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Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

Acrylic paint is a super versatile kind of medium. It has many uses, and it can even be mixed with other paints. When mixing paints, you need to make sure you are staying within the same paint family. Some paints are oil based, while others are water based so you want to make sure you don’t mix oil and water based paints.

So, is acrylic paint water based? Yes! Acrylic paints are non-toxic and water based. There are some acrylic paints that can be toxic due to the colors, but all acrylic paints are water based. This is because acrylic paints are made of acrylic polymers that are suspended in water, making this type of paint water based.

In this article we go over everything you need to know about acrylic paints, and much more! Let’s read on.

Water Based Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is still a fairly new type of medium to the art word. Of course oil paints are known to be what was mainly used in the earlier days, like the 1700’s. In 1955 Liquitex was one of the first brands to make acrylic paint available for local artists.

Their paints are amazing quality and they also have a lot of primers, sealers and great oil paints! So, what exactly is a water based paint?

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Water-based acrylic paint is mainly made up of pigment particles dispersed in an acrylic polymer emulsion. There’s 3 main components in any acrylic paint, which are pigment, binder and vehicle.

Pigments are granular solids which give paint its color. They are milled to a tiny particle size and do not dissolve, but remain suspended in the paint. These pigments can be organic, inorganic, natural and synthetic. A binder is the substance that keeps pigment in place after the paint dries.

Lastly, the vehicle refers to the part of the paint that carries the pigment and binder. In this case with acrylic paints, the water is the vehicle and when combined with the binder, it creates a polymer emulsion.

Is 100% Acrylic Paint Water or Oil Based?

If you find yourself looking at a box or label that says 100% acrylic paint, then it is definitely water based. Oil based paints are advertised as oil paints, and they are sometimes in a different areas away from the acrylics.

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Acrylic paint is non-toxic and 100% water based. This is because of the way the paint is made, which includes its components and chemicals, so there is no way an acrylic paint would have any type of oil paint particles in it.

Are All Acrylic Paints Water Based?

Yes, most acrylic paints are water based, but become water resistant when they are dry. Like we discussed earlier in the article, there’s 3 main components in any acrylic paint, which are pigment, binder and vehicle.

Abstract Painting

Each of these components work to make the paint water-based and not have an oil based texture like oil paints do. Since acrylic paint is so versatile, you can even achieve a different type of finish with the paint.

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For example, you can add water to the paints to give it a watercolor, gouache and even oil paint finish look. This is why acrylic paints are preferred by a lot of artists.

Can You Mix Water Based and Acrylic Paint?

Yes, you can mix other water-based paints with acrylic paint. You can mix chalk paint with acrylic paint, gouache, and even watercolors. One good technique is to allow the first paint to dry, and then layer on the acrylic paint.

You can paint with acrylics and then add watercolors when they’re dry, or vice versa. There are endless ways to paint with acrylics, but the only paint it won’t mix with are oil based paints. The only exception to this is to first paint with oils, let that dry and then add acrylic paint to it.

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You still run the risk of the paint separating once they are both dry, so I don’t usually recommend this.

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

Acrylic paint is not fully waterproof. It does offer some water resistant protection, but if placed under water, it will wash off. In order to make any paint waterproof, you need to protect it with an acrylic sealer.

I highly recommend using Krylon Acrylic Sealer Spray to seal your acrylic painted project. This will protect the paint from flaking, chipping, and even coming off due to weather.

There is also a specific type of waterproof varnish called Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe Sealer. This varnish is designed for those painted projects that you plan on getting wet, like a painted mug, dish or spoon.

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Mod Podge allows you to place your painted item in the dishwasher without worrying that the paint will wash off. It can also be used as a preventive regular sealer in case your acrylic painted project gets wet.

Does Acrylic Wash Off With Water?

If your acrylic painted project is not properly sealed like we discussed above, it will eventually wash off. Since it is a water based paint, water can help dissolve the paint over time. You should always seal your paint with an outdoor sealer, or a waterproof varnish.

Sometimes we accidentally get paint on our clothes, so if you want to remove it you will need to do it while it’s still wet. This will be easier than trying to take if off when it has already dried. You can get a wet cloth and in circular motion rub the paint off.

To get acrylic paint off your clothes, check out my other article that goes over how to remove acrylic paint in the washing machine.

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint?

When it comes to sealing paint you have two options. You can use a brush on varnish or a spray on one. I personally like the spray on option because it allows me to get all the corners of my item, but it’s completely personal style.

A brush on option like Mod Podge, allows you to glaze over with a special brush and apply the varnish that way. You will need at least 24 hours in order for it to fully dry, and before you move the item anywhere. Mod Podge also makes a spray on varnish which I use for my smaller canvases. You can apply 2-3 coats depending on your style, and let it sit for 24-48 hours.

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Always apply the spray 6 inches away from the surface, since spraying too close can cause your paint and varnish to distort. This Mod Podge Applicator Brush is my go to when I’m using a brush-on varnish.

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Types of Water Based Paints

There are a few different types of water based paints. Here are the most common ones:


Acrylic Paint



Paint Pens

Latex Paint

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paint is an amazing medium which you can do tons of projects with. It can be used on glass, wood, paper and of course a canvas. Due to its chemical properties, acrylic paint is water based and not oil based. Water based paints tend to be non-toxic, although very rarely some paints may contain certain toxins in them.

If you need to wash off the paint, make sure to do it while it’s still wet so it will be easier to dissolve. Remember when sealing your acrylic paint, always use 2-3 coats and wait at least 24 hours before handling your item. Whether you want to brush-on or spray-on your varnish, Mod Podge is my top pick.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your acrylic painted project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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