Can You Mix Enamel And Acrylic Paint?

No, you can’t mix enamel and acrylic paint. They are entirely different when it comes to formulation. While Enamel is solvent-based, acrylic isn’t. Acrylic paints are water-based. You can’t mix them because chances are the paint might not stick to the surface well.

Although mixing Enamel and acrylic is a no-no, we’ve perceived some nitty-gritty while looking for an answer to ‘Can you mix enamel and acrylic paint?’.  

So, in this blog, we’ll explain how you can work with these two to make an alluring artwork. Let’s jump into the central part!

Why Can’t I Mix Acrylic and Enamel Together?

Acrylic and enamel paints are two different types of paints. Thus, mixing them turns out to be somewhere near impossible. Here are the reasons in detail.

  1. Since acrylic and enamel paints are respectively water and oil soluble, they won’t mix. (Oil and water never mix).
  2. Mixing these paints might result in a lumpy paste that can’t be used. 
  3. Next comes pigment. The pigment of these paints are completely different. While acrylic is vibrant and bright, enamel gives a matte dark finish. So, the purposes of these paints are different, after mixing together they become kind of worthless. 
  4. Additives are used to make your painting more engaging. Enamel and acrylic require different additives as well. If you mix these colours, you can’t go with the added features they bring. 

So, it’s not wise to mix them. On the contrary, you can put acrylic over enamel. But applying water-based paints over oil-based ones requires a lot of prep-ups. 

Plus, it can take over weeks to dry. The bottom line is you should choose one of them for your new artwork for the best results while avoiding the hassles.

However, you can mix different brands of acrylic paints. Just know that there are some limitations, but still, it’s doable!


Although you can’t mix the paints, you’ll get a pretty lovely finish by applying enamel Enamel over acrylic paint. And it’s not required to spend money on primer or sandpaper. 

Differences Between Enamel and Acrylic

If you still need to decide what paint to pick, let us help with the primary differences between enamel Enamel and acrylic. Otherwise, you might mix these two paints, which is strictly forbidden. 

Let’s start with a chart on basic ones first:

DifferencesEnamel Acrylic 
Pigment BrighterA little darker
Best suitable For interior artworks For exterior artworks 
Coverage ThickThinner than enamel 

However, here are the differences which can tell about the finishes you would get from these paints.

Change in Colour Over Time

Day by day, enamel paint might turn yellow, while acrylic paints stay the same if you’ve followed the proper methods. But after a year or two, the enamel will look dull.


Since enamel Enamel is an oil-based paint, it will give you a glossy finish. But acrylic paints provide a matte look. 


Enamel paint dries really fast and becomes hard. So,it wiser to avoid it when it comes to exterior painting since it may crack. Acrylic is more flexible and durable than this paint, so consider using it for exterior walls and enamel for interior painting. 

Drying Period 

Acrylic paints take a maximum of 20-30 minutes to dry. But enamel paint would take longer duration; heavy coats might even; heavy coats might take a day or two. 


For dilution, enamel paints need oil or gloss mediums. Acrylic can be diluted with any medium depending on the finish you want. 


Acrylic and enamel Enamel paint are different by all means. If you’re planning on small artwork, acrylic paint is a better option. 

Apply Acrylic Paint Over Enamel Paint Instead 

Since you can’t mix acrylic and enamel, you should apply acrylic over Enamel.

Although it’s an open option, this requires some prep-up. The paint won’t stick to the surface if you use a single coat of water-based paint over an oil-based one. Thus, it will look faded and the paint is likely to crack after drying.

Steps to Follow While Applying Acrylic Over Enamel

Follow these steps in order to have the desired outcome after putting an acrylic layer over the enamel-painted surface.

  1. Use a soft sponge or cloth to clean the surface thoroughly. You can use any detergent or liquid soap for this. If possible, use lukewarm water with the detergent. 
  2. Now use 120 grit sandpaper to remove the glossiness from the Enamel and make the surface smoother. 
  3. Then, apply any water-based primer on the surface. This way, the paint will sit appropriately. Apply two to three coats of primer but make sure the previous one is completely dry before you do so. 
  4. Lastly, apply paint all over the surface. Put three to four layers according to the coverage you want. Please don’t touch the surface until it completely dries. It may take 20-30 minutes.

    Acrylic paint is hard to stick to plastic surfaces as well. But if you can prep the surface and seal acrylic paint on plastic properly, you’ll get amazing results.  


Since mixing Enamel and acrylic is off the table, you can consider using acrylic paint over Enamel. But this requires preparing the surface perfectly. Otherwise, the paint won’t sit on the surface properly. 

Apply Enamel Paint Over Acrylic Paint Instead 

Painting oil-based paints over water-based paints is completely okay but the reverse process is not okay. In fact, applying oil-based paint over water-based paint doesn’t even require applying primer, either. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Clean the area with a slightly harsh cloth and liquid soap or detergent. (Don’t use bleach; it can make the surface fade). 
  2. After cleaning, you can apply the oil-based paint. Make sure you use a bunch of thin layers. A thick layer would take a long time to dry. And the paint won’t look good either.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do acrylic and Enamel offer the same finish?

No, acrylic and enamel paints are diluted with different mediums. So, they offer different finishes. Acrylic paints tend to give matte finishes, while enamel paints can surely give a glossy finish. 

Should I use enamel paint on my shoes? 

No you shouldn’t. Enamel paint is mainly used for painting walls. This paint turns yellow over time. Acrylic paint is more suitable for small objects as it will maintain its colour for years. 

What paint is more long-lasting? Acrylic or Enamel?

Acrylic paint lasts more than Enamel paint does. If you follow the manual from the brand, the paint will stay for more than a decade or so. Moreover, the color doesn’t get faded, either. 

Wrapping Up! 

Acrylic and Enamel paint have completely different characteristics. They aren’t even used for the same purposes. 

Thus, you should pick a painting depending on your plans. Above, we’ve explained the topic well- can you mix enamel and acrylic paint? We hope it helps.

If time and budget are the cases, we suggest using acrylic paint. Good luck! 

Leave a Comment