Is Acrylic Paint Water-Based? A Comprehensive Guide

Bob Thomas


Acrylic paint has gained popularity in recent years for its versatility, ease of use, and affordability.

One common question about acrylic paint is whether it is water-based or not.

In this article, we will explore the properties of acrylic paint, its advantages, and the different ways you can use it.

As a qualified painter and decorator, I have had extensive experience working with acrylic paint and can offer valuable insights and tips to help you make the most of this amazing medium.

Quick Summary

Acrylic paint is indeed 1) water-based, which means it can be thinned and cleaned with water. This versatile paint is favored by 2) artists and 3) DIY enthusiasts alike for its quick-drying properties, easy cleanup, and adaptability to various surfaces.

Is Acrylic Paint Water-Based?

Yes, acrylic paint is water-based.

It is made of a mixture of pigments, acrylic polymer emulsion, and water.

The water in acrylic paint serves as a solvent that evaporates as the paint dries, leaving behind a flexible and durable film of color.

Because it is water-based, acrylic paint can be thinned and cleaned with water, making it a convenient and low-maintenance choice for artists and DIY enthusiasts alike.

Advantages of Acrylic Paint

  1. Quick-drying: Acrylic paint dries much faster than oil-based paints, making it ideal for projects with tight deadlines or for those who prefer to work quickly.
  2. Easy cleanup: Since acrylic paint is water-based, cleaning brushes and other tools is a breeze. Simply rinse them with water before the paint dries, and you're good to go.
  3. Versatile: Acrylic paint can be used on a variety of surfaces, such as canvas, wood, metal, and even fabric. It also adheres well to both primed and unprimed surfaces.
  4. Vibrant colors: Acrylic paint offers a wide range of vivid and rich colors, which can be mixed easily to create custom shades.

Pro Tip: Acrylic paint can be thinned with water to create a more transparent wash or layered for a more opaque finish. Experiment with different ratios of water to paint to achieve your desired effect.

How to Use Acrylic Paint

  1. Prepare your surface: Make sure the surface you plan to paint is clean and dry. If necessary, apply a primer to enhance adhesion and improve the overall appearance of the paint.
  2. Choose your brushes: Select brushes that are specifically designed for use with acrylic paint. Synthetic bristles are ideal, as they maintain their shape and do not absorb water like natural bristles.
  3. Mix your colors: Use a palette to mix your acrylic paint colors, and be sure to mix enough paint for your entire project to ensure color consistency.
  4. Apply the paint: Start painting using thin layers, and allow each layer to dry before applying the next one. This will prevent the paint from cracking or peeling.
  5. Seal your work: Once your painting is complete and fully dry, apply a protective varnish or sealant to protect your work from dust, UV rays, and moisture.

Acrylic Paint Products

Table: Top Acrylic Paint Brands

Product Line
Best for


Heavy Body

Professional artists



Beginners, students

Winsor & Newton


Intermediate artists



All skill levels

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I mix acrylic paint with oil paint?

  A: It is not recommended to mix acrylic paint with oil paint, as they have different drying times and chemical compositions.

This can result in cracking or peeling of the paint. Instead, use either acrylic or oil paint exclusively for a project.

Q. Can I use acrylic paint on fabric?

  A: Yes, acrylic paint can be used on fabric, but it is best to mix it with a fabric medium to improve its flexibility and washability. Follow the instructions on the fabric medium to ensure the best results.

Q. How long does acrylic paint take to dry?

  A: Acrylic paint dries quickly, often within minutes.

However, drying times can vary depending on factors such as humidity, thickness of paint layers, and the specific brand of paint used.

It is generally recommended to wait at least 24 hours before applying a varnish or sealant to ensure the paint is fully dry.

Q. Can I use acrylic paint outdoors?

  A: Acrylic paint is suitable for outdoor use, as it is water-resistant and durable.

However, it is essential to apply a protective varnish or sealant to protect your work from UV rays, moisture, and other environmental factors that could damage the paint over time.

Q. Is acrylic paint toxic?

  A: Most acrylic paints are non-toxic and safe to use.

However, it is essential to read the manufacturer's instructions and safety information on the paint label.

Avoid ingesting the paint, and always wash your hands after use.


Acrylic paint is indeed water-based, offering numerous advantages such as quick-drying properties, easy cleanup, and adaptability to various surfaces.

Its vibrant colors and versatility make it a favorite among artists and DIY enthusiasts.

Whether you're a professional artist or a hobbyist, acrylic paint is an excellent choice for a wide range of projects.

Remember to always prepare your surface, use the right brushes, and apply the paint in thin layers.

Finally, don't forget to seal your work to ensure its longevity and protection.

Suggested Products:

Acrylic Paint Set: Artist's Loft Acrylic Paint Set - A high-quality, affordable acrylic paint set that provides a wide range of colors, making it perfect for beginners and experienced artists alike to create vibrant and lasting acrylic paintings.

Brushes: Mont Marte Art Paint Brushes Set - This versatile set of brushes offers various shapes and sizes, making it ideal for all aspects of acrylic painting, from fine details to broad strokes.

Canvas: Arteza Stretched Canvas - These pre-stretched canvases are made with 100% cotton and feature a medium grain surface, making them perfect for creating professional-quality acrylic paintings.

Palette: New Wave Art Ergonomic Wooden Handheld Palette - This ergonomically designed handheld palette is perfect for comfortably mixing and holding acrylic paints, making the painting process more enjoyable and efficient.

Acrylic Mediums: Liquitex Professional Acrylic Mediums - A range of acrylic mediums to help modify the texture, drying time, and finish of your acrylic paint, allowing for more creative freedom and enhancing your acrylic painting techniques.

Easel: US Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel - This sturdy, adjustable easel provides a stable platform for your acrylic paintings, helping you maintain proper posture and technique while working on your art.

Varnish: Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Varnish - This high-quality varnish is specifically designed for acrylic paintings, offering UV protection and a durable finish that will keep your artwork looking its best for years to come.

Fabric Medium: Golden GAC 900 Fabric Medium - When mixed with acrylic paint, this fabric medium creates a flexible and washable finish, making it perfect for creating acrylic paintings on fabric surfaces.

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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