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Acrylic Paint vs. Alkyd Paint: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 9, 2024
Acrylic paint is a fast-drying, water-soluble paint, while alkyd paint is oil-based, slower to dry, and commonly used for its durable finish.

Key Differences

Acrylic paint, known for its quick drying time, is a water-based paint made from acrylic polymer emulsion. Alkyd paint, on the other hand, is oil-based and dries slower than acrylic, offering a harder, more durable finish once cured.
Acrylic paints are versatile, easy to clean up with water, and commonly used by artists for canvas painting. Alkyd paints are preferred in applications demanding a tough, resistant coating, such as on furniture and in high-traffic areas.
The color vibrancy and consistency of acrylic paint make it a favorite among artists and hobbyists. Alkyd paint, with its enamel-like finish, is often chosen for its aesthetic qualities and protective nature in both interior and exterior applications.
Acrylic paints are environmentally friendly due to their water-based formulation and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content. Alkyd paints contain higher levels of VOCs and require solvents like mineral spirits for cleanup.
In terms of flexibility, acrylic paints can expand and contract without cracking, making them suitable for various surfaces. Alkyd paints, while less flexible, provide a tough, stain-resistant surface ideal for kitchen cabinets and trim.

Comparison Chart



Drying Time

Fast drying
Slower drying


Artwork, versatile surfaces
Durable surfaces, furniture

Environmental Impact

Low VOCs, easy water cleanup
Higher VOCs, needs solvents for cleanup

Finish & Flexibility

Vibrant, flexible
Hard, enamel-like finish

Acrylic Paint and Alkyd Paint Definitions

Acrylic Paint

Suitable for a wide range of surfaces.
Acrylic paint was chosen for its versatility in crafting projects.

Alkyd Paint

Ideal for high-traffic and moisture-prone areas.
Alkyd paint is recommended for bathroom walls due to its moisture resistance.

Acrylic Paint

Environmentally friendly with low VOCs.
Acrylic paint is preferred for eco-conscious art projects.

Alkyd Paint

An oil-based, slower-drying paint.
Alkyd paint was used on the cabinets for its durable finish.

Acrylic Paint

Known for vibrant colors and easy cleanup.
Acrylic paint is popular in schools due to its easy water cleanup.

Alkyd Paint

Paint that forms a hard, enamel-like surface.
For the outdoor fence, the more resilient alkyd paint was chosen.

Acrylic Paint

A fast-drying, water-based paint.
The artist used acrylic paint for her canvas piece due to its quick drying time.

Alkyd Paint

Contains higher VOCs compared to acrylics.
Alkyd paint was used with caution due to its higher VOC content.

Acrylic Paint

Paint made from acrylic polymer emulsion.
Acrylic paint's durability makes it ideal for mural painting.

Alkyd Paint

Requires solvents for thinning and cleanup.
Cleanup after using alkyd paint involved mineral spirits.


Is acrylic paint water-soluble?

Yes, acrylic paint is water-soluble.

What is the base of alkyd paint?

Alkyd paint is oil-based.

Does alkyd paint create a hard finish?

Yes, alkyd paint dries to a hard, enamel-like finish.

Is acrylic paint environmentally friendly?

Acrylic paint is more environmentally friendly with low VOCs.

How quickly does acrylic paint dry?

Acrylic paint dries relatively quickly.

Does alkyd paint take longer to dry?

Yes, alkyd paint has a slower drying time.

Can acrylic paint be used on canvas?

Yes, acrylic paint is commonly used on canvas.

Are alkyd paints suitable for kitchens?

Yes, their durability makes them suitable for kitchens.

Is alkyd paint good for furniture?

Yes, alkyd paint is often used for furniture due to its durability.

Does alkyd paint contain high VOCs?

Yes, alkyd paint typically contains higher levels of VOCs.

Is acrylic paint flexible?

Yes, acrylic paint is flexible and can expand and contract.

Do acrylic paints have vibrant colors?

Yes, acrylic paints are known for their vibrant colors.

What solvent is needed for alkyd paint cleanup?

Mineral spirits or similar solvents are needed for alkyd paint cleanup.

Can acrylic paint be used outdoors?

Acrylic paint can be used outdoors but may require a protective sealant.

Can alkyd paint be used on metal surfaces?

Yes, alkyd paint adheres well to metal when properly primed.

How long does acrylic paint last?

Acrylic paint is durable and can last many years if properly sealed.

Does alkyd paint resist moisture well?

Yes, alkyd paint is moisture-resistant and works well in humid areas.

Can acrylic paint be cleaned up with water?

Yes, acrylic paint can be easily cleaned up with water.

Is acrylic paint used by artists?

Yes, many artists prefer acrylic paint for its properties.

Is alkyd paint suitable for high-traffic areas?

Yes, its durability makes it ideal for high-traffic areas.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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