Is acrylic paint waterproof? What you need to know

Acrylic paint is a very versatile paint that can stick to almost anything. So you might wonder if acrylic paint is waterproof.

Acrylic paint is waterproof after fully drying. It can be used in both indoor and outdoor projects. Preparing the painting surface and sealing the final painting with a sealer such as polyacrylic, clear acrylic coating, epoxy resin or polyurethane makes the painting more waterproof and permanent.

However, some people even paint with acrylics on outdoor projects just as you would on a canvas without any sealer or special paints. They do not experience any defects in their paintings even after years. Let’s explore all the things you need to know when it comes to waterproofing acrylic paintings.

Is acrylic paint waterproof after drying?

Acrylic paint is waterproof when painted on a well-prepared surface and sealed. Use outdoor acrylic paints like the one from Arteza for better results. Finish your acrylic painting with a sealer such as polyacrylic, polyurethane, or acrylic clear coating. It makes the acrylic paint more waterproof.

Acrylic paint is made from acrylic polymer binder (a type of plastic), pigments (give color), water (keep the paint a liquid), and other additives. When you paint with acrylics on a surface, the water will evaporate or be absorbed into the painted surface. This way all the water will be removed from the acrylic paint film.

When the water evaporated from the paint film acrylic polymer binder components come closer and make a water-resistant plastic paint film, trapping the pigments inside. It makes a hexagonal structure that resists water. This is how acrylic paint becomes waterproof.

How long it will take for the painting to fully dry…

It will take 3-4 days or 2-3 weeks for acrylic paint to fully cure. The longer you can wait for the paint to dry the better it will be. As a general rule, I would recommend waiting for 1 to 3 weeks until the painting is fully dry. Only apply a sealer after the painting is fully dry or cured.

I have written a whole article on ‘How long acrylic paint to cure? (Comprehensive answer)‘. You will learn more about curing, even the process acrylic paint goes through to dry and cure.

However, there are other factors such as temperature, humidity, and airflow that affect the drying time of acrylic paints. You can turn these factors to your advantage and speed up the drying process.

If you are more interested in the factors that affect the drying time and how to manipulate those factors to your advantage, read the following article I have written: Why is acrylic paint not drying? (5 influencing factors)

Does acrylic paint wash off or come off with water?

Acrylic paints do not wash off when fully dry. Fully drying or curing removes all the water from the acrylic paint film. So the paint film becomes rigid and grabbed onto the painted surface well. It will not be washed off with water unless vigorously scratched when there is water on the painting.

Seal the painting to prevent acrylic paintings from washing off with water. This should be done especially when painted on a nonporous, rigid surface such as plastic or metal.

Even if you do not seal acrylic paint on a porous surface like wood, it will not be washed off with water as paint can grab onto the porous surface very well. However, sealing helps to make acrylic paint more water-resistant, even on a porous surface.

I have written a whole article about washing off acrylic paint from several different surfaces. You will learn exactly how to remove acrylic paint from each surface, especially with alcohol and water in detail there.

Does acrylic paint come off in rain?

Acrylic paint does not come off in the rain when the painting surface is prepared well, painting is fully dried and finished with a protective sealer and a wax. Allowing the paint to fully dry for 1 -3 weeks before exposing it to rain, helps acrylic paint to be permanent in the rain.

However if your painting is outside on a surface like a wooden fence acrylic paint will dry faster, even within 3-4 days. After drying you can proceed to seal the acrylic paint.

You can also use wax like Simonize just like you would wax a car on top of the several layers of clear acrylic coating. Most times it is the wax that repels rain and protects the artwork.

I have written an article series about common acrylic paint questions and answers: part 1 and part 2. You can find answers to questions like this in the articles even before you face them.

Is acrylic paint waterproof for the outdoors?

Acrylic paint is waterproof for outdoor use if painted on a well-prepared surface and the final painting is sealed with a protective sealer such as polyacrylic, polyurethane, or acrylic clear coating. Use acrylic paint made for outdoor use or lightfast paints to prevent fading over time.

I painted a mailbox post 15 years ago. I had painted the post white first and then painted flowers with acrylic paint. I sold my house and recently rode by it. It is still there. Only the colors quite faded.  

Patricia Eger Malloy on Facebook

As acrylic paint is waterproof for outdoor uses, it is used in exterior paintings. The paintings your house has on the exterior surfaces can be acrylic paint. They can resist weather well as the paint film is very flexible. You can get the same qualities with artist acrylic paints.

When doing outdoor projects it is very important to choose paints that are lightfast and will not fade with bright sunlight. If not, although your paint is waterproof, it may fade over in a year or so. All your hard work will be for nothing. Also using only a UV protective topcoat will not be enough to prevent paint from fading.

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic paint

Using outdoor acrylic paint helps better with your specific needs. However, you can use any regular acrylic paints for outdoor paintings. But, let’s talk about specific benefits you can get by using Outdoor Acrylic Paint.

Some artists have used ARTEZA outdoor acrylic paint and they said the colors remain vibrant even without a sealer. So I thought about asking their customer support what features are unique to their outdoor acrylic paints. Here is what they said.

Our Outdoor Acrylic Paint is specially designed to be used outside on numerous surfaces such as wood, rock, brick, and glass. This paint is formulated to self-seal once dried to ensure the maximum longevity of the piece and is able to withstand nature’s elements. Much like our Premium Acrylic Paint, the Outdoor Acrylic Paint is heavy-bodied and rich with pigment to provide a wonderful pop of color and ensures the surface you create your masterpiece on is fully covered. We’ve seen numerous creators use this paint for creating murals. 

David W. from ARTEZA

So, if you use outdoor acrylic paint like ARTEZA, there is no need to seal the painting. You can also use outdoor acrylic paints from Folkart. Whatever you choose use acrylic paint with lightfast pigments. Otherwise, all your hard work will be for nothing.

Is acrylic paint permanent after drying?

Acrylic paint is permanent after drying especially on porous surfaces such as canvas and wood. If painting on a nonporous surface such as glass, metal, and plastic, first sand to make a ‘tooth’ for the paint to grab onto. Prime before painting and seal after fully drying the painting.

When you are painting on a porous surface like a canvas or wood, sealing is not necessary. This is because paint can be absorbed as well as grabbed onto a porous surface very well.

However, priming the porous surface with gesso primer helps with the adherence of acrylic paint. Gesso prevents the paint from absorbing into the surface and helps smooth paint application.

Some artists have not sealed their paintings and they paint on almost anything. But still, the paintings remained great on the surface.

I have paintings on canvas that stay outside all four seasons. For 4 years, they looks great. I have painted with acrylics on old fence boards in 1998 and they also look great. I NEVER spray my canvas or boards with a sealer

Cindy Addley on Facebook

I have painted pieces all over the yard on old floor tiles. They have been there for two winters now. Never put anything on them just painted them and put them out and they are still fine. My wife painted an old camper in the backyard with acrylics and it is still fine after over 2 years as well. We never seal anything and paint everything!

David Kio on Facebook

This is why acrylic paint is such a versatile art medium that sticks to almost anything. They stick best when fully dry, even if the painting is not sealed. However, these paintings without sealers can be prone to scratching if that is of your concern. If paintings are not prone to scratching, and dirt then you do not need to worry about sealing acrylic paintings.

I have written an article titled; 17 Pros and cons of acrylic paint: All you need to know. You can find all the important aspects of acrylic paint there. Also, it will make learning about acrylic paint much easier.

How do you make acrylic paint waterproof?

Acrylic paint can be made waterproof by curing or fully drying the painting for 1 to 3 weeks and sealing the painting. Curing removes all the water in the paint film and dries it into a water-resistant paint film. Sealing adds a protective topcoat that resists moisture, dust, and UV rays.

What do you put on acrylic paint to make it waterproof?

Put a sealer on top of acrylic painting such as Krylon acrylic clear coating, polyacrylic, polyurethane, or an acrylic laqure to make acrylic paint waterproof. It will prevent paint from peeling, and make paint scratch resistant and waterproof. Properly preparing the surface is also important.

How to seal acrylic paint for outdoor use?

Use a sealer for acrylic paintings such as polyacrylic, polyurethane, acrylic clear coating, or clear acrylic lacquer for outdoor use. It will give the painting a protective coating to resist, direct sunlight, moisture, or rain. Wait for at least 1 week until you seal the acrylic painting.

You can use several coats of polyacrylic, polyurethane, acrylic clear coating, or clear acrylic lacquer on the painting. It will protect your painting in every season may it be winter or summer. You can even use epoxy to seal.

Following are the sealers I recommend for your acrylic paintings that are outdoors or that want to be waterproof;

  • Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating
  • Minwax Polycrylic
  • Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane
  • Rust-Oleum Automotive Acrylic Lacquer Spray, Clear Gloss
  • Epoxy resin

Some artists even use two types of sealers on their outdoor paintings. They use an artist’s acrylic varnish first and then use an acrylic clear laqure on top. It will give extra protection to the piece. The clear acrylic laqure can be one that is used for automotive products or other industrial products.

However as I have mentioned before, it is not necessary to seal a painting. But it just provides extra protection for your painting. There is an artist who has painted on various surfaces outside without any sealer. They have not experienced any defects in their paintings especially when painted on outdoor wood.

Is acrylic paint waterproof on ______?

As I have already mentioned acrylic paint can be waterproof on many surfaces. The surface can be a nonporous rigid one like glass, metal, or plastic. It can also be a porous surface like wood and canvas. Now let’s see if acrylic paint can be waterproof on different surfaces and how to make it waterproof on those surfaces.


If painting on wood, sand first, prime the wood with gesso, and let dry overnight. Make sure the wood you used is completely dry before priming. Then you can do your painting the following day. After painting seal it with varnish or acrylic clear coating.


The easiest method to use acrylic paint on glass is using multisurface-compatible acrylic paint. Folk Art has one. You can also use bakable acrylic paint that is meant to bake on glass. This gives the most durable finishing that is waterproof.

If you are interested in finding more ways of painting acrylic paint waterproof on glass, read my following article: How to stick acrylic paint on glass (and keep it off). You will find the step-by-step process of sticking acrylic paint on glass, to last long and be waterproof.

If you want to paint on metal with acrylic paint you can read the following articles I have written: A complete guide on sticking acrylic paint on metal.


If you are painting on plastic with acrylic paint, it is important to sand the plastic to provide a ‘tooth’. Then apply an acrylic medium. After the medium is dried apply acrylic gesso and let dry overnight. You can do the painting on the following day. Make sure to seal with acrylic clear coating or clear acrylic laqure.

I have written a whole article on how to paint on plastic and make it last longer. If you follow the detailed steps in that article you will be able to make your painting waterproof and scratchproof on plastic.


Acrylic paint is naturally permeant and waterproof on fabric. For the best results mix acrylic paint with a textile medium. This way no acrylic paint will be washed off with water. This is because acrylic paint can soak up the fabric material very well.

Canvas is another fabric material. If you are using a canvas that hangs outside prime it with gesso. If you bought a pre-primed canvas, there will be no issue. You can do one to two coats of gesso. Let dry for 1 hour between each coat. Let the gessoed canvas dry overnight. Then paint as normal. Use 2- 3 coats of artist varnish to seal the paintings, and let dry between each coat.

This way you can get fabric material with acrylic paint that is waterproof and perfect to hang outdoors if you want.

If you are interested to know if acrylic paint can be washed off walls, you can read my following article: Can acrylic paint be washed off walls? (6 Best methods). There you will find if acrylic paint is permanent on walls and the curing of acrylic paint on walls.


Acrylic paints are waterproof, especially on a porous surface like wood. You can seal acrylic paint on porous surfaces with a clear acrylic coating or leave it with just acrylic paint. Regardless of the sealer acrylic paint will be waterproof on porous surfaces. Make sure you apply acrylic paint in thin coats. It helps to better grab paint onto the porous surface. If you are painting on a rigid surface like glass, metal, and plastic, it is a good choice to seal the painting and prime the surface with an industrial primer.


Is exterior acrylic paint waterproof?

As a general rule, exterior acrylic paints are waterproof and weatherproof. They are made from 100% acrylic paint making the paint film more flexible and durable. Also, exterior acrylic paints are washable, if you got any dirt or mud on them.

About Dilini

Dilini Tharaka is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to answering painting questions and providing helpful resources.Painting has always been Dilini's hobby. She has created dozens of paintings that she is proud of. She loves to share her painting experience with you.