Is Acrylic Paint Right For Your House?

blue and red acrylic painting

Acrylic paint is eco-friendly, durable, and dries quickly, making it a popular choice among DIYers and professional painters. This guide to acrylic paint covers everything from its advantages and disadvantages to its uses so you can decide whether acrylic paint is right for your house. 

What Is Acrylic Paint?

abstract acrylic painting
Photo Credit: rudchenko / Canva Pro / License

Acrylic paint was introduced in 1934 by BASF, a German chemical company. The paint’s eco-friendliness, durability, and versatility made it a popular choice for painting houses since the 1940s. 

Acrylic paint has a water-based formula formulated by suspending pigments in an acrylic polymer emulsion with an acrylic resin binder. It contains low VOCs, emits little odor, and is durable, making it an ideal choice for interior and exterior painting. 

This paint dries quickly within an hour. It also produces a smooth finish and adheres well to different surfaces. Acrylic paint comes in various colors and finishes, such as flat (or matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss.

What are VOCs?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a group of organic chemicals that evaporate into the air at room temperature. They may irritate your eyes, nose, and throat or cause headaches or dizziness. They also affect the environment. 

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paint

Pros of Acrylic Paint

  • Dries quickly: Acrylic paint dries much faster than other paint types, taking only an hour. 
  • Easy to clean: It is water-soluble, so soap and water are all you need to clean paint brushes and rollers. You don’t need to use harsh solvents as with oil-based paints. 
  • Long shelf life: Acrylic paint can easily last up to 15 years in a sealed container. 
  • Durable: It resists UV rays and moisture. It’s also flexible and doesn’t crack easily with temperature changes. 
  • Eco-friendly: Acrylic paint contains low VOCs and is more environmentally friendly than oil paints. 
  • Low odor: Since acrylic paint contains low VOCs, it emits little odor, making it an excellent choice for interior painting. 
  • Versatile: This paint adheres well to plaster walls, concrete, wood, metal, and glass. It also provides a smooth finish. 

Cons of Acrylic Paint

  • Color shift: Acrylic paint becomes slightly darker when dry. 
  • Expensive: It costs $20 and $65 per gallon, which is slightly more than other water-based paints. 
  • Difficult to apply: It’s thick and requires a bit more effort to apply.

Where to Use Acrylic Paint

One of the real benefits of this paint is its versatility. It can be used on various surfaces, such as:

1. Interior Walls and Ceilings

Acrylic paint contains low VOCs, emits little odor, and dries quickly, making it an excellent choice for painting interior walls and ceilings. It also dries quickly and offers good coverage. Acrylic paint comes in various colors and finishes, so you can easily choose one that complements the style of your home. 

2. Furniture, Cabinets, and Doors

Acrylic is durable and offers a smooth finish, providing both a clean look and strong layer of protection for cabinets and doors that are highly visible and heavily used. 

3. Exterior Surfaces

Acrylic paint adheres well to wood, stucco, concrete, masonry, and vinyl. It also resists UV rays and moisture, making it an excellent choice for exterior painting. 

Oil-based paint is more durable than acrylic paint, but it’s banned in many states as it contains high VOCs. 

4. Kitchens and Bathrooms

Acrylic paint resists moisture and is less prone to mildew formation. It’s also durable enough to withstand the high traffic of kitchens and bathrooms. 

5. Metal Surfaces

Acrylic paint adheres well to metal. However, since acrylic paint contains a water-based formula, prime the metal with an oil-based primer to prevent rust. 

How to Apply Acrylic Paint

Brush in hand ready to paint with acrylic paint
Photo Credit: Andrey Maximenko / Canva Pro / License

Applying acrylic paint is a straightforward process. Here’s how to do so. 

1. Gather the Supplies

Besides acrylic paint, here are the materials you need for painting:

  • Drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit)
  • Medium-grit sandpaper (150-grit)
  • Interior or exterior primer (depending on where you’re working)
  • Nine-inch microfiber paint roller with a ⅜-inch nap (2 pieces)
  • Two-inch paint brush (2 pieces) 
  • Half-inch paint brush (2 pieces)
  • Paint tray
  • Stir stick
  • Tack cloth
  • Safety glasses
  • N95 mask
  • Protective gloves

2. Prep the Surface

  • Cover the floor and furniture with a drop cloth to protect them from paint drips and splatters. 
  • Use painter’s tape to cover smaller areas. 
  • Sand the surface with medium-grit sandpaper (150-grit) to smooth out any rough areas or peeling paint. Make sure to put on your protective gloves, glasses, and a face mask before sanding.  
  • Wipe the dust off the wall with a tack cloth. 

3. Prime

Priming improves paint adhesion and enhances the paint finish. Follow these steps to prime the surface:

  • Stir the primer with a stir stick. 
  • Pour the primer into a paint tray. 
  • Use a 9-inch microfiber roller with a ⅜-inch nap to prime larger areas. Move the roller up and down in a V-shaped pattern. 
  • Attach an extension pole to the roller to paint the ceiling. 
  • Use a 2-inch paint brush to prime hard-to-reach areas like baseboard and casing. 
  • Let the primer dry for 3 to 5 hours. 
  • Sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit).

4. Paint

Now comes the fun part — painting. Follow these steps to apply acrylic paint. 

  • Stir the paint thoroughly with a stir stick. 
  • Pour the paint into a paint tray. 
  • Use a 9-inch microfiber roller with a ⅜-inch nap to paint larger areas. Roll the paint up and down in a V-shaped pattern.  
  • Back roll the same area for a smoother finish. 
  • Use a 2-inch paint brush to paint hard-to-reach areas. Paint with consistent pressure and in long, smooth strokes. 
  • Allow an hour for the first paint coat to dry. 
  • Sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit).
  • Apply a second paint coat using the same technique. 
  • Allow a day for the paint to cure fully. Inspect the surface and use a 0.5-inch paint brush to touch up any inconsistencies. 


Can I use acrylic paint for painting furniture?

Yes. Acrylic paint adheres well to wood, dries quickly, and is durable. 

What is better, acrylic or latex paint?

Acrylic and latex paint are two popular water-based paints. Acrylic paint is more durable and adheres well to various surfaces. On the other hand, latex paint is a better choice for DIY interior painting projects because it contains slightly lower VOCs and emits a milder odor. 

How should I store leftover acrylic paint?

  • Transfer the paint to an airtight container. 
  • Label the container with the paint color and project name. 
  • Store the container in a dry place away from direct sunlight. 

DIY or Hire a Pro for House Painting?

Painting a house is a messy and time-consuming task that’s best left to the pros. If you have the time and some painting experience, you can DIY. However, you may not get the perfect finish.  

Paint Gnome connects you with the best painting pros in your area who can help you with the entire painting project. 

Main Image Credit: Rawpixel

Abdul Wadood

Abdul Wadood enjoys painting and is currently on a mission to help homeowners transform their living spaces from boring to beautiful. When he's not painting, you can find him exploring the world.