Acrylic vs Latex Paint-Difference Between Latex And Acrylic Paint  

Are you wondering what type of paint you should use for your home painting project?

It could be that you are planning to refurbish your furniture and are unsure what kind of paint to use. So, you can use either acrylic paint or latex paint for craft projects. Even though these two products are made from acrylic resin, they have some key differences as well.

The purpose of this post is to explain the differences between these two types of paint acrylic vs latex paint and how to use them. Now, Take a closer look at how these two types of paints (latex vs acrylic) differ and which has advantages and disadvantages over the other. People often ask,

Is acrylic paint the same as latex? 

Not at all. Here are the differences between them.

Acrylic vs Latex Paint Comparison Chart

FactorsAcrylic PaintLatex Paint
BaseAcrylic polymerWater
Dry Time20 min for touch to dry
1 to 2 hours for thick layer
1 to 2 hours
The level of VOCsModerateNone to low
CoverageGoodBest
Clean-upHard (thinning agent required)Easy (only water)
ApplicationDifficultEasy
DurabilityBestGood
UV ResistanceHighLow
Resistant to mold/mildewHighLow
Tolerance to temperatureBestGood
Used forWood, glass, fabric, metal, plasticInterior and Exterior paint jobs
AdhesionBestGood
CostHighAverage price
AvailabilityLimited availabilityWidely available

Difference Between Acrylic And Latex Paint   

is acrylic paint latex

In some ways, latex paint can be misleading. Latex paint doesn’t contain rubber latex. Basically, it is just a term for any water-based paint. Latex paint is a better choice in most interior applications due to its cheaper price and ease of use.

On the other hand, acrylic based paint is chemical based and provides a greater degree of durability and weather resistance than latex paint, so it makes a good choice for exterior applications, even though it is more difficult to work with.

It is first necessary to clarify what each painting medium is, how it is made, and what it is used for before we can evaluate its benefits. Let’s begin with latex paint.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Chemicals and acrylic resins are used to make acrylic paints. These chemicals make acrylic paint resistant to weather and durable. It is also more elastic, which allows it to flex when wood expands and contracts due to changes in temperature and humidity.

Their vibrancy and texture come from resins. Acrylic based paint are widely used by artists and crafters because they are a quick, easy-to-use medium.  

In addition, Acrylic paint is stronger and requires a thinner or harsh chemical to clean up your area.

Latex based paint permits water to pass through, where as acrylic paint becomes water-resistant as it dries. Painting house exteriors with 100% acrylic binders usually lasts longer than acrylic latex paint.

What is Latex Paint made of?

People often ask, “Is latex paint water based?” In a word, yes. Latex paints contain water, while acrylics do not. 

Latex based paint also comes in different gloss finishes while acrylic paint usually produces a matte finish.

Most latex based paint are made with a water base, which is a major reason for its popularity. Water-based paint dries quickly, easier to clean, and emits very little VOCs compared to other paints.

Important tip:

If you want the best bathroom paint, choose a high-quality acrylic formula instead of an oil-based formula. Also, make sure you use “bathroom paint” that contains mold-inhibiting agents. 

How Do Acrylic and Latex Paint Differ?

latex paint vs acrylic

Now that you know about Latex vs Acrylic paint, let’s take a closer look at the qualities of each paint ( acrylic and latex paint ). Understanding the following differences will help you choose the best paint for your painting project. 

Adhesion

Acrylic based paint offers superior adhesion than latex. If you prime the surface properly, acrylic paints adhere exceptionally well to a wide variety of surfaces, such as metal, wood, masonry, and some plastics.

However, latex paint is most commonly used as a coating for drywall and wood products.

Resistance to weather

Acrylics is sometimes used as an exterior coating instead of latex because acrylic is more resistant to weather than latex. Both acrylic and latex are pliable, which allows them to contract and expand with changes in temperature. Therefore, they are considerably less prone to cracks and peeling than oil-based paints.

When compared to latex, acrylic has greater weather and water resistance. Acrylic paint is also better at resisting sun’s UV rays than latex paint, so it will hold its color for longer.

Durability

Latex and acrylic both offer good durability. However, acrylic paint is more durable and weather-resistant than regular paint. In contrast to latex paint, acrylic paint can better resist damage such as scratches and marks. For this reason, acrylic paint is often used for high traffic paint jobs such as painting indoor or outdoor furniture, floors, exterior doors, or stairways.

User-friendly

You can easily handle latex paints as they cover the surface more smoothly. It takes a long time for the latex paint to dry, so you won’t have to worry about its performance ability. Comparatively, acrylic paint dries quickly. But this can be problematic as fresh paint will not mix well with already dried paint when working on larger projects. So, one must work quickly if they are using acrylic for large exterior projects.

Also, you’re more likely to see brush strokes with acrylic paint because acrylic is thicker than latex paint. Therefore, when you apply acrylic paint, you must use high-quality brushes and rollers.

Cleaning purpose

Water is all you need to use for latex based paint whereas paint thinner was required to clean acrylics. The process of cleaning with paint thinner is time-consuming and messy. Also, the fumes from paint thinner are also harmful, as it contains high amounts of VOCs.

Fortunately, most acrylic paints are water-soluble today, so brushes and rollers can be washed with just warm soapy water.

Pricing and Availability 

Almost all home improvement stores that sell house paint carry quality latex paint at a relatively low price. There are many manufacturers of latex paint that cater to a variety of budgets and needs. However, acrylic paint is much more expensive than regular paint. The cost of 100% acrylic paint is typically twice that of latex paint. Acrylic is also more difficult to find, so you’ll usually need to go to a paint specialty store like the pros.

Acrylic vs Latex Paint Comparison Chart

FactorsAcrylic PaintLatex Paint
BaseAcrylic polymerWater
Dry Time20 min for touch to dry
1 to 2 hours for thick layer
1 to 2 hours
The level of VOCsModerateNone to low
CoverageGoodBest
Clean-upHard (thinning agent required)Easy (only water)
ApplicationDifficultEasy
DurabilityBestGood
UV ResistanceHighLow
Resistant to mold/mildewHighLow
Tolerance to temperatureBestGood
Used forWood, glass, fabric, metal, plasticInterior and Exterior paint jobs
AdhesionBestGood
CostHighAverage price
AvailabilityLimited availabilityWidely available

What is latex paint used for?

Girl using latex paint over latex paint
Girl using latex paint over latex paint

It is common for homeowners and contractors to use both types of paint since they are available in a wide range of colors.

Generally, latex is usually preferred for covering large surfaces since it is sold in bulk quantities than acrylics.

Latex paints have the advantage of having no odor as they are water based. Therefore, they are less toxic and safer for skin, children, and pets. 

Benefits of Using Latex Paint vs Acrylic

Latex paints are a fantastic indoor paint option due to their low odor and low toxicity. Moreover, they are able to retain their color for a long time. If you plan to paint in high humidity or moist areas, this would be an excellent paint medium to use. A dry surface is also recommended for the best results.

Pros Water-based paint
  • No chemicals needed for cleaning
  • Quick drying
  • It comes in various finishes
  • Durable and resistant to mold and mildew
  • Chalking-resistant
  • Latex paint is easier to find and cheaper than acrylic
  • Less toxic
  • Excellent coverage with fewer coats
  • Less harmful to the environment
Cons
  • Unsuitable for outdoor use
  • Low resistance to extreme temperatures
  • Cheap latex paint often chips
  • Needs to be applied to a primed and dry surface
  • Latex paint has little elasticity

Why do we use acrylic paint?

Using Acrylic paint on plastic
Using Acrylic paint on plastic

It is possible to use acrylics paints on many surfaces, including paper, wood, canvas, plaster, and ceramics!

So they’re perfect for DIY projects around the house or for upcycling furniture.

Also, acrylic is a durable and easy-to-use material. A great benefit of acrylic is that they are breathable, so they have a higher resistance to sun and water damage once they are dry. 

They are also able to expand and contract, so they are a great choice for outdoor painting and won’t fade over time.

Benefits of acrylic paint vs latex Paint

Your latex paints will not adhere to both indoor and outdoor surfaces as compare to acrylic paints. 

Wood and other porous surfaces can easily be renewed with these coatings since acrylics are easy to use and apply. They flow easily onto the surface and offer an array of color options.

These paints will also not be affected by weather conditions or climate changes.

Pros Acrylic-based paint
  • Elastic properties of acrylic paint
  • Great resistance to sunlight and water than latex paint
  • Quality acrylic paints may not require a topcoat
  • Their adhesive properties are good for porous surfaces.
  • It expands and contracts with temperature, so it is ideal for wood or outdoor furniture.
  • Suitable for a wide variety of surfaces
  • Color pigments are not faded with time
  • Heat or moisture have no effect on them
  • Breathable and won’t crack
Cons
  • The cleaning process requires chemical solvents
  • Available in smaller quantities
  • Fewer finishes available
  • Quite expensive
  • It contains toxic chemicals that burn easily
  • It’s less eco-friendly than latex paint

Acrylic vs Latex Paint For Furniture

How to Paint Furniture with Acrylic Paint?

Here are a few tips on painting furniture with acrylic paint. The best way to ensure a smooth painted surface is to sand and prime the furniture piece first. When painted, acrylic paint releases toxic fumes due to its chemical composition.

If you wish to apply acrylic paint or remove an old coating, you should wear safety goggles and a mask.

You will need: 

  • Different grit sandpaper
  • Brushes
  • Acrylic paint and primer
  • Sponge and rough cloth
  • Dish soap or paint thinner
  • Painting scraper
  • Painting mask
  • Gloves

Remove old paint from furniture using a paint scraper

You can use finer grits for sanding, then clean and prime the furniture piece before you apply acrylic paint. The acrylic paint usually requires one to three coats and it is usually dries in between coats within two to five hours.

What are some good projects to use acrylic paint for? 

You can use acrylic vs latex paint for interior walls, furniture, trim, cabinets, bathroom, fabric, wood and ceiling. Also, Acrylic paint is also ideal for creating handwritten signs.

How to Paint Furniture with Latex Paint?

You should prepare furniture before you paint with latex paint. If latex paint is not properly prepped, it will chip. Also, you’ll need to remove any oil-based paint from a piece of furniture before painting it with latex paint. 

You’ll want the following supplies:

  • Sandpaper
  • painting brush
  • water-based primer and latex paint
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Paint scraper
  • Gloves
  • Top coat protective material

Steps:

  • You can scrape old paint off furniture with a paint scraper.
  • Sand the piece well before applying latex paint to ensure that it adheres well to the surface.
  • Apply an even coat of primer on the piece of furniture.
  • After that, paint the furniture piece. A layer of latex paint is generally applied two to three times to furniture. 
  • The drying time between coats of latex paint is usually one or two hours. A clear topcoat will help seal and protect latex-painted furniture.

Which DIY projects should you use latex paint for?

  • It is easy to refurbish old furniture with latex paints.
  • Color your accent pieces with latex paint.
  • You can also use latex paint on chairs.

Conclusion on Acrylic paint versus Latex Paint

This article about acrylic vs latex paints was hopefully informative to you. Both acrylic and latex paints have their advantages and disadvantages when used for different types of projects.

Now you should know all about choosing the right paint for your next furniture painting project.

Happy painting!

FAQs on acrylic versus latex paint

Which is better latex or acrylic paint? 

The two mediums often use similar color pigments, but they both function very differently. Acrylic paints are chemically based, they are more durable and versatile than latex paints. So, it is a suitable choice for outdoor use. However, Latex paint is safer to use than acrylic because it is water-based. It can be easily removed from surfaces. Latex paint is easy to apply and cheaper in price which makes it more suitable for most interior design projects.

In comparison of acrylic over latex paint, acrylic paints are matte or have fewer gloss options than latex paint. It is also possible to paint with acrylic paint on a variety of surfaces without being damaged since acrylic is elastic and breathable.

What is acrylic latex paint?

Acrylic paint latex is a water-based paint containing acrylic resin. It is for this reason the acrylic mediums are usually thicker than water-based options. It is not possible to clean up these paints with water. Instead, you will need chemicals or thinners.

Acrylic paints are so durable as compared to oil or latex paint. Latex acrylic paints combine the best aspects of acrylic and latex paints that will last a long time. However, acrylic latex is very expensive.

The water-based nature of acrylic paints allows them to dry quickly and are safe to use. Since oil paints are oil-based, they are slow to dry and can pose health risks.

What are water based latex paints?

The most common type of paint used on walls and ceilings is water-based. It has fewer toxins and requires less cleaning than oil-based paint. Water-based paints are available in eggshell, matte, and high-gloss finishes.

Which is better, Acrylic enamel vs acrylic latex?

The enamel paint is mostly oil-based, while acrylic paint is water-based material. Many surfaces such as wood, plastic, metal, and glass can be painted with enamel paints. Enamel paint is much more durable and long-lasting than acrylic paints. However, acrylic paint dries faster than enamel.

Can acrylic paint be used over latex paint?

Acrylic paint is water-based, so it can be applied directly to latex-based paints. However, it is necessary to clean the surface from dust and debris before painting acrylic paint over latex. It is advisable to use acrylic paint when painting a wall.

What does 100% acrylic mean?

A good quality latex paint that contains “100% acrylic” binders is especially durable and flexible. They adhere extremely well to a wide range of exterior surfaces, which means they are less prone to blistering, flaking, and peeling problems.