Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

Our content may have affiliate links that can result in commissions for qualifying purchases, full details in our privacy policy.

More and more people have been reaching out with various questions about acrylic paint over the last few months and although we have already answered a number of them, we have seen people asking if acrylic paint is water based more frequently. Although the answer does seem obvious to many experienced artists, there are a few little nuances in there so we wanted to publish this dedicated article on the subject.

Our hope is that we will be able to help all of our readers ranging from artists, to people involved in general arts and crafts, to parents just looking to get some acrylic paints for their children. Due to covering a range of peoples needs with the article, we are going to be covering a few additional questions as we work our way through the answer below too in an attempt to offer the best answer possible.

Due to covering a few different questions, we have added a table of contents below. This will allow you to quickly and easily click any of the featured questions and instantly be taken to that section of the article so you don’t have to skim everything to help save you time.

Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

Although the vast majority of acrylic paint on the market is water based, there are a small number of specific formulas that do have a higher amount of chemicals in them. These are very rare though and usually have a very specific use case so the majority of acrylic paint our readers use will be water based.

These days, the majority of people do tend to buy their acrylic paint online with some people still purchasing it in their local arts and crafts store. Both options will clearly state if the acrylic paint that you are purchasing is water based or if it does have a higher concentration of chemicals in it.

Please note, if you are specifically looking for an acrylic paint for your children then they will be regular water based paints for the saftey of your child. That said though, depending on the age of your child, opting to use poster paint or tempera paint may be a cheaper and easier option for children.

Is Acrylic Paint The Same As Water Based Paint?

Although the vast majority of acrylic paints are water based, not all water based paints are acrylic. Acrylic paints are usually based on acrylic polymers suspended in water making them water based but water color paints are usually pigment suspended in water and gum arabic making them water based too.

There are additional paint types on the market that are water based too although acrylic paints do tend to be the most popular option due to them being usable on more surfaces than the other paints. Paint types such as water color paints usually need a porous surface to be effective where as an acrylic paint tends to work on a range of different surfaces without issue.

We often see people, especially beginners to painting and arts and crafts presume that acrylic paints and water based paints are the same when they are not. As we see people accidentally ordering the wrong paints on a regular basis, we just wanted to try and clear that up a little bit to help our readers avoid making the mistake.

Are All Acrylic Paints Water Based?

Although the vast majority of acrylic paints are water based, there are a small number of industrial acrylic paints that have a higher concentration of chemicals in them. Although you could argue that these are still technically water based, the higher chemical usage in their formula can also be seen as making them chemically based.

As we mentioned earlier in the article though, these acrylic paints that contain these chemicals are very rare and are usually only used for industrial purposed and have to be ordered through specialist suppliers. The vast majority of the acrylic paint that you are able to order online or pick up in your local arts and crafts store will be water based.

We have noticed people trying to make their own hybrid paints at home too by taking an acrylic paint and then adding different paint types to it. As we mentioned earlier, with so many paint types being water bases, these can work well together but try to avoid mixing water based and oil based paints with each other.

Is Acrylic Paint Oil Based?

No acrylic paints are oil based with the vast majority of them being water based. Even industrial acrylic paints with higher concentrations of chemicals in them are still technically water based. This will not change due to water and oil mediums not mixing well together making it very hard to make an oil based acrylic paint.

If you are wanting to get involved in oil painting then there are a number of excellent oil based paints that you are able to pickup without having to break the bank. Oil paints do tend to behave slightly different to acrylic paints though with acrylic paints tending to be the easier and more beginner friendly option.

If you do want to try your hand at using oil based paints in your arts and crafts sessions then reading our ultimate guide on oil paint mediums may be worth it. This will help you avoid the common mistakes of using the wrong medium in the wrong situation and help ensure that you get the most out of your oil paints in the future.

Can You Make Your Own Homemade Water Based Acrylic Paint?

It is surprisingly easy to make your own homemade water based acrylic paints and most people tend to think that it is much harder than it actually is. Just keep in mind, although acrylic paint is water based, you don’t necessarily need to add water to pigment to make the paint.

The easiest way to make your own water based acrylic paint is to take a pigment powder for the color of acrylic paint that you want to make then add it to a medium. We usually recommend that you use a clear gesso acrylic as it tends to be the easiest option, especially for beginners.

You have to add the pigment in small amounts and then mix it into the gesso before adding more pigment powder. This is a common issue as people often add way too much pigment to their homemade water based paints causing them issues from the very start. Adding small amounts of pigment powder in stages is usually a much easier method while also usually offering a better end result too.

Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off With Water?

Due to acrylic paint being water based, it does tend to be very easy to wash off with water without you having any major problems with the paint. Most of the time you won’t even need soap and just a little warm water on a cloth should be enough to wash the acrylic paint off as required.

We have a dedicated article on how washable acrylic paint is on various surfaces to helping to ensure that you can quickly and easily wash acrylic paints off when required. Depending on the surface and how long the acrylic paint has been left to sit, you may need a few of the tips and tricks in that article to wash it off.

If you are trying to clean acrylic paint off your brushes between colors or are wanting to wash fresh acrylic paint off your skin or cloths then it does tend to be very easy though. If you paint in an area with carpet then be sure to check the carpet after e very painting session to prevent it from drying up and being harder to remove too.

What Is The Difference Between Acrylic Paint And Latex Paint?

The traditional difference between acrylic paint and latex paint used to be that acrylic paint used acrylic polymers where as latex paint used latex in their paint formulas. Over the years, this has changed though and with both being water based, there is a fair amount of cross over in their modern formulas.

This can add a fair amount of confusion to the process of buying paints for specific tasks such as home decor as the labelling and marketing for the paints is confusing and done badly in our opinion. When it comes to the paints for arts and crafts though, you will usually only see acrylic paints listed with very few latex paints being used.

As both acrylic and latex paints are water based products, brands have blended the lines between them over the years making it increasingly difficult to define what one is and its differences over the other. We expect this to continiue in the future too making it harder to actually know what is in the tub of paint without having to read the instructions.


That brings our article going over if acrylic paint is water based to a close and we hope that you have found it helpful. Although the vast majority of acrylic paints on the market are water based, there are a very small number of products out there that can technically be seen as being chemical based but these are usually for industrial use rather than arts and crafts.