Using Acrylic Paint on Walls: Complete Guide for Success

A brightly colored mural on classroom wall depicting a rising sun.

Acrylic paint is water based, meaning that it tends to be lower toxicity than paints that contain more solvents.

Some acrylic paints (especially those designed for exterior use) do tend to have more chemicals in their makeup, but overall acrylic paint is a good choice for those who want to avoid exposure to potentially harmful ingredients.

Can you use acrylic paint on walls? Acrylic paint can be used on walls and is especially good for murals due to the vibrant colors, low toxicity, fast dry time, and smooth application. Walls should be cleaned and primer should be applied before painting. For best results, seal the paint with an acrylic sealant or varnish.

Whether you want to paint a mural in a nursery, create fun wall art, or simply transform the vibe in your home by changing the wall colors, this article will teach you everything you need to know about how to effectively paint your walls with acrylic paints.

How To Use Acrylic Paint on Walls

In order to effectively apply acrylic paint to walls, it’s important to first do some preparatory work.

This may involve sanding the surface down or removing old paint (especially if the old paint is oil based!), as well as applying coats of primer for better paint adhesion.

Advantages of Using Acrylic Paint on Walls

Acrylic paint is quick drying, there are tons of colors to choose from, and it is easy to apply. 

When used according to directions and combined with a good primer and/or sealant, acrylic paint is resistant to fading and peeling and can be weather proofed for outdoor use.

Considerations Before You Begin 

Before you begin painting your walls with acrylic paint, there are a few points that you will want to take into consideration. 

First of all, what type of wall do you intend on painting? Is it exterior or interior?

Do you want the paint to last for a long time, or would you prefer for it to be removable at some point in time? Is there existing paint on the walls? How much wear and tear will the walls be exposed to? 

Answering these questions will give you a good idea of the products you will need and the steps you should take to ensure the best possible paint job.

Type of Wall

Is the wall made of plaster, stone, concrete, or wood? The kind of material that the wall is made of will have an effect on the overall result.

Interior/Exterior

When painting on exterior walls, it’s important to select an acrylic paint that is designed to withstand extreme elements and exposure to moisture.

Permanent or Temporary Design

If you want the paint to be as permanent as possible, it’s a good idea to use a primer before painting. You will also want to apply at least two coats of acrylic paint, followed by a sealant or varnish.

Existing Paint

If the existing paint is water based and not in bad condition, you can always paint over it.

However, if the paint is oil based or chipping and peeling, it’s probably a good idea to remove it before applying new paint. 

High Traffic Area?

If you are painting the walls in a mudroom or a child’s bedroom or playroom, you might want to take steps to ensure that your paint job is extra durable. 

How To Prep the Wall for Paint

Yellow-gloved-hand cleaning a smiley face off of a light-blue wall.

In order to achieve the desired result of a smooth, flawless, beautifully colored wall, it’s important to make sure that your surface is properly prepped before painting. 

Cleaning the Wall

If there is old paint that needs to be removed, you may be able to use a putty knife to scrape it from the surface.

More stubborn or oil-based paint may require the use of a solvent or heavy-duty cleaning agent for removal.

Make sure to wear appropriate protective gear and to open windows and doors if using solvents indoors. 

Once the paint has been removed, you will want to dust the walls and especially the corners to get rid of any cobwebs or debris.

You can then wash the walls using a rag and warm soapy water. When finished cleaning, rinse the walls with clean water and pat them dry with a clean towel. 

Applying Primer

Depending on the type of paint you are using, you may want to apply primer. Primer helps acrylic paint stick to surfaces, and it can make the paint appear more vibrant.

Some acrylic paints have primer built in, so check the formula before priming.

It’s always a good idea to use a primer that has been developed by the same manufacturer as the paint that you are using. 

You will want to apply at least one coat of primer to a clean, dry surface before applying paint.

Allow each layer of primer to dry completely before applying the next. Wait for the primer to dry before painting.

7 Tips for Applying Acrylic Paint to Walls

  1. Make sure you put down a tarp or drop cloth to protect the floor or any furniture in the room, and use painters tape to cover any trim that you don’t wish to paint.
  2. Remove outlet covers or any other wall accessories that you don’t want to get paint on.
  3. Mix the paint thoroughly before applying.
  4. Use a roller when possible to avoid leaving brush marks on the walls.
  5. Be sure to paint over drips quickly to avoid having them dry in place. 
  6. For large projects, hand paint the trim or outline with a paint brush first, then move to the interior of the design using the roller. 
  7. You can also use a brush to cover any areas that the roller may have missed, such as corners between walls. 

Worried about making a mistake? Have no fear. Acrylic paint can be cleaned easily from a variety of surfaces. Discover tips for removing acrylic paint here.

How To Seal Acrylic Paint on Walls

Some acrylic paints (particularly those designed for outdoor use) are self-sealing and don’t require the use of an additional sealant.

However, if you want to ensure that the paint you have applied to your wall is going to last, it is a good idea to seal the paint after it dries, especially if it is an exterior wall,.

Make sure that the paint is totally dry, and then apply a sealant or varnish created by the same brand as the paint that you used on the wall.

If you are sealing an outdoor wall, it is important to make sure that you give the area an adequate amount of time to dry before it is exposed to rain or extreme elements. 

Best Acrylic Paints for Wall Art

There are literally hundreds of kinds of acrylic paints to choose from, but when it comes to creating wall art, there are a handful that stand out from the rest.

Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylics

Sale
Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint, 12...
  • Pure pigments – every color is individually formulated to allow the unique character of each...
  • Safe to use – tested by the art and creative materials Institute at duke University, our colors*...

Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylics comes in a set of 12 different colors. These are low-viscosity paints, meaning that they are more liquid and flow more easily than a higher viscosity paint.

Low-viscosity paints are a great choice for covering larger areas, such as walls. 

Liquitex prides themselves on offering archival-quality paints, which means that the paints are designed to resist color shifting and fading over time.

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylics

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint,...
  • Thick, rich; highly pigmented with satin finish; flexible when dry
  • Basic palette for the student, beginner, or Professional

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylics are an excellent choice for accent and detail work on walls due to their thick and highly pigmented nature.

They dry more slowly than lower viscosity paints, which gives you more time to work on your design. These paints dry to a satin finish, giving your completed work a velvety luster. 

Apple Barrel Acrylic Craft Paint

Apple Barrel PROMOABI Acrylic Paint Set, 2 Fl Oz...
  • CONVENIENT SIZE & FUN BRIGHT COLORS - This versatile acrylic paint set includes 18 - 2 oz bottles of...
  • MATTE FINISH - Each of these bold and bright colors dries to a brilliant matte finish - perfect for...

Apple Barrel always seems to come to the table with the widest assortment of colors, and their 18-piece acrylic craft paint set is no exception!

These vibrant colors dry to a matte finish and are easy to clean up, making them a great choice for kids who want to create art on their walls. 

Money-Saving Tip: Large quantities of acrylic paint can be expensive. If you’re painting an entire wall, use a small amount of acrylic paint to tint a gallon of latex to your desired color as these paints can be mixed successfully! Learn more here.

Related Questions:

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last on Walls?

Given the right kind of surface preparation and the application of a worthy sealant over the finished product, acrylic paint on walls can last for years.

However, if you simply apply acrylic paint intended for indoor use on an exterior wall that will be exposed to a lot of heat, moisture, and wear and tear, the lifetime of your work may be significantly shorter! 

Does Acrylic Paint Fade?

Acrylic paint does tend to fade when it is exposed to direct sunlight, making it important to apply primer and sealant to areas that will see a lot of sun. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re painting an entire wall or simply creating art or a mural on part of a wall, painting walls with acrylic paint is easy and fun.

Following the tips outlined in this article is a great way to ensure the best possible results!

Last update on 2022-09-25 at 08:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Cara

Cara

I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.