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Acrylic vs Latex Paint: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that interior painting is the number one most popular indoor home improvement project?

If you’re thinking of painting the interior or exterior of your home, or freshening up a piece of furniture, you need to know what is acrylic vs latex paint.

Acrylic paint and latex paint are relatively similar but there are some key differences. If you use the wrong one for a project, it can chip, crack, and weather—or drive up costs unnecessarily.

Not sure which paint to use? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know in this latex and acrylic paint guide.

What Is Acrylic Paint?

If you wondering what is acrylic paint, acrylic paint is made from a mixture of resins and pigments held in a chemical base. Acrylic paint is most commonly used in art projects and typically costs more than latex paint.

Because it’s mostly used in art, acrylic paint usually comes in small containers and doesn’t feature a wide range of colors or finishes.

Acrylic paint is also more flexible and durable than latex paint.

What Is Latex Paint?

Latex paint consists of acrylic and vinyl resins mixed with pigments in a water base. Because latex paint is water-based, it’s very easy to clean up and contains fewer VOCs than acrylic paint.

Latex paint is cheaper than acrylic and usually comes in larger containers. It’s most commonly used for large surface areas and wall painting.

To make things confusing, you also get acrylic latex paint. Now you might be thinking “Wait, what? I thought acrylic vs latex paint were two separate things?” Well, they are, but acrylic latex paint contains just acrylic resins and no vinyl resins.

Acrylic resins are more durable and less rigid than vinyl resins. This makes them better suited for exterior purposes, which is why exterior latex paints usually say “100% acrylic latex” on their labels.

Acrylic latex is the highest quality type of latex paint you can find and is usually the only kind of latex paint you should use for exterior jobs.

For instance, if you’re thinking of creating a modern house exterior by painting the outside of your home, then 100% acrylic latex paint is the way to go.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic vs Latex Paint

Latex paint is cheaper and available in larger quantities and a wider variety of colors and finishes. Because latex paint is water-based it is also less toxic and you can easily clean up spills with a damp cloth.

Acrylic paint is more durable, flexible, and resistant to sun and water. Because of this, acrylic paint is best suited for outdoor furniture projects. It’s also a good option for materials that tend to expand and contract, such as wood.

Acrylic paint also has better adhesion. Therefore, it’s more forgiving to work with if you tend to cut corners with your prep work, or are painting a very porous surface.

Looking For More Useful Tips as a Homeowner?

Now that you’ve read this acrylic vs latex paint guide, what paint is going to be best for your project? If you’re tackling some indoor painting, latex will do the job.

Exterior wall painting? Then acrylic latex is your best option. If you’re painting outdoor furniture or wood pieces, then acrylic paint will give you the most long-lasting results.

If you’re on the hunt for more informative tips as a homeowner, browse the home and garden section of our blog.


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