Difference Between Acrylic and Oil Paint (With Table)

There are numerous aspects one has to look at before making their choice between acrylics and oil paints. People may have suggestions about paint types based on their experiences but it isn’t as easy a task as it seems because these both look close to each other. However, they have various distinguishable features.

Acrylic vs Oil Paint

The main difference between Acrylic and Oil paint is that acrylics are a lot easier to clean and control than oil paints. Acrylics dry faster whereas oil paints dry at a much slower rate. Both of these have their pros and cons depending upon the purpose it is being used for.

Difference Between Acrylic and Oil Paint

The acrylic painting uses acrylic paint after diluting it with water. It is convenient to be used due to its quick-drying tendency and effortless application but it has the disadvantage of not being waterproof. It is made from acrylic acid and is utilized in products such as plexiglass and lucite.

Oil paints are primarily used on materials, woods, metals, and plastics to make them stay longer. Oil paints have a sleek base and are therefore suitable for groundwork base application and this helps it to stay longer and intact with the object.

Comparison Table Between Acrylic and Oil Paints

Parameters of ComparisonAcrylicOil Paint
Drying timeAcrylic dry much faster due to its watery baseDue to the oily base of oil paint, it takes time to dry completely
Blending and mixing of colorsOne has to mix the colors and blend fast as it dries very quickly, giving no time to the painterIt is very convenient to handle and mix as it doesn’t dry out quickly, which gives time to the painter
Color qualityAcrylic paint is seemingly flat and denseOil paints are more viscose and thick in quality
CostAcrylic costs much less than oil paintOil paint is budget-friendly and the only costly affair is the solvent used in it
DurabilityAcrylic lasts longer. However, they are not accustomed to bad weather conditions. Therefore will lose their charm with timeIt can brave bad weather conditions and does not lose its luster with time
Lightfast qualityAcrylics last longer but they are affected by weather conditionsOil paints last longer as per the studies

What is Acrylic?

Oil paint is composed of pigment particles spread in an acrylic polymer emulsion. The three main components of oil paints are – Binder, pigment, and vehicle. Acrylics dry much more quickly (approx 10-12 minutes)  for a single coating and some extra time for double coating.

One person can clean up only till the time it is not dry. Once dried they cannot be reversed. These are available in a large number of ranges depending on their consistency and mediums. Moreover, they can be applied to any surface.  Adding further, these are low in odor and are free from fumes, non – flammable. 

Acrylics can be used in mixed sources too; that is, pastel, charcoal pen, and other materials can be used on acrylic applied surfaces. Furthermore, acrylics can also be mixed with rice, sand, and other materials, broadening their usage area. Acrylics can be washed easily as they are not water-resistant.

What is Oil Paint?

Oil paints are the pigment of paints suspended in drying oil that provides them a glossy surface and the tremendous facility of fusing it with various tones makes it exclusive among all the available fluid paintings. Oil paints give a tough job when it comes to cleaning as it is a waterfall medium.

 Furthermore, satisfying results are obtained as they can be applied to different materials without diminishing their quality and purpose. Oil paints are available in opaque, translucent, and transparent mediums which makes them even more demanding.

 Oil painting techniques seem technically harder to achieve but the learning curve improves with time and effort.  Oil paints are stronger in smell as compared to acrylics. Lastly, With some simpler, easy techniques this too can be conquered, giving fresh breath into the work.

Main Differences Between Acrylic and Oil Paint

  1. Acrylic is easy to use for students as they can be thinned, dried, and applied with ease whereas oil paints take more time to dry on the surface making it possible for the artist to change or blend colors easily.
  2. Acrylic can go easily with any materials such as sand, rice, chalk, etc whereas oil paints are used on hard surfaces such as wood, metallic surfaces, brick walls, etc.
  3. Both oil paint and acrylic have different reactions to light. Oil paint tend to fade away easily whereas acrylic can last for a longer period. 
  4. Both have different blending capabilities. It is easier to blend oil paint due to their suspended pigments whereas acrylics give a tough competition in mixing with other colors unless done very quickly.
  5. Oil paint prove to be smudgy with cleaning works and therefore hard to be changed once dried whereas acrylic goes well properly as they are not waterproof.


Oil paint and acrylic are both wonderful ways of applying paints and it depends on the craftsman to utilize them to the best of their use. The foundational ingredients are the same in both of these and the only difference lies in the ease of painting.

If someone is a newbie in the world of colors, the best recommendation is to do a hit and trial method starting with acrylic as it is user-friendly and consistent to paint.  

It will make the person acquainted with the fundamentals of paintings and will make the boat easier to sail in the new water. Once settled in, one may choose to switch the medium of coloring.


  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ngakan-Ketut-Acwin-Dwijendra/publication/340593341_Visual_Exploration_Using_Acrylic_Paint_on_Used_Fashion_Items_for_Sustainable_Use/links/5ff1ff42a6fdccdcb8273e31/Visual-Exploration-Using-Acrylic-Paint-on-Used-Fashion-Items-for-Sustainable-Use.pdf 
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/sic.2000.45.Supplement-1.65