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Enamel vs. Acrylic – Difference Between Acrylic and Enamel Paint

    It can be difficult to choose the right paint medium for your project with too many options available nowadays. Acrylic and enamel paints are the most common choices for your home’s interior and exterior, paint for your furniture, and a variety of arts and crafts projects and painting general surfaces. All of these paints have advantages and disadvantages, so selecting the right paint will guarantee the best results. We’ll go through the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of enamel vs acrylic paint in this article so you can decide which one best for you.

    What’s the Difference between acrylic and enamel?

    Acrylic and enamel paints can never be blended or merged due to the differences in the two mediums. These paints’ formulations and ingredients are incompatible. You run the risk of your enamel removing from the surface or the base of your painted object, if you are using acrylics as a base cause they do not function well together. you cannot use them together because enamel paints are much more stronger than acrylic paints. The key differences between enamel and acrylic paints are in their characteristics. you can see that here,

    The difference in characteristics

    Based on the characteristics of each paint, we can determine which product is best for our project and budget. Knowing the similarities and dissimilarities between these two paint mediums makes future project choices much easier.

    Enamel paint:

    • Paints dependent on oil or solvent
    • Chemicals are present
    • It dries to a hard finish and comes with a variety of gloss levels, ranging from satin to matte to high gloss.
    • Weatherproof and fade-resistant
    • Prior to painting, there is no need to prep or prime.
    • We can use it on large scale both indoors or outdoors.
    • Drying time is much longer.
    • It has a restricted Color selection.
    • Will necessitate the use of additives or thinners to remove
    • Puts children health at risk as it contains harmful ingredients.

    Acrylic Paint:

    • Water-based, washable paint
    • They don’t contain any toxic chemicals.
    • Paint has a finer look than enamel
    • It is more flexible. unless you use a painting medium or varnish, the surface finish is matte.
    • In heavy weather conditions, it will wash away and fade.
    • For the paint to adhere to certain walls, you’ll need to use prep and primer.
    • Often used for smaller tasks or touch-ups; not suitable for outdoor use unless otherwise stated.
    • Quite fast drying
    • A diverse color palette
    • Can be wash off with the use of water and soap.
    • Isn’t harmful for children.

    So we can see that acrylic and enamel paints are two very different types of paint.

    Differences Between Acrylic and Enamel Paint

    If you’re spray painting furniture or using model paint, the kind of paint you use is completely up to you. For model painting, spray painting is go-to for some model artists because it offers a more even finish. Others, who like their models to last, choose to use enamel model paint or spray.

    Quick Comparison Between Enamel and Acrylic: 

    Acrylic and enamel paints differ in a number of ways, including:

    • Acrylics are water-based paints, whereas enamels come in both oil-based also new water-based formula.
    • Enamel is extremely durable, making it ideal for use on metal. Acrylic paint is far more versatile than enamel paint. It can be used on almost any surface.
    • Enamel paint is far more durable and last longer than acrylic paint, especially in high-moisture environments.
    • Acrylic paint is the more cheap option in terms of price

    Pros and cons of Acrylic paints

    There are several advantages of using an acrylic, as seen in the list above. Another few advantages and disadvantages are.


    • Simple to use and safe.
    • No bad odor, washable
    • Colors are available in a much wider range.
    • Paint mediums improves workability or to change the quality of the paint.
    • Significantly less expensive.
    • Quite fast drying
    • You can apply it on a variety of surfaces.


    • Not ideal for use in the outdoors or in areas where heat and moisture are present.
    • If you don’t seal the paint, it will crack.
    • On tougher surfaces, You’ll need a primer.
    • Brush strokes are always visible, and the surface coverage isn’t as fine.
    • Achieves a matte finish after drying up.
    • While the colors are vibrant, you will need to add more layers to reach the complexity and clarity you desire.

    Pros and Cons of Enamel Paint

    Acrylic paints are clearly deficient in or just not good enough for some uses. Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of using enamel paints if you want a more long-lasting alternative.


    • Ideal for outdoor ventures
    • Coverage is exceptionally good.
    • Less is better in this case.
    • Most suitable for larger project.
    • It dries to a hard, long-lasting finish.
    • You have the option of selecting your preferred paint and finish.
    • We can use it on a variety of surfaces.
    • Doesn’t fade and water-resistant


    • Because of the heavy odor, wear a mask.
    • Use outside or in a well-ventilated environment.
    • To strip enamel, you’ll need to use a chemical paint medium.
    • There is a limited color palette available.
    • It gets separated if not stored properly because it is oil based.

    Using Acrylic Paints

    We’ve all heard of acrylic colors. Apart from watercolors, these are a popular medium in today’s classrooms and even households.

    What is Acrylic paints

    Acrylics are a form of water-based paint that is extremely flexible. They are available in a variety of colors and we can use it on a variety of surfaces.

    You can use Acryliics on-

    • Paper,
    • crafts,
    • fabrics,
    • cardboard,
    • furniture,
    • wood,
    • rubber,
    • cement,
    • metal,
    • walls,
    • ceilings

    Above are all examples of this.

    Using and Cleaning up

    Acrylic paints are also very simple to use and clean up, which makes them ideal for dealing with children. Simply use soap and water to remove the color from the skin or surfaces.

    Comparing with Enamels

    Acrylics have a number of advantages over enamel, including the fact that they are non-toxic and dry easily. Painting bigger projects or layering takes even less time as a result of this. Another advantage of acrylics is that they do not need the use of chemicals when dealing with them. In contrast to non-water-based paint mediums, this one only needs a small amount of moisture to intensify or improve workability.

    Acrylics Medium

    Acrylic paint mediums improves the consistency or appearance of acrylic paints. There are non-toxic acrylic art mediums among them. These will improve the color, finish, and even the grip of the paint on the surface when used properly. Until painting with acrylics on a wood surface, for example, you have to add a primer and prep and sand the surface. If you’ve finished, use a sealant or varnish to protect your paint or artwork, particularly if you want to use it outside.

    Acrylic Paint Types

    There are a few different types of acrylic paints available. Some are best used on specific surfaces, whereas some are suitable for use outdoors. There are more costly and higher quality colors, as well as student and beginner grade levels, depending on the budget. Before making a purchase, you can consider certain considerations based on your preferences and project specifications. Certain brands sell beginner sets or painting kits, which could be more cost-effective for getting started with painting. Here are some of the various varieties of acrylics available, as well as some of the ideally suited applications.

    Craft Acrylic Paints or Artist Grade

    These paints come in sets or as individual artist tubing. They come in a variety of colors, and the price range varies depending on the standard. These are used in both delicate and hard-bodied paints. Soft-bodied paints are simpler to combine and blend without the use of a medium than hard-bodied paints.

    Heavy Body Acrylic Paints

    These are the thickest type of acrylic paint and are available in both professional and student grades.

    Soft Body Paints 

    These are easier to work with and blend with various paint media since they are smoother.

    Fluid Acrylics

    These colors come in a container as a liquid and are used for methods such as pouring and staining. These can be used as regular acrylic paint, but they have a much thinner consistency.

    Open Acrylics

    These paints take a long time to dry and are used to imitate the effects of oil paint. These acrylics have a longer dry time and a fine, thick feel, which allows for more workability and richer colors.

    Interactive Acrylics

    These are a special kind of paint that can be reactivated after drying. An unlocking formula or acrylic medium is used to do this. This paints are very easy to dry.

    Acrylic Spray Paint

    All of the advantages of acrylic paint in a mess-free, simple-to-use spray can.

    Acrylic Gouache

    It is a high-quality paint that produces vivid colors with a matte finish.

    Acrylic Inks

    Acrylic inks have the same quality as fluid acrylics and can be used in the same ways. Watercolor methods, calligraphy painting, and airbrushing can all be done using acrylic inks.

    Acrylic Marker

    These are special pens that can be used to apply to artwork on paper or other surfaces.

    Acrylic Outdoor Paint

    For exterior installations that may be subject to moisture or humidity, utilizing acrylic outdoor paint. These paints were designed to survive certain conditions and last for a long time.

    Acrylic Modelling Paint

    Touch-ups and small-scale designs, such as painting miniature figures, are done with acrylic modelling powder. Since the acrylics can wash off, it is not ideal for outdoor use.

    Acrylic craft paints

    Acrylic paints for crafting that can be used on a number of surfaces. These are specially made for crafts.

    Working with Acrylic Paint

    With so many choices, it’s no surprise that acrylic paints are such a common and beloved painting tool. Although these paints can be used on a variety of textures, they can still benefit from a coat of varnish. Only after about seven days of painting would this be possible. This is to make sure that each coat of paint is fully dried before applying the sealant.

    It’s no different when using acrylic mold paint. Some people prefer this to enamel modeling paints because it is less toxic and easy to use for minor detailing and touch-ups. Acrylic modeling paints, on the other hand, are washable and therefore will never be as durable as enamel options.

    Enamel Paints and Their Use

    Well, we have take a look at the acrylic paints, now it’s time for enamels!

    What is Enamel paint

    Enamel and acrylic paints key difference is that one is chemical and other is oil-based paints. Plastic, concrete, glass, and wood can all be painted with enamel paints. They’re a popular option for any exterior painting project because they’re water-resistant and don’t fade in the sun. Other designs projects that is best with enamel paints:

    • Frames and doors
    • Furniture that is made of wood, metal, or plastic
    • Drawer and cabinet
    • Appliances
    • Signboards and handrails.
    • Decking and floors

    Comparing with Acrylics

    When compared to acrylic, this makes enamel much stronger and lasts much longer. Enamel model paints have the same added toughness and glossier appearance as oil-based based paints. No preparation is required for enamel model paints to be applied directly to the model piece. To get them off your surfaces and tools, though, you’ll need to use a chemical . The best part about these paints is that they will still appear glossy and flawless, regardless of the surface, without the use of gloss or sealants. The best aspect is that these paints are available in a variety of finishes, making it simple to choose one that you want.

    Types of Enamel paints

    Enamel paints always have been oil-based. But they take longer to dry as oil paints and requires ventilations as they produce toxic fumes. Now we have new water-based formula available in the market. It’s easy to clean

    Working with Enamel paints

    Of course, the drawback being that these paints have a heavy odor and are toxic to use. They should be worn with a mask and ideally outside or in a well-ventilated setting. Enamel paints, like oil paints, take a long time to dry, so you’ll have to wait longer in layers for these.

    Are you looking for other painting options? you can check out Acrylic vs Oil Painting

    Finding the right color for the work can be difficult no matter what you’re painting. The aim is to be familiar with your goods and the purposes on which you want to employ them.

    So, Which paint to choose..?

    Enamel modeling paints and mediums are the way to go if you’re going to use your paint outside or if you want it to last a long time. Enamel paints have a heavy odor and come in a small number of colors. Acrylics are better to use and cleaner to clean up if you’re looking for a simple project to bring a splash of color to your home. Acrylic paints are mostly used for crafts. These are available in a variety of vibrant colors and will dry flat. They’re inexpensive and easily found in art retailers or online craft supplies stores. Inside these ranges, you can usually choose the finish that you like. These paints are most likely to be used in construction and home supply stores where paint for larger DIY projects is sold.

    Painting metal with acrylic or enamel

    Metals may be painted with some acrylic colors, but they must first be primed and prepped. This ensures that they stay put and don’t lift. Enamel colors are frequently best suited for working on these more durable surfaces. This paint mediums are more stringent and long-lasting, and they don’t need the use of a primer to adhere well.

    Can you paint acrylics and enamels over each other?

    Acrylic paints are not as solid or stable as enamels, but mixing these two is not a good idea. As a result, they won’t stick to the surface well enough. Enamel paint can allow it to lift and peel in the future if applied over it. This technique is ineffective for achieving a long-lasting and professional-looking paint job, even though you have primed the surface beforehand.

    How do you tell the difference between acrylic and enamel paint?

    Acrylic paint has a matte finish, but enamel paint has a glossier finish. Acrylic paints keep their color over time, whereas enamel paint fades and yellows. Enamel paints contain solvents, but acrylic paints are primarily made up of water.

    Are you looking paint to make a memory of your baby? If you are looking paints for baby footprints or handprints, we have a guide here for paints that you can try. You can check out 5 Best Paint to Use for Baby Footprints, we discussed paints that are best for baby handprints or footprints also not harmful for baby’s skin.


    To know which paint is right for your project, you must first understand the differences between enamel and acrylic paint. We hope the information in this guide has answered any questions you might have had. Good luck with your work!

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