Can You Mix Latex and Acrylic Paint?


Last updated: July 25, 2023

A Comprehensive Guide By Pro Painters on Mixing Latex and Acrylic Paints

Can you mix latex and acrylic paint?

If you’ve used acrylic and latex paints, you might have deduced that they’re similar. And while this is true to some extent, acrylic and latex paints aren’t the same. They’re two formulas with similar makeup compositions and are, therefore, very compatible. 

Acrylic paint is usually the most expensive option, available in concentrated form. It can be used to create unique artistic pieces, while latex is the most popular and affordable paint type available in varying quantities of pints and gallons. 

Both are water-based, so you can mix them for various painting purposes. In this post, we will answer this question conclusively ” Can you mix latex and acrylic paint?” and dive into the intricacies of the process.

But first, let’s understand these two paints, their components, compatibility, and what happens when you mix them

Can You Mix Acrylic and Latex Paint?

Yes. Mixing acrylic paints and latex paints is doable since both are made from a primary ingredient: water. You can mix the paint to improve consistency or create a custom design. However, the outcome of the design may have varying quality depending on the brand of paints mixed.

What is Latex Paint?

Latex is a water-based paint made primarily from acrylic resins. It is similar to acrylic paint but more flexible and affordable than acrylic. Latex is preferable for painting larger surface areas since it is available in bulk qualities.

Latex paint has similar properties as acrylic, although they differ in consistency. Latex is made primarily of solid synthetic materials like plastic distributed in a water solution to create a microscopic formula. 

This formula has a milky appearance resembling latex rubber. Latex paint has a latex texture but doesn’t contain any latex rubber materials. Below are some of the features of latex paint and what makes it similar to acrylic. 

  • Better fluid consistency: Latex has more consistency and dries faster than acrylic paint. 

  • Versatility: Latex is one of the easiest paints to work with. You can apply it on fresh paint as well as on old, peeling, and chipping paint. It’s applicable on nearly every surface, be it vinyl, plastic, galvanized metal, concrete, fabric, aluminum siding, and wood. 

  • 100% water soluble: Latex is primarily made of water, just like acrylic. When dry, it completely resists water though it’s not entirely waterproof. 

  • Easy to maintain: Latex can be easily cleaned with basic cleaning solutions. You only need water and mild soap to maintain your latex-painted substrate. It also adheres well to most items and is highly resistant to fading and chalking, even when exposed to direct sunlight. You can also add mildewcide additives to curb mildew growth, making it an excellent choice for exterior painting. 

  • Limited toxic VOCs: Unlike oil-based paints, latex doesn’t release many toxic chemicals or VOCs, and whatever fumes are emitted during application quickly wear out once the paint hardens. 

  • Multiple finish options: Latex is available in various quantities, finishes, and color options. You can purchase them in gallons or pints as well as in gloss, semi-gloss, matte, or satin finish.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic is a mixture of resins and paint pigments embedded in acrylic polymers and water (its primary solvent). 

It’s also a chemical-based paint; therefore, it is highly water resistant once it cools and hardens to a durable texture. It’s a fast-drying paint that also cures quickly once the water evaporates. 

Acrylic is best suited for small paint jobs and projects. It’s incompatible with most oil-based paints and will not adhere to existing paint coatings. 

It would help to avoid spray painting acrylic paint over oil-based paint, as it will not stick or blend with it. Below is a brief description of acrylic paint and its comparison to latex paint. 

  • Water soluble: When wet, acrylic remains water soluble but becomes highly durable and water resistant once it hardens. 

  • Durable: Once the surface dries, the paint turns into a protective finish that prevents chips and cracks. However, prolonged exposure to warm weather causes it to soften. 

  • Easy to clean: Like latex, acrylic paints are just as easy to clean and maintain with nothing more than warm soapy water. 

  • Strong fumes: Acrylic paint contains chemical ingredients which release toxic fumes not found in latex paint.

  • Unlike latex paint, acrylic takes some time to dry and cure. For example, thin layers can dry in under half an hour, while thicker coats can take as much as one hour or three days to dry and cure adequately. 

Is There a Difference Between Latex and Acrylic Paint?

Now that we understand what acrylic and latex paint are and their descriptions, what makes them different? The major difference would be in their composition. 

While latex is entirely a water-based formula, acrylic contains various additives making it a chemical-based paint. These chemical components give acrylic paint more elasticity and the ability to stretch over a surface compared to latex. 

In addition, all you need to wash off latex paint is water and soap, while chemically-based acrylic paint sometimes requires paint thinners to come off. 

Its chemical composition also requires careful handling. Acrylic paint contains VOCs necessitating adequate ventilation and other precautions when handling. 

Latex is cheap and usually sold in bulk, making it ideal for large and commercial painting projects. It’s the most popular paint option for construction work. 

On the other hand, acrylic is sold in small tubes and is very expensive, making it suitable for small artworks.

Further Reading: Acrylic Vs Latex Paint: Which Should You Choose?

Will Latex Paint Adhere to Acrylic?

After answering the question: can you mix acrylic paints and latex paint? Our next focus is the compatibility and the ability of the two paints to adhere together. 

Yes, latex paint will adhere to acrylic because it develops a textured finish once dry. The textured finish is versatile and doesn’t repel most paints, especially water-based ones. 

But the most significant compatibility between the two paints is found in their primary solvent: water. In short, latex paint will stick to acrylic paint and vice versa. 

That means it doesn’t matter which paint you add over the other. You can apply latex over acrylic paint or add acrylic paint over latex paint, and you’ll be up with the same adhesion. 

However, acrylic is primarily designed for art and craft pieces, so it’s best suited for unique surfaces. 

A better approach when mixing or using the two paints simultaneously is to apply latex first as the base coat and then use acrylic to add color and artistic details over the finish. 

What Happens When You Mix Acrylic with Latex Paint

Acrylic paint creates a rubbery texture and consistency after curing. When applied as a base coat or connecting surfaces, it is also an adhesive. 

When you mix latex with acrylic, you’ll enjoy the advantages of both paints and a more uniform consistency. 

But this is largely dependent on the brand of latex paint used. Premium or high-quality latex paint brands like Rust-Oleum wouldn’t develop any issues once mixed with acrylic.

Can you mix latex and acrylic paint

Furthermore, mixing the two types of paint creates a thicker shade of acrylic paint, and the excess pigments in acrylic will give the finish more color and detail. 

Finally, whether you’re applying acrylic as a base coat or top coat, ensure you thin it first since it’s usually thick and cannot be applied directly. 

Quick Tip:  When you mix acrylic paint with latex paint, you’ll get a thicker, more colorful, and more consistent solution. 

Mixing Latex Paint with Acrylic Paint: a Step by Step Guide

The question was: can I mix latex and acrylic paint? Now that we’ve answered that, are you considering trying it? Do you want to mix the two paints and create a unique solution?

Following a proven procedure might yield better results, especially if it’s your first time mixing two paints. 

Below is a brief but proven tutorial to finish the job quickly without a hitch. Let’s get down with it, starting with gathering the required tools: 

With everything in place, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Transfer the paint into the bucket

As you prepare to transfer the two paints into the bucket, confirm that they’re in perfect condition: not dry, damaged, or expired. Once you ascertain that they’re usable, pour them into the bucket. 

Start with acrylic. Squeeze the paint out of the tube into a bowl. Since it comes in a thick paste, you must thin it out. In this case, use water or a suitable paint thinner.  

Step 2: Add paint thinner

Water is a cheaper, most readily available option for thinning paint. Use a measuring cup to pour the required amount of water to thin out the paint. 

Take care not to over-dilute the paint. Not too much and not too little. Just enough water to create a light consistency. Use a 1:3 ratio with 15% paint and 30% water. 

Ensure you don’t surpass the 30% water ratio; otherwise, the paint will be over-thinned, losing its bonding qualities and ability to adhere. After adding the water, use a paint stirrer to mix it into a consistent flow. 

Step 3: Stir continuously

After thinning the acrylic paint:

  1. Transfer it to the clean bucket, then add latex paint.
  2. Mix thoroughly, stirring with a paint stirrer.
  3. Keep stirring for at least 10 minutes, and go deeper into the bottom of the bucket, ensuring no blobs of paint are left in the bottom.

Step 4: Test the paint mixture

After thoroughly stirring the paint, test the flow by applying a small amount onto a cardboard or scrap material. If it’s too thick, keep stirring until it’s consistent enough and easy to apply. 

Again test the paint mixture and observe how long it takes to dry and the color outcome. A well-mixed paint should have a uniform color and shouldn’t dry too fast or take too long to dry. 

Mixed acrylic and latex paints, once applied, should be able to dry within an hour or two. 

Can You Apply Latex Paint Over Acrylic Paint?

Yes, applying latex paint over acrylic paint is possible since both have the same nature (water). However, acrylic produces a textured, not a glossy finish once dry. 

This is a great advantage because all paints generally stick to a textured finish, not a glossy or smooth one that will hinder penetration. And since latex has flexible qualities, it will blend well with acrylic. 

Even better, you can use acrylic as a primer or base coat before applying latex, improving adhesion. This is a great advantage if you’re painting porous surfaces, which requires a primer to minimize paint wastage. 

The thickness of acrylic helps fill up the surface and pores, enabling thin layers of latex to stick and spread out evenly.

FAQS: Can You Mix Latex and Acrylic Paint?

Can you mix acrylic and house paint?

Yes. Also known as artists’ paints, acrylic paint can be mixed with house paint (latex). Latex is more suitable for house painting, especially construction or large commercial painting, while acrylic is the artist’s favorite. You can use latex as a base coat, then add acrylic for art or decorative details. 

Can you mix acrylic and water-based paint?

The most common water-based paints are acrylic and latex paint, which are compatible, so you can easily mix them. In addition, you can mix acrylic with watercolor to create a unique paint solution with better color and opacity. You can also combine acrylic, latex, and shellac paint to create a beautiful tint. 

Can you paint acrylic over flaking latex paint?

Yes, you can paint acrylic over latex paint directly and vice versa. Both paints stick to each other and have nearly the same characteristics. However, surface cleaning is vital to achieve optimal results. Also, we recommend painting acrylic over latex if painting smaller objects or adding decorative details to a masterpiece. A wall mural or furniture is a great example.  

Can I mix latex and acrylic latex paint?

Yes. If you want to create a specific color or theme, you can mix both paints. You can use water to thin out the paint since acrylic and latex are naturally made of water, so the quality will not be compromised. Add the thinned acrylic paint into the bucket, add small amounts of latex, and stir consistently. Keep stirring as you add more latex paint until you achieve a consistent flow and color. 

Content Summary – Mixing Acrylic and Latex Paint

Sure, it’s possible to mix acrylic and latex paints. We’ve ascertained that both paints are primarily made of water and have similar characteristics like fast drying, easy to clean, versatility, and ability to work on any surface. 

We’ve also established that acrylic is more chemical-based than latex, but both paints are compatible. Latex doesn’t emit as much VOCs as acrylic, but neither is it not as durable as acrylic. Latex is best suited for larger surface painting, while acrylic is best used in art and craft. 

When using both paints, it’s best to apply latex paint first and then use acrylic to add details to the finish. Acrylic also acts as a primer or adhesion and can be used as a base coat. 

Mixing both paints is as easy as adding them to a single container and then stirring to blend them though you’ll need to thin the acrylic paint first. Now that everything is clear, go ahead with your first experiment and mix latex with acrylic. Let us know your experience in the comments below. 

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