Are Acrylic Paints Waterproof? Uncover the Truth

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 9 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

You’ve probably wondered if acrylic paints are waterproof, especially if you enjoy creating art or craft projects. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. While acrylic paint is not inherently waterproof, it does offer some level of water resistance when dry. Understanding the characteristics of acrylic paint and implementing certain techniques can help enhance its water resistance and protect your artistic creations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Acrylic paint is not completely waterproof, but it exhibits water resistance when dry.
  • The acrylic polymers in the paint form a protective barrier that repels water to some extent.
  • Proper surface preparation, layering techniques, and the use of varnishes or sealants can enhance the water resistance of acrylic paint.
  • Alternative art materials like watercolors and oil paints offer better waterproof properties.
  • Varnishing your acrylic paintings can provide an additional layer of protection against water damage.

Understanding Acrylic Paint: Composition and Characteristics

Acrylic paint, composed of acrylic polymers and pigments, offers artists a versatile and vibrant medium for their creations. The acrylic polymers act as a binder, holding the pigments together and forming a flexible film when the paint dries. This unique composition allows for a quick-drying paint that can be diluted with water, providing artists with a range of textures and effects, reminiscent of watercolors.

One of the key characteristics of acrylic paint is its vibrant colors. With a wide array of pigments available, artists can achieve bold and expressive color palettes in their artwork. Whether you’re looking for bold and impactful hues or subtle and nuanced shades, acrylic paint has the versatility to fulfill your creative vision.

The quick-drying nature of acrylic paint is another notable characteristic. Unlike oil paints that may take days or even weeks to dry, acrylic paint dries rapidly, allowing artists to work efficiently and build layers without significant waiting time. This fast-drying property also enables artists to experiment with different techniques and styles, exploring their creativity without long periods of drying time.

Furthermore, the composition of acrylic paint lends itself well to various application techniques. Whether it’s brushwork, palette knife texture, glazing, or pouring, acrylic paint adapts easily to different methods, offering artists the freedom to experiment and push the boundaries of their artistic expression.

Overall, acrylic paint’s composition of acrylic polymers and pigments, combined with its vibrant colors, quick-drying nature, and versatility in application, makes it a popular choice among artists of all levels. This remarkable medium allows artists to unleash their creativity and bring their artistic visions to life with ease and confidence.

The Key Factor: Water Resistance

When it comes to acrylic paint, water resistance is a key factor to consider. While acrylic paint offers some degree of water resistance once it’s completely dry, it’s important to note that it’s not completely waterproof on its own. To understand the level of water resistance acrylic paint provides, let’s take a closer look at how it works.

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When acrylic paint dries, it forms a protective layer that repels water to some extent. The acrylic polymers in the paint create a barrier that prevents water from seeping into the paint layers. However, prolonged exposure to water can still compromise the paint’s integrity and cause it to deteriorate over time.

Several factors can affect the water resistance of acrylic paint. One crucial factor is the surface preparation. Ensuring that the painting surface is properly primed and prepared can help enhance the paint’s ability to withstand water. Additionally, the thickness of the paint application can also impact water resistance.

To further improve the water resistance of your acrylic paintings, you can consider using varnishes or sealants. Applying a layer of varnish or sealant over the dried paint provides an additional protective barrier against water damage. These products act as a shield, preventing water from reaching the paint layers and preserving the artwork for years to come.

So while acrylic paint is not inherently waterproof, taking the necessary steps to enhance its water resistance can significantly increase its durability and longevity. By understanding the factors that influence water resistance and implementing appropriate techniques, you can ensure that your acrylic paintings are better equipped to withstand water encounters.

Water Resistance: Exploring the Factors

Water resistance in acrylic paint can be influenced by various factors:

  • Surface preparation: Properly priming and preparing the painting surface can improve water resistance.
  • Application thickness: Thicker layers of paint can create a stronger barrier against water.
  • Varnishes and sealants: Applying varnishes or sealants can significantly enhance water resistance.

Understanding and implementing these factors will help you achieve better water resistance in your acrylic paintings. Now, let’s explore practical tips to increase the water resistance of acrylic paint in the next section.

Practical Tips for Increasing Water Resistance

To enhance the water resistance of your acrylic paint, there are several practical tips you can follow. These techniques and methods can help protect your artwork from unexpected encounters with water and ensure its longevity.

1. Prepare the Surface

Start by choosing a suitable painting surface that is compatible with acrylic paint. Options such as canvas, wood, or acrylic paper are commonly used. Make sure the surface is clean, dry, and free of any dust or debris that could affect the adhesion of the paint.

Tip: Applying a primer coat on the surface before painting can create a strong foundation and improve the water resistance of the acrylic paint.

2. Layer the Paint

Applying multiple coats of acrylic paint can create a stronger barrier against water infiltration. Allow each layer to dry completely before adding the next one to ensure optimal adherence and durability.

Tip: Thicker layers of paint tend to be more water-resistant than thin layers. Consider adding depth and dimension to your artwork by using thicker applications of paint.

3. Apply Varnishes or Sealants

To significantly increase the water resistance of your acrylic paint, consider applying varnishes or sealants over the dried paint. These protective coatings act as an additional layer of defense against water damage and can help preserve the vibrancy of your artwork for years to come.

Tip: Choose a varnish or sealant specifically designed for acrylic paint. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and drying time.

By following these practical tips, you can enhance the water resistance of your acrylic paint and ensure that your artwork remains protected even in challenging environments or situations.

Alternative Waterproofing Options

While acrylic paint can be made more water resistant, it is not the most waterproof art material available. When it comes to alternative waterproofing options, watercolors and oil paints take the lead.

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Watercolors: Watercolors are renowned for their transparency and exceptional resistance to water. They are the go-to choice for artists who desire a medium that can withstand water without compromising the integrity of their artwork.

Oil paints: On the other hand, oil paints offer a more permanent solution when it comes to waterproofing. The oil-based composition forms a strong barrier against moisture, providing long-lasting protection for artwork.

It is important to note that working with these alternative materials may require different techniques and practices. Artists must familiarize themselves with the specific characteristics and application methods of watercolors and oil paints to achieve the desired waterproofing effects.

Watercolors Oil Paints
Transparent and resistant to water Provides a permanent waterproof solution
Requires special watercolor paper Longer drying time
Delicate and requires careful handling Offers rich, vibrant colors

Seal the Deal: Varnishing and Final Thoughts

Varnishing plays a crucial role in safeguarding your acrylic paintings from moisture and other environmental factors. By adding a coat of varnish, you not only enhance the vibrant colors of your artwork but also provide a protective shield against water damage. The varnish acts as a barrier that enhances the water resistance of your acrylic paint, ensuring that your masterpiece remains intact even in the face of unexpected water encounters.

When it comes to applying varnish, it’s essential to follow the instructions provided on the varnish label. These instructions will guide you on the proper application technique, ensuring that you achieve the desired results and maximize the water resistance of your acrylic paintings.

Remember that while acrylic paint itself may not be completely waterproof, taking proactive steps to increase its water resistance can go a long way in safeguarding your artwork. Varnishing is a key step in this process, adding an extra layer of protection against moisture and other potential hazards.

Expert Tip:

“To achieve the best water resistance for your acrylic paintings, consider using a professional artist-grade varnish specifically designed for acrylics. These varnishes are formulated to provide optimal protection and ensure the longevity of your artwork.” – Jane Adams, Acrylic Painting Expert

In conclusion, while acrylic paint may not be inherently waterproof, varnishing your acrylic paintings can significantly enhance their water resistance. By following proper varnish application techniques and using high-quality artist-grade varnishes, you can protect your artwork from the detrimental effects of water and other external factors.

Varnishing Benefits Water Resistance Level Protective Shield
Enhances colors and adds a professional touch Increases water resistance Acts as a barrier against water damage
Preserves artwork for extended periods Provides a moderate level of protection Resists moisture and environmental factors
Reduces the risk of discoloration and fading Offers a higher degree of water repellency Ensures longevity and durability


Acrylic paint has established itself as a beloved choice among artists due to its versatile nature, vibrant colors, and quick drying time. In this section, we will delve into the composition and characteristics of acrylic paint, providing a deeper understanding of this immensely popular art medium.

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The Chemistry behind the Colors

Acrylic paint derives its vibrant colors from a unique combination of two key components: acrylic polymers and pigments. These elements work together to create the rich and visually appealing hues that make acrylic paint a favorite among artists.

The acrylic polymers found in acrylic paint act as a binding agent. They help hold the pigments together, ensuring that the paint maintains its color integrity when applied to a surface. Without these polymers, the pigments would not adhere properly, resulting in a less vibrant and cohesive painting.

Aside from their role as binders, acrylic polymers contribute to the quick-drying nature of acrylic paint. When the paint dries, the polymers form a flexible film that securely holds the pigments in place. This quick-drying property is especially advantageous for artists who prefer to work in layers or require shorter drying times for their projects.

While acrylic polymers are responsible for the adhesive properties and drying process, the pigments are what give acrylic paint its vivid colors. Pigments are finely ground particles that provide the actual coloration. They can be organic, inorganic, or synthetic, and their selection determines the range of hues available in acrylic paint.

To demonstrate the interaction between acrylic polymers and pigments, consider the following table:

Acrylic Polymers Pigments
Act as a binding agent Provide vibrant colors
Contribute to quick-drying Can be organic, inorganic, or synthetic
Create a flexible film Determine the range of hues

Understanding the chemistry behind the colors in acrylic paint allows artists to explore the full potential of this versatile medium. By harnessing the power of acrylic polymers and carefully selecting pigments, artists can express their creativity through a wide array of vibrant and visually captivating artworks.


Acrylic paint offers water resistance when dry, making it a versatile medium for artists. While it may not be completely waterproof, understanding its composition and characteristics can help you take the necessary steps to enhance its water resistance.

To protect your acrylic paintings from water damage, consider applying varnishes or sealants. These additional layers provide an extra barrier against moisture and ensure your artwork can withstand unexpected water encounters.

By taking proper precautions and utilizing varnishing techniques, you can create acrylic paintings that are more resilient to water exposure. So, go ahead and experiment with this vibrant and adaptable art medium, knowing that your creations can endure the test of time and moisture.


Are acrylic paints waterproof?

Acrylic paint is not inherently waterproof, but it does exhibit water resistance when dry.

What are some techniques to enhance the water resistance of acrylic paint?

Surface preparation, layering, and the use of varnishes or sealants can enhance the water resistance of acrylic paint.

What is acrylic paint composed of?

Acrylic paint is composed of acrylic polymers and pigments.

How do acrylic polymers contribute to the quick-drying nature of acrylic paint?

Acrylic polymers act as a binding agent, holding the pigments together and forming a flexible film when the paint dries.

How can varnishes or sealants increase the water resistance of acrylic paint?

Applying varnishes or sealants over the dried paint can significantly increase its water resistance.

Are there any alternative art materials that offer better waterproof properties than acrylic paint?

Watercolors and oil paints are known to have better waterproof properties than acrylic paint. However, techniques and practices may differ when using these materials.

How does varnishing protect acrylic paintings?

Varnishing not only enhances colors and adds a professional touch but also acts as a shield against water damage.