Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Walls? (How-To)

Applying new coats of paint on a wall improves the overall look and durability of the painted wall. But can you use acrylic paint on walls? Here is the answer to that.

Acrylic paint can be used on walls. The paint has strong adhesive qualities that make it bond and stay on different types of walls including plastered, concrete, and wooden walls.

Acrylic paint is also water-based. This makes the paint safe to use on indoor walls since there aren’t strong chemicals or volatile organic compounds in the paint formula.

In addition, acrylic paint when dry offers a brightly colored and protective layer that makes the wall durable and beautiful.

But that’s not all. There is more to know about using acrylic paint on walls and this post digs right into the topic.

So let’s get on with it.

Will Acrylic Paint Peel Off Walls?

Acrylic paint if applied correctly will not peel off walls. This is because acrylic paint has one of the strongest bonds of any paint type due to its chemical formula. Acrylic paint will only peel off walls if the paint was applied on a filthy surface or if the paint was applied on old oil paint.

Acrylic paint has strong adhesive qualities due to its water-based solvent and chemical formula. The paint is made from a combination of stabilizers, polymer emulsion, and plasticizers. All these ingredients when dry form a very strong and vibrant finish that is resistant to moisture and chipping.

The water-based solvent also evaporates quickly making the paint dry fast. This means the finish will not peel off the wall. Only if the wall wasn’t properly treated.

To paint the wall with acrylic paint, the wall has to be clean, sanded, primed. The primer will seal holes and imperfections in the wall and improve adhesion. These preparatory steps prevent the acrylic paint from peeling, splitting, or cracking.

The paint will only peel if these steps aren’t done correctly. If the wall is filthy, the wall-stains will repel the paint and reduce paint bonding causing the paint to eventually peel.

Also, if the wall isn’t primed, then there will be tiny holes or pores in the wall that can trap moisture and air. The trapped pockets of air and moisture will prevent the acrylic paint from curing properly and cause it to eventually peel off.

Acrylic paint applied on an existing oil paint will also peel off. This is because acrylic paint is usually water-based while oil paint is oil-based. Water-based paint will not stick to oil-based paint because oil paints have a slick finish that water-based paints can’t adhere to.

Related Read: Is Acrylic Paint Washable With Water?

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last On Walls?

Acrylic paint lasts between 5 years and 15 years on walls before there are signs of chipping. On average, acrylic paint when applied correctly will last for 10 years on a wall.

Interior acrylic paints used on interior walls tend to last longer than exterior acrylic paints on exterior walls. This is because interior walls are not as exposed to external factors like the sun’s ultraviolet rays, wind, rain, snow, and debris as exterior acrylic paints are.

Though exterior acrylic paints are designed with additives that make them more resistant to these external factors, the gradual wear and tear of the paint caused by constant exposure to these said factors cause the paint to be less durable than interior acrylic paints.

With proper application and maintenance, interior acrylic paints can last over 10 years. While exterior acrylic paints usually don’t last that long.

Though acrylic paints last for years before any sign of damage is noticed on the paint coating, these paints are usually sealed with clear topcoats to improve durability.

Clear finishes like polyurethane and clear enamel are used to seal acrylic paints after the paint has cured completely. These clear topcoats when dry form an ultra-thick finish that makes the acrylic paint resistant to scratches, dents, and moisture.

This improves the durability and overall resistance of the acrylic paint making it last longer. When sealed with a clear topcoat, acrylic paints can last about 15 years on walls.

A key factor to making acrylic paints last longer on walls is proper surface preparation and paint application. If the surface isn’t prepped correctly, the acrylic paint will not last long.

So let’s check out how to prep and apply acrylic paint correctly on walls.

How To Apply Acrylic Paint On Walls (Made Easy)

Applying acrylic paint on a wall isn’t difficult but it can be time-consuming due to the prep work needed. The required level of prep work depends on the size and condition of the wall to be painted.

To apply acrylic paint on a wall, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Rags
  • Cleaning Agent (Like Rubbing Alcohol or TSD)
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint Stripper
  • Putty Knife
  • A Can or Gallon of Acrylic Paint
  • Water-Based Primer (For The Type of Wall Material)
  • Paint Roller
  • Drop cloth
  • A Sealant or Clear Topcoat
  • Painter’s Tape

Here is a quick rundown of how to apply acrylic paint on a wall:

  1. Prep Your Workspace
  2. Clean The Wall To Be Painted
  3. Strip Off The Existing Paint
  4. Sand The Wall To Get Rid of Bumps
  5. Apply Two Coats of The Needed Primer
  6. Apply Multiple Coats of Acrylic Paint
  7. Seal The Finish
  8. Leave To Dry

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Prep Your Workspace

Prep Your Workspace

The first step before any painting task is to prepare the workspace. The result of a paint job might look attractive and clean but the process is anything but. Painting gets messy so prepare your workspace to handle that mess unless you want to spend the next few hours cleaning up.

To prep, your workspace, place a large drop sheet or drop cloth on the floor. Since you are painting a wall, everything that comes off the wall to the speck of dust that is sanded off will land on the floor. This can quickly ruin your floor especially if you have a wooden floor.

Use painter’s tip to hold down the drop cloth in place. Every wall frame, clock, object, and furniture on or around the wall to be painted should be removed or covered with a sheet.

When the surface looks prepped, you should…

2. Clean The Wall

Clean The Wall

The wall regardless of its condition should be cleaned. This helps you get a good view of the surface to be painted.

Walls do well to hide dust nibs and grease so even if it doesn’t look dirty, it probably still is. So give it a good wipe down with a clean rag. For stubborn stains, you can use warm soapy water and a soft brush or rubbing alcohol to get them off.

When the wall is clean, leave it to dry. This might take a few minutes or some hours depending on how wet the wall is.

3. Strip Off The Existing Paint

Strip Off The Existing Paint

When the wall is dry, you should strip off the existing paint on it. If your wall is fresh or hasn’t been painted before, you can skip this step.

But if your wall has even a coat of paint on it, you need to remove it first unless the existing paint and the acrylic paint have the same base. This is why – acrylic paint is usually water-based which means it is super picky when it comes to the type of surface it can be used on.

Acrylic paints can’t adhere to any oil-based finish. This includes semi-gloss, high-gloss, polyurethane, oil-based enamel, and any other paint type that includes natural or synthetic oils in its formula.

Even paints that have a large deposit of strong chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC) should be avoided. This includes resins and other paints that contain lead.

These chemicals can repel the latex paint making it not adhere to the wall. The combination with acrylic chemicals may also produce toxic pollutants.

To remove the existing paint, use a paint scraper first. A metallic putty knife or trowel will work for this.

Then depending on the type of paint it is, use a paint stripper. Use a water-based paint striper to remove existing water-based paints. Rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and hair spray also works.

For oil-based paints, use a chemical-based paint stripper. Paint thinners and Mineral spirits also work.

4. Sand The Wall

Sand The Wall

After removing the existing paint, sand the wall with sandpaper or a sanding block. For extra rough walls, you can use slightly coarse-grit sandpaper like 80 or 100-grit to sand the wall’s surface.

Fine walls can be smoothened with a fine-grit sandpaper. 180-grit upwards is good.

Sanding helps to even out grain especially on wooden walls. It also helps to make the surface smoother for what is coming next.

5. Apply Two Coats of The Needed Primer

Apply Two Coats of The Needed Primer

Priming as stated earlier improves overall finish. It makes the finish smoother and durable. Priming also seals tiny pores or holes in the wall that can suck the acrylic paint.

Water-based paints like acrylic paint usually require a water-based primer. Apply two coats of water-based priming compound on the wall.

Press the primer into the surface to fill holes and soak into the wall material. This makes the primer give a suitable base coat.

Then let the primer dry. The drying time depends on the manufacturer’s instructions but water-based primers usually cure within 2 hours. Let the first coat cure before applying the second coat.

6. Apply Multiple Coats of The Acrylic Paint

Apply Multiple Coats of The Acrylic Paint

When the primer has cured, apply the acrylic paint. Acrylic paints can be applied using a spray gun or a paint roller. These painting methods help to cover larger distances quicker than a paintbrush.

Two coats of acrylic paint are enough to give a good finish as long as you primed the wall earlier.

If you didn’t prime, then you may require up to 4 coats of acrylic paint especially if you are to fill pores in the wall.

Let each coat of acrylic paint dry before putting on another. Just like the primer, takes about 2 hours for each coat to dry. This is however still subject to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Your acrylic paint might take less or more than 2 hours for a coat to dry enough for a recoat.

7. Seal The Finish

Seal The Finish

When both coats of acrylic paint have dried, you shouldn’t seal them just yet. Though acrylic paint is water-based and dries in hours. You need to wait for the paint to cure before applying a sealant.

It will take a few days for acrylic paint to fully cure. This is when the solvent is fully evaporated and the paint pigments have hardened.

Acrylic paint that isn’t allowed to cure before a sealant is applied will crack and peel.

After the paint has cured, apply 3 coats of polyurethane or any other clear topcoats on the acrylic paint. This improves durability. It also makes the finish reflective and bright if that’s what you are going for.

Though a sealant is advised, it’s not necessary because acrylic paint is durable enough. When you have completed all these steps, you have successfully applied acrylic paint over a wall.

Does Acrylic Paint Stick To Walls?

Acrylic paint sticks well to walls. But this is if the wall was properly prepped before the acrylic paint was applied.

Before applying acrylic paint to a wall, the wall has to be clean, sanded, and primed. Priming especially helps paint adhesion. All of these steps help the acrylic paint stick to the wall.

But if the acrylic paint is applied to a dirty wall that wasn’t sanded or primed, then the paint will not stick well to the walls. Ultimately, it’s going to split and start peeling off the walls.

The adhesive qualities of acrylic paint are due to its water-based nature. The paint dries fast because water, being the solvent is easily evaporated.

Downsides To Using Acrylic Paint On Walls

Acrylic paint is a great paint for walls. But, are there downsides to using acrylic paint on walls?

Yes, really. There are downsides to using acrylic paint walls. Here they are:

Acrylic Paint Has A Textured Finish

For all its perks, acrylic paint doesn’t have the smoothest of finishes. This can be a downer if you were opting for a smooth slick surface. Acrylic paint has a sort of tough Finish which makes it textured or slightly rough.

But this downside can be eliminated by sanding the finish lightly with a very fine-grit sandpaper.

You can also choose a better alternative by sealing the acrylic paint with a smooth and clear topcoat. 3 coats of polyurethane will give you a smooth result if applied correctly.

Less Durability When Compared To Oil-Paints

Acrylic paint is also not as durable as oil paints. This is because the paint pigments don’t harden as hard as oil-based paints.

But the effects of this downside can be limited by sealing the acrylic paint with a clear topcoat.

Again, 3 coats of polyurethane will work perfectly. The ultra-thick finish of the polyurethane will make the acrylic paint more resistant to moisture and chipping. This improves its durability.

Related Read: Does Acrylic Paint Expire?

Can You Paint Over Acrylic On A Wall?

You can paint over acrylic paint on a wall. This is because the acrylic finish is strong enough to be a base coat.

Acrylic paint also has a textured finish when dry. This helps to boost inter-coat adhesion because the next paint coating will get a base coat to bite into.

However, this usually is for 100% acrylic paint. This means acrylic paint that hasn’t been mixed with oil-based paint.

If the acrylic finish on the wall was mixed with oil paint or was sealed with a glossy top coat, then you shouldn’t paint over it.

The glossy topcoat and oil-based presence in the acrylic paint will make the finish slick. This prevents another paint from adhering to it.

Can I Mix Acrylic Paint With Wall Paint?

You can mix acrylic paint with water-based wall paint or latex. Oil-based wall paints shouldn’t be mixed with acrylic paint.

This is because both paints have different solvents (water and oil) that wouldn’t mix well. So color uniformity and paint consistency will be difficult to achieve.

This will in turn produce a very amateurish and ugly finish. Acrylic paints can only go with other acrylic paints, milk, chalk, eggshell, flat, and other latex paints.

Final Words

Overall, you can use acrylic paint on walls. The wall just had to be properly prepped and ready to receive the acrylic paint. Without adequate wall preparation, the result will not come out as expected. So clean, sand, and prime before applying acrylic paint.

Remember, acrylic paints don’t go well on oil paints.

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