Acrylic vs Latex Paint for Furniture

When it comes to painting furniture, the choice of paint makes a big difference. Different types of paint have different characteristics. 

For example, acrylic paint and latex paint may be similar in that they’re water-based paints, but they differ in terms of ingredients, durability, application, and more. 

In this post, you’ll discover the key differences between acrylic vs latex paint for furniture. 


Acrylic paint and latex paint are both water-based paints but have different performance characteristics. Acrylic paint is durable and water-proof, making it the better choice for painting outdoor furniture. On the other hand, latex paint often has greater coverage, making it the more economical choice for painting large pieces of furniture.

acrylic vs latex xhart

What is Latex Paint?

Latex paint is an extremely popular water-based paint. Historically, latex paint’s ingredients included a rubber-based latex binder. However, most modern latex paints contain synthetic latex or acrylic binders instead. Other ingredients include pigments, fillers, and other additives that improve the appearance of the paint once it dries.

As far as paints go, latex paint is relatively non-toxic. It releases a low amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it an environmentally friendly option. This also makes it suitable for indoor use. 

Latex paint can come in different sheen levels including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. It is also often used as a base for creating DIY chalk paint.

Benefits of Latex Paint 

Latex paint often comes in large containers and it has great coverage, making it a great choice for large projects. These paints are also incredibly easy to use: they tend to flow easily and often have good self-leveling properties. 

Not only is latex paint easy to use but it is also incredibly easy to clean up with just a bit of soap and water. 

Latex paint dries relatively quickly compared to other paints (such as oil-based paint). Additionally, it tends to have low VOC content and doesn’t emit a strong smell, making it great for indoor application. Nevertheless, it’s still important to apply the paint in a well-ventilated area.

Latex paint is one of the cheapest types of furniture paint available and it’s very accessible too. You can easily find one at any home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowes. 

Drawbacks of Latex Paint 

Unfortunately, while latex paint has a lot of things going for it, it’s not always the best choice for painting some types of furniture, particularly outdoor furniture. Yes, latex paint may be the cheapest paint out there, but it’s often not as flexible and weatherproof. Since outdoor wood furniture expands and contracts with temperature and humidity, latex paint often chips and cracks if left on outdoor furniture.

Acrylic paint is much better for outdoor furniture. Acrylic paint is often used for other outdoor projects such as acrylic paint murals and decorations as well.

However, with latex paint, applying a good protective clear coat after painting can give the furniture extra protection from the elements. 

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint that is made of pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer solution and acrylic resin. Although its composition is very similar to that of latex paint, it tends to have a relatively higher chemical composition relative to latex paint. That said, it typically has slightly higher levels of VOCs relative to latex paint. Still, it’s not that much to be considered as an environmental threat.

Acrylic paint is widely used in creating art pieces, but acrylic paint can also be used to paint furniture. There are several acrylic furniture paint brands out there, and some even make acrylic-latex paint hybrids.

Acrylic paint can come in a glossy, semi-gloss, or matte finish, but it’s much more common in satin (semi-gloss) finish. 

Benefits of Acrylic Paint

One of acrylic paint’s most outstanding qualities is its quick drying time. Most acrylic paints touch dry within 15-30 minutes and can already be recoated within just an hour. 

Acrylic paint is UV and weather-resistant. It’s also elastic, unlike latex paints, meaning that it’s flexible enough to expand and contract with temperature. This makes acrylic paint a great choice for painting outdoor furniture. It won’t chip or crack easily, unlike latex paint under certain weather conditions. 

Depending on the brand, acrylic paint can be much more durable than latex paint, and it won’t scratch or chip off easily. It’s durable enough that you don’t often don’t need a protective coat. Nevertheless, a protective coat can always help when it comes to outdoor furniture. 

It’s also mold, mildew, and water-resistant when dry. This makes it a great paint to use for furniture in areas high in moisture such as the bathroom. 

Another defining trait of acrylic paint is the available colors. Acrylic paint often comes in fun, bright, vibrant colors. Latex paint tends to come in relatively muted colors. 

Drawbacks of Acrylic Paint  

Although acrylic paint has a few advantages over latex paint, it certainly has its drawbacks. For one, it dries quickly compared to many latex paints. This can make it a bit harder to work with compared to latex paint since there is a shorter grace period to fix mistakes as the paint dries. 

Depending on the brand, acrylic paint can be more durable than latex paint, but it still isn’t as durable as other types of paint such as oil-based paint. Acrylic paint will still get scratched and scuffed when applied to high-traffic pieces. Fortunately, this can always be remedied by applying a protective top coat. 

Additionally, acrylic paint often doesn’t have as great coverage as latex paint. Couple that with the fact that most acrylic paints are sold in small containers, you can certainly say that acrylic is typically more expensive than latex paint. It’s not the most economical choice when painting a large piece of furniture.

Acrylic paint can come in different sheen levels, but it is most often available in a glossy finish. Nevertheless, if you want a matte finish, acrylic chalk paint is your best bet. 

And while acrylic paint is water-based, the cleaning process is not as swift and easy as with latex paint. The chemicals in acrylic paint make it much more adhesive, making it much harder to remove with just soap and water. 

Applying Acrylic vs Latex Paint to Furniture 

The approach to painting furniture with acrylic or latex paint is pretty much the same. But since acrylic paint dries much faster, you’ll need to work quickly with it.

As with any painting project, you’ll need to prep the surface before applying paint. At a minimum, this means cleaning and sanding the surface. Then, you should apply a primer to ensure that the paint adheres properly. 

Both types of paint require two coats to prevent any bleed-through from the underlying surface. 

When the last coat of paint fully dries, seal it with a protective top coat. This will increase the durability of the paint, extending its life. A water-based polyurethane spray is a quick and easy way to protect your furniture.



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