What is the Difference Between Latex and Acrylic

Latex and acrylic are both popular paint choices for household projects. While both are water-based paints that are easy to clean and use, they have distinct properties. It’s important to understand the difference between latex and acrylic paints to make the right choice for your project.

What is the difference between latex and acrylic acid? Latex paint is known for being affordable, fast-drying, and great for interior walls and ceilings. On the other hand, acrylic paint is more durable, adheres better, and is great for high-moisture areas and exteriors.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Latex  
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Acrylic
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Latex and Acrylic
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Latex and Acrylic
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Latex and Acrylic
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Latex, Acrylic, Paint, Water-Based Paint

Difference Between Latex and Acrylic  - Comparison Summary

What is Latex

Latex paint is made up of synthetic polymers. It is a water-based paint. Unlike oil-based paints that take hours to dry, latex paint dries to the touch in under an hour, allowing for quicker completion of the project. It gives a finished look in just a few coats, also providing excellent coverage. It is available in a variety of colors, from flat to glossy.

Latex Paint

Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions make it a healthier choice compared to oil-based paints, reducing fumes and improving indoor air quality.

Latex paint is tough enough to withstand wear and tear, so it is used in high-traffic areas like hallways and kitchens. The flexibility of the latex paint minimizes cracking and peeling, and its moisture resistance allows for easy cleaning. Latex paint is used in interior walls, ceilings, and trim, adhering well to various surfaces like drywall, plaster, and wood.

What is Acrylic

Acrylic is a water-based suspension of pigment particles held together by an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paint dries more rapidly than oil-based paints. Hence, it allows artists to work efficiently and layer colors quickly. This fast drying also translates to easy cleanup with just soap and water, eliminating the need for harsh solvents.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylics can be used as thin and translucent like watercolors or thick and opaque like oil paints.  Through the use of acrylic mediums and gels, artists can manipulate the consistency and texture of the paint to achieve a variety of effects.  Acrylics can even be used on a wider range of surfaces than traditional paints, adhering well to canvas, wood, fabric, and even unconventional materials.

Similarities Between Latex and Acrylic

  1. When dry, both latex and acrylic paints form a flexible film on the surface they are applied to.
  2. They are generally less smelly.

Difference Between Latex and Acrylic


  • Latex paint is water-based and made from a combination of pigments, water, binders, and additives, while acrylic is a water-based suspension of pigment particles held together by an acrylic polymer emulsion.


  • Acrylic is more durable than latex.


  • Latex paint can be less adhesive, especially on bare wood surfaces that haven’t been primed first. However, acrylic paint offers better adhesion and resists peeling and cracking more effectively.

Drying Time

  • Acrylic paint may take longer to dry than latex paint.


  • Latex emits lower levels of volatile organic compounds.


  • Latex paint, especially bright colors, may not be as colorfast as acrylic paint and can fade over time with exposure to sunlight.  Acrylic paint, on the other hand, offers a wider variety of vibrant and permanent colors that resist fading.

Water Resistance

  • Latex paint is less water-resistant than acrylic paint, making it less suitable for high-moisture areas.


  • Latex paint is a good choice for interior walls, ceilings, and trim while acrylic paint is good for exterior surfaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and high-moisture areas and areas that experience a lot of wear and tear.


  • Latex paint is generally less expensive than acrylic paint.


Although both paints offer benefits like flexibility and easy cleanup with water, there is a distinct difference between latex and acrylic in terms of durability, adhesion, and VOC emissions. Acrylic paint is more durable and has better color retention and adhesion to different surfaces, making it a popular choice for various uses. Meanwhile, latex paint has lower VOC emissions and more finish options, making it ideal for interior projects with environmental considerations.

FAQ: Latex and Acrylic

1. Which is better, latex or acrylic paint?

Latex paint is less costly, has a fast drying time, and is suitable for interior walls and ceilings. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, is more durable and water-resistant, making it best for high-moisture areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor surfaces.

2. Is latex paint waterproof?

Latex paint is water-resistant and easy to clean, making it suitable for most interior projects. While it is durable and can handle some moisture, it is not fully waterproof and may not perform well in harsh exterior climates due to its slight flexibility, even when completely dry.

3. What is latex paint used for?

Latex paint is used in interior walls, ceilings, and trim, adhering well to various surfaces like drywall, plaster, and wood. It can be also used for exterior surfaces.

4. What are the disadvantages of latex paint?

Latex paint has some disadvantages, such as lower durability compared to other paints in high-traffic areas. It may not stick well to certain surfaces like metal or glossy surfaces without priming. Additionally, it may not work well in extreme outdoor conditions or on surfaces exposed to moisture.

5. Is latex paint washable?

Yes, latex paint is washable. It can be cleaned with soap and water, which makes it a convenient option for areas that may need frequent cleanings, such as kitchens and bathrooms.


1. “Acrylic Paint.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Pyrrole Red Dab” By Assaf Shtilman – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Couple Painting a Wall” (CC0) via Pexels

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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