Pouring Paint: What Kinds to Use and Avoid (with tips for each)

Paint pouring is a popular art form that can be used on all sorts of surfaces. It’s important to select the right type of paint for the right project.

You could end up wasting a lot of time, money, and paint if you use an incompatible type, so, to help you find the right medium for your next project, we’ve compiled a few types of paint to use and avoid when you want to try paint pouring. 

We asked many paint enthusiasts and artists which formats and brands they recommend and compiled a few tips as well. Keep reading for more information.

1. Acrylic Paint- good for pouring; dries fast

Drying time: 20 to 30 minutes

Acrylic is one of the most popular paints out there, especially for crafters and artists. It is sold across the globe as a cheaper, alternative to more expensive paints, making it a very common art tool for many out there.

Whether you’re just getting started with painting or have done it for years, you’ve probably dealt with acrylic paint at some point.

Acrylic paint dries faster than other paints due to it being water-based. Color can be mixed in this water-soluble paint, creating different colors and a more fluid texture. There is a large variety of colors to chose from, not to mention the different kinds of acrylic paint:

  • Heavy body acrylic.
  • Soft Body acrylic.
  • Fluid acrylic.
  • Acrylic inks.
  • Acrylic markers.

The most common usage for this paint is painting on canvas, wood, fabric, and ceramics. Acrylic paint is a great paint to use during paint pouring. However, there are some downsides to it. It can be known to crack and slip stay off of the surface in some cases. Also, you’ll need to make sure that your pouring surface is flat and even or else crazing can occur. Don’t try to move your work of art before it is done drying.


  • Paint according to the color wheel. Learn how to blend and mix colors by using the color palette.
  • Try lightly spraying the canvas with a mist. Caution: do not spray too much water unless you are going for water-paint-color effects.
  • Try some grounding. Instead of using a blank, white, highly contrasting background, try painting the canvas a different color before pouring other colors onto it.
  • Do not assume you know exactly what something might look like ahead of time. Try studying your subject and painting what you see. 
  • Try DIY palate boards. Using plastic lids is a great way to start your creative journeys. There are really a lot of options here. You can buy a palate, the one with a thumb hole typically made out of wood. Or again, plastic is a great modern alternative.
  • Wash everything really, really well. Do not leave residue paint on palates or paintbrushes.
  • Do not batch mix colors. Instead, mix as you need them and look at references to get the look you really want to go for.
  • Get a good brush set.

Good Acrylic Paint Brands

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Paint: A reviewer said this paint is great for beginners and intermediates. The colors also mix pretty well.

Liquitex Professional Acrylic Set: These paints will remain workable on the palette with just a quick spray of water. It’s also creamy and easy to mix.

2. Latex Paint- not good for small projects

Drying time: 14 to 60 days

Latex, otherwise known as house paint can be used in paint pouring. However, it is not recommended for small projects.

Paint enthusiasts say that latex is often a quality house paint, but even the best types can begin to develop cracks over time.

It can crack and even chip off the canvas, surface, or project you are currently undertaking. Try to keep the consistency even. It can really help to have the paint dry at the same time or to wait until the first layer dries, then add another layer.

It can also be way more expensive to buy all that paint for a simple canvas. It just really depends on the type of project. If the plan is to paint a giant canvas, go ahead and try house paint. Latex is commonly known and found in gallon buckets, but there is always the option of buying it in smaller quantities.

Latex paint does not mix, blend, or glaze quite the same way that artist paints do. So, do not expect it to act similarly. It is water-based and not quite as durable as oil-based paint. 


  • Keep things off the floor or wall when letting this paint dry.
  • Try using latex extenders if it is really hot outside. It keeps the paint from drying quickly, giving you more time to work with the paint. This is a lot like adding mist onto a canvas.
  • When painting around or onto a window, try using a smaller, different brush than the one used for the walls, ceilings, or floor.

Latex Paint Brands

Benjamin Moore Regal Select: All around one of the best, yet most expensive paint brands.

BEHR Premium Plus Ultra: An ideal pick for DIY painters with allergies, respiratory ailments, or odor sensitivity.

PPG Diamond: It is washable and stain-resistant. Comes in 1,000 different colors.

3. Oil Paint- consistency isn’t good for pouring

Drying time: 2 to 12 days.

Oil painting is a very old practiced art form dating from about the 7th century AD. This type of paint is common in schools for art majors and is often in works of art in the renaissance time period. It is a much different style of art compared to the rest of the paints out there. The texture is different, creating a unique project for anyone willing to try it out.

Oil paints are usually not used for paint pouring. It’s hard to get a large quantity of them and the texture can be hard to work with. You can always try, but artists likely won’t get the consistency they are looking for. If you are looking at different projects besides paint pouring, here is a list of ideas to try out.


  • Try water-mixable oils because they are a lot like acrylics. So, starting with a background in acrylics is a great intro to using that specific kind of oil painting.
  • Try adding darker colors to the canvas first. It makes the entire process a lot easier. It is also a lot easier to lighten a color than darken a color.
  • Try oil painting paper—the results will likely surprise you. Oil paint typically will leak through other types of paper.
  • Mix in SMALL amounts until you get the color you want. Then go ahead and add more paint as you go. This habit will save you a TON of paint over time.
  • Have your faster-drying layers on the bottom, then add your thicker oil paintings on top of the first layer of paint.
  • Try a glass palate! Or even a chopping board, because the paint will scrape off really easily.
  • Paint in a well-ventilated room.

Oil Paint Brands

Gamblin oil paint: Most are made with alkali-refined linseed oil as a binder, which creates a strong, flexible paint film.

Winsor Newton oil paint: Has a great buttery consistency. Nether too wet or too stiff. It is reliable across different colors too.

Daniel Smith oil paints: Reviewers who try and use this product say that this brand creates an excellent color for mixing.

4. Water Paint- bad for pouring; paints blend

Drying time: 5 to 30 minutes

Water painting (or watercolor) can be either really cheap or really expensive, depending on the grade. Student water paints are much cheaper than professional ones. Student water paints also tend to have less permanence and more synthetic binders and fillers.

Professional, artist-quality water paints are made with more pigments as well as a wider range of colors. It is used as dry blocks of paint, then artists create the liquid by dipping the paintbrush into water then mixing the hue together.

According to documentation, watercolors started coming into Northern Europe during the 17th century. It can be traced farther back to the renaissance period. Eventually, water paint became its own art form. Schools were formed and created to create with water paint. It has grown to become a great tool for everyday use to this day.

It will be difficult (if not impossible) to paint pour with this medium though. Watercolor is true to its name in the sense that it’s extremely watery. If you try to mix different hues, they will usually blend instantly, creating a single thin layer instead of the thick, colorful layers you are looking for.

If you’re interested in using watercolors for other purposes, check out our tips below.


  • Do not use printer paper—try a canvas or a thick watercolor paper
  • When adding texture to the drawing, use a paper towel to dab at it.
  • Do not paint a whole paper without adding tape to the edges first or else the color will bleed out
  • Do not add too much water

Water Paint Brands

Van Gogh Watercolor: Reviewers say that these paints blend together well and work for a wide range of watercolor techniques.

Kuretake Gansai: A Japanese style paint. Displays a greater opacity than European and American watercolors, according to traditional Japanese style. 

5. Tempera Paint- impossible to pour

Drying time: 5- 10 minutes

No paint pouring can be done with this kind of paint. Sorry kids. But it still is really fun to paint with. Here is why.

This kind of paint is oftentimes found in school settings for little kids. Before the modern era, it was used during the early renaissance period as well as the medieval era.

It is an inexpensive water-based paint. Most brands are nontoxic, making it great for young kids to use at school or home. Tempera paint ingredients vary across different brand types.

In general, tempera paints are a combination of water, calcium carbonate, non-toxic pigments, and preservatives. Fun fact: Tempera paints were traditionally made with eggs as a binder ingredient.


  • Great for kids, non-toxic, and not too messy
  • A really common occurrence is to add WAY too much water. A few drops of water are all you need to get started.

Tempera Paint Brands

Colorations Washable Tempera Paints: Parents have reported that this brand is perfect for young kids and easy to clean up.

Prang Tempera Paint: This brand is reported to be easy to clean and store, even if you’re dealing with a big mess. To get started with it, all you need to do is add water.

6. Overall Judgments

There are many different kinds of paints that are available to artists. They are each suited to their own purpose and not every form will work for paint pouring. 

Acrylic seems to be the best overall choice, although latex also works well. Most other types of paint will be too grainy, watery, or difficult to mix. It is also hard (and expensive) to buy these other paints in massive quantities, so you may want to consider the cheaper options first and foremost.

Overall Tips:

  • As a general rule, you can trust that the cheaper the paint is, the less pigment there will be. The more expensive the paint, the more pigment there will be.
  • Try to keep the consistency of your paints even. It can also really help to have the paint dry at the same time or to wait until the first layer dries before you try to add another layer.
  • It is a lot easier to darken a color than lighten a color. 
  • Don’t use a lot of black to create darker shades. Instead, try mixing in an opposing shade from the color wheel. For example, adding a bit of blue to an orange hue will create a darker, more muted shade of orange. Black can make colors look muddy and dull.
  • Do not forget to wipe your brushes clean and dry them after using them. Letting paint dry in the bristles can damage them.
  • Make sure your canvas is the right material for the project. It’s not recommended to use printer paper for higher-quality painting projects. You can paint pour on wood, metal, glass, canvas, and ceramics as long as the materials are properly prepped.
  • Mix colors in small amounts as you go. This can save you a ton of paint in the end.
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!