Enamel vs Acrylic Paint

One of the quickest things you can do in home improvement is to slap a coat of paint on something. It can be your walls, doors, even kitchen cupboards, or it can be something new you have made in your woodworking shed.

The issue comes to knowing which paint is best for which projects. There are pros and cons for acrylic, enamel, and any other kind of pain you can think of.

However, the two most common for use around the home are enamels and acrylic types of paints.

Enamel Paints

Here, you can learn what you can use them for, and by the end, you will see which is right out of acrylic vs. enamel paint for your projects.

What are Enamel Paints?

Enamel paint is a type of paint, which is opaque and delivers a high gloss finish. It’s durable and long-lasting, and you generally use it for painting indoors or use on metal surfaces.

Enamel paint is oil-based; however, over the last few years, there has been an introduction of water-based enamel.

When it comes to durability, the only one that is tougher than enamel paints is lacquer paint. It is used less than any because it is the most toxic of all paints.

Oil-based Enamel Paint

Oil based enamels take a long time to dry and can be from 8-24 hours to dry thoroughly. While you are unable to see it drying, it dries from the inside outward. The biggest drawback with enamels is the strong odors given out when in use.

Therefore, when you come to use it, you need lots of ventilation, because the fumes can be poisonous if ingested without ventilation.

Besides, when you need to clean your brushes or any mess, you need to use paint thinners. (Learn How To Remove Spray Paint)

You use these in areas where you seek a glossy finish.

Water-based Enamel Paint

Water-based enamels dry faster than their oil counterparts dry and can do so in less than 8 hours to fully dry out.

It dries firstly from the inside, yet even when feeling dry, it can be hard to tell if fully dry. Such paints are far easier to clean and can be done with water. The main drawbacks of these are they lack the durability of oil enamels.

Enamel paint is suitable for use on copper, metal, wood, glass, walls, and some plastics. You can find these pains are moisture-resistant and are ideal for surfaces that need washing or there is moisture. Kitchens and bathrooms being prime examples.

What is the Difference Between Acrylic and Enamel Paints

The primary difference between acrylic paint and oil paint is that acrylic is a water-based paint. However, there are other differences as you can see here:

  • Enamel paint can yellow over time (white color), and often happens indoors with little sunlight. Acrylic vs. enamel doesn’t yellow.
  • Acrylic dries faster and can be touch dry in a couple of hours.
  • You get a matte finish from Acrylic paint; enamel is glossy
  • Enamel can have fewer color options
  • You would not use enamel over acrylic for outdoor projects, as it is less flexible and can crack
  • Enamel paint requires a paint thinner for cleaning
  • Acrylic paint doesn’t have a smooth surface, and you can see brush or roller marks.
  • Acrylic doesn’t reflect light, which makes it ideal for walls. Enamel shows all bumps and undulations.

Acrylic Paint

What is Acrylic Paint?

Unlike enamel, acrylic is entirely water-based and non-toxic. It dries very fast and is very opaque. You can over paint as much as you wish, and thus you can correct any mistakes such as the paint thin in certain areas.

It will dry to a matte finish, although you can use varnish it if you desire a gloss coating.

Acrylic doesn’t crack or fade and is ideal for indoors or outdoors on interior walls, ceilings, and some furniture.

Many individuals ask, “What is the difference between acrylic and latex paint?”

Latex can come in odorless varieties, and much of this is because they don’t contain the same synthetic resins as others.

Latex paint can also take much longer to dry than acrylic, and you have to use a special cleaner for your brushes and rollers.

Besides this, if the surface you are painting is wet, you find the pain spreads very unevenly, hence the reason why one coat of this paint is never enough.

Another difference between the two is that latex has a tendency to peel off at a much faster rate. It is this reason why it is generally in use for indoor projects.

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

You will find acrylic paints are not waterproof, yet they ware water-resistant to a certain degree. What you do see is that is they are in a damp environment; the paint can become wet, as it is porous.

Although with this, it won’t run as the proses are very small, and it will quickly dry out again. Another thing to note is they often require a primer when used in outdoor conditions.

Wood, masonry or cement will require around two coats of primer to prevent the paint from being sucked into the pores of the material underneath.


Because of the differences between paints, and how they interact with surfaces, you will see pro painters use either in certain conditions.

Latex will, in most cases, be used for walls, and then when it comes to any trim, window frames, or doors, they stick to the more durable enamel.

Oil paints are far more durable, and as long as precautions are taken, they offer a more permanent solution than any other paint, yet latex and acrylic do have their place as they are very flexible.

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Enamel vs Acrylic Paint

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