Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

Chad Kilpatrick
by Chad Kilpatrick

If you are painting the exterior of your house or painting a craft project that will be left outside with acrylic paint, you may need to know if acrylic paints are waterproof. We’re going to give you the answer, so you can get started today!

Acrylic paints are not waterproof but are water-resistant. This means they can not be used on anything that holds water. They do work well for exterior houses because they are water-resistant and the acrylic binder expands and contracts, and does not fade in the sun as easy as latex paint does.

Painting your home is a big step. The last thing you want to do is use the wrong paint. Exterior paints come in many forms, acrylic, latex, oil, and more.

Acrylic paint is perfectly fine for exteriors. They have become very popular over the years, and have pretty much replaced antiquated paints, such as oil-based paint. An exterior acrylic is a little bit expensive, however, it has many benefits.

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Types of Exterior Paints

There are many types of exterior paints. Some of them are water-based, and some are oil base. Here is a list of different types of exterior paint.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is currently the most popular paint for exteriors. This is because acrylic paints expand and contract, cracking less, and doing better in the heat. The only downside is that there are fewer color options for acrylic paint.

Latex paint

Latex paint is another great option for exteriors. Latex is made from acrylic resin. It does not hold up quite as well as regular acrylic paint, but it does form an almost plastic-like surface that repels water extremely well.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is not as popular as it once was. It tends to crack in the sun and does not hold up as well to the weather. Some people still prefer oil-based paint for the type of sheen that it has. Many believe that oil-based paint is better because it is thicker and harder when it dries.

Hybrid paint

Hybrid paint is a urethane alkyd, water/oil mix. It has a thick hard feel to it, that is similar to oil-based paint. It cleans up with just soap and water and sticks to things extremely well. It’s mostly used on interior projects, but can also be used on exteriors as well.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint, that is made from pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion. Its formula is high-quality, durable, and long-lasting. It has become very popular among exterior paints over the years, because of its elasticity, being able to contract and expand.

This is vital in exterior paint because the sun can damage a painted surface, make it fade, or even crack. Acrylic paint is much more durable than latex, or even oil-based paint. It forms a surface similar to plastic when it dries, which helps it repel water.

Latex paint also uses acrylic resin, but the formula is a little bit different from traditional acrylic paint. The acrylic paint does better on exteriors and costs a little bit more.

How Long Does Acrylic House Paint Last?

Acrylic paint lasts longer than latex and oil-based paints. This is because of the thick plastic-like hide that it makes. It is water-resistant and holds up well over time, to the elements, and to wear and tear.

You can expect exterior acrylic to last around 5-10 years. After that, you will need to put on a new fresh coat of paint, to fill cracks, and extend the life of your home. This is a few more years of surface life than latex and oil.

It cracks less and it fades less in the sun, making it a great alternative to the other types of exterior paint. You will pay a little bit more for acrylic, but it is worth it in the long run.

Paint Additives

Many additives can be added to the paint, to help it be weatherproof, and to repel things like mold and mildew. They come in small packs that are mixed into the paint, either at the paint store or by you.

Here are some additives to consider:

Waterproofing Additive

Waterproofing additives can be added to the paint to make it almost completely waterproof. This is great for things that will be holding water, such as birdbaths, water bowls, and in some cases, marina projects.


Mildewcide is an additive that your paint store can add to the paint, to help repel mold and mildew. They come in packages that can be mixed into gallon cans, or 5-gallon buckets. The paint store can mix it, or you can mix it by boxing the paint together.

Weather and Sun Additive

Weather and sun additives can be mixed in with the paint to help block UV rays, keep paint from fading, and hold up better in cold and hot conditions. Some paint brands have already mixed additives in their paint, as well as packets that you can add to the mix.

Benefits of Acrylic House Paints

The main benefit of using acrylic exterior house paints is that it expands and contracts, making it elastic. This is perfect for hot climates, where the sun damages surfaces. Acrylic is more elastic than latex and is superior in that regard to oil-based paints.

There is also the benefit of it lasting longer than other exterior paints. Paying more for something that will extend the life of your home, is well worth the extra cost in my opinion.

Acrylic Paint for Exterior Art Projects

You can use acrylic paints on art projects that will be outside. It works great for murals, furniture, and wood items, like chairs and tables. Acrylic is water-resistant but not waterproof. Avoid painting anything exterior, that will be holding water, or that will be submerged in water.

Also keep in mind that acrylic paints that are made specifically for art supplies, may have a different formula than exterior acrylic house paint. You may be better off using house paint on your art projects, that will be displayed outside in the elements.

How Do I Make Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

You can make acrylic paint waterproof by mixing in additives, or by putting a clear coat over the top of your acrylic painted surface. For exterior houses, we suggest using an additive, for art projects you may want to add a clear coat.

Although acrylics are strong paints, meaning that once dry they are resistant to water. However, it’s still a good idea to waterproof the paint, as acrylic paint is not waterproof.

Most acrylic paints have flat or matte sheens, so adding a clear coat with a higher gloss sheen may give you the desired effect you are looking for. Clear coats come in multiple sheens, such as matte, satin, gloss, and high-gloss. You can also waterproof your paint with varnish, a special type of acrylic gloss. Many of these can help make your surface waterproof.

Why Does Varnish Help Waterproof Acrylic Paint?

By applying a layer of varnish over your paint job, particularly when it’s an art piece or you’re painting on wood, you essential creating a barrier over top of your work. This means that varnishing a painting, or even an object, you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged when placed outside or near water.

Another major advantage to varnishing your paint job is that it protects it from fading, if it is exposed to a significant amount of light. Many varnish formulas include UV protection. For example, if you were to paint and varnish something like a birdhouse, it will not only be protected from rain, but the sunlight also won’t fade the vibrant colors.

With just a few ingredients, varnish has the ability to make virtually anything waterproof and resistant to fading.

How to Varnish Your Paint Job

Though varnishing a paint job is relatively simple, the procedure will differ slightly based on the surface you’re painting on. If you’re working on a canvas painting, simply spraying the varnish on and letting it dry is all you need to do.

However, if you are painting a large wooden project or anything that has a lot of creases and folds, you should stick with a brush application. A foam poly brush is often the best tool to apply varnish.

For best results, ensure that you paint with even strokes and do not rest the brush on the surface for too long, as this will bleed through the varnish. Also, avoid resting your hand on the surface while you’re applying the varnish; your fingerprints will damage the finish.

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Related Questions

Is acrylic paint waterproof on wood?

Acrylic can be painted onto wood, but it can not be submerged in water. This is because it is water-resistant, and not fully waterproof. It will shed water just fine and makes a great exterior paint on wood. You can, however, make it waterproof by applying a layer of varnish over the paint.

Is acrylic paint waterproof on plastic?

Acrylic paint dries almost like a plastic coating, however, it is not fully waterproof and should not be used on anything that will hold water. It is fine for outdoor furniture and other plastic surfaces.

Chad Kilpatrick
Chad Kilpatrick

I'm a writer that is passionate about home improvements, remodeling, and renovating. I enjoy learning new skills and techniques and sharing them with others.

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