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Can You Paint Over Spray Paint With Acrylic Paint?

  • Acrylic paint is very versatile and covering over an old spray paint job should be no problem if you do it the right way. The options are endless!

If you’re starting a painting project and trying to find the best medium to use, acrylic is a great choice. But can you paint over spray paint with acrylic paint?

Keep reading to learn more about the difference between spray paints and acrylics, and how to make sure you get the best result before you begin.

can you paint over spray paint with acrylic paint

Finally Decided To Start Painting

So, you have finally started that project you’ve left sitting in your garage for the last three years. Maybe it’s an old piece of furniture you picked up at the flea market.

It has an old, shabby coat of spray paint that’s faded and chipping. You decide it needs a fresh coat of acrylic.

You head to the hardware store for supplies and wind up staring at the rows of paint, wondering if this is even going to work. 

To save yourself the trouble of trial and error and hard work wasted, I will help you figure it out!

What Are The Features Of Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint works well for all kinds of applications. It adheres well to almost any surface under the right circumstances. It’s non-toxic, which is great when working around a home that has kids or pets present.

Spray paint can leave you with a roomful of caustic fumes, and oil paints are even harder to work with because of the flammable solvents you must mix with the paint before using.

Acrylic can be thinned down with a small amount of water or other mediums. Thinning will give you a more fluid feel and lighter color coverage.

However, because acrylics already have water in them, don’t add too much, or the paint will start to break down.

Chemical Makeup

Acrylic paint is water-based, plastic polymer paint. But what exactly does that mean?

Let’s take a closer look at the chemical composition of acrylic paint. Understanding the science behind acrylic paint will help you know how best to use it for your project.

Acrylic paint is composed of three different things: a pigment, a binder, and the “vehicle.”


Pigments are the compounds that give the paint its color. They are made from either organic or synthetic materials. Pigments themselves won’t stick to surfaces without a binder.


For acrylic paint, the binder used is a plastic polymer. The binder is the component of the paint that helps the color cling to the surface you are painting.


The last component is the water, which helps to merge the pigment and polymer, creating what is known as an emulsion. As the water evaporates, the paint dries.

The plastic polymer spreads out into a transparent layer, which hardens as it dries. This action allows the acrylic paint to set and become permanent.

Where Is Acrylic Paint Most Commonly Used?

can you paint over spray paint with acrylic paint

Acrylic paints are a popular choice for artists because of its permanence and versatility. Its relatively quick drying time allows artists to layer paint on quickly without the colors mixing or bleeding into each other.

Oil paints take longer to dry, meaning they artists must wait between applications to avoid mixing colors.

Acrylic paint will adhere well to almost any surface, including wood, metal, polymer clay, and plastic. You can use it both indoors and outdoors.

They even sell acrylic paints that you can use to paint your house. Acrylics can also be converted into a spray or a mist for a variety of application techniques.

Properties Of Spray Paint

Spray paint or aerosol paint is sprayed onto a surface rather than applied with a paintbrush. It comes in a pressurized can with a spray nozzle. Spray painting provides an easy way to get even coverage on a large surface area quickly.

There are three main ingredients in spray paint: a propellant, a liquid, and a pigment. Let’s break them down:


The propellant in spray paint is usually nitrogen or compressed air. The spray paint can is highly pressurized, and the propellant is used to push the paint from the can when you press the nozzle.


The liquid in spray paint is either water-based or oil-based. Water-based paints are more common and less toxic, but oil-based spray paints tend to be more vibrant and last longer.

Most spray paints contain a mixture of both.


Again, the pigment is what gives the spray paint its color. Pigments in spray paint are either organic or synthetically derived.

Does Acrylic Paint Fully Cover Spray Paint?

can you paint over spray paint with acrylic paint

Acrylic paint will fully cover spray paint under certain circumstances. First, the spray paint needs to be fully dry and set. Preferably, if the spray paint is fresh, allow it to sit for several days before attempting to cover it with acrylic.

Secondly, there are different kinds of spray paint. Some are solvent-based, and some are oil-based, and you can choose between matte and glossy finishes.

Oil-based spray paints will be harder to cover with acrylic. The acrylic paint won’t adhere to the oily spray paint as easily.

Solvent-based sprays allow for better coverage when using acrylics over spray paint. Matte spray paints cover better than glossy finishes as well.

Lastly, making sure you do the proper prep work before you begin will ensure you end up with a great result.

Does Acrylic Paint Stick To All Surfaces?

Acrylic will stick to almost any surface, but some will accept the paint better than others. Certain surface types will require some priming to allow the acrylic paint to really grab a hold of the surface.

Here are some examples of surfaces that are great for painting with acrylics:

  • Canvas
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Clay
  • Fabric

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent?

Acrylic paint is permanent once it dries. However, because it’s a water-based polymer, it may crack or peel after some time, especially if moisture is introduced and loosens the bond.

High traffic areas also have a higher likelihood of experiencing wear, such as wooden fixtures in your home that get touched or used often. Applying a sealant after painting with acrylics will provide some extra protection.

The Best Way To Apply Acrylic Paint On To A Spray-Painted Object

If you’re planning on using acrylic to paint over an item that has been spray painted, here are some step-by-step instructions to follow.

These guidelines will help you get the best possible result with your project:

1. Prep The Surface First.

Wood surfaces should be lightly sanded if possible. Use sandpaper and gently rub the surface, making sure to rub along the grain.

Sanding ensures your wood is smooth and even and will help the acrylic adhere more easily. When finished sanding, wipe any dust with a soft, clean cloth or a soft brush.

2. Clean The Surface

For surfaces that are glass, metal, plastic, or the like, make sure your object is clean. Wipe gently with soap and water to remove any residue. Wipe to dry as well.

3. Prime The Surface

You may want to apply a primer before getting started. If you’re working with a wood surface, consider both a sealant and a primer before painting.

Wood is porous and can soak up the paint, leaving you with an uneven application. There are a variety of choices. You may need to use more than one coat of primer.

Also be aware that already finished wood with any kind of oil-based treatment will not work well with acrylic paint. It will need to be stripped before painting.

4. Apply A Basecoat

Consider applying a basecoat of white acrylic. A neutral basecoat can help give you a more uniform starting point and might help limit the number of coats you need.

5. Choose The Method Of Application

A large, flat brush or a roller will work well for large surface areas. You can also use a sponge or experiment with different looks if you don’t want a plain, flat texture.

There are a lot of techniques you can use when applying paint to an object. The method you choose will determine how your finished product looks.

6. Test Your Color

You may want to test your paint color choice in a spot that’s not visible first to see if the color choice is correct.

7. Apply The Acrylic Paint

Apply one coat of acrylic paint and allow it to dry completely. You should apply at least two coats, and then decide if you need more. If you do, make sure you allow them to dry completely between applications.

8. Apply A Sealant

Apply a finish or sealant after the paint is dry to help seal your acrylic and protect it from damage and wear. You may want to use two coats of sealant.

can you paint over spray paint with acrylic paint

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how to get the best result when painting over spray paint with acrylics, you can take on any project you want.

Follow the steps laid out above, and I guarantee you will get a great result!

Acrylic paint is very versatile and covering over an old spray paint job should be no problem if you do it the right way. The options are endless.

Happy painting 🙂

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About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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