What is Acrylic Paint?

Water based acrylic paint is composed of minute particles of plastic acrylic resin suspended in water (acrylic polymer emulsion) and pigment. As the water evaporates the resin particles fuse together forming a strong durable paint.

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Components of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic Resin

A polymer from which acrylic emulsions are made. High quality acrylic resin is a necessary component of high quality acrylic polymer emulsion.


Acrylic polymer emulsion (made from acrylic resins). It is the binder that gives the paint its handling and durability characteristics.


Dry, powdery materials that do not dissolve, but remain suspended when mixed with acrylic polymer emulsion. They are organic, inorganic, natural and synthetic. They have little or no affinity for the surface to which they are applied. A binder is necessary to adhere pigments to a painting surface and coalesce into a paint film.

Characteristics of Acrylic Paints

  • Water soluble colors while wet.

  • Permanent, water insoluble, flexible colors when dry. Built up surfaces will remain free of cracks and chips. Less flexible in cold weather. Softer in warm weather.

  • Air-dry by evaporation. Thin paint films: 10- 20 minutes. Thick paint films: 1 hour - 3 days.

  • Surface of a dry acrylic painting can be cleaned by gently washing with soap and water.

  • Keep brushes wet. Clean up brushes, hands and palette with soap and water.

  • Little odor, no fumes, nonflammable. Uses non-toxic thinners and mediums.

  • Do not mix with turpentine or oils. Mix only with other acrylic emulsion paints or mediums.

Cleaning up Acrylic Paints

  • From hands: Wet or dried acrylic paint cleans up with soap and water.

  • From brushes: Clean wet brushes with soap & water. Clean dried acrylic brushes with acetone, denatured alcohol or equivalent product. These cleaning solutions are toxic. Care should be taken during use.

  • From clothing: While paint is wet, clean with water and/or window cleaner. Dried acrylic paint is permanent on fabric.

  • From painting surface: While paint is wet, wipe with damp rag, clean with water. When paint is dry, simply paint over surface with desired colors and motif.

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