Is acrylic latex paint water-based?

When choosing the right paint for your next project, the term can sometimes be confusing. You might have heard “acrylic latex paint” or “water-based paint” thrown around, but what exactly do they mean? Are they the same thing? Well, this blog tackles the question: is acrylic latex paint water-based? We’ll break down the science, explore the differences between acrylic and latex, and answer all your burning questions about these popular paints.

What Exactly is Acrylic Latex Paint?

Acrylic latex paint is a type of paint that combines acrylic resin with latex. Now, you might wonder what precisely acrylic resin and latex are. Acrylic resin is a synthetic polymer that is the binder or the “glue” that holds the paint together. Latex, conversely, is a type of rubbery material derived from the sap of the rubber tree.

latex paint and acrylics

Is Acrylic Latex Paint Water-Based or Not?

The question on everyone’s mind: Is acrylic latex paint water-based? The simple answer is yes. Acrylic latex paint is indeed water-based. Unlike oil-based paints, which use solvents like mineral spirits for thinning and cleanup, acrylic latex paint uses water as its primary solvent.

This translates to a whole host of benefits for you and the environment. Here’s why water-based paints, including acrylic latex, are a great choice:

  1. Easy Cleanup: To clean brushes and spills, use soap and water—no harsh chemicals are needed!
  2. Low Odor: Water-based paints have a minimal odor, making them ideal for indoor projects where ventilation might be limited.
  3. Fast Drying: Unlike oil-based paints, water-based options dry much faster, allowing you to start your project sooner.
  4. Environmentally Friendly: Water-based paints contain lower Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), making them more eco-friendly.

Understanding Water-Based Paints

Before we delve deeper into the characteristics of acrylic latex paint, let’s take a moment to understand what exactly we mean by “water-based” paints. As the name suggests, water-based paints use water as the primary solvent. This means that the pigments and binders in the paint are dispersed in water, making it easy to apply and clean up.

Versatile and Easy to Use

One of the advantages of acrylic latex paint is its versatile use. It can be used on various surfaces, including wood, metal, concrete, and drywall. Whether you’re painting walls, furniture, or trim, acrylic latex paint provides excellent adhesion and durability. It dries relatively quickly, allowing you to apply multiple coats daily.

The Difference Between Acrylic and Latex Paint

You might wonder: What’s the difference between acrylic and latex paint? While the terms are often used compatibly, there are some subtle differences. Acrylic paint is made from acrylic resin, a type of plastic, while latex paint contains a rubbery material. However, the distinction becomes less clear when it comes to acrylic latex paint, as it combines both acrylic resin and latex.

Now that you understand the water-based nature of acrylic latex paint let’s explore some additional concepts:

Acrylic vs. Water-Based Paint

All acrylic paints are water-based. However, “water-based paint” can also encompass other paints, like tempera or mineral paints.

Acrylic Water-Based vs. Latex Over Acrylic Paint

Since both are water-based, you can safely paint latex over acrylic paint. However, ensure the previous coat is clean and dry for optimal adhesion.

Acrylic Latex Enamel Making Durable Finish

If you’re looking for a durable and glossy finish, acrylic latex enamel paint might be the perfect choice. Enamel paints are known for their rugged, smooth finish, ideal for high-traffic areas like doors, trim, and cabinets. Like other acrylic latex paints, acrylic latex enamel is water-based, making it easy to clean up.

latex paint and acrylics

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Latex Paint?

A common question among DIY enthusiasts is whether to mix acrylic paint with latex paint. The short answer is yes, you can. They can be combined to create custom colors and finishes. Remember that mixing paints can alter their properties, so it’s always a good idea to test your mixture on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to your entire project.

Is It Possible to use Latex paint over acrylics?

Another question is whether you can paint over acrylic paint with latex paint. Again, the answer is yes. Since both types of paint are water-based, latex paint can be applied over dried acrylic paint without issues. Just make sure to properly prepare the surface and allow the acrylic paint to fully cure before applying the latex paint.

What is Latex Enamel Paint

You might also have encountered the term “latex enamel paint” in your search for the perfect paint. Latex enamel paint is simply a type of latex paint formulated to mimic the properties of traditional oil-based enamel paints. It offers the durability and glossy finish of enamel paints without harsh solvents.

Is Latex Paint Waterproof?

One common misconception is that latex paint is waterproof. While latex paint is somewhat water-resistant, it is not entirely waterproof. Latex paint can still become damaged or peel over time if exposed to prolonged moisture or standing water. Consider using a specialized waterproof paint or sealant for areas prone to high humidity or moisture.

Important Note: While acrylic paint is water-soluble when wet, once dry, it becomes water-resistant. This means you can wipe down a painted surface without the paint dissolving. However, it’s partially waterproof.

Answering the Common Questions

Let’s address some frequently asked questions to clear up any remaining confusion:

Is 100% Acrylic Latex Paint Water-Based? 

Absolutely! “100% Acrylic” refers to the type of resin used in the paint, not the base.

Is Acrylic Latex a Water-Based Paint or Oil-Based Paint? 

Acrylic latex is water-based. Oil-based paints have a strong odor, require solvents for cleanup, and take longer to dry. They are generally not recommended for interior walls.

Is Interior Acrylic Latex Paint Water-Based?

Yes, This makes them perfect for refreshing your living space without harsh fumes.


In conclusion, it is a versatile and easy-to-use option for various painting projects. Whether you’re painting walls, furniture, or trim, acrylic latex paint offers excellent adhesion, durability, and easy cleanup. And also you can read about Can you mix oil and acrylic paint. So, next time you’re browsing the paint aisle, remember that acrylic latex paint is the perfect choice for all your water-based painting needs.

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