Can You Mix or Overlap Acrylic and Latex Paints?

I’m not much of a label reader when it comes to paint, and with the greater flexibility to mix or overlap different types of paints to your desired outcome, it is easy to get carried away and mess up your project. Knowing which paints mix or overlap well can save you a lot of frustration.

It is possible to mix or overlap acrylic and latex paints as they are both water-soluble. However, the difference in drying times may compromise the results when the paints are mixed. Instead, overlap acrylic paint on top of latex as a top coat to enhance your work’s longevity.

The rest of this article will discuss whether or not you can mix acrylic and latex paints and whether you can paint one over the other.

Can You Mix Acrylic and Latex Paint?

It is possible to mix acrylics with latex paint because both paints can be mixed with water. However, this is not recommended for your home painting DIY object as mixing may compromise the final results. 

Cans of latex and acrylic paints with brush on table

It is important to consider the individual qualities and purposes of different paint types before mixing them. 

When painting your home, it is important to remember that acrylic paints are water-soluble paints that dry very quickly and are extremely durable and long-lasting. These paints are often used for art. 

Latex paints, while water-soluble, tend to dry slower than acrylic paints. These are commonly used for painting the home. (Source: Scenery for your Model Railroad).

The water-solubility of both paints means it is possible to mix them. However, one of the challenges of mixing acrylic and latex is their different properties that affect drying times

So while you can mix both types of paints, the difference in drying times will likely compromise your home paintwork, resulting in patchiness and peeling. 

It is important to appreciate that while it is possible to mix different types of paints, it is not always ideal, especially when they have different properties that suit different applications (Source: Color Theory for Dummies).

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Latex Paint? 

You can paint acrylic paint over latex paint. In fact, it is a good idea to use acrylic paint as the top coat for your house painting DIY project as it is fast-drying and permanent. 

One of the most important things to remember is that it is important to use a primer when painting your home, whether the top coat is oil-based or latex-based (Source: Selecting and Renovating an Old House: A Complete Guide). 

Find a primer that suits the material of your walls and works well with the latex paint you’ll be using. Most primers need a couple of coats to seal the surface. Remember to sand between coats to improve the bonding of the latex paint to the primer. 

Once you’ve laid down a base coat of latex paint, you can easily use acrylic paint as a top coat. However, you must apply the acrylic over the latex only after the paint is dry. Don’t make the same mistake I did! I repainted too soon and the end result was splotchy.

It is also important to clean the walls after drying to eliminate any dirt and dust that may compromise the painting results. You can do so with a soft, lint-free cloth or by sanding the walls gently with a piece of fine-grit sandpaper

If more than two weeks have passed after applying the first coat of paint, use a mild detergent to eliminate any dirt or deteriorated paint. Wipe the walls down with a damp cloth and a small amount of water, and the walls dry fully before painting them. 

man painting latex over acrylic paint

Can You Paint Latex over Acrylic Paint?

You can paint latex paint over acrylic paint without any issues. However, it is important to ensure that the acrylic paint is properly dry before adding a coat of latex paint. Acrylic paint can be used as a primer for your latex paint. 

You can add an additional coat of paint over the acrylic paint after it dries. Acrylic paint dries between 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on how thickly you’ve applied it. 

The binder in acrylic paint works very well on all surfaces, but be aware that the amount of paint you will need depends on the absorbency of your wall. If your wall is primed, you don’t have to worry, but if it isn’t, you’ll lose a lot of the paint to the wall itself. 

If you’re applying latex over acrylic, you might want to use an acrylic priming medium or gesso to seal the surface and prepare it to receive paint.

You can also use white-colored acrylic paint as the primer, but you’ll need a lot more of it, and the surface will be very smooth. The lack of ‘tooth’ on acrylic paint will make it harder to paint on

Considering these facts, it is important to examine whether painting latex over acrylic is better than painting acrylic over latex. 

I recommend painting acrylic paint over latex than painting latex over acrylic paint. Acrylic paint typically resists fading and retains its original color better than latex paints (Source: Old-House Journal).

Painting acrylic over latex will therefore deliver longer-lasting results compared to the alternative.