Difference Among Acrylic Paint, Oil Paint and Latex Paint – Comparison Table

Acrylic paint, oil paint and latex paint are three of the most commonly used paint types. There are many differences in various aspects like application, preferable conditions, costing etc which are important to consider before choosing a specific type of paint. It is impossible to say that one paint is better than another in this circumstance. The suitability of the paint in question is dependant upon its use. You may want a low-odor paint, a metal paint or a fast-drying paint, and your needs are going to dictate which paint is the best for you.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint vs oil paint
Acrylic paint on wall

Acrylic paint is known for being a fast-drying paint. It is a pigment-suspension paint that is based in an acrylic polymer emulsion. This means it is easier to make it runny if needed, and it is easier to stretch it so it lasts longer. Acrylic paint is water soluble, which means it is easier to wash off of things if you spill it, both when it is wet and when it is dry. You can modify this type of paint with acrylic gels and other pastes, and you can dilute it to resemble water color, though it is difficult to pull off such a look in a house unless it is going on woodwork. Additives to acrylic paint will allow finishes that are hard to achieve with any other type of paint. Acrylic paint is often considered the most versatile of all three paint varieties.

Related: How To Prevent Basement Leaks

Oil Paint

Oil Paint vs Latex Paint
Oil Based Paint

The binder for acrylic paint is water, as a water-based emulsion suspension is used. The vehicle and binder for oil based paint is a drying oil, such as linseed oil. The biggest difference between all three paints, latex, oil and acrylic, is drying time. Oil-based paints take the longest to dry, and once dry, you will need a cleaning solution to remove dried oil-based paint. Oil-based paint is often the easiest to clean once it is applied. Even things such as felt-tip pen ink on the paint may be wiped clean, and it does a very good job of protecting from water/moisture. Oil-based paint has a higher pigment load, which means the color is often bolder and stronger with oil-based paints.

Latex Paint

Latex paint vs Acrylic paint
Latex paint on wall

This is a thinner paint than most acrylic and oil paints, as it is water based. Despite its watery nature, it has very good adhesive properties. It is a very fast drying paint due to the fact that latex is a naturally fast drying substance, though it does not last as long if it is on metal or plastic. You can put a matte or gloss finish, and latex paints are the only ones that allow you to have florescent colors. Latex paints are often the cheapest type of paint to buy, and are very flexible so they are less likely to chip or crack. They have a very light odor, but they will show brush marks if you paint it on with a brush.

Acrylic paint Vs Oil paint Vs Latex paint comparison table

It is difficult to choose one particular paint over the others because each have their pros and cons. To get a better idea on each of the paint’s qualities, you should know the differences among acrylic paints, latex paints and oil paints. Below is a acrylic vs oil paint vs latex paint comparison table.


Acrylic Paint

Oil Paint

Latex Paint

Can I add water?

Adding water will make it thinner Water will not mix successfully with oil paint Add water to make it thinner

Is it easy to wash off?

It is easy to wash off acrylic paint

It is difficult to remove once it has dried. Turpentine or mineral spirits are often needed to remove it

Whilst wet or partially wet, it is easy to wipe from surfaces

Can it be mixed with other things for a different finish?

Certain additives can give acrylic paint a very unique finish There are few additives available, but oil-based paints offer a wider range of pigments

There are many things you may add, but options are limited when compared with acrylic, still you can make it gloss or matte

Are there other additives that can be used?

Additives may be used to slow drying times if needed Oil-based paints may have glycerin or glycol-based additives added to improve drying times.

You can add fluorescent colors to latex paints, where you cannot with the others

Which is most likely to crack?

Least likely Most likely

Moderately likely

What is the durability like?

Arcylic is more durable than most latex paints, but not as durable as oil paints In terms of frequently-used painted surfaces, it is very durable

Latex paint is pretty durable, but the least durable of all three paints

What is the adhesion like?

Very good in many cases, though often not as good as latex Very good on areas where latex suffers

Excellent on most surfaces except dusty/chalky/wet surfaces

Which will dry the fastest?

Moderately fast Slowly

Latex paints are very fast compared to the other two

Which is best for smooth plastic and metal?

Acrylic paint is in the middle, being okay for smooth plastic or metal, but not the best Oil color paint will do better on smooth plastic and metal

It may adhere to metal or plastic rather well, but will not be as durable as oil.

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