Acrylic Vs Latex Paint: What’s the Difference?

Acrylic and latex paint are two of the most common paint varieties on the market. But what’s the distinction between the two?

Acrylic paint is made with synthetic materials, while latex paint is made with natural materials. Acrylic paint is more durable and resistant to fading and chipping, also known for its vibrant colors. While latex paint is more budget-friendly, flexible, clean up, and easier to work with.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between acrylic and latex paint to help you make the best decision for your project.

Key Differences between Acrylic and Latex Paint

When it comes to choosing between acrylic and latex paint, there are several key differences to consider. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision on which type of paint is right for your specific painting project.

Acrylic Vs Latex Paint

Drying Time

One of the main differences between acrylic and latex paint is their drying time. Acrylic paint typically has a faster drying time compared to latex paint.

Acrylic paint dries quickly, usually within 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the application and environmental conditions.

On the other hand, latex paint takes longer to dry, typically requiring several hours or even overnight for a complete cure.

This faster drying time of acrylic paint can be advantageous when you need to complete a painting project quickly or if you want to add multiple layers of paint without waiting for each layer to dry.

Pigment Concentration

Acrylic paint is known for its high pigment concentration, meaning it has a rich and vibrant color. Acrylic pigments are finely ground and easily mixable, allowing various colors and effects.

And latex paint tends to have a lower pigment concentration than acrylic paint, which may result in a less intense color and require multiple coats for full coverage.


Both acrylic and latex paint are known for their durability, but some differences exist.

Acrylic paint is known for its flexibility and resistance to cracking, peeling, and fading over time. It is also moisture-resistant, making it suitable for outdoor use and high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

Latex paint is also durable, but it may not be as flexible as acrylic paint, which could result in cracking or peeling over time, especially on surfaces that experience a lot of movement.


Both acrylic and latex paint are versatile and can be used on a wide range of surfaces, including walls, ceilings, furniture, and crafts.

But acrylic paint is known for its versatility and ability to adhere to various surfaces, including canvas, wood, metal, and plastic. It can also be used for multiple techniques, such as glazing, pouring, and texture painting.

Latex paint is primarily designed for use on walls and ceilings and may not adhere as well to particular surfaces or be suitable for advanced techniques like pouring.


Regarding cost, latex paint tends to be more affordable than acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint may be more expensive than a latex paint with its higher pigment concentration and fast drying time.

However, the paint cost can vary depending on the brand, quality, and quantity needed for your specific project.

Tips for Choosing the Right Paint for Your Project

Choosing the right paint for your project can significantly affect the outcome and longevity of the result. Consider the following factors when deciding between acrylic and latex paint to ensure you make an informed decision that meets the specific requirements of your project.

Type of Surface

The type of surface you plan to paint is an essential factor to consider when choosing between acrylic and latex paint.

Acrylic paint is highly versatile and can adhere well to many surfaces, including canvas, wood, metal, and plastic. It is an excellent choice for projects that involve different materials or require advanced techniques such as glazing or pouring.

And latex paint is primarily designed for use on walls and ceilings and may be less suitable for other surfaces.

Location of Project

The location of your painting project, whether interior or exterior, is another critical factor to consider.

Acrylic paint is known for its flexibility, durability, and resistance to fading, cracking, and peeling, making it suitable for interior and exterior projects. It can withstand changes in temperature and humidity, making it ideal for outdoor use.

Latex paint is commonly used for interior walls and ceilings, as it may not perform as well as acrylic paint in outdoor environments or areas exposed to high moisture.

Desired Finish

The desired finish of your painting project is another consideration when choosing between acrylic and latex paint. Acrylic paint is known for its glossy finish, providing a smooth, shiny surface appearance.
It is also available in various finishes, including matte, satin, and high-gloss, giving you options to achieve the desired look.

While latex paint typically dries to a more matte or eggshell finish, it may not be as glossy as acrylic paint.

Consider the look and feel you want to achieve with your project when selecting the type of paint.


Your budget is an essential factor to consider when choosing paint for your project. With its higher pigment concentration and versatility, acrylic paint may be more expensive than latex paint.

Despite this, the paint cost might vary based on the brand, quality, and amount required for your job. Establishing a budget beforehand and considering the cost of paint and other project expenses is essential.

Making the Right Choice: Expert Tips

To make an informed decision on the right paint for your project, it’s essential to consider the specific requirements of your painting project. Consider the type of surface, the location of the project, the desired finish, and your budget.

If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from paint professionals or consult with an experienced painter. They can provide expert tips and recommendations based on your unique project needs.

Consider acrylic and latex paint’s durability, versatility, and performance characteristics to determine which suits your project best.

Pros & Cons of Acrylic & Latex Paint

It’s important to evaluate your needs and consider the pros and cons of each type of paint before making a decision. By doing so, you can ensure that you choose the right paint for your project and achieve the desired outcome.

Acrylic Paint

Pros of Acrylic PaintCons of Acrylic Paint
Quick dryingCan be more expensive than latex paint
High pigment concentrationCan dry out quickly on a palette or brush
Water-solubleCan be difficult to blend and achieve soft edges
Can achieve a smooth finishMay require multiple layers for opacity
Non-toxic and easy to clean up

Latex Paint

Pros of Latex PaintCons of Latex Paint
DurableLonger drying time than acrylic paint
VersatileLower pigment concentration than acrylic paint
Resistant to fading and chalkingCan be challenging to clean up
Breathable and moisture-resistantCan have a less smooth finish than oil-based paint
Low odor and non-toxicMay require more coats for coverage

Acrylic or Latex Which One is Right for You?

Choosing between acrylic and latex paint depends on various factors, including your specific painting project, desired outcome, and personal preferences.

If you need paint that dries quickly and has a high pigment concentration for vibrant colors, acrylic paint may be the right choice. Acrylic paint is also suitable for various surfaces and techniques, making it versatile.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a more affordable, durable, and easy-to-clean option, latex paint may be a better fit. Latex paint is also ideal for walls and ceilings in indoor spaces.

Can You Use Latex Paint Instead of Acrylic Paint?

What are the Main Differences Between Acrylic and enamel Paint?

When choosing between acrylic and enamel paint, it’s essential to consider their main differences. Acrylic paint is water-based, dries quickly, and offers vibrant colors. On the other hand, enamel paint is oil-based, providing a durable and glossy finish. Understanding these distinctions will help you make an informed decision when choosing between acrylic and enamel for your next project.

Can Latex Paint be Applied Over Polycrylic Sealant?

When painting over polycrylic, applying latex paint is indeed possible. However, it is important to ensure that the polycrylic is fully cured before adding the latex paint. This will help in achieving a smooth and durable finish. In addition, proper surface preparation, such as sanding and cleaning, is necessary to promote adhesion between the two coatings.

What are the Differences Between Tempera Paint and Acrylic Paint?

Tempera vs acrylic paint difference lies in their composition. While tempera is made from colored pigments mixed with water and a binder like egg yolk, acrylic paint contains pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. This variation leads to differences in opacity, finish, drying time, and durability. Overall, tempera paint offers a matte finish and is popular for its vibrant colors, but it may crack over time. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, dries quickly, has a glossy finish, and is known for its durability and versatility.


Both acrylic and latex paints have unique properties and advantages, and choosing the right one for your project depends on the type of surface, location, desired finish, and budget.

While both types have their pros and cons, acrylic paint boasts a faster drying time, better durability, and resistance to fading and cracking. On the other hand, latex paint is more affordable, easier to clean up, and offers better breathability. 

Evaluating your needs and considering the expert tips when making the right choice is essential. You’ll get great results when choosing the correct paint for your project.

Related: acrylic vs oil painting comparison

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