Acrylic Paint on Walls: Can You Do it and How?

Paint improves the look and durability of walls. So, can you use acrylic paint on walls?

You can use acrylic paint on walls. Acrylic paint has strong adhesive qualities and can stick to different types of walls, including plaster, concrete, and wooden walls.

Acrylic paint is water-based, so it’s safe to use indoors. When dry, it offers a colored 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.

Can Acrylic Paint Peel Off Walls?

If applied correctly, acrylic paint won’t peel off walls. That’s because acrylic paint has one of the strongest bonds of any paint type due to its chemical formula. As a result, acrylic paint will only peel off walls if the paint was applied on a filthy surface or if the paint was applied over old oil-based 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. When dry, all these ingredients form a strong and vibrant finish that is resistant to moisture and chipping.

To paint walls using acrylic paint, walls must be clean, sanded, and primed. Cleaning removes dust from the walls. Sanding removes imperfections and creates a smooth layer for paint and primer to stick. And, primer seals holes and imperfections and improves adhesion.

If you don’t prep the wall before painting, acrylic paint will peel off. If the wall isn’t cleaned, the wall-stains will repel the paint and reduce paint bonding. 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 air and moisture will prevent the acrylic paint from curing and cause it to eventually peel off.

If you apply acrylic paint over oil-based paint, acrylic will peel off. That’s because acrylic paint is water-based and can’t be applied over oil-based paint. So, if you want to apply acrylic over oil-based paint, you must first add one coat of water-based primer.

Related Read: Is Acrylic Paint Washable With Water?

How To Apply Acrylic Paint On Walls?

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

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 and use a painter’s tip to hold the sheet. So, the dust and paint that comes off the wall will land on the drop sheet instead of the floor. This protects your floors from any damage.

Also, everything in the workplace should be covered or removed. 

2. Clean The Wall

Clean The Wall

Regardless of its condition, the wall should be cleaned before panting. Walls hide dust nibs and grease well, so even if it doesn’t look dirty, it probably is. So, clean the wall with a clean rag. 

For stubborn stains, use warm soapy water and a soft brush, or rubbing alcohol to get them off. When the wall is clean, leave it to dry. Depending on how wet the wall is, this might take a few minutes or hours.

3. Strip Off The Existing Paint

Strip Off The Existing Paint

After the wall dries, you must strip off the existing paint. If your wall is fresh or hasn’t been painted before, you can skip this step. Also, if the wall has old water-based paint, you don’t need to remove it. Acrylic paint is water-based and will adhere to old water-based paint.

However, if the wall has oil-based paint, you must remove it. This is because acrylic paint doesn’t stick to any oil-based finishes. This includes any paint that has natural or synthetic oils in its formula.

To remove oil-based paint from walls:

  1. Use a paint scraper (metallic) to scrape as much paint as you can.
  2. Apply a coat of chemical-based paint stripper over the surface.
  3. Let the paint stripper on the walls for 15 minutes.
  4. Use a paint scraper to remove the leftover paint.

You can use mineral spirits, paint thinner, and chemical-based paint strippers to remove oil-based paint. To remove water-based paint, you can use rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, or warm water mixed with soap. 

If you don’t want to remove oil-based paint from walls, you need to sand the surface, apply a coat of stain-blocking primer, then apply the acrylic paint. Never apply acrylic paint directly to oil-based paint because the finish will peel off. 

4. Sand The Wall

Sand The Wall

After removing the old paint, sand the walls using sandpaper or a sander. For rough walls, use coarse-grit sandpaper (80-100 grit), for fine walls, use fine-grit sandpaper (180-grit+).

Sanding evens out the grain, especially on wooden walls. It also helps to make the surface smoother for paint.

5. Apply Two Coats of The Needed Primer

Apply Two Coats of The Needed Primer

You should prime the walls to improve the finish and help the acrylic paint stick better. Priming also seals tiny pores or holes in the wall that can suck the acrylic paint.

You must apply a stain-blocking primer if you didn’t remove the old oil-based paint from the walls.

If the walls have water-based paint underneath or no paint at all, you must apply two coats of water-based primer. Acrylic paint sticks to a water-based primer well. Wait for the first coat of primer to dry on the wall before you add the next one. Primer dries enough for a topcoat within 2 hours. 

6. Apply Multiple Coats of The Acrylic Paint

Apply Multiple Coats of The Acrylic Paint

After the second coat of primer dries, apply the acrylic paint. You can apply acrylic paint on walls using a spray gun or paint roller. If it’s a small wall, you can also use a paintbrush. 

You need two coats of acrylic paint if the walls are primed. If you didn’t prime the walls, you need four coats of acrylic paint.

Wait for each coat of acrylic paint to dry before you apply the next one. Acrylic paint takes 2 hours to dry on walls.

However, the drying time of acrylic depends on the thickness of the coat, the temperature, and the humidity. 

7. Seal The Finish

Seal The Finish

Before you seal the acrylic paint, you must wait for it to cure (not dry). It takes acrylic paint 24 hours to cure on walls. Acrylic paint cures when the solvent (water) has evaporated, and the paint pigments have hardened.

If you seal acrylic paint before it cures, the paint will crack and peel off. 

To seal acrylic paint on walls, apply three coats of polyurethane. A sealer gives the acrylic paint durability and makes the finish reflective and bright.

Though a sealant is advised, it’s not necessary because acrylic paint is durable enough. 

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last On Walls?

Acrylic paint lasts on walls between 5 – 15 years before there are signs of chipping. On average, acrylic paint will last for ten years on a wall.

Interior acrylic paint used on interior walls lasts longer than exterior acrylic paint on exterior walls. This is because interior walls are not as exposed to external factors like UV light, wind, rain, snow, and debris as exterior acrylic paints are.

Though exterior acrylic paint is designed with additives that make it resistant to UV light and moisture, the constant exposure to these factors causes the paint to be less durable than interior acrylic paints.

Interior acrylic paint can last over ten years if maintained properly. In comparison, exterior acrylic paint doesn’t last that long.

To improve the durability of acrylic paint on walls, seal the paint. Sealers, when dry form an ultra-thick finish that makes the acrylic paint resistant to scratches, dents, and moisture. Polyurethane and clear enamel are good choices for acrylic paint.

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.

Proper surface preparation before applying acrylic can also make the paint last longer. The acrylic paint will not last long if the surface isn’t prepped correctly.

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?

There are downsides to using acrylic paint walls:

Acrylic Paint Has A Textured Finish

Acrylic paint doesn’t give a smooth finish. Instead, it gives a textured or slightly rough finish. This could be a downer if you were looking for a smooth slick finish,

However, you can make acrylic paint smoother by sanding the finish with very-finish sandpaper. Or, by sealing the finish with a clear coat such as polyurethane. 

Less Durability When Compared To Oil-Paints

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

However, you can make acrylic paint more durable by sealing it. 3 coats of polyurethane will give the acrylic paint durability and moisture-resistant abilities. 


Can You Paint Over Acrylic On A Wall?

You can paint over acrylic paint on a wall. This is because the acrylic finish can be used as a base coat. The textured finish of acrylic paint helps other paints stick better. 

However, this is only for 100% acrylic paint. If the acrylic paint has been sealed, you can’t paint over it. The glossy topcoat will repel any paint. To paint over sealed acrylic paint, you need to sand and prime the finish first, then apply the paint.

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint With Wall Paint?

You can mix acrylic paint with water-based wall paint or latex. However, you shouldn’t mix oil-based wall paint 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 produce a very amateurish and ugly finish. Acrylic paints can only go with other acrylic paints, milk, chalk, eggshell, flat, and other latex paints.

How Long to Let Acrylic Paint Dry Before Hanging Pictures?

You should wait until acrylic paint is cured before hanging pictures. This usually takes 24 hours. If you hang pictures on walls before acrylic paint cures, you will delay the curing time of the acrylic paint. 

Final Words

Overall, you can use acrylic paint on walls. However, the wall must be 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-based paints.

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