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Latex vs. Acrylic Paint for Furniture: Tips for Choosing

Latex vs. Acrylic Paint for Furniture: Tips for Choosing

When trying to decide if latex or acrylic paint is best for furniture, there are several tips to help you choose which one is going to be right for you.

Painting can make a big difference in the overall look of a piece of furniture, but knowing which kind to choose can be confusing, as there are so many options on the market.

Paint can also be expensive and your time is valuable.

Choosing the right paint from the get-go can make a big difference in the outcome (and your wallet!)

There are a few differences to note about latex vs. acrylic paint for your furniture. On one hand, latex is easier to apply and is more environmentally friendly, and while acrylic paint might cost more, it’s usually much more durable.

Deciding if you should use latex or acrylic paint for your next furniture project will depend on a variety of factors.

Each paint has qualities that will be important to you, based on the piece of furniture, where it’s located, how you intend to use it, and what your budget is. 

Dive deeper with me as I explain the differences between both of these paints and help you determine which is going to work best for you. 

Paints for furniture

Latex vs. Acrylic for Furniture: Tips For Choosing

The biggest difference between latex and acrylic paints is that latex paint is water-based and acrylic paint is chemical-based. 

What this means is that acrylic paint is more elastic and therefore won’t chip as easily, since the compounds in the paint allow it to expand and contract when environmental factors (heat, humidity, etc.) force it to do so.

Latex paint, on the other hand, is not as toxic, because of the lack of chemical compounds. It is also easier to apply.

Both paints have their place in the home improvement world and are effective mediums when a fresh paint job is called for.

But, knowing certain tips about both will help you decide which one is going to work best for your current furniture project. 

Latex is Easier to Apply

When preparing for a furniture project, finding a paint that is user-friendly can be an important aspect of the overall satisfaction you find with the project.

Latex paints are smooth and go on easily and quickly. They also dry fast.

Acrylic paints can be more cumbersome to work with, especially if you have a larger piece of furniture with more surface space.

And, because they are chemical-based, if you spill or make a mistake with an acrylic paint, it’s more of a pain to fix or clean up.

Latex is More Environmentally Friendly

Given the fact they are water-based, latex paints will be a better choice if you are concerned about the environmental aspects.

Not only do latex paints have a low toxicity rate, but they are also almost odorless, which makes them ideal for painting in tight spaces.

On the other hand, because of their chemical compounds, acrylic paints have heavy fumes and the odor can be unpleasant.

They are also not great for the environment and disposing of them can be problematic, because they pollute groundwater sources.

Care should be taken when getting rid of unused acrylic paints.  

Acrylic Costs More

Acrylic paint is created from a high concentration of fine pigment and has a higher permanence rating than latex – meaning its colors are richer and last longer.

Because of this, acrylics also cost more. 

Most acrylic paints are sold in smaller quantities, as they are often used for artwork or smaller furniture projects.

For this reason, you will pay a higher unit price if purchasing an acrylic instead of a latex.

Latex paints come in more color options than acrylics and can be bought in bigger bulk, and are usually found at more stores. 

If you subscribe to the idea that “you get what you pay for,” you may decide that an acrylic paint is best for your project.

The richness of the color will pay off, and you may not have to re-paint an item that was painted with an acrylic paint as frequently as one with a latex paint.

Acrylic is More Durable

Finally, if you compare acrylic paint to latex paint, you will find that most acrylics are more durable than latex ones. 

Because of the chemicals in acrylic paints, they are capable of great elasticity, which means they can expand and contract easily.

This means they won’t crack or flake as often as a latex paint, and will therefore last longer.

Latex paints are water-based, so they don’t have the same bonding compounds as acrylics. Latex paints will have a tendency to fade, peel or start to flake over a period of time.

Acrylics are ideal for items that will be exposed to strong weather elements, like harsh heat, rain, and snow because of their bonding strength.

Latex paints are going to be better for interior projects that have more stable temperatures and are not in direct sunlight.


More Tips for Successful Painting

Once you’ve decided which paint is best for you, there are a handful of tips that will help you have a positive experience and will result in your furniture project looking exactly the way you’ve planned.


Before you open that paint can, make sure the item you’re painting is clean.

Wiping it down with a wet cloth then letting it dry completely will ensure that no dust or dirt particles will interfere with your masterpiece.

Plan for Primer

Not every project requires a primer, but if you take the time to apply one, you’ll notice the difference in your results.

Even top-quality paints will adhere better to your surface and will look more professional if a primer is used before the paint.

Get Your Painting On!

Now that you’ve prepped your piece, the fun begins! Hopefully, you’ve researched which brushes you want to use and have a variety of sizes if needed.

Also, if your piece requires two coats, make sure you let the first one dry completely before you start the next one.

Summing Up Latex vs. Acrylic Paints

Latex and acrylic paints are both great paints, but are better suited for different jobs. Latex paints are more environmentally friendly and cost-effective, but acrylic paint is generally more durable in the long run.

Using acrylic paint for outdoor items, or those that will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear, is a great way to keep them looking nice for the long run.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.