Acrylic paint comes in many different consistencies, from very thin to very thick.
Some painters and crafters like to add water to their paint to thin it out, while others prefer to use it straight from the tube.
So, in my opinion, there’s no right or wrong answer regarding adding water to acrylic paint, as it will generally depend on your preference and what type of painting you are doing.
- If you are doing a miniature painting or working with detailed designs, you may want to use the paint straight from the tube to have more control over the final product.
- If you are working on a smaller canvas craft project or decorating a nonabsorbent surface, you may want to add a little water to your paint so it will spread more easily.
- But for finishing absorbent surfaces like a wall or a wooden floor with acrylic paint, you may need to water down the paint a bit extra to get a suitable viscosity and consistency.
You can always experiment with techniques to see which one you prefer.
Further, in today’s blog post, I will get into some more details on how you add water to acrylic paint, in what ratio, when it might be necessary, and what other thinning mediums you can use besides water.
Let’s get started!
Diluting Acrylic Paint with Water
Acrylic is a versatile type of paint that can be used for a variety of projects, like painting rocks, wooden craftwork, or other decorative pieces for your home decor.
It is known for its vibrant colors, durability, and ability to resist fading over time.
The downside of using acrylic paint is that it can dry quickly, making it difficult to work with.
However, you can easily dilute the paint with water to make it easier to work with and to extend the drying time.
When you add water to acrylic paint, it not only changes the consistency but also makes it perfect for a variety of painting techniques.
If you do decide to add water to your acrylic paint, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are they…
First, it’s important to only add a small amount of water at a time. You always have the option to add more if you need to, but you can’t take it away once it’s been added.
Secondly, be sure to mix the paint and water together thoroughly so you don’t end up with any clumps of paint in your final product.
And third, keep in mind that adding water to your paint will change the color and may make it less opaque.
So, if you are trying to match a specific color, you may want to test it out on a scrap piece of rough paper before using it on your project.
Now that you know all that, here’s a step-by-step guide to adding water to your acrylic paint:
- Start with a small amount of paint on your palette.
- Add a few drops of water to the paint and mix it together with your brush.
- Continue adding water to the paint (a little at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.
- Once you’re happy with the consistency and thickness of your paint, start painting!
- For larger projects, such as painting a room or a piece of furniture, you may want to add a little more liquid to your paint so it will spread more easily.
How Much Water to Mix with Acrylic?
When thinning acrylic paints, several factors come into play, such as the surface, the brand and quality of paint, and the medium you need to use.
For water-based craft paint, do not mix more than 50 percent water as it will break down the polymers in acrylic paint, making it lose its adhesive qualities.
To be safe, I recommend not using more than 30 percent water to thin acrylics when working on nonabsorbent surfaces such as a primed canvas.
For absorbent surfaces like wood, walls, paper, cardboard, or paper, do not mix paint and water in more than a 1:2 ratio, as it will make the paint too thin, and it may start to lose its color intensity.
If you use too much water when thinning acrylic paint, it’s also possible that your paint will chip or peel away after drying, especially if you have applied it to a primed surface like a wall or the floor.
What Else Can You Use to Thin Acrylic Paint?
Water isn’t always the best choice for thinning acrylic paint. This is because it can change the color of the paint and make it less opaque.
This will particularly be an issue – if you are trying to match a specific color on your important craft project or painting a design on a wall or a hardwood floor.
In these cases, you’ll want to use something other than water to thin your paint so it doesn’t affect the final color.
If you need to make your acrylic paint thinner but don’t want to change the color, here are some other options you can make use of:
1- Acrylic Binder
Acrylic binders are compatible with the paints of all manufacturers, making it easy to thin the acrylic paint.
Unlike diluting with water, a standard acrylic binder dilutes your acrylic paints without changing the color intensity or other characteristics of the paint.
The binder works by only changing the viscosity of the paint, making it thinner without breaking down the color pigments and density of the paint.
2- Pouring Medium
Besides water and acrylic binder, pouring medium is another popular choice for thinning acrylic paint, no matter what brand you are using.
A pouring medium is basically a liquid additive that is used to improve the flow of paint and help it level out when applied to a surface.
It also helps maintain the original color of the paint and prevents it from drying too quickly.
The only downside of using a pouring medium is that it can be a bit more expensive than water or acrylic binders.
Also, it will take a bit longer to dry the paint since it is designed to slow down the drying time.
So, if you are on a strict deadline to complete your artwork project, this may not be the best option for you.
3- Acrylic Flow Improver
Professional acrylic flow improver (Winsor & Newton) is another great product that I think works best to thin your paint without affecting the color.
Unlike water, acrylic flow improver is designed to improve the flow and leveling of the paint while also reducing brushstrokes.
Also, you need not worry about peeling or chipping since it does not alter the paint’s binding properties.
The flow improver, when used correctly, also helps to keep the original color of the paint and prevents it from drying too quickly.
Can You Thin Out Acrylic Paint That Has Dried?
Maybe you have some old tubes of acrylic paint that have dried out and become unusable. Or maybe you accidentally left your paint palette out, and now all the paint has dried up.
Now you’re wondering if there’s any way to thin out these dried-up paints so you can use them again.
The answer is yes, but do remember that it will take a little bit of effort, and you may not be able to get the paint back to its original consistency.
Also, there are certain paints that don’t become usable again once it has dried. So it’s not a guarantee, and you should be aware of it before trying to thin it out.
Here are a few tips for how you can fix dried acrylic paint without making it too runny and unusable.
- The first step is to take a small blade or knife and carefully scrape off the dried paint from the palette or other surfaces.
- Try to get as much of the dried paint off as possible
- Once you have removed as much of the dried paint as possible, add some water or other liquids to thin it out.
It’s good to start with a small amount and gradually add more until you have achieved the desired consistency.
You can always add more liquid – but you can’t take it away. So start with less and then add more as needed.
Plus, it can be tricky to thin the dried acrylic paint and make it usable. The best you can do is prevent the paint from drying in the first place.
This can be done by using a moistened piece of paper over the paint or by spraying it with some water which will delay the drying process.
The bottom line
Acrylic paints are so versatile and user-friendly that they are one of the most popular choices among artists and painters.
Not only can they be used for a variety of different art and craft projects but also for house painting, wall art murals, and even mixed media.
While it is possible to thin out dried acrylic paint with water and other agents, it’s not always required.
Depending on your project, you can use it straight from the tube or add a little water to adjust the consistency.
If you do need to thin out, be aware that after thinning the paint, it may never be exactly the same color as it was before.
So, you can save yourself some time and effort by avoiding this step altogether unless it’s essential for your project.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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