Is Acrylic Paint Permanent: A Comprehensive Answer

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Acrylic paint is every crafter’s favorite Paint. It is easy to use, quite cheap compared to most other paints out there and they dry really fast. However, because of the fact, that they are so easy to work with and because they are water-based a lot of new crafters doubt that they stick well to different surfaces or even if they are permanent at all.

Acrylic paint is permanent once it has dried completely. Acrylic paint is even water-resistant to a certain degree. Depending on the material, that you want to paint, you may need a topcoat to protect it from the elements and to ensure the longevity of your paint job.

Acrylic paint consists of pigments that are suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion.

The pigments will give the paint it´s color while the acrylic polymer will bind these pigments when the paint drys.

Once the paint has dried it will be permanent and the paint now shares many properties with plastic such as water resistance (to a certain degree at least).

You can read more about Acrylic paint right here.

Even though Acrylic paint is permanent, once it is completely dry, you still have to make sure that the paint can adhere to the surface properly. Or it will come off right away.

So you have to prepare the surface of the material properly before applying the paint. Depending on the type of material, that you want to paint, the process of preparing the surface varies slightly.

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Clothes?

I think everyone had that problem with acrylic paint before where you originally only wanted to paint the canvas or a surface and then you accidentally covered your shirt in the paint instead. I personally am a specialist in accidentally touching my clothes with my paint-covered hands. The result is the same. All of a sudden you have acrylic paint on your clothes. And now the question arises if acrylic paint is permanent on clothes.

Acrylic paint is not permanent on clothes as long as the paint is not heat sealed or mixed with any special additive to make it permanent. Acrylic paints can be mixed with Fabric medium to make them permanent on fabric or they can be heat treated with an iron to make them permanent as well.

So generally acrylic paints are not permanent on fabric unless they are mixed with a special additive like fabric medium.

Fabric medium will make it so, that the acrylic paint will seep through the fabric and adhere to it better than when it is applied without a fabric medium.

The acrylic paint can also be sealed with heat afterward to make it adhere permanently. You can do that with the help on an iron, for example. You can read more about painting clothes with acrylic paint right here.

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Wood?

Wood is as popular of a crafting medium as acrylic paint is as a painting medium so it comes to no surprise, that a lot of crafters want to paint their favorite crafting material with their favorite paint. And while it is possible to paint wood with acrylic paint it is sometimes not possible to do so without preparing the surface of the wood properly.

Acrylic paint is permanent on wood once it has dried but only when the wooden surface is not sealed by varnish and only when the surface has been prepared correctly for the paint. Otherwise, the paint will not adhere properly and the paint job will not survive for long.

You can apply acrylic paint directly on blank wood and it will bond to it quite well but if the wood has been treated, heat-sealed, or stained, then acrylic paint will not adhere to the surface properly.

So make sure your wood surface is either treated with a light sanding and a primer before applying the paint or apply the acrylic paint directly on untreated and unsealed wood.

I generally recommend sealing the paint job with a topcoat afterwards. The topcoat will protect the paint from the elements and from scratches. So its always a good idea to seal your paint job.

You can even paint stone with acrylic paint if you seal it afterwards using the same method.

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Plastic?

It is generally hard to get anything to stick to plastic permanently and acrylic paint is no exception. That being said, it is still possible to paint plastic with acrylic paint. It´s just a little more complicated.

Acrylic paint is permanent on plastic if the plastic surface has been slightly sanded or prepared with a primer before painting it. You can also apply a topcoat top the paint job to further protect the paint and to ensure the longevity of the acrylic paint.

Painting plastic with acrylic paint can be a little more complicated than usual.

You have to prepare the surface of the plastic before applying any paint to it or the paint will not stick to the surface for long. Depending on the kind of plastic, that you want to paint, it might already be enough to simply sand the surface lightly before applying the acrylic paint.

But for some types of plastic that will not be enough and you have to apply a primer to the plastic surface in order to ensure the longevity of your paint job later on.

It can sometimes be kind of hard to find out what kind of plastic your item is made of and even when you know different acrylic paints will still behave differently. So I recommend always priming your plastic materials before applying any sort of acrylic paint to them.

This ensures that no matter what kind of paint you are using or what kind of plastic you are dealing with it will stick to the plastic surface permanently without any issues.

I would also recommend sealing your paint job with a topcoat afterward.

This is a plastic sculpture that I printed with a 3D printer and painted with Acrylic paints. I sealed the paint job afterward with a clear acrylic topcoat.

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last in General

Now, that you know that acrylic paint is indeed permanent and now, that you learned how to properly apply it to different materials, the next obvious question is how long does acrylic paint actually last? Unfortunately, there isn´t a definitive answer to that question.

Acrylic paints will last a long time if they have been applied and sealed correctly. A good primer will ensure, that the acrylic paint does not peel off of the surface and a well-applied topcoat will protect the paint from the elements. Acrylic paint can last for 10 years and more if it has been applied properly.

Some colors tend to lose their vibrance after a couple of years or when they are exposed to sunlight for longer periods of time.

Acrylic paints are no exception but they are surprisingly resistant to losing their color and saturation. Especially if you added a topcoat to your paint job.

Acrylic paints will last a very long time if you have applied them correctly.

Depending on the material, that you want to paint, the process varies very slightly but generally, you always want to sand your surfaces, then apply a fitting primer to them, and only then paint the surface with acrylic paints.

And finally, sealing your work with a topcoat is always a good idea to protect it.

If you follow these basic steps, then your acrylic paint job will last for a very long time. Somewhere between 10 and 20 years. Sometimes even longer.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint to Make it Permanent

Sealing acrylic paint is quite important in order to make it permanent. I would suggest using some kind of varnish or clear coat.

Depending on your project the choice of your topcoat might vary slightly.

A sealer or topcoat will protect the paint underneath it from any dirt, dust, and water. Some topcoats will also keep the paint vibrant by shielding it from UV-rays.

To seal acrylic paint on wood you should either use a varnish or a transparent acrylic coat. If your project is supposed to sit outside where it is exposed to the elements a varnish is the best choice. If your project is not going to be outside then a simple acrylic sealer will suffice.

The same applies to pretty much any other material, like plastic or metal.

You can read this article, where I explain how to paint and seal varnished wood properly. The method is almost exactly the same for any other material. Only the type of primer will be material specific.

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.

2 thoughts on “Is Acrylic Paint Permanent: A Comprehensive Answer”

    • Hit Corbit,
      You can use Acrylic paint on glass however you won´t be able to clean the glass without removing parts of the paint eventually.
      If you want to paint glass then you have to first sand the glass with some fine-grit sandpaper and then paint a thin layer of
      primer on the glass surface. Finally, you can apply the paint and seal it with an Acrylic Sealer.
      While that is a way to make the paint job permanent it won´t survive much contact with water and if the primer
      isn´t applied properly then the paint can easily chip off.
      So while it is possible to paint glass with acrylic paint I would not recommend doing so and instead use special paint for glass instead.


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