higher walls and ceilings without the need for a ladder, making your painting project safer and more efficient.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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