15 Differences Between Enamel And Acrylic Paint

Difference Between Enamel And Acrylic

When it comes to painting, there are many different types of paint to choose from. Enamel and acrylic paints are two of the most popular types.

However, they both have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for your paint job.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the difference between enamel and acrylic paints.

We will discuss the various factors you should consider when making your decision, such as paint chemistry, finish, durability, and cost.

We will also provide a head-to-head comparison of these two types of paint so you can make an informed decision about which one is best for you!

What is the Difference Between Enamel and Acrylic Paint?

The main difference between acrylic and enamel paint is the ingredients. Acrylic paint is made with synthetic materials, while enamel paint is made with natural minerals. Enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint, but it can take longer to dry. Acrylic paint is less durable than enamel paint, but it dries more quickly.

What is Enamel Paint?

Enamel paint is a type of paint that is made with oil or synthetic resins, and pigments are added for color.

Enamel paint dries to a hard, glossy finish. It is most commonly used for painting cars, as it is highly resistant to weather and wear.

However, it can also be used on other surfaces, such as metal or glass. It generally takes longer to dry than other types of paint, but the finished product is more durable.

Enamel paint is also typically more expensive than other types of paint due to its durability and resistance to weathering.

The paint is available in both water-based and oil-based formulas.

Types of Enamel Paint

There are two main types of enamel paint: alkyd and polyurethane.

Alkyd enamel paint is made with oil-based resins, while polyurethane enamel paint is made with synthetic resins.

Both types of enamel paint have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

Alkyd Enamel Paint

Alkyd enamel paint is the most common type of enamel paint. It is known for its durability and resistance to weathering.

However, it can be difficult to apply, as it tends to be thick and viscous. It is also prone to yellowing over time.

Polyurethane Enamel Paint

Polyurethane enamel paint is a newer type of enamel paint. It is made with synthetic resins, which makes it more resistant to weathering and aging than alkyd enamel paint.

It is also easier to apply as it is less viscous. However, it is more expensive than alkyd enamel paint.

Other types of enamel paint include:

One-part enamel paint: This type of enamel paint is ready to use right out of the can. It does not require a primer or a topcoat. However, it is not as durable as other types of enamel paint.

Two-part enamel paint: This type of enamel paint requires you to mix a primer and a topcoat together before use. It is more durable than one-part enamel paint, but it is also more difficult to apply.

High-solid enamel paint: This type of enamel paint has a higher concentration of pigments and resins. It is more durable than other types of enamel paint, but it is also more expensive.

Pros and Cons of Enamel Paint

Advantages of Enamel Paint

  • Durable
  • Resistant to weathering
  • Available in both water-based and oil-based formulas
  • Glossy look
  • Can be used on various surfaces

Disadvantages of Enamel Paint

  • It can be difficult to apply
  • Might have a bad odor and fumes
  • Expensive

What is Enamel Paint Used For?

Enamel paint is most commonly used for painting cars and other vehicles. It is also often used for painting metal surfaces, such as fences or pipes.

Additionally, it can be used on glass or ceramic surfaces.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint made from acrylic polymer blend and resin that is widely used in the arts and crafts industry.

It is typically used for painting on canvas but can also be used on wood, metal, and other surfaces.

Acrylic paint dries quickly, making it a popular choice for artists who want to work rapidly.

The colors of acrylic paint are also very vibrant, which makes them ideal for creating bold artworks.

However, one downside of acrylic paint is that it can be difficult to remove from clothing and other surfaces.

Types of Acrylic Paint

There are two main different acrylic paints: student-grade and artist-grade.

Student-grade acrylic paint is less expensive and has lower quality pigments than artist-grade acrylic paint. However, it is still suitable for most painting projects.

Artist-grade acrylic paint or professional grade acrylic paint is more expensive but has higher quality pigments that produce more vibrant colors.

Other types of acrylic paint include:

Heavy body acrylics: This type of acrylic paint has a thicker consistency, making it ideal for impasto techniques.

Fluid acrylics: This type of acrylic paint has a thinner consistency, making it ideal for painting with a brush or an airbrush.

Gessoed acrylics: This type of acrylic paint has been primed with gesso, making it ideal for painting on canvas.

What is the best acrylic model paint?

The best acrylic model paint is VALLEJO Basic Color Paint set.

This acrylic modelling paint includes ten 17ml bottles of opaque acrylic paint that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including plastic, metal, and wood.

The basic color paint also includes a mixing chart so you can create your own custom colors in your model painting.

The paints are non-toxic and have a low odor, making them safe to use in your home.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paint

Advantages of Acrylic Paint

  • Dries quickly
  • Durable
  • Vibrant colors
  • Flexible
  • Affordable
  • It can be used on many different surfaces
  • Water soluble

Disadvantages of Acrylic Paint

  • It can be difficult to remove from clothing and other surfaces
  • Color changes when dry
  • It is fast drying; hence you need to work fast

What Is Acrylic Paint Used For?

Normal acrylic paint is most commonly used for painting on canvas. However, it can also be used for painting on wood, metal, and other surfaces.

Additionally, it is often used for creating mixed media artworks.

What is Acrylic Enamel Paint?

Acrylic enamel paint is a type of paint that uses both acrylic resin and enamel. It is typically used for painting cars and other vehicles.

Acrylic enamel paint dries quickly and has a high gloss finish. However, it can be difficult to remove from clothing and other surfaces.

What is Acrylic Enamel Paint Used For?

Acrylic enamel paint is most commonly used for painting cars and other vehicles. It can also be used for painting on metal, glass, or ceramic surfaces.

Additionally, it is often used for creating mixed media artworks.

Enamel vs Acrylic – Head to Head Comparison

Enamel vs acrylic paint: Paint chemistry

Paint chemistry comprises four major properties, namely: Pigments, binders, additives, and solvents.

Pigments provide color, while binders act as glue to hold the pigment together and give the paint its structure.

Additives are chemicals that improve the performance of the paint, such as UV inhibitors or anti-mildew agents.

Finally, solvents are used to thin the paint and make it easier to apply. That said, enamel and acrylic paints differ in their chemical composition.

Enamel paint is made up of pigments suspended in an oil-based binder, while acrylic paint is made up of pigments suspended in a water-based binder.

In terms of additives and solvents, enamel paint typically contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than acrylic paint.

Acrylic over enamel: Primary uses

Enamel paint is most commonly used for painting cars and other vehicles. It is also often used for painting metal surfaces, such as fences or pipes.

Additionally, it can be used on glass or ceramic surfaces. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, is most commonly used for painting on canvas.

It can also be used for painting on wood, metal, or other surfaces.

Acrylic vs enamel paint: Dry time

Acrylic paint dries quickly, typically within 30 minutes to an hour. Enamel paint also dries quickly, but not as quickly as acrylic paint.

It typically takes about two hours for enamel paint to dry. This is because enamel paint is oil-based, and enamel oil based paint takes longer to dry than water-based paints.

However, this can vary depending on the type of enamel paint and the humidity levels. But once dry, your can wash your painted surface without worries.

Enamel versus acrylic paint: Finish

Enamel paint has a high-gloss finish, while acrylic paint has a matte finish.

This is because enamel paint contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than acrylic paint.

VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily and contribute to the formation of smog.

You can still find enamel with other types of finishes such as semi gloss, satin, and even matte.

Acrylic paint vs enamel: Durability

Enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint. This is because enamel paint contains a higher concentration of VOCs, which makes it more resistant to wear and tear.

Additionally, enamel paint dries harder than acrylic paint, making it more resistant to scratches and other damage. Also, enamel paint is less likely to fade than acrylic paint.

Enamel spray paint vs acrylic: Color variations

Color variations here refer to the number of colors that are available in each type of paint. Enamel paint is available in a wide range of colors, including both standard and custom colors. Acrylic paint is also available in a wide range of colors, but not as many as enamel paint. In terms of color variations, enamel paint typically has more to offer.

Enamel paint vs acrylic: Levels of VOCs

What are VOCs in paints? VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily and contribute to the formation of smog.

As mentioned earlier, enamel paint contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than acrylic paint.

VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily and contribute to the formation of smog. In terms of VOC levels, enamel paint typically has a higher concentration than acrylic paint.

These VOCs make enamel paint more likely to cause respiratory problems in people who are exposed to it. That is why it is advised to use enamel paint in well-ventilated areas.

Acrylic paint vs enamel paint: Adhesion

Enamel paint has good adhesion, meaning it sticks well to surfaces. Acrylic paint also has good adhesion but not as good as enamel paint.

Enamel paint is more likely to adhere to smooth surfaces than acrylic paint because it dries harder than acrylic paint.

Additionally, enamel paint is less likely to fade than acrylic paint. So which paint will need a primer and why?

Enamel paint will not need a primer because it has good adhesion and is less likely to fade.

Acrylic paint, on the other hand, will need a primer because it is more likely to fade than enamel paint.

Acrylic versus enamel paint: Indoor / outdoor use

Enamel paint can be used on interior and exterior surfaces. Acrylic paint can also be used indoors or outdoors, but it is more commonly used indoors.

Outdoor enamel spray paint is more durable than acrylic paint and can withstand the elements better.

In terms of waterproofing, enamel paint is more waterproof than acrylic paint. That is why it is often used for painting outdoor surfaces such as fences and pipes.

Acrylic latex vs acrylic enamel: Cleanliness

Enamel paint is less likely to get on your clothes because it dries harder than acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is more likely to get on your clothes because it is water-based.

When it comes to cleaning up, acrylic and enamel paint can be cleaned up with soap and water.

However, enamel paint is more difficult to clean up because it is oil-based. To clean enamel paint, you will need to use paint thinners.

Acrylic vs enamel spray paint: Anti-fade UV protection

Anti-fade UV protection is a feature that is available in both enamel and acrylic paint. However, it is more common in enamel paint.

Enamel paint is more resistant to fading than acrylic paint because it contains a higher VOC concentration.

VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily and contribute to the formation of smog. In terms of anti-fade UV protection, enamel paint is more likely to withstand the elements better.

Enamel or acrylic: Safety

Enamel paint is safe to use if you follow the instructions on the label.

However, it is important to note that enamel paint contains a higher concentration of VOCs than acrylic paint.

This is because volatile organic compounds can be released into the air when the paint is applied.

VOCs can cause a variety of health problems, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Therefore, it is better to use enamel paint in a well-ventilated area. Acrylic paint is also safe to use if you follow the instructions on the label.

However, acrylic paint does not contain as many VOCs as enamel paint.

Enamel vs acrylic spray paint: Cost and availability

Enamel paint is more expensive than acrylic paint. However, it is important to note that enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint.

Enamel paint is also more resistant to fading and chipping. In terms of availability, enamel paint is widely available at most hardware stores.

Acrylic paint is also widely available, but it is not as common as enamel paint.

Enamel over acrylic: Application

Enamel paint is typically applied with a brush or roller. Acrylic paint can also be applied with a brush or roller and it can also be mixed with various paint mediums to thin or thicken it.

However, it is more common to use an airless paint sprayer. Enamel paint takes longer to dry than acrylic paint.

In general, applying acrylic paint is easier than enamel paint. 

Acrylic and enamel paint: Color over time

Enamel paint will retain its color over time. Acrylic paint may fade over time.

In terms of color retention, enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint. Acrylic paint also tends to be yellow over time.

How to Paint with Enamel Paint

Enamel paint should be stirred well before use. It is important to note that enamel paint will thicken over time.

To thin enamel paint, you will need to use a paint thinner or an acrylic thinning medium. Enamel paint can be applied with a brush or roller.

However, it is more common to use an airless paint sprayer. Enamel paint takes longer to dry than acrylic paint.

In terms of application, enamel paint is more difficult to apply than acrylic paint. 

How to Paint with Acrylic Paint

Choosing the right supplies

The first step in learning how to apply acrylic paint is to choose the right supplies. Here are a few things you’ll need:

  • Acrylic paint: You can find acrylic paint at any art supply store. Make sure to get a set that includes a variety of colors.
  • Paintbrushes: A set of good quality paintbrushes is essential for painting with acrylics. Look for a set that includes both synthetic and natural bristles.
  • Canvas: A canvas is the perfect surface for painting with acrylics. You can find canvases in a variety of sizes at any art supply store.
  • Palette: A palette is used to mix paints and hold them while you’re working. You can find palettes at any art supply store.

Now that you have all the supplies you need, it’s time to start painting!

Acrylic Painting Techniques

There are a few different techniques you can use when painting with acrylics. Here are some of the most popular:

Blocking in: Blocking in is the process of first painting the largest areas of color. This is a good technique to use if you want to make sure all of your colors are evenly distributed.

Layering: Layering is a technique in which you paint one color over another. This is a good way to add depth and dimension to your painting.

Glazing: Glazing is a technique in which you paint a thin layer of color over another. This is a good way to add subtlety and richness to your painting.

Acrylic vs Enamel Paint for Wood

Acrylic paint is a popular choice for painting wood, as it offers good coverage and dries quickly.

However, it can be prone to chipping and peeling, so it may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas or areas that are likely to get wet.

Enamel paint is another option for painting wood. It tends to be more durable than acrylic paint, making it a good choice for areas that receive a lot of wear and tear.

However, enamel paint can take longer to dry, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to cure before using the furniture.

Can You Paint Enamel Over Acrylic?

You can paint enamel over acrylic, but you need to be careful about your paint type.

Enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint, so it’s a good choice for areas that receive a lot of wear and tear.

However, enamel paint can take longer to dry, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to cure before using the furniture.

Also, you should be aware that certain chemical makeup of these enamel-acrylics could cause your acrylic coat underneath to start bubbling and lifting over time.

Is Enamel Paint Waterproof?

Enamel paint is waterproof and resistant to fading, making it a good choice for outdoor furniture.

However, it can take longer to dry, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to cure before using the furniture. Here’s how to make enamel waterproof:

  • Add a sealant: Adding a waterproof sealant to your enamel paint will help protect it from the elements. You can find waterproof sealants at any hardware store.
  • Use an outdoor primer: Applying an outdoor primer to your furniture before painting it with enamel will help the paint last longer. Outdoor primers can be found at any hardware store.
  • Choose a high-quality paint: Choosing a high-quality enamel paint will help ensure that your furniture lasts for years to come. You can find high-quality enamel paints at any art supply store.

Enamel vs Acrylic Paint for Cars

Enamel paint is the best choice for painting cars, as it offers good coverage and is resistant to fading.

However, it can take longer to dry, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to cure before using the car.

Acrylic paint is another option for painting cars. But, it’s important to note that acrylic paint is not as durable as enamel paint and may not last as long.

Enamel vs Acrylic Paint for Metal

Enamel paint is the best choice for painting metal, as it offers good coverage and is resistant to fading.

However, it can take longer to dry, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to cure before using the metal.

Acrylic paint is another option for painting metal. But, it’s important to note that acrylic paint is not as durable as enamel paint and may not last as long.

Acrylic and Enamel Paint: Which is Better?

There is no clear answer as to which type of paint is better. It really depends on your needs and preferences.

If you need durable paint that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, enamel paint is a good choice. However, acrylic modeling paint is a better option if you need quick-drying paint.

Ultimately, the best way to decide between acrylic and enamel paint to use is to experiment with both and see which one works better for you.

Is Enamel Paint Oil-Based?

Enamel paint is usually oil-based, but water-based and latex-based options can also be found.

Oil-based enamel paint is more durable than water-based or latex-based paint, but it can take longer to dry.

Conversely, water-based and latex-based enamel paint are less durable than oil paints, but they dry more quickly.

Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of paint to use is to experiment with both and see which one works better for you.

Related Read: Acrylic Piant Vs Latex Paint

Enamel Paint for Walls

Enamel paint can be used for walls, but it’s important to note that it’s not as durable as other types of paint.

In addition, enamel paint is more likely to chip and scratch than other types of paint, so it’s not a good choice for high-traffic areas.

If you do choose to use enamel paint for your walls, be sure to apply a primer beforehand. This will help the paint last longer and resist chipping and scratching.

How to Tell if Spray Paint is Acrylic or Enamel

The easiest way to tell if spray paint is acrylic or enamel is to look at the label. Acrylic spray paint will usually have “acrylic” or “water-based” on the label.

Enamel spray paint will usually have “enamel” or “oil-based” on the label. You can also try to scratch the paint with your fingernail.

If the paint scratches easily, it’s probably acrylic. If the paint is difficult to scratch, it’s probably enamel.

Can You Mix Acrylic and Enamel Paints?

You can mix acrylic and enamel paints, but you need to be careful about the ratio.

If you mix too much acrylic paint with enamel paint, the mixture will be more likely to chip and scratch.

Therefore, it’s important to experiment with different ratios to find the right one for your needs.

Ultimately, the best way to decide which ratio to use is to experiment with both and see which one works better for you.

FAQs

Is enamel paint water-based?

Enamel paint is usually oil-based, but water-based and latex-based options can also be found. Oil-based enamel paint is more durable than water-based or latex-based paint, but it can take longer to dry.

What is enamel spray paint used for?

Enamel spray paint can be used for a variety of projects, including painting metal, walls, and wood. It’s important to note that enamel paint is not as durable as other types of paint and is more likely to chip and scratch.

Can you paint acrylic over enamel?

You can paint acrylic over enamel, but you need to be careful about the ratio. If you mix too much acrylic paint with enamel paint, the mixture will be more likely to chip and scratch. So it’s important to experiment with different ratios to find the right one for your needs.

Is acrylic model paint or enamel model paint better?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the specific project you are working on and your personal preferences. However, many modelers prefer acrylic paint because it is easier to work with and dries more quickly than enamel model paint. Acrylic paint also has a more consistent color when applied, while enamel paint can appear streaky.

Conclusion

So, what is the difference between enamel and acrylic? Enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint, but it can take longer to dry.

Acrylic paint is less durable than enamel paint, but it dries more quickly.

Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of paint to use is to experiment with both and see which one works better for you.

Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful. Have you ever used enamel or acrylic paint? What were your thoughts?

Let us know in the comments below!

Further read, Can You Mix Acrylic Paint With Resin?

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