Acrylic paints are some of the most popular in the world, especially among DIY fans and design hobbyists who need an easy-to-use, multi-surface paint that’ll last for a long, long time. However, if you’ve just switched over from another type of paint (such as oil-based) or haven’t tried painting before, there are some specific rules and tips you might need to know to help you to get the best results possible.
At Best of Machinery, we’ve put together this short guide on how to paint with acrylics, along with extra tips to make your painting job easier.
What are Acrylics?
Acrylic is an incredibly versatile type of paint that can be used on nearly any surface with the right preparations in place. They provide a surprising amount of water resistance and extra durability once they’re dry. Not only that, but the drying process is much faster than with other types of paint.
All acrylic paints can be thinned (by adding some water) and mixed with one another, so you can tailor the consistency and color to the surface or object you’re trying to paint. However, they aren’t compatible with other types of paint, and mixing them might lead to worse results than if you just used a single type to start with.
You should always match your brush selection to the surface you’re painting. Acrylic paints are versatile enough to work with a large range of different brushes. While most people will own a standard flat-style brush for painting walls, they’re not the only option. Fan-shaped brushes will help blend colors into one another, while rounded brushes are better at creating consistent lines and details on smaller-scale projects.
The Painting Process
You should treat acrylic paints like any other paint since they’re functionally identical, at least under ideal conditions. Since acrylic paints dry quite easily, you’ll need to make sure your paint supply isn’t drying out. If you’re using smaller amounts, like a small pot or paint palette, make sure you add a drop of water to it so that it doesn’t dry out while you’re trying to use it. This also makes it much harder to remove if you make a mistake since small amounts can dry in as little as ten minutes.
On the other hand, this makes acrylic paints great for more complex designs. For example, if you’re painting a vase or jar to hold flowers in, you can do an initial layer of acrylic paint and let it dry in around half an hour, then come back to paint on any extra details. This saves a lot of time, especially compared to slower-drying paints, and means that you can make corrections to your design quickly, even after it’s dry.
Since acrylic paint is surpassingly water-resistant and doesn’t wash off easily, you’ll need to work slightly harder to clean your brushes when you need to paint a different color or paint type. Dipping your brush in a pot of water won’t usually be enough, and you’ll end up inadvertently mixing some of the acrylic paint in with whatever else you’re using your brush for. Cleaning them well will also stop paint from hardening around the brush bristles, which can be a problem because it dries so fast.
Advanced Painting Techniques
You don’t have to use the regular painting method if you need something more specialized. Some people prefer dry brushing to get a more distinct paint-like look. They use tubes of acrylic paint rather than cans, which allows them to apply it to a surface without using any water. You can also do the exact opposite and dilute the paint, making it more translucent without affecting its adhesive power or coverage consistency.
What are Acrylics Best For?
The water-resistant nature of dried acrylic paints makes them excellent for outdoor use, meaning that you can use them to help protect weaker surfaces from water and weather damage if you apply them properly.
They’re also much less toxic than other paint varieties. They don’t produce much of a noticeable odor, so they’re also great for painting things indoors without having to avoid the entire room for a day or two as the paint dries.
The longer you leave acrylics to dry, the stronger they’ll get – ideally, you’ll want to correct any mistakes you find as soon as possible. They’ll eventually become as durable as oil paints while still retaining their water resistance, making them extremely hard to remove. If you’re looking for a temporary paint that you’ll eventually replace or strip off, you might want to use a different type unless you’re absolutely certain you’ll be able to take off the acrylic paint later on.
Are They Better Than Other Paint Types?
Although it mostly comes down to personal preference, many people consider acrylic paints superior to oil-based paints and slightly better than alternative paint types. However, they still won’t be suitable for every situation. Most of the time, acrylics can do the exact same things, so it really comes down to which one you prefer.
However, they’re much easier to use and can be diluted or mixed to create very specific combinations of colors. This makes them ideal for both novice painters and professionals who want a quick, easy way to get the exact shade or tint they’re looking for. They’re even safe enough to be used by older children (with supervision, of course) since they don’t emit any dangerous fumes or awful smells.