Acrylic Vs Enamel Paint [Extensive Comparison Guide]

This is the most comprehensive comparison guide on acrylic vs enamel paint, where we have discussed every detail you need to know.

Enamel and acrylic paint are common choices for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Both types of paint may be purchased at your local paint store in various hues, but that’s one side to look at.

When it comes to painting, how acrylic and enamel paint is different, in addition to being water-based, acrylic paint is harmless and may be used in a range of crafts.

Enamel paint is mainly available in spray or liquid form because it is solvent-based and cures to a hard shell. It is possible to use both enamel paint and acrylic paint for a wide range of purposes, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Here, you’ll learn which paints to use in various artistic endeavors and how to utilize each painting in the most effective way. Let us jump to the detailed comparison of acrylic vs enamel paint.

About Acrylic Paint

Color pigments are contained in acrylic paint. Craftspeople love it since it’s safe to use as it’s water-based and non-toxic.

You don’t need any solvents or a lot of soap and water to clear up any mishaps with acrylic paints. Many different paint mediums can be used to thicken and speed up the drying process.

The paint dries rapidly and is less expensive than enamel paints, making it a good option for beginners. Also, acrylic paint may be applied to a wide range of media, from wood and paper to canvas and plastic.

Some surfaces can be painted directly using acrylic paint, while others, such as metal, may require some preparatory work.

Types Of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints come in a variety of varieties. Some are better suited for indoor use, while others can be used outside. You can choose from a wide variety of paints, ranging in price and quality, depending on your needs and your budget.

Before making a purchase, you should take these aspects into consideration. Beginner sets and painting kits are available from some manufacturers and may be a more cost-effective option when getting started in painting.

Here are a few examples of the various available acrylics and areas that are suitable for use.

  • Artist Grade or Craft Acrylics: Sets and artist tubes are both options for purchasing these paints. They are available in a wide selection of colors, and the price varies according to the quality. These can be found in two different body types: soft and rigid. Soft-bodied paints are easy to blend without a medium than hard-bodied ones.
  • Fluid Acrylics: Pouring with the paints can be done with this type of paint. Acrylic paint may also be used with these; however, they have a considerably thinner consistency.
  • Open Acrylics: The paints are highly long-drying, which makes them ideal for people who want to depict the look of oil paint. These acrylics have a long drying time and a thick, smooth texture that enhances their workability and color.
  • Interactive Acrylics: These are different sets of paints that can be reactivated even after they have dried. A unique formula media is used to do this. It takes only a few minutes for these paints to dry.
  • Acrylic Spray Paint: Spray-on acrylic paints deliver all the benefits of traditional tubes in a convenient, no-mess format.
  • Acrylic Gouache: Matte, high-quality paint with bright colors and long shelf life.
  • Acrylic Inks: Similar in viscosity to fluid acrylics, these can be applied the same way. If desired, watercolor techniques, calligraphy painting, and airbrushing can be created with acrylic inks.
  • Acrylic Marker: Artwork can be enhanced with the use of these pens, which are available for purchase online.
  • Acrylic Outdoor Paint: Projects that are exposed to dampness or heat should use this type of material. To endure these conditions, certain paints have been developed.
  • Acrylic Modelling Paint: Smaller projects, and miniatures can be done using this tool for touch-ups. Outdoor use is not recommended due to the risk of the acrylics being washed away.

From a variety of colors, you can paint just about anything. Varnish can also be used to protect the paint further. However, you should still wait at least one week after the acrylic paints have dried before varnishing them.

Acrylic modeling paint is also a well-known and widely used type of paint. There are many advantages to using acrylic model paint over water-based paint, such as the fact that you can touch-ups, and it is easy to clean up. It’s terrible that acrylic modeling paint isn’t long-lasting like the enamel model paint.

How To Use Acrylic Paint

Using acrylic paints is a common practice. It’s not just watercolors that are making a comeback, either. Acrylics, which are water-based paints, are incredibly versatile.

They work on a variety of surfaces and come in an array of colors. Paper, plastic, wood, canvas, and occasionally metal are all included in this category.

Using acrylic paints is a breeze, especially when young children are working with them. Remove this paint from your surfaces or skin with soap and water.

The advantages of using acrylics instead of enamel are that they are non-toxic and dry quickly. This saves a lot of time when working on larger projects with multiple layers.

Acrylics also have the advantage of not requiring the use of chemicals during the fabrication process (you can read about using acrylic on the fabric surface). A little water is all it takes to make it more workable than non-water-based paint mediums.

While using acrylic paint, you can alter its texture or consistency by adding acrylic paint media. Non-toxic acrylic painting mediums are among these options.

There are a number of ways to improve the gloss, quality, and adhesion of your paint. If you’re going to use acrylics on wood, you’ll need to prime it first and then sand it down.

A sealant or varnish may be necessary to protect your painting, especially if it will be shown outside.

About Enamel Paint

It’s acrylic paint with a solvent base that is thick and durable when dried. Unlike enamel paint, acrylic paint is water-based, whereas enamel paint is oil-based.

All of your outside surfaces including wood, metal, copper, and glass, can be painted using enamel paints. Enamel paint is water-resistant, so that you can clean it frequently.

Colorful and long-lasting, enamel paint is a popular choice. A primer is unnecessary when using enamel model paint, which may be easily removed with mineral spirits. You can apply enamel paints for a long-lasting sheen by rolling, brushing, or spraying them.

Types Of Enamels

The majority of enamel paints are based on oil. The fundamental distinction between water-based and oil-based enamels is the drying time.

Typical drying times for oil-based and water-based enamels are eight to 24 hours, respectively. Oil-based enamels have the disadvantage of having a funny odor, so make sure you have plenty of air when using them.

If you inhale the fumes from enamel paint, you may suffer from oil-based paint poisoning. Because the paint is so shiny, many manufacturers recommend that you wear gloves when handling it.

To further aid in the decomposition of the paint, use paint thinner to wipe the brushes and the work area. Cleanup is a snap with water-based enamels.

Soap and water are all you’ll need. Water-based paints are generally seen as more environmentally friendly. On the other hand, oil enamels are known for their long-term durability.

How To Work With Enamel Paint

Acrylic and enamel paints are chemical and oil-based, which is the most significant distinction between the two. Compared to acryl alternatives, this makes enamel significantly more durable and long-lasting.

Wood, plastic, metal, and glass can all be painted with enamel paints. These paints are famous for exterior painting projects because they are water- and sunlight-resistant.

Enamel model paints have the same benefits of increased durability and a shiny appearance. This is because they’re made of oil.

Preparing the model item before painting using enamel model paints is unnecessary. To remove them from the surfaces and instruments, you’ll need a chemical solution.

Regardless of the surface, your colors will always seem smooth except for the need for sealants or gloss. Because these paints are available in various finishes, you’ll be able to find the one that best suits your needs.

The drawback is that paints have a strong odor and are hazardous to handle. A mask is recommended, and it can be used outside or in a well-ventilated location.

Paints like enamels don’t dry as quickly as oil paints, so you’ll have to extend the time between coats when applying the enamel.

Key Differences Between Acrylic Vs Enamel Paint

When it comes to painting furniture and appliances, many individuals utilize both acrylic paint and enamel paint.

When it comes to quickly achieve your intended outcomes, understanding the differences between acrylic vs enamel paint and its benefits and drawbacks may be a huge asset.

Paint Chemistry

We must first learn more about the chemistry of paints in order to understand why they behave the way they do. The following are the four most important paint qualities to be aware of:

  • Pigment: Coating of powder that is opaque and colored.
  • Binder: Paint particles are held in place by this adhesive.
  • Additive: Flow control driers, agents, and other naturally occurring qualities of paint are all affected by this element.
  • Solvent: Oil or water can be used as a medium for dispersing other qualities.

Paints differ primarily because of their solvent. For most, acrylic paints are based on water, whereas enamels are typically made of oil.

A few exceptions exist. In some cases, water-based enamels are available. Enamel-coated acrylics are also available from other manufacturers.

Primary Uses

While both paints can be used in various ways, some are better than others. The principal use of paint is determined by its chemical composition.

For outdoor goods and walls in the kitchen and bathroom where moisture is a problem, enamel paint is a better choice than other types of paint because it is more waterproof. The most common applications of enamel paint are as follows:

  • Kitchen
  • Doors
  • Outdoor walls
  • Bathrooms
  • Windows
  • Metal
  • Appliances
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Glass

Acrylics are better suited to porous surfaces or indoor furniture than enamels for outdoor furniture and metal. Using acrylic for smaller indoor projects can also save you money. Acrylic paint can be used for:

  • Outdoor signage
  • Arts and crafts
  • Public murals
  • Indoor walls
  • Architectural
  • Paintings

Acrylic is a popular paint for arts and crafts. It’s also a lot safer for kids to utilize.

Dry Time

It doesn’t matter what sort of enamel you use; acrylic paints dry faster than any other type. Acrylic paint dries quickly to the touch and is completed in about eight hours.

Depending on the type of enamel, drying time might range from eight to 24 hours. On the other hand, acrylics almost always necessitate the use of a primer.

Because primer and sealant are not required with enamel paint, you may be able to complete your project more quickly.

Durability

Acrylic paints have a wide range of durability, while enamels tend to last longer. If you don’t seal it, the paint will leave brush traces that can break and peel on the surface.

Enamels provide a robust and long-lasting finish. It’s resistant to corrosion and water. Acrylics don’t have these qualities.

Acrylic paint is popular among model artists because it’s easy to clean, comes in a large variety of colors, and is readily available at local craft stores.

On the other hand, acrylic modeling paint is less long-lasting than enamel.

Finish

Acrylics have a matte finish, whereas enamels have a glossy one. A glossy finish can always be added to acrylics by painting over them with another paint once they have dried.

As companies offer a wide array of changes, there are exceptions to every painting style. Enamels come in satin, matte, and gloss sheens, to mention a few.

The paint is primarily responsible for the appearance. They can be applied by spraying, rolling, or brushing. If you look closely at the paint, you won’t notice any brush marks.

Enamels should provide uniform covering. Brush marks can be seen in acrylics.

Color Variety

There are more color options with acrylic paint because of the powder pigmentation. The paint lasts longer because of the water base. Over time, enamels might turn yellow.

Since professional acrylics are the priciest, they’re the most excellent choice. Because of the greater pigment amount in the paint, they have brilliant, long-lasting hues.

However, you should use enamel paint on your model. The hues and durability of enamel model paints are superior to that of acrylic. It also doesn’t require a primer, which saves you time and money.

Adhesion

When using acrylic paint, a primer or sealer may be necessary to assist the paint clinging to certain surfaces. The most obvious example is metal.

Using this paint for some tasks necessitates additional preparation because the primer must dry before putting the final coat.

Primers are rarely used when enamel paint is being applied. Primer, on the other hand, maybe necessary for some circumstances to extend the life of the paint.

Intensity Of VOCs

For most oil-based paints, the toxicity level is much higher than that of water-based paints. VOCs, carbon-based chemicals, are abundant in enamel paint.

VOCs are hazardous to human health and the environment. You must operate in a well-ventilated place because enamels have a strong odor and emit these harmful fumes.

You should also shield your workspace and take care to get rid of the paint. Because acrylic paints are less hazardous and emit fewer VOCs, you don’t have to worry as much about them.

To avoid getting paint on your skin or clothing, you should consider wearing protective garments.

Outdoor/Indoor Use

Enamels and acrylics are excellent options whether you’re painting inside or outside. However, regardless of whether the paint company you choose will work on your project will depend upon the specifics of your job and the provider you select.

Despite its versatility, acrylic paint does not stand up as well as enamels on outside surfaces. In terms of water resistance, enamel paint is suitable. Additionally, cleaning the painted surface is a lot less of a hassle.

UV Protection

Because of its water base, acrylic paint is better able to withstand ultraviolet (UV) radiation, making it excellent for use on external glass or painted walls.

If you don’t seal and prime the topcoat, you’ll get less UV protection from enamels. On the other hand, some industrial enamel paints may have UV protection.

Cleanliness

Artisans and crafters prefer water-based acrylics because of their ease of cleanup. Unlike enamel, cleaning your workspace does not necessitate the use of solvents or thinners.

Any mess may be cleaned up with soap and water. Solvents degrade the oil basis in enamel paint, allowing you to dispose of it properly. Mineral spirits can also be used to remove enamels when it comes to model painting.

Safety

Once they’ve dried, both types of paint are dangerous, but acrylics tend to be less so. In order to keep yourself and others safe, you’ll need to allow the object to dry in a well-ventilated area where the enamel paint may dry for an extended period of time.

Generally speaking, acrylics are considered harmless and non-toxic. They don’t emit a significant odor or necessitate the use of safety gear in every situation.

Some water-based acrylic paints contain formaldehyde and ammonia levels that might cause irritation if ingested, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Priming

Acrylic paint usually necessitates priming and sealing the surface, but enamels don’t usually necessitate this step. Though primer and sealant can help enamels withstand the weather and last longer, it’s not necessary.

When using spray paints such as enamel or acrylic, you’ll need to dilute the paint first before applying it to avoid any mistakes. Pre-thinned choices are available from some manufacturers.

Availability And Cost

In general, acrylics are less expensive than enamel. Compared to professional-grade acrylics, artist and student-grade acrylics are significantly less expensive.

Acrylics can be found in both art supply stores and hardware stores. Enamels are a higher-quality paint, which means they cost more.

They use small, pricey bottles of paint for painting models, whereas metal for walls or enamels is available in bigger, more reasonably priced gallon containers.

Tips For Working With Acrylic Paints

Acrylic painting is an excellent technique to begin started in the art of painting and has numerous advantages. Use these paints because they are easy to apply and dry rapidly.

Jerry’s Artarama wishes to share these suggestions from experienced artists with you so that you can quickly become a great artist by preserving your paints and improving your paintings.

So, here are five tips to assist you in improving your game:

  1. Before you begin painting, sand and prime the surface if necessary.
  2. Use a high-quality varnish when applying paint to a surface that will be open to the weather.
  3. Thin acrylic airbrush paints to the correct consistency for use with an airbrush.

Tips For Working With Enamel Paints

It doesn’t matter if you’re painting your home’s interior walls with spray enamel paint; the surface must be adequately prepared. Using these steps will help you get the best possible results:

  1. You can use enamel paint on a wide variety of surfaces, but it is necessary to remove any previous paint before doing so.
  2. Priming the surface prior to painting may be necessary if the enamel paint does not come with a built-in primer.
  3. A gloss finish is a norm for enamel paints; however, satin and matte finishes are also available.
  4. Airbrushing enamel paints is possible, but they must first be appropriately thinned.

Final Verdict

We hope this comparison guide on acrylic vs enamel paint was helpful and solved your query. All-purpose, high-quality painting materials like acrylic and enamel are ideal for a wide range of applications.

Your project is a major factor in determining whether to use acrylic paint or enamel paint. For a long-lasting finish, oil-based enamels are the best choice.

They do, however, necessitate the most care in the application and removal of the paint. A high-gloss finish, durability, and resistance to abrasion are all features that make enamel paint the obvious choice for painting projects that will be subjected to heavy use.

Opt for enamel if you’re looking for something that will last. For fast-drying, non-toxic paint, acrylic is the greatest option.

Photo of author

Shelley Stevenson

Shelly Stevenson is the full-time editor responsible for painting, flooring, bathrooms & home climate coverage at StyDomIo. She is a home improvement expert with an eye for design and the skills to get the work done. She knows what turns a house into a home and has the advice and ideas to make upgrades easy and fun.

Explore Us

About Us

StayDomIo Logo

At StayDomIo.com, we have a team of professional industry experts to help you find guides on painting, finishing, flooring, bathroom & kitchen to make your home look stunning. We have tested, researched & written hundreds of buying guides to help you select the top notch & affordable product out there!

Disclosure

StayDomIo.Com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.