Is Acrylic Paint Good For The Outdoors?

Is acrylic paint good for outdoors – Acrylic paint is a beloved choice for artists and crafters alike, but its application for outdoor projects is hazy. While it boasts fantastic qualities like fast drying time and vibrant colors, is it truly built to withstand the elements? Let’s break down the facts to help you decide if acrylic paint is the right tool for your outdoor masterpiece.

Understanding Outdoor Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a versatile and widely used medium known for its vibrant colors, quick drying time, and flexibility. While it’s commonly used for indoor art projects, many wonder if it holds up well when exposed to the elements outdoors.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Outdoors?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint for outdoor projects, but not all acrylic paints are equally durable in outdoor conditions.

acrylic paint for outdoors

Acrylics Are Water Resistant, Not Waterproof

The key thing to understand is that acrylic paint is water resistant, not waterproof. This means it can handle splashes and light rain, but prolonged exposure to moisture will break down the paint film over time.

So, can you use acrylic paint outdoors at all? Absolutely! But with a caveat: You’ll need to take extra steps to protect your artwork.

Choosing the Right Acrylic Paint for Outdoor Use

When selecting acrylic paint for outdoor applications, it’s essential to opt for paints specifically formulated for exterior use. Look for labels such as “outdoor acrylic paint,” “exterior craft paint,” or “patio paint outdoor.” These paints are designed to withstand various weather conditions, including sunlight, rain, and temperature fluctuations.

Choose The Right Application Method for Outdoor Painting

  1. Doormats: Acrylics are outstanding for personalizing doormats, but choose a flat design and apply several coats of sealant for maximum foot traffic resistance. Consider using a stencil for crisp designs.
  2. Wood Crafts: Liven up outdoor wood crafts like birdhouses or signs with acrylics. Opt for a water-resistant wood type like cedar and ensure thorough sealing to prevent moisture from warping the wood.
  3. Metal Projects: While acrylics can adhere to metal, proper surface preparation is critical. Degrease the metal thoroughly, and consider using a metal-specific primer for better bonding. Seal well for weather resistance.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Last Outside

For your outdoor acrylic project to thrive, sealing is essential. Here’s how to make acrylic paint last outside:

  1. Choose the Right Paint: While most acrylics can be used outdoors with proper sealing, some brands offer “exterior craft paint” or “patio paint” formulated explicitly for outdoor durability. These paints may have added UV protection or a more robust binder.
  2. Prime Time: Always prime your outdoor surface before painting. This creates a good bond for the acrylics and helps prevent moisture from seeping in.
  3. Seal it Up: Once your acrylic masterpiece is dry, apply a coat (or two) of a high-quality exterior acrylic sealer. Opt for a sealer with UV protection to guard against fading. Popular choices include acrylic varnish or polyurethane.

Pro Tip: Test your chosen sealer on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it is compatible with your paint.

acrylic painting for outdoors

How to Seal Paint for Small Projects

Outdoor Acrylic Mediums

Explore pouring mediums or varnishes designed explicitly for outdoor acrylic use. These often offer a one-stop solution for adding weather resistance.

Epoxy Resin

For a super durable, glossy finish on small outdoor projects like coasters or stepping stones, consider using a coat of epoxy resin. This creates a watertight seal and adds depth.

Alternatives for Outdoor Projects

While acrylics can be a fun option for outdoor projects with proper sealing, there are other paints specifically designed to endure the harsh outdoors:

Oil-Based Exterior Paint

This classic choice offers excellent weather resistance but requires proper ventilation and has a longer drying time.

Acrylic Latex Enamel

 A good compromise, this paint combines the water cleanup of acrylics with the durability of enamels.

Answering Your Burning Questions

  1. Does Acrylic Paint Fade in the Sun? Yes, even with sealing, acrylics can fade over time under constant sun exposure. Choose lightfast pigments for better resistance.
  2. How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last Outside? With proper sealing, well-maintained acrylic art can last for several years outdoors.
  3. What’s the Best Outdoor House Paint? For maximum durability on your house, opt for a high-quality exterior latex or oil-based paint.

Factors to Consider

Weather Resistance

Outdoor acrylic paints are formulated to be weatherproof and do not fade when exposed to sunlight. They are also water-resistant, making them suitable for use on surfaces that may come into contact with moisture.


Proper surface preparation and sealing are crucial to ensuring your outdoor acrylic paint job lasts for years to come.

Temperature Considerations

Extreme temperatures can affect the performance of acrylic paint outdoors. When painting in hot weather, avoid direct sunlight and high humidity, as they can dry the paint quickly or not adhere properly to the surface. Conversely, painting in cold weather may require additional drying time and careful handling to prevent cracking or uneven application.

Environmental Impact

Acrylic paint is generally considered more environmentally friendly than oil-based alternatives due to its lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content and water-based formula. However, to minimize environmental impact, it’s still essential to dispose of leftover paint and cleaning materials responsibly. Consider donating unused paint to community organizations or recycling it at designated facilities instead of pouring it down the drain.

Maintenance Tips

While acrylic paint outdoors is designed to withstand the elements, periodic maintenance can help prolong its appearance and durability. Regularly cleaning painted surfaces with mild soap and water removes dirt and debris, preventing buildup that can lead the paint to degrade over time. Additionally, applying a fresh coat of clear sealant every few years helps refresh the protective layer and maintains the paint’s vibrant colors.


In conclusion, acrylic paint can indeed be used for outdoor projects when the correct type of paint is chosen and proper sealing techniques are employed. Look for acrylic paints labeled for outdoor use, prepare your surface correctly, and seal your finished project to ensure it withstands the elements and maintains its vibrant appearance for many years. So go ahead, express your creativity, and add colors to your outdoor space with confidence using outdoor acrylic paint!

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