Alternatives to Pouring Mediums that Actually Work

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The best alternatives to pouring mediums are Mod Podge, PVA Glue, or regular Elmer’s Glue. All of these alternatives work perfectly as a substitute for commercial pouring mediums. The only downside of using these alternatives is the longevity of the art piece.

Acrylic pouring is an amazing modern art technique for creating amazing-looking abstract art by pouring acrylic paint on a surface. But acrylic paint is too thick to be poured right out of the tube so it has to be thinned down to a point where it can be poured without any problems. There are professional pouring mediums, that you can use to thin the paint but they are quite expensive. So I tested a few alternatives to commercial pouring mediums to see if there are any viable options out there. And, to my surprise, there are actually a lot of very good alternatives.

There were quite a lot of different alternatives, that I tried but in the end, the three best alternatives to pouring medium are Modpodge, PVA glue, and Elmer´s glue.

Most other alternatives, that I tried, changed the vibrancy of the color too much, made the paint way too thin, or changed the viscosity of the paint in an undesirable way.

You probably already noticed, that my three top alternatives are all white glues. So basically if you have something, that is at its base white glue, like ModPodge or Elmer´s glue, then you can try to use that as a substitute for commercial pouring medium. Chances are, that it will work quite well.

Using Mod Podge as a Substitute for Pouring Medium

Mod Podge is a very popular crafting glue and it can be used for a variety of crafts projects. So if you are a creative person at heart then chances are, that you at least heard of it or maybe you even have some at home.

Mod Podge is actually only a special variant of regular white glue. So it behaves very similar to PVA glue but it is a lot thinner than PVA glue. That is also the reason why I recommend using Mod Podge over PVA glue or Elmer´s glue if you have the choice.

Mod Podge will not change the vibrancy of the color or change the color in any way.

It will thin down the paint quite well and it will create a nice finish once the paint has dried.

The only downside is, that Mod Podge will yellow if it is left in a sunny spot for too long. It will also yellow after a while regardless but that will take at least a year. Most of the time even longer. You can read all about Mod Podge and why it starts yellowing in another article from me.

Mod Podge is also way cheaper than any commercial pouring medium.

You can get a lot of different variants of Mod Podge, though, which makes it a fun alternative as well. You can use Glitter Mod Podge, to give your paint a glitter effect or you could use Mod Podge matt to create a matt finish on your work.

There really is a lot to try out here!

Using PVA Glue or Elmer´s Glue as Pouring Medium

I will cover Elmer´s glue and PVA Glue together because they are very similar.

As I mentioned before both of these glues are also white glues just like Mod Podge. The Composition of these glues is only slightly different.

Both Elmer´s glue and PVA glue can be used as alternatives to commercial pouring mediums. They don´t change the vibrancy or color of the paint and they are both cheaper than regular pouring medium.

You will get a very good clear matt finish on your pouring.

I found, that the drying time was quite a lot faster compared to when I used a commercial pouring medium. I can only speculate as to why that is but I found that quite interesting. So if you want your pouring to dry faster than maybe using PVA glue or Elmer´s glue as a pouring medium is a viable solution.

You can buy PVA glue at your local hardware store or right here on Amazon.

The only downside to these two alternatives is the same as with Mod Podge. They tend to yellow after about one and a half years. So keep that in mind when you want to use these two types of glue as pouring mediums.

Can You Use Water Instead of Pouring Medium?

Acrylic paint is water-based so it is only logical to assume, that you can use water as a pouring medium for acrylic paint. So I tried to make a pouring by only using water as a pouring medium only to quickly realize my error.

Water can´t be used instead of pouring medium. Water changes the consistency of acrylic paint but it also changes the pigment density of the paint. Water will also hinder the paint from properly adhering to the painting surface. A little bit of water can be used together with pouring medium but not instead of pouring medium.

So my experiment went quite wrong.

Water diluted the paint to a point, where the vibrancy of the paint was almost completely gone.

Water can be used when painting with acrylic paint but for pouring the paint has to dry evenly and the paint has to stick to the painting surface. When you dilute the acrylic paint too much with water, then the paint will no longer adhere properly to the surface. This will result in a weird-looking pouring without the desired pouring effect.

You can use a little bit of water together with the pouring medium to further change the viscosity of the paint but I would not recommend using water instead of pouring medium.

Do You Even Need a Pouring Medium for Pouring?

Pouring medium can be quite expensive and even though a lot of hobby crafters and artists most likely have acrylic paints at home they probably don´t have a pouring medium at home. So obviously the question arises if it is possible to pour acrylic paint without a pouring medium. I tried it just for you and here is what I found out and why I would not do it again.

You need a pouring medium for pouring acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is to thick to be poured right out of the tube so it needs to be thinned down. Using just water will not work either because water will change the vibrancy and adhesion of the acrylic paint in an undesirable way. So a pouring medium is needed to prepare the paint for acrylic pouring.

I tried to pour without a pouring medium and it didn´t go well. The paint just wasn´t thin enough for pouring.

The paint did not spread at all and it was not possible for me to even get a single successful pour.

So, in the end, you really do need a pouring medium to successfully pour with acrylic paint. The paint is just to thick right out of the tube and you need to thin it down somehow.

As I already mentioned above, water is not a good substitute for a pouring medium for several reasons.

But, as I established in this article earlier, you don´t need to buy a commercial pouring medium either. There are cheaper alternatives, that you can use like Mod Podge, Elmer´s Glue, or PVA Glue.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

28 thoughts on “Alternatives to Pouring Mediums that Actually Work”

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    • I don´t know about any other viable alternatives to pouring mediums except the ones I already mentioned here.
      But if I hear from any other alternatives that are viable then I will update this article.

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  9. Hi There,Can you plz guide me on the exact ratio of PVA glue,water and paints….My paints are quite flowy.Tried adding pva glue,water and paint it was a total disaster

    • Hi June,
      I am very sorry the exact ratio is different depending on the brand of the paint. If your paint is very flowy then you could mix it only with glue as the water is only needed to make the whole mixture flow better.
      The paint should have the consistency of milk when mixed correctly.
      Hope this helps you.

  10. I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m doing a unity painting for my ceremony and did not want to spend $20 on a pouring medium. Thanks for describing your experiment!

  11. I stumble upon this while searching for alternatives for pouring medium. And cant thank you enough.
    I want to ask whether we need to add silicon oil to each paint individually first and then cup pour…or should we just mix few drops in the whole cup
    After pouring all colours in it

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