Can You Mix Acrylic And Oil Paint?

No, most experts do not recommend mixing acrylic and oil paint, as the two paint types don’t blend well. If you mix acrylic and oil paint, the paint will form an unusable paste with a very odd texture. Instead of blending, the oil paint will separate and float on the water-based acrylic paint.

Besides, the mixed paint will flake off the surface after drying. However, some brands manufacture water-mixable oil paints, which can be thinned and mixed with acrylics if you can maintain the ideal ratio. You can also use acrylic as glazing underpainting for oil paints.

That was a brief discussion on whether can you mix acrylic and oil paint or not. If you want more details about what happens if you mix the two, we’re here to help. Let’s dive in.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint 

You already know that acrylic and oil paints have very different physical and chemical properties. The base, binders, and chemicals used for the paints vary, making it impossible to mix the two paint types.

Here’s a detail about why you shouldn’t mix acrylic and oil paints-

Improper Blending 

Acrylic paints are water-based, and oil paints mostly contain linseed oil as a base. As you know, water and oil don’t mix and stay separate when you put them together in a container. Oil paint is hydrophobic, so it won’t blend with water or water-based products. 

If you mix acrylic and oil paint, the oil will separate from the pigments and float on the surface. Also, the mixture will have lumps and an uneven thickness. This type of paint is impossible to work with as it won’t stick to the canvas.

Chemical Reactions 

As mentioned, acrylic and oil paints are made from very different products. Apart from water, acrylic paints contain suspended acrylic resins, pigments, and binders. It dries by evaporation of water, leaving a thin plastic film of acrylic resins and pigments. 

On the other hand, oil paint contains natural oils, pigments, and some chemicals as preservatives. It dries to leave an oily surface with both toxic and non-toxic chemicals and pigments.

Due to the difference in ingredients, the mixture of acrylic and oil paint might lead to unwanted chemical reactions, eventually ruining the paint’s quality. 

Lack of Adhesion 

Even if you succeed in mixing acrylic and oil paint, there’s a high chance you won’t be able to stick the mixture to a surface. As the pigment binders and additives vary in acrylic and oil paint, the adhesion capacities of these paints are different. 

This leads to an inconsistency in the surface tension, and the mixed paint doesn’t adhere to the surface.

Different Drying Time 

Thanks to its liquid base, acrylic paint takes only half an hour to dry. It takes 2 to 4 days to cure. Oil paints take up to 24 hours to dry and might fully cure in a few months or even years.

Due to the difference in drying times, the dried paint starts cracking and wrinkling. Besides, it starts peeling off after a while.

Uneven Finish 

As we mentioned, acrylic paints dry by evaporation, and oil paints oxidize to provide a smooth finish to the surface. It’s a long process that can take months. Unlike evaporation, the oxidation process continues for a long time. As a result, some parts of your paint will stay wet while some will be completely dry.

Most acrylic paints provide a matte finish, while oil paints deliver a glossy finish. If you mix them, the finish will be unpredictable and won’t provide the attractive final look you want.


You can’t mix acrylic and oil painting as water and oil don’t mix well. The texture of the mixed paint will be coarse and lumpy. When you apply it on a surface, the pigments will spread unevenly, and the paint might flake off after drying.

What Type of Oil Paint Mixes with Acrylic Paint?

So, there’s a way to mix oil paint with acrylic; thinning down the oil paint. 

But don’t use water to thin traditional oil-based paint because it will not get the job done. Traditional oil-based paints do not thin using water because they’re not water soluble.

However, you can thin them with turpentine. Still, make sure you don’t use turpentine too much or it may make your paint excessively runny. Instead, use it in small amounts and keep checking whether you get the desired consistency.

Apart from the traditional oil paints, there are other options named water-mixable oil paints. These paints can be diluted with water and they dry in two stages; evaporation and oxidation. You can use water to dilute the paints.

About six prominent brands manufacture WMOs. While brands like Winsor & Newton Artisan don’t recommend mixing their WMOs with acrylics, other popular brands such as Holbein Duo Aqua don’t imply any such restrictions.

Before you start working with the paint, check the manufacturer’s instructions for both WMOs and acrylic paints for guidance about mixing the two paint types. While using WMOs with acrylics, make sure the percentage of WMOs is 25% or less. Because this means it has lower levels of oil than water.

Using the right type of paint and applying it in the right way will increase the shelf-life of acrylic paint. Read here to know whether acrylic paint is permanent or not.

How to Use Oil Paint with Acrylic Paint?

We have already established that you can’t mix oil and acrylic paint. However, it’s possible to use them in the same painting. You can use oil paint over acrylic paint but you cannot use acrylic paint over oil-painted surfaces.

Here’s how to use acrylic over oil paint. 

Step 1 – Prepare the Surface 

Choose your preferred acrylic colors from a well-known brand. Make sure the paint isn’t too glossy, as the oil paint might not adhere to it. Also, don’t use any glossy medium to thin out the acrylic paint. Use a matte medium instead.

Take the paint in a bowl and add water if needed. The most common and recommended method is to use equal parts water to acrylic ratio. For creating an underlay, it can be a little thin.  Always use separate brushes for acrylic and oil paints for easy cleanup.

Step 2 – Apply the Underlayer 

You can use spray or liquid acrylic paint, depending on your needs. We recommend going for spray paint since it’s easier to apply. You must apply thin layers of acrylic, so the paint isn’t too prominent on the canvas.

Apply a thin layer of paint and let it dry for around 30 minutes. Make sure the paint is completely dried before you apply another layer. Let the paint cure for 24 hours before applying oil paint.

You can heat set the paint while drying it. Since acrylic paint is heat resistant, there wouldn’t be much problem as long as you follow the right way.

Step 3 – Use Oil Paint 

As the underpainting is ready, now it’s time for the main art body. Sand the surface with 140-grit sandpaper to prepare the base for oil paints. Carefully apply a few brush strokes and see if the underlying acrylic is peeling off.

If yes, avoid using the oil paint and change the wash of the underpainting. You can continue using the oil paint if it sits well on the acrylic base.

While changing the consistency of the oil paint, remember that you can’t use water to thin out oil paint. Turpentine or white spirits are the right solvents for this job.

When you’re done with your artwork, leave it in a well-ventilated room for 18 to 24 hours. Once dried, apply a proper sealant to preserve the painting. Using an acrylic base comes in handy when you want more intense shades and a shiny base layer.

How Can I Make Acrylic Paint Look Like Oil Paint?

Oil paint has been a favorite for artists for a long time. Only oil paintings can give a piece of art a unique look. The perfect blending of hue, creating textures and with more depth of color, illustrates the art to its true potential.

But don’t worry; there are some ways you can paint with acrylics and make it look closely, like an oil painting.

  1. First, using acrylics with more pigments will enhance the color of your paintings. while buying a new paint, look for a paint with a larger portion of pigment next time. As we know, pigments carry color intensity. it enhances the depth of the paint, making it look a lot better. 
  2. Secondly, you can use slow-drying paint. The oil paints blending quality comes from its slower duration of drying. This can be mimicked with slow-drying acrylics. 
  3. Moreover, adding some textures to the art will create a little depth for the painting. It is suggested to make acrylics look a little more like oil paintings. Lastly, use some glazing agents to give your acrylic painting a look of glossiness. 

The usage of clear gloss mediums will go along just fine. Many artists also use varnish, which creates a final layer over the acrylics and provides some glaze to make the painting look more like oil paintings. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can you use acrylic over oil paint?

No, you can’t use acrylic over oil paint, as the surface won’t offer much adhesion. Oil paints dry in a tight matte finish that’s resistant to water. The oily surface is slippery and doesn’t allow water molecules to sit well on the surface. 

Do acrylic paintings last as long as the oil?

No, oil paintings last longer than acrylics when stored in the right conditions. Acrylic paints have a shelf life of 2 to 5 years, but some of them can last more than 10 years.

On the other hand, oil paints have a shelf life of 30 to 40 years. But you need to store them properly in a ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

Do you let oil paint dry between layers?

Yes, you must let one layer of oil paint fully dry before you apply a new one. Otherwise, the wet paints will mix together and create a different shade you don’t want. Typically, it’s recommended to wait for a day or two to let the paint layer dry to the touch.

Final Words 

Can you mix acrylic and oil paint? There you have the answer. Oil and acrylic paints have different chemical properties, which make them unmixable. If you want to get an acrylic-like finish or diverse hues, try mixing oil colors from different brands.

Besides, you can use an oil paint-compatible medium to change the consistency of oil paint and make it more like acrylic.

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