Is Acrylic Paint Waterbased?

Many people assume that all paint is made of water, liquid glue that you mix with pigment to create colors. This assumption is false! Most acrylic paints are not actually composed of water at all!

Acrylics contain two components: an alcohol base and a polymer resin. The alcohol content does not dissolve in water, so it is usually discarded before applying the paint onto your surface.

The polymer resin component- what makes the material solidify into a coating- is what gives the paint its qualities. These properties include durability, ease of use, and quality color production.

There are several types of acrylic resins used in different industries for various applications. Different brands have their own special formulations they add to the basic ingredient structure to make them unique.

Difference between waterbased and oil-based paints

Many people assume that all painting materials are either totally free of oils or contain only very small amounts, if any. This is not the case for professional artists!

Oil has been used as a medium for creating art for centuries, and it still can be found in most artistic disciplines today. It is extremely important to know what kind of paint you have in your hand and how to use it properly.

Oils are the most common type of liquid acrylics due to their versatility. You will probably find them in almost every genre of painting. They are usually characterized by having thicker layers which take longer to dry than other types of acrylics.

Acrylics that say they are “waterbased” do not mean that they are completely devoid of oils. All of the oils that go into producing an acrylic coat also contain ethyl alcohol, the solvent. Just like with normal liquid acrylics, this alcohol helps lower the viscosity or thickness of the material so that it can be spread more easily.

But unfortunately, some companies add too much alcohol to prevent the thinning effect, leading to thinner coats and possibly dripping colors down your clothes or onto your hands.

How water-based and oil-based paints differ

Recent developments in paint technology have led to new types of painting materials that are considered either “waterbased” or “oil-based.” Technically, these terms refer not only to what kind of medium the paint is mixed with, but also whether the liquid component contains oils or alcohol.

But beyond those distinctions, most people simply use the term “waterbased” for anything that does not contain petroleum derivatives (or at least very few ingredients that do). This includes many types of acrylics as well as some non-acrylic hotglues, stains, and other products used for mixing and applying colors.

Acrylic is probably the best known type of waterbased paint. It is typically made from purified terephthalic acid (PET) or ethylene glycol (EG) resin that has been mixed with polymeric spirits such as methyl methacrylate (MMA), which acts as a solvent. These liquids can be combined into a paste, squeezed through a nozzle, and then dried to form a solid layer of paint.

Some brands add additional components such as cobalt or titanium salts to give the paint a metallic sheen. While never containing animal fats like traditional oils, some versions of acrylic paint do sometimes include small amounts of mineral oil as an additive to help them flow out of the bottle. This ingredient is usually less than 2 percent, however, so it will not affect how the paint functions.

What makes water-based paint dry faster

Recent developments in acrylic painting include using more liquid paints to reduce the time it takes for the painted surface to completely dry. These types of liquids are referred to as being “waterbased” or even “no-alcohol” due to their lack of alcohol, which is usually made from ethanol (the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages like wine and liquor).

Acrylics that do not contain ethanol take longer to fully cure than ones that do. This is because they need to be mixed with another chemical agent called methyl methacrylate (MMA) before you can apply them onto your canvas.

The solvent in this second mixture evaporates over time, taking longer to disappear if the paint is left exposed to air or dried too quickly. It is important to let these paints dry properly to ensure their lasting quality.

What can make water-based paint more expensive

Many people believe that all acrylic paints are considered to be “waterbased” or “completely natural.” This is not the case, however!

Some brands of acrylic paint contain small amounts of alcohol as an additive. These additives do not negatively affect use of the product, but they do contribute to the overall cost of the paint.

The amount of alcohol used in each color batch of paint varies depending on the brand. Some brands do not add any alcohol while others may use very little (less than two percent) withing the limits set by federal law.

However, there are some colors which seem to use much higher percentages of alcohol. It is important to know what products in the price of the paint are due to the alcohol content and if this influence is worth it for you.

What should you look for when buying water-based paint

Recent developments in acrylic painting have shifted the focus away from oil as the medium of choice to use. Many artists now choose to use water-based paints instead!

Acrylic is derived from hydrocarbons, which are made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The length of each atom’s chain varies depending upon the chemical compound that it is part of.

Hydrocarbon molecules can be either saturated or unsaturated. Saturate means there are no double bonds between two atoms, while an unsaturated bond exists.

A given molecule will always lose electrons and become unstable if it loses one more electron. This process is called oxidation, and occurs every time we open ourselves up to something new.

When an element does this, its atoms change shape to gain energy by combining with other elements. In this case, they give off a positive charge and combine with another neutral atom to make a stable ionic pair.

This process happens so quickly that people often refer to it as ‘combining’ rather than oxidizing.

Painting tips for water-based paint

When painting with acrylics, how you prepare your surface can make a big difference in the quality of the finished product. As mentioned before, never scratch or scrape the surface of your canvas!

This could damage the surface and prevent it from accepting the thin layer of acrylic that will be used to coat it. Also, are your brushes clean? They should be crisp and smooth so that you do not spread too much pigment onto the surface of the canvas.

Acrylic is a chemical compound that contains hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The oxygen atom bonds with other molecules and the hydrogen atom bond with other electrons which create strong forces. These forces weaken as the paint dries, making your painted piece vulnerable to destruction or shattering.

Surface preparation
After washing and prepping your surface, put down a good primer coating. This helps set up the adhesive properties of the acrylic and gives extra strength to the newly painted layer. Most professional artists use a clear spray priming solution called “sealer” or “glaze” to ensure this.

Be careful not to overdo it though, more is not better when painting with acrylic! Too much selzer may cause peeling, and glazing requires just enough to set properly.

General rules about using acrylic paints

Never mix colors directly into another color, instead dilute each color slightly and apply them together.

How to mix water-based and oil-based paints

Recent trends in painting have been using either acrylic or oils as your medium. These are referred to as water-based media because they contain some of our natural element, hydrogen, which acts as a solvent to bind together most materials including other types of paint.

Acrylic is the more common choice when beginning artists. This article will talk about how to mix watercolor mixes with tips that work for both!


We know what it looks like when people say “acrylic” but we cannot attest to the effectiveness of any products advertised as containing this term. We have never used a product that says “water soluble glue” on its can so we cannot verify whether or not it works. Similarly, we have never tried a tool called an “acid brush” nor do we want to be one!

From the Wikipedia article linked above: An acid brush is a special painting tool designed to apply acid onto another surface. Acid brushes typically have very fine hairs made out of titanium or platinum wire mixed into polyurethane.

Painting tips for acrylics

When experimenting with new paints, it is important to learn the paint tools and materials properly. For example, you should know what type of brush to use, how to mix colors, and when to apply thin layers or thicker ones!

One of the most common questions artists ask about acrylics is if their paint is water-based or oil-based. Technically speaking, every medium we use as painters is either waterbased or oils. Oils are just heavier than water.

Acrylic paints are considered to be more durable than oils because they contain less volatile components that will eventually evaporate. This makes your painting last longer! However, oils have higher color intensity so they can look slightly faster before all dries up.

Overall, whether an acrylic paint is referred to as waterbased or not depends on who you talk to and what kind of results you want to achieve. Some people consider any brand of acrylic paint to be waterbased while others say only those brands made by craft stores are truly waterbased.

We would always recommend reading our article on why choosing latex brushes is the best option for beginners!

If you are ever unsure whether an acrylic paint is waterbased or not, test some drops onto a piece of paper and see! 🙂 Let us know what you find in the comments below.

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