Acrylic Vs. Latex Paint: The Difference And Tips On How To Use

by Anne B. Robinson
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Paint jobs require a lot of planning and a lot of decisions to be made upfront. For instance, you need to decide the order in which you’ll be painting the rooms, choose between paint rollers and brushes, and acrylic vs. latex paint.

There are actually quite a number of paint options to choose from. But if you’re having trouble deciding between acrylic and latex paint, here’s a full comparison to make things easier.

What Is Acrylic Paint?

acrylic paintThe key difference between acrylic vs. latex paint is that acrylic paints are chemical-based whereas latex paints are water-based. Mixing pigment with an acrylic polymer solution gives it more elasticity than latex paint. Because it’s based in chemicals, acrylic paint becomes water-resistant when dry. This is what makes it a popular choice among artists and craftsmen for DIY painting projects.

The term acrylic refers to a wide variety of synthetic resins that are thick and viscous in their solvent form. If you’ve ever attended a painting class you may recall being instructed to thin down the paint with water so it spreads easily.

Although keep note, acrylic paint used for painting on canvases generally differs from the ones used for home projects. Acrylic paint for walls generally comes in much larger cans.

What Is Latex Paint

latex paintLatex is a chemical compound that’s found in the liquid emulsions of flowers and plants such as rubber trees. The reason they’re referred to as “latex” paints is that they used to have a rubber base.

Latex paints today, however, are based in a water solvent. Both acrylic and latex paints are made from acrylic resins and can be used for home projects but latex paint is better for when you need to cover a larger area.

Latex paint contains water so it won’t dry as quickly as acrylic paint. But because of its thinner consistency, it’s much easier to clean from the surfaces of paint brushes and rags. They’re also available with multiple finish options including glossy and matte.

Acrylic Vs. Latex Paint (Pros and Cons)

No paint is better than the other, but they do each have some distinct advantages that make them suitable for certain projects. Here are the pros and cons of acrylic vs. latex paint for you to make a meaningful comparison before you go out to purchase them.

Pros And Cons of Acrylic Paint

Pros:

pros of acrylic paint#1. Acrylic paint can resist the damaging UV rays of the sun and all weather conditions, which makes it a better choice for painting exteriors.

#2. It has strong adhesive properties that make touching up with a second coat much easier.

#3. Acrylic paints retain their pigment much longer so there’s no concern of the paint fading over time.

#4. Acrylic paint expands and contracts in response to temperature change, which prevents cracking and peeling.

#5. Acrylic paints can be used on a wide variety of surfaces. Because of its adhesive properties, it holds up anywhere.

#6. Acrylic paint expands and contracts with changes in temperature. This elasticity, thanks to its chemical base, can prevent crack formations due to weathering.

Cons:

cons of acrylic paint#1. Acrylic paints are chemical-based, which makes it much tougher to clean off brushes or other surfaces with water and soap.

#2. Acrylic paints emit a breathable and safe but unpleasant odor.

#3. Poor variety when it comes to finishes. Most acrylic paints only come with a matte finish.

#4. You may need to use a chemical solvent.

#5. It dries really quickly and becomes hard to remove, leaving no room for mistakes.

Pros And Cons of Latex Paint

Pros:

pros of latex paint#1. Latex is cheaper than acrylic paint and comes in much larger cans.

#2. Latex paint is much easier to clean with soap and water than acrylic paint.

#3. Latex paint is more eco-friendly.

#4. Water-based paints like latex paint have lesser fumes, so there’s little to no odor associated with the paint upon drying.

#5. Dries very quickly and has a recoat time of 4 hours, so you don’t have to wait too long to get a second coat on.

#6. Latex paints are available in multiple finish options.

Cons:

cons of latex paint#1. Latex paint is not as durable as acrylic paint and doesn’t hold up for long on certain surfaces, such as wood. However, there are some excellent brands of latex paint that overcome this to a degree.

#2. Latex paint is not completely water-resistant and might lose color if exposed to rain when painted on exterior walls.

#3. Latex paint tends to cover surfaces especially well and requires fewer coats.

#4. In order to achieve professional results with latex paint, you also need to prime the surface before painting it.

#5. Latex paint is not resistant to the changes in temperature and can peel or crack.

5 Tips On Using Acrylic and Latex Paint

using acrylic and latex paint#1. Regardless of which type of paint you choose, always make sure you apply them on a dry, wiped-down surface.

#2. Once you’ve used a damp cloth to prepare the area for painting, start by applying primer. It’s a necessary undercoat to paint that ensures better adhesion and increases the durability of the paint.

#3. When painting, the best order to follow when it comes to walls is to trim the edges and corners and work your way down in small sections at a time. Use a small brush to paint the edges, so you can make sure to completely cover up the space.

#4. Wait for the appropriate time before proceeding with the application of the next coat. The paint may be dry-to-touch but you need to wait out its curing time before applying another coat to prevent bubbles from forming.

#5. Accessorize well for each paint project. Some areas are small and hard to reach, therefore more suited for smaller paintbrushes whereas the remainder of the wall can be completed much faster with paint rollers.

A Few Parting Words

The key difference between acrylic vs. latex paint is the solvent they are based in. Acrylic paint is made from a pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer solution and resin, whereas latex paint is also made from acrylic resin but dissolved in water.

Both are excellent for home projects although acrylic paint would be better suited for the exterior because it resists weather well. And since the insides of the house don’t have any weather problems, you can use latex paint. It’s cheaper and better for larger surfaces.