Can You Paint Enamel Over Acrylic? [Solved!]

Let me admit, painting should be fun and never be a hassle. But when things like oil-based paint or water-based paint make you confused, things seem difficult. And, chances are you’re facing such a situation and confused about ‘can you paint enamel over acrylic?’

You can paint enamel over acrylic but only if you prepare the surface by cleaning, sanding, and priming it. Other than that, it’s not the best idea. Because enamel and acrylic paint are different because one is oil-based and the other is water-based respectively. So, enamel may not stick to acrylic and fall off over time if you skip the ‘surface prep’ step.

However, this is not the full picture. Keep reading to know the differences between enamel and acrylic paint, what the right way of painting enamel over acrylic is, and everything you might ask about the topic.

Can You Paint Enamel Over Acrylic? Does Enamel React With Acrylic?

So, does enamel react with acrylic? What can happen after painting enamel over acrylic? To get the answers, you must know what differentiates enamel paint from acrylic paint.

Let’s look at the table to get a quick idea about why the two paint is different from each other.

Differentiating ParameterEnamel PaintAcrylic Paint
Drying TimeLongerShorter
Used forExterior wallsInterior walls

Also, acrylic paint retains its color for a long time but enamel paint tends to turn yellow after a few years.

Now, let’s get back to the question, does enamel react with acrylic?

No, it does not. The two paint don’t mix or react together because they have different bases; enamel is oil-based but acrylic is water-based. For this, these two types do not blend together. So, if you’re planning to mix the two paints, you might not get a great result.

And, what if you use enamel over acrylic?

It’s okay to paint enamel over acrylic as long as you prep the surface by sanding and applying a primer. Also, you must ensure that the acrylic is completely cured or dried before putting enamel over it.

First off, the acrylic paint shouldn’t have any topcoats. A clear coat or top coat is used to protect the acrylic paint from water, chemicals, and oxidation. If you apply enamel over the topcoats, it will fall off over time.

Applying enamel over acrylic without proper surface prep will prevent enamel from sticking to the acrylic paint since they don’t mix. Sanding the surface and applying a primer will create a better medium between the enamel and acrylic and they’ll stick well.

Secondly, note that the acrylic paint is completely dried. Because if it’s still wet, chances are enamel will form bubbles and eventually fall off.

What’s The Right Way to Paint Enamel Over Acrylic?

As we’ve been saying, you must get rid of any topcoats over acrylic instead of directly putting enamel over it. Here’s how you can prep the surface and paint enamel over acrylic.

  • Use a mild cleaning detergent to clean the surface first.
  • After that, sand the surface with 180-grit sandpaper.
  • Use a damp cloth and wipe the surface to get rid of any dust particles.
  • To make sure that the paint lasts longer, use a primer and let it dry first.
  • Finally, apply enamel paint over acrylic. But make sure to apply 2-3 thin layers instead of applying one thick layer.

Can You Use Oil-Based Enamel Over Water-Based Paint?

You can paint enamel over water-based paint if the surface is properly prepared. Enamel paints are typically more durable and longer lasting than water-based paints, so they can be a good choice for high-traffic areas or surfaces that will be subject to wear and tear. However, before you begin painting with enamel, it’s important to prime the surface first. This will help ensure that the paint adheres well and doesn’t chip or peel over time. Once the primer is dry, you can then proceed with painting your enamel topcoat.

Will Painting Enamel Over Acrylic Provide Unpleasant Outcome?

The answer depends on whether you follow the right way to paint enamel over acrylic, what kinds of paint you’re using, and the drying & curing times of the paint.

It’s crucial to use a proper paint combination and give enough time to the paint job. Otherwise, different layers of the paint may crack, create bubbles, become textured or simply shrink.

Since it’s quite hard to predict how the result will appear, it’s better if you test the paint combination on some scrap material before working on the final project. Note that things highly depend on the product you’re using as well. Because some enamel paints interact with acrylic and spoil their adherence to the painted surface.

Above all, if you’re careful about all the precautions, chances are you won’t get a bad result, but there’s still a risk.

What Paint Can You Use Over Acrylic?

If you want to paint over acrylic, you need to use paint that is compatible with it. You can’t just use any old paint, because the two different types of paint won’t adhere to each other properly. This can cause all sorts of problems, like the new paint flaking off or peeling away from the acrylic.

So what kind of paint should you use? There are a few different types that you can apply directly on acrylic paint:

  • House Paint
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Most Spray Paint
  • Shellac Paint
  • Latex Paint
  • Oil-based Paint

They also have good adhesion properties, so they’ll stick to the surface of the acrylic without any issues. 

Enamel paints are another option that works well with acrylics but you can’t directly apply enamel paints to acrylic. Once the surface is well-prepared, they have great adhesion and durability, so it’ll last for a long time without peeling or flaking off.

However, enamel paints can be more difficult to work with than latex paints because they take longer to dry and can be messy.

Can You Paint Enamel Over Acrylic Primer?

If you’re painting a metal surface, it’s important to use a primer that will help the paint adhere. Enamel paint is commonly used on metal surfaces, so you may be wondering if you can use an acrylic primer underneath it.

The answer is yes! You can definitely use an acrylic primer with enamel paint. In fact, many people prefer to do this because it provides better adhesion and coverage. Just make sure that you allow the primer to dry completely before applying the enamel paint on top.

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Enamel? Read here. 

Which is Better Acrylic Or Enamel Paint?

There are a few key differences between acrylic and enamel paint that will help you decide which is better for your project.

Acrylic paint is made with synthetic polymers while enamel paint is made from resins. This gives acrylics a slight advantage in terms of durability and resistance to chipping and fading.

Enamels, on the other hand, have a glossier finish. Enamel paint dries harder than acrylic, making it more resistant to scratches and wear and tear. However, this also means that it can be difficult to work with and remove once it’s dry.

Acrylics have an easier learning curve since they’re more forgiving of mistakes. If you’re looking for precision and a high-quality finish, go for enamel paint. If you want something that’s easier to use and less expensive, go for acrylics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint acrylic over enamel?

You can’t directly paint acrylic over enamel, the surface needs enough preparation. Since enamel is oil-based paint and acrylic is water-based, you can’t simply paint one over another. It’s important to remove oils from the enamel surface first (you can use them by cleaning and sanding the surface).

Moreover, if the old enamel paint is a lacquer thinner-based product, chances are it may interfere with acrylic paint. In that case, it’s better not to apply acrylic over enamel. If the enamel paint is mineral-oil based, there’s nothing to worry about, a proper surface prep will do enough.

Is it okay to use acrylic and enamel paint of the same model?

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with using both enamel and acrylic paint on the same model. But what you should avoid is mixing both paints. Enamel paint requires a longer time to dry compared to acrylic and both enamel and acrylic don’t blend together, so, avoid mixing them.

Taking Away

So, you’ve got your answer to ‘can you paint enamel over acrylic?’

You’re good to paint enamel over acrylic only if you prep the surface by cleaning, sanding, and priming it. If you don’t prepare the surface, it’s not a good idea because both paints are different in nature and don’t mix together; eventually, enamel won’t stick to acrylic.

Now you know what to do. Happy painting!

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