Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Walls?

by Charlie
Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Walls

When painting your home–whether inside or out–you want the best quality paint you can find. You want paint that will last a long time with vibrant colors. While there are a few choices of wall paint, you may consider acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint has a lot of different options so you’ll be able to find one for you. The question is how well it does on walls.

Can you use acrylic paint on walls? Acrylic paint is a great choice when painting walls. Acrylic paint works well on a variety of materials. It is durable and quick drying. No matter where the wall is you can use acrylic paint to great effect.

Is Acrylic Paint Better as an Exterior or Interior Paint?

Acrylic paint works well as both interior and exterior paint. While acrylic paint in general will work outside, there are some brands and styles that are better suited for outdoor use. 

Overall, acrylic paint won’t last as long outside due to the various elements though this is true of all paint. Between the rain and UV exposure, the paint will be more worn down than the same paint used inside. As inside paints aren’t exposed to as many harsh elements they will last longer.

The brands of acrylic paint that work better outside are those that have higher bonding agent concentrations. This allows the paint to form a better bond with the surface its been painted on. That said, all acrylic paints are quite durable and water resistant if not waterproof.

Acrylic paint will also work well on a variety of materials found both inside and out. Some brands will even specify the materials they work best on. 

Pros of Using Acrylic Paint on Walls

Acrylic paint comes with several benefits including:

  • Can be used on many different surfaces
  • Thinning doesn’t require chemicals
  • Dries quickly to reduce the time between coats
  • Once dry the paint is flexible
  • Durable
  • Less toxic than oil-based paint
  • Cheaper than some paints

These benefits are in comparison to other common paint types such as oil-based paints and other water-based paints such as latex paint. When preparing for your project, acrylic paints are often cheaper than your average oil-based paint. From there, the benefits only add up.

The versatility of acrylic paints means that no matter what the wall’s surface is like you can use acrylic paint to great success. In some instances, you may benefit from a primer. When preparing your acrylics all you need for thinning is water. No need to purchase additional chemicals.

Then when you get to the painting you won’t have to wait forever between coats. The quick-drying nature of acrylics speeds up any project. Once you’re done the paint should last a long time as it does not easily crack or peel.

Cons of Using Acrylic Paint on Walls

As with all things, acrylic paints have a few drawbacks. The cons include the following:

  • Once dry it does not easily come out of brushes and clothes
  • Although lower than oil-based paints, acrylic paint does contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  • Can’t be used to paint over oil-based paint
  • Dries darker than it starts
  • Without primer, it struggles with non-porous surfaces

The quick-drying property of acrylic paints can be a double-edged sword when it gets to places you didn’t want it. Accidents will happen. Without preventative measures–drop cloths, painting clothes, etc–you will struggle to remove the paint.

If you are painting on exterior walls the VOC content won’t be as much of an issue. When painting an indoor wall, however, this becomes a problem. You should always wear a respirator and ventilate the area if possible.

While acrylic paint is quite versatile it does require some help when painting surfaces such as metal or glass. Luckily, there are primers specifically designed for this job. Though no matter what you’re painting you need to take the darkening of colors into account.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint Over Old Paint?

If you’re refreshing an old wall you need to know what type of paint was used before. Acrylic paint can be used to paint over water-based paint but not oil-based paint. Attempting to use acrylic paint over an oil-based paint will not work.

Since the two types of paint are so different, the acrylic paint will not bond to the previous oil-based paint. This will cause the new paint to crack, peel, and in general, look awful if it stays up at all.

If you don’t want to use oil-based paint to paint over the same, you can use acrylic paint. This method just requires extra effort. Essentially, you will need to remove the glossy layer of the oil-based paint. This can be done using sandpaper. 

Once sanded you just need to clean the wall. When it’s free of any dust or sanded paint you can start with a primer and then move on to at least two coats of acrylic paint.

If you’re painting over water-based paint with acrylics you can proceed as normal. Use a good primer and go from there.

The Best Way to Use Acrylic Paint on Walls

The key to using acrylic paint on your walls (interior or exterior) is preparation. Start by sanding any old paint. Then clean the wall of any dust or debris. From there you need to set up the area depending on where you are. Then you can start with a primer and then paint.

Sanding will help to remove anything that will prevent the surface from bonding with the paint. Cleaning will do the same. It is best to use trisodium phosphate on the wall when wiping it down. You can find TSP in hardware stores.

Whether you are inside or outside you’ll need to put down a drop cloth. If inside, tape off your edges. If outside, check the weather.

Lastly, use a coat of primer, at least two coats of paint, and a seal if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paint will work great for any painting project. It is not limited to walls whether inside or out. Just be sure to pick up enough of the right brand for your project.

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