Skip to Content

Acrylic vs latex paint: Differences and Uses

Acrylic vs latex paint: Differences and Uses

Sharing is caring!

It can be confusing choosing between Acrylic and latex paint. Both paints serve different purposes. I will directly compare two of the most used paints for home painting – Acrylic paint and Latex paint.

Acrylic paint is chemical-based and dries faster, and becomes water-resistant. On the other hand, Latex paint is water-based and easy to clean. It also dries quickly and costs less than acrylic paint.

Using Acrylic paint is best to color exterior areas like stucco, bricks, and plaster, whereas Latex paint is for interiors like walls, trims, and bedrooms.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is water-soluble paint that becomes water-insoluble upon drying. The acrylic resins serve as the carrier for both the coloring pigment and binder. Its chemical composition gives the paint a very rich adhesive property. Because of that, they are common among artists for making paintings and finishing the surfaces of crafts.

Unlike Latex paint, Acrylic paint can’t be washed away by just soap and water. You would require the use of a thinner to clean Acrylic paint off surfaces and paintbrushes. On the flip side, they are easy to use as you can rub them against permeable surfaces with relative ease, and they also come in a rich, wide range of colors.

Where can you use Acrylic paint?

Acrylic paint is best suited to interior surfaces and walls. This is because generally, it doesn’t perform as well as latex paint in the presence of humidity. However, if you can get Acrylic masonry paint, this will be your best option for external walls. That being said, Acrylic paint is what should come to mind when you want to give your furniture a facelift or do some artistic work. Here are examples of surfaces on which it’s best to use acrylic paint

  • Canvas
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Stucco
  • Galvanised metal
  • Wood
  • Plaster
  • Brick

As you can see, there is more variety when it comes to surfaces that can be painted with Acrylic paint. If you intend on remodeling your home, I suggest you get Acrylic paint because there will be lots of surfaces that you’d need to paint or repaint.

Latex paint

In simple terms, latex paint is water-based paint. It contains artificial polymers that behave as natural latex or binder would. Latex paint contains acrylic resins but unlike acrylic paint, they are thinner and dry faster.

Where can you use Latex paint?

From experience, you can use Latex paint almost anywhere. But when you consider what it is made of, it becomes evident that it is better suited to some places. Because water is used as the carrier for the binder and pigment, it is the best choice for humid settings. Unlike non-water-soluble paint, it won’t form gunk on the wall after a while because of dampness. This property also makes it work as a sealing agent. That is, mildew won’t easily form on a surface painted with Latex paint.

Surfaces are best painted with Latex paint

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Plastic
  • Metal

Acrylic Paint VS Latex Paint – Which Costs Less?

Latex paint is significantly cheaper than Acrylic paint.

When it comes to many choices in life, the major determinant is usually cost. Well, that’s why I handpicked this heading. Due to many reasons relating to chemical composition and pigment concentration, Acrylic paint requires more purchasing power than Latex paint. This is also why Latex paint tends to be packed in bigger volumes, as against the small packs of Acrylic paint. However, there is a catch. When it comes to covering the same surface area, you’d require fewer coats of Acrylic paint and more Latex paint. Nonetheless, Latex paint is a more economical option.

Which is Easier to Wash Off?

The latex paint is much easier to wash off surfaces and paintbrushes. This ease of wash is because it is water-based. The acrylic paint, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to remove from surfaces. This is because when it dries, it forms an insoluble and tough acrylic paint film.

Which Dries Faster?

The latex paint dries much faster than the acrylic paint. The absence of heavy chemicals makes it relatively thin and the degree of the thinness of paint determines how quickly it dries. So, latex paint wins this round and the faster a paint dries, the easier it is to use by a painter.

Which is More Durable?

Acrylic paint is more durable than Latex paint.

Even if you’re not a painter, I’m sure one of the properties of paints that you’d always look out for is their durability. If you paint an external wall tomorrow, how long will you have before it starts fading and you’d need to consider repainting it?

The factors that determine how durable paints last are their level of resistance to sun and water. Acrylic paint has special characteristics that make it act like plastic. That is, they contract and expand flawlessly under varying temperatures but this isn’t so for latex paint. Instead of expanding than contracting, Latex paint cracks when continuously exposed to the same weather condition.

Since we are still talking about durability, it will be good for you to know that latex paint fades faster than Acrylic paint when directly exposed to the sun. Not just that, they also don’t perform as well as Acrylic paint when continually run over with rain or water.


Generally speaking, you can’t categorically say Acrylic paint is better than Latex or the other way around. Your choice should be dependent on your needs and other surrounding factors. If you intend on painting a large surface, Latex paint is your go-to. However, if the surface you want to cover is relatively small, porous, and requires high pigment concentration, I’d suggest you go for Acrylic paint.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!