Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big acrylic paint test 2021. Here we present all the acrylic paints we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best acrylic paints for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy acrylic paints.




The most important facts

  • Acrylic paints can be used for almost any artistic project due to their excellent working properties. They are therefore equally suitable for beginners and professionals.
  • The most important distinguishing criterion is their quality. Acrylic paints are usually offered in studio quality and artist quality.
  • Basically, acrylic paints for hobby use are sold in the form of liquid colours (in tubes, bottles, buckets) as well as acrylic pencils and acrylic spray.

The Best Acrylic Paints: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying acrylic paint

What are the advantages of acrylic paints over other types of paint?

There are different types of paint available in the shops. For example, tempera paint, watercolours or airbrush can also be used for painting or craft projects. However, in comparison, acrylic paints offer a very wide range of possible uses and a whole series of advantages.

In summary, acrylic paints offer you the following advantages over other types of paint:

  • almost all painting techniques are possible
  • easy to work with
  • high luminosity
  • easy to dilute with water
  • odourless
  • adheres to a wide variety of painting surfaces
  • fast drying
  • no yellowing, fading or cracking
  • wet acrylic paint sticks
  • Tools can be cleaned with water
  • waterproof

When using acrylic paints, the application of almost all painting techniques is possible: both opaque and water-based. The paint is very easy to work with and impresses with its luminosity. To a certain extent, acrylic paints can be diluted directly with water. Moreover, they do not have a strong inherent odour.

Acrylic paints adhere to almost all painting surfaces. The painting surface should only be clean, free of grease and possibly prepared with a primer. Since the paint dries very quickly, spontaneous work is possible without any problems. There is no need to wait long for the final result. This proves to be a great advantage, especially when painting in layers.

Acrylic paints become elastic after drying, so they do not crack even on large-scale works. In addition, they remain stable over the years and do not yellow or fade as quickly.

Acrylic paint is sticky when wet. Therefore, it is well suited as an adhesive for collages. The individual elements can be glued directly with the help of the paint.

Acrylic paint can easily be washed out of brushes and clothes when wet. After drying, however, it is waterproof. Therefore, a painted object can be cleaned carefully with a damp cloth if it is slightly soiled.

Ölgemälde

Acrylic paints can be used to create beautiful works of art (Image source: pixabay.com / PeterKraayvanger).

How much do acrylic paints cost?

Acrylic paints come in different price ranges. From cheap colours in large quantities that cost only a few euros to acrylic colours from well-known manufacturers that are very expensive even in small quantities. Therefore, you should think in advance about what you need the acrylic paints for.

There are several factors that influence the price of acrylic paint. The most important factors are manufacturer, quality and quantity. These factors play a role in all three types of acrylic paints. However, the clearest price differences are visible in the liquid acrylic paints, as this is also the area with the most diverse range.

The prices for acrylic paints sometimes differ greatly depending on the manufacturer. Well-known manufacturers usually use high-quality raw materials for paint production, which is reflected in the price.

The quality of the paint also plays an important role in the pricing. For example, 60 ml of acrylic paint in artist quality costs around 7 euros, while 500 ml of acrylic paint in simple quality is available for the same money.

Of course, the quantity of paint also has an influence. The larger the quantity of paint, the more expensive it is in most cases.

type price
liquid acrylic paints approx. 1 € - 500 €
acrylic spray approx. 2 € - 15 €
acrylic pencils approx. 2 € - 15 €

For whom are acrylic paints suitable?

Acrylic paints are suitable for both beginners and professionals due to their wide range of uses and ease of application.

Due to their many advantages, acrylic paints can be used quickly and easily for numerous projects. No expensive materials such as special papers or brushes are necessary for use. In addition, many acrylic paints are available in good standard quality at a reasonable price.

Acrylic paints are used in many areas, for example:

  • Hobby sector
  • Do-it-yourself
  • School
  • Kindergartens
  • therapeutic facilities

Acrylic paints allow a quick and easy introduction to painting. It is not necessary to follow a certain sequence when working with them, as is the case with watercolour painting. In addition, the surface does not have to be prepared, as is the case with oil painting. Since almost all painting techniques are possible, many things can be tried out.

However, advanced and professional painters also appreciate the advantages of acrylic paints.

What alternatives are there to acrylic paints?

Basically, everything that can be used for painting could be mentioned as an alternative to acrylic paints. We will briefly discuss watercolours, water-based paints, oil paints and oil pastels here.

Alternative Properties
Watercolour paints Watercolour paints are water-based. Due to their watery consistency and with a light hand, beautiful patterns, fine transitions and colour gradients can be painted quickly.
Watercolours Watercolours have a similar structure to watercolours and are therefore also water-based. However, they are stronger and more opaque than watercolours and require a primer before painting.
Oil paints Oil paints, as the name suggests, are based on hardening oils. Since they do not contain any water and oil cannot be combined with water, they are waterproof. They are therefore particularly long-lasting and lightfast and can be applied opaque or glazed. However, the drying process takes several days to weeks.
Oil crayons Oil crayons are structured in the same way as oil paints. However, they are available in pencil form and have a firm consistency. This makes the colours very opaque. By smudging with the fingers, fine, transparent transitions and special patterns can be created.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate acrylic paints

In the following, we would like to show you which criteria you can use to evaluate and compare acrylic paints. This will make it easier for you to decide which acrylic paint is suitable for your purposes.

In summary, these are:

  • Quality
  • Opacity
  • Light fastness
  • Quantity
  • Weather resistance

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Quality

The quality of acrylic paint is one of the most important criteria when buying a paint, especially for painting. It is largely determined by the pigments and binders used. Basically, a distinction is made between acrylic paints in studio or study quality and artist quality.

The normal quality of acrylic paints is called studio or study quality.

Inexpensive pigments are used to produce the paint. In addition, fillers are added to achieve a higher opacity and to have to use fewer pigments.

The binder is milky white and is diluted with up to 50 percent water. The high water content causes the ink to flow apart. The milky white binder causes the colours to darken more as they dry. It is more difficult to achieve the desired colour result.

On the other hand, the proportion of chemical additives is usually higher.

Acrylic paints in studio quality dry particularly quickly. A smaller variety of colours is available, as the selection of inexpensive pigments is limited. In addition, there may be differences in quality between individual tubes of the same colour, as production is often not subject to such strict controls as for artist quality.

The best quality acrylic paints are of artist quality.

Pure, high-quality pigments are used in the production of acrylic paints. In addition, more pigments are used than in studio quality paints. The luminosity of the paint is retained even when thinned. The acrylic colours hardly darken when drying. The reason for this is the water-light binder. In addition, the water content in the binder is only up to 20 percent.

The acrylic paints dry more slowly, have a longer shelf life and exhibit a consistent quality. In addition, a wider range of colours is available.

For your first steps as a hobby painter or DIY projects, acrylic paints in studio quality are perfectly adequate. However, if you want to paint professionally, it is worthwhile in the long term to buy high-quality acrylic paints in artist quality.

Opacity

The better a paint can cover the painting surface, the higher its opacity. High-quality paints generally have better covering power.

The opacity of acrylic paints depends on the pigments used. Many pigments are transparent or semi-transparent by nature. This property is usually intentionally transferred to the paint. There are colours that are transparent, semi-transparent or opaque.

The opacity of acrylic paints can be increased by additives. This is usually achieved by adding white pigments.

There are also shades that have a high opacity even without additives.

Light fastness

Light fastness is determined by the binders and pigments. The higher the quality of both components, the more lightfast the ink. High lightfastness means that the pigments retain their luminosity and colour strength for longer.

Light fastness describes a surface property of the ink. If a colour is exposed to light, especially UV light, its surface texture changes. The result is a change in the colour tone and a fading of the colour in principle. A colour is described as lightfast if it stands up well to the effects of light irradiation.

Especially in the field of painting, you should therefore pay attention to the manufacturer's information on light fastness when choosing acrylic paints. Light fastness is indicated by most manufacturers by means of a star system. On the scale, which usually comprises up to 5 stars, 1 star stands for "low lightfastness", while 5 stars stand for "high lightfastness".

These stars are indicated directly on the tube or outer packaging of the paint. If there is no indication of this, it means that the ink is not lightfast.

Quantity

Acrylic paints are available in many different quantities. If you only want to paint one clay figure, you will need less paint than if you plan to do regular, large-scale paintings. Since acrylic paint dries up when opened, it is important to think in advance about the project for which you need the paint.

The quantities in which acrylic paints are sold range from small tubes of 12 ml to large buckets of 15 litres and more. Accordingly, it is possible to find a suitable size for every purpose.

The quantity of acrylic paint has a significant influence on the price. In some cases, there are low-price offers that may encourage you to buy larger quantities. However, it does not always make sense to take advantage of such offers.

It is annoying to pay more money for a large quantity that is then never used up but dries up instead. It can also be annoying if you have bought a large bucket of acrylic paint and then realise that the quality does not convince you.

Processing method

Acrylic paints come in different forms: Acrylic paints in liquid form, acrylic spray and acrylic pencils. The individual product types differ from each other in terms of the consistency of the acrylic paint. Depending on what you want to use the acrylic paint for, different products are best suited to your needs.

The largest selection of acrylic paints is available in liquid form - in tubes, bottles and buckets. Both the acrylic spray and the acrylic pencil, are a supplement to this range of colours. In most cases, the colour properties correspond to those of the liquid acrylic paint from the same manufacturer.

The acrylic spray is suitable for quickly working on larger areas or sculptural objects where the focus is not primarily on detail work. The spray head distributes the acrylic paint as a fine mist. It is important to use respiratory protection.

Acrylic pens are also available in the trade under the name acrylic marker. Depending on the model, they are sold in different line widths. The range extends from one to 15 mm. The pens are suitable for setting accents or drawing fine details. However, they can also be used alone for pictures or craft projects.

Facts worth knowing about acrylic paints

How long do acrylic paints last?

This question cannot be answered in a general way. However, depending on the manufacturer and storage, a shelf life of 2 - 5 years is possible.

The actual shelf life of acrylic paints depends on various factors. The manufacturer, the quality of the paint and, last but not least, the storage conditions play a decisive role.

High-quality paints can be stored for several years at a stable, cool room temperature. Opened acrylic paints should always be well sealed and not stored for too long. Over time, the colours dry out and become tough and rubbery. In many cases, they can still be used, but the colour result will no longer be optimal.

How can you use acrylic paints?

Acrylic paints are very versatile due to their properties. They can be used with most common painting techniques. In addition, certain aspects can be emphasised by means of auxiliary materials.

Acrylic paint can be used with brushes, sponges, painting knives, spatulas and similar painting tools. It is also suitable for combination with other colours, such as oil paint.

By adding the following ingredients, these results can also be achieved:

  • Water: can be used to thin the acrylic paint slightly, but no more than 25% water should be added, otherwise the properties of the acrylic paint may be affected
  • Acrylic thinner: used to thin the acrylic paint considerably while maintaining the properties of the paint
  • Thickener: increases the consistency of the paint, making it easier to apply the paint in a paste-like manner
  • Retarders: extend the short drying time of the paint
  • Modelling paste: when mixed with acrylic paint, can be used for plastic finishing after drying for several hours
  • Gloss dispersions: influence the gloss properties of the acrylic paint; depending on the agent, levels from silk matt to high gloss are possible
  • Varnishes: used to create a varnish-like protective layer on the surface; the protective layer can also influence the colour brilliance (gloss varnish to enhance, neutral varnish to maintain, matt varnish to reduce)
  • perfluorinated surfactants: improve the wetting properties of the ink surface
  • Primer white: also known as gesso, serves to improve the adhesion of the colours to an untreated painting surface
  • Acrylic binder: can be used in the production of acrylic paints, as a primer, in glazes, as an adhesive for material paintings and collages or as an intermediate varnish

Which surfaces are suitable for acrylic paints?

Acrylic paints can be used on almost any grease-free painting surface.

Due to the properties of acrylic paint, it can be used not only on canvases and paper, but on virtually any surface, such as:

  • Textile fabrics (cloth etc.)
  • Cardboard, painting board
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Stone
  • Glass
  • Concrete
  • Plaster

In case of doubt, the painting surface should be treated with a primer beforehand.

Acrylfarbe auf Stein

Acrylic paints can be used on many different surfaces (Image source: pixaby.com / stux).

Which brushes are suitable for use with acrylic paints?

In principle, no special brushes are needed for using acrylic paints.

Simple brushes of good quality are sufficient. Special acrylic brushes are available in specialist shops. On closer inspection, however, these do not differ from other brushes. Instead, they can usually be used for other colours, such as oil paints.

How can you remove acrylic paint from clothing?

Wet acrylic paint can be washed out of textiles without any problems. Commercially available soap and clear water are sufficient for this.

However, acrylic paint becomes insoluble in water when it dries. In this case, the garment must be treated with a special solvent to remove the paint. Therefore, it is recommended to wash out colour stains immediately.

How long have acrylic paints been around?

The first acrylic resin dispersion was developed as early as 1930.

The patent for it was registered by Röhm and Haas under the name Plextol. The production of acrylic paint for painting finally began in the 1940s in America, and in the 1960s in Europe.

What is acrylic paint made of?

Acrylic paints consist mainly of pigments, binders and solvents. Various substances are also added to disinfect and preserve the paint.

The pigments determine the colouring of the mixture as well as its opacity and colouring capacity. A distinction is made between organic, inorganic and effect pigments. Effect pigments give the paint additional properties, such as a metallic effect, angle-dependent colour changes or a certain texture.

The individual pigment particles are bonded to each other and to the substrate by a binder. Acrylic binders consist of synthetic resin particles. These are found in high concentrations in a solvent. The elasticity, adhesion and dilutability of the paint is determined by the binder.

In acrylic paints, the solvent is usually water. The binding agents are dissolved in it. The evaporation of the solvent causes the pigment particles to combine, harden and form a water-insoluble, elastic layer. The evaporation of the water also results in a slight decrease in volume.

Are acrylic paints hazardous to health?

Acrylic paints used for hobby purposes are not hazardous to health. Nevertheless, some precautions should be taken when handling the paint.

In principle, acrylic paint, just like other industrially produced paints, is a chemical mixture. Various active substances are added to preserve and disinfect the paints. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that reactions to the substances may occur in individual cases.

When handling the paints, some precautionary measures should therefore be taken:

  • Do not use acrylic spray without a breathing mask
  • Let pictures or painted objects dry in an unused room
  • always ventilate well
  • do not leave excess paint in the open
  • Wash off paint on the skin with soap before it dries
  • Do not let children paint without supervision
  • Do not paint with your hands, use rubber gloves

How long do acrylic paints take to dry?

Acrylic paints dry relatively quickly. However, drying can be delayed by adding appropriate agents.

Exactly how quickly acrylic paint dries varies depending on the manufacturer and quality. The drying time also depends on the consistency of the paint application, the layer thickness and the room temperature. Dried acrylic paint can be recognised by its slight sheen.

Very thin layers dry within a few minutes. Thick layers, on the other hand, can take several hours to dry completely.

How can you make dried acrylic paint liquid again?

Acrylic paint that has dried completely cannot be made liquid again. In some cases, however, it is worth trying to save the paint.

There is a trick you can use to try to save dried acrylic paint in jars and buckets. First, the acrylic paint should be stirred thoroughly. For smaller containers, a toothpick is very suitable. This ensures that the liquid that has settled on top is rejoined with the rest.

Then you can add a little water and stir again thoroughly. Finally, close the jar and shake well.

With a bit of luck, you will be able to liquefy the acrylic paint again.

Can you mix acrylic paints?

Yes, the different acrylic paints from the same manufacturer can be mixed without any problems. The reason for this is that they use the same binder.

When using different manufacturers, it is advisable to try it out first to see if it works. In some cases, incompatibilities may occur, which may manifest themselves in colour changes or reduced adhesion, for example.

Acrylic paint that has already dried can be painted over without any problems, regardless of the manufacturer.

How can you make acrylic paint yourself?

You can make acrylic paint yourself using acrylic binder. Acrylic binder is acrylic paint that does not contain any colour pigments.

In principle, it is not necessary to mix your own acrylic paints because of the variety of colours on the market. In addition, in most cases you cannot achieve a similarly fine quality as with industrially produced colours.

However, making your own ensures which ingredients are present in the paint. This means that the paint is not stretched with unnecessary fillers or mixed with additional chemicals.

To make your own acrylic paints, you need the following products:

  • Water
  • Colour pigments
  • Acrylic binder
  • a container for mixing the paint
  • a container for the finished paint

The first step is to prepare the colour slurry. To do this, the colour pigments are moistened with water and then stirred until a smooth colour paste with a doughy consistency is produced. All the colour pigments should combine evenly with the water. This process is referred to as "marshalling".

The colour paste must then rest for 24 hours.

After the time has elapsed, the actual acrylic paint is made. To do this, acrylic binder is added to the colour slurry and both components are thoroughly mixed together. The amount of acrylic binder required is stated in the manufacturer's instructions on the acrylic binder packaging.

The prepared paint is then poured into a clean container and stored in a tightly closed container.

Are acrylic paints waterproof?

Yes, acrylic paints are waterproof after drying. However, if the acrylic paint is diluted too much with water during processing, this property will be inhibited. This can be remedied by adding an acrylic binder.

Picture source: pixabay.com / stux

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