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Acrylic vs. outdoor acrylic

March 7, 2007

Evening all,

I am the school gardening mom for my son's class. I am attempting to make a garden sign for the class garden. I realize that there are acrylic paints that are for outdoors, but the color selection was pretty dismal.

Has anyone tried using the regular acrylics outside? and how do they hold up? I do plan to seal the sign after it is completed.


Comments (32)
  • craftylady-2006

    Honestly, I've never heard of "outdoor acrylics." If however you do use acrylics outdoors, I would seal the paint with either a brush-on or spray-on varnish because acrylics do not hold up well outdoors over time. I am speaking of decorative paint brands such as Folk Art, Americana, Ceramacoat, etc. The varnishes come in either a matte or gloss finish. I would suggest you use an "enamel" paint outdoors. The basic rule for enamel (decorative) paint is you can either bake the paint onto your item (if possible), or let it set for 21 days before washing it. You might check out "Patio Paints" which are specifically designed for outdoor use. Find them next to the terra cotta pots at Michael's Craft Store. If not there, in the decorative paint section.


  • bert11666

    I have never used the outdoor acrylic paint. I looked at it but you are right- the colors are limited and the price was much higher. I just use regular acrylic and seal it with three or four coats of a good spray sealer. I have a painted mail box that's been out in the Wisconsin weather for three years and it looks as good as the day I put it out. Let me know if you decide to try the outdoor ones as I'd be curious to know how they hold up. Good Luck with your project :)

  • cindee11461

    I painted a bench with acrylic paints and sealed it with spray on varnish and its held up for two years now. I recoated it with varnish spray in the fall last year. It gets full sun/wind/rain etc and it still looks great.
    Heres a picture:

  • toomuchglass

    Patio Paints are the outdoor paints. I've used them and they hold up really well . In the paint section in the craft store - they sell "outdoor" sealer. It worked great for my projects.

  • luvstocraft

    No need to invest in the more expensive Patio Paints--just use your acrylics and like Bert said, just put two or three good coats of an exterior sealer on it. I like the Krylon spray on sealer, but most any brand will work--just be sure it says "exterior".

    I have several yard stakes that have been out for several years and still look fine. However, I do think it is a good idea to respray them once a year just to be safe. My favorites however, are the ones that do start to get a bit "weathered"--just gives them that worn/rustic look and I love that in my garden. ;o)


  • craftylady-2006

    Ya learn something new every day, silly me, I've seen the Patio Paints but never knew they were actually acrylics.


  • goldenpond

    I always frquent the oops paint corner and buy the exterior house paint.Some of it says warranted for 15 years so I figure it should hold up awhile.

  • luvstocraft

    Goldenpond you are right. I know Lindasewandsew does that for her birdhouses. She says she gets it at great prices too. It will hold up much longer than acrylics--but you need more storage space for cans than bottles! Guess it just depends on how many things you will be painting. Luvs

  • superiorgirl2

    I've used the little bottles of "regular" acrylics for outdoor projects with good success. On projects that I wanted to be sure would last, I applied several coats of spar varnish over the top. On seasonal items, I just used a spray varnish and it held up fine!

  • lindasewandsew

    I buy exterior latex paint (house paint), at HD, Lowes, Habitat ReStore, and anywhere else they have a mis-mix or oops! section. If you don't see it, ask for it. It costs $1 per quart (maybe slightly more at ReStore) or $5 per gallon. These are good brands of paint, such as Behr, American Tradition, etc. Check for it every time you go to these stores, because you never know when the colors you want will turn up. You probably have favorite colors that run out often, so having a quart can't hurt. I've found every color from shocking pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, many greens, blues, and of course, browns. I've never purchased craft paint, so don't know how it compares in price, but can guess that oops! paint is probably far cheaper. Storing paint cans upside down prevents the rust from forming around the edge of the lid. It can be poured into smaller containers for everyday use. Linda

  • nonacook

    I have used all of the above except patio paints. I don't like the glossy look, and want a matt finish. I use Walmart clear mostly for my finish coat.

  • kathi_mdgd

    I use regular acrylic outside all the time.I mainly use ceramcoat.I then seal with several layers of a clear sealer/varnish.If you want a better varnish use Marine varnish that they use on boats.I've used the acrylics on wood,tin,cement and that hydrocal stuff.

  • uptomyeyeballs

    You gave me the courage to use the regular acrylic, especially since I already planned on sealing it. The sign is almost done now. I just need to add a couple of finishing touches (like legs on a ceterpillar) and then seal it. Its a pretty heavy board (a 2x12 and about 24" long) and now I have to find a safe way to secure it to the garden fence at my son's school.
    The kids also had a blast finger painting their own flowers on it. WHAT FUN! I get my service hours in, I get to garden and to craft at the same time!

  • nancyb42

    Was looking for a sealer for my rocks that I painted with acrylic paints, I am making an old western town, and an Indian village for my cactus and rock garden. After reading about the sealers, I remembered that a few years ago, I painted my sidewalk with regular sidewalk paint, then stenciled a Indian design down the center of the sidewalk with regular acrylic paint...after a few months, the sidewalk paint started to wear off, but the design stayed, even with all the traffic walking on it...I repainted over the entire sidewalk, covering my design...but, a few months later again, the paint wore off....and below it was my design, looking like new...the acrylic paint never faded or anything, and was never sealed...
    Since my rocks have acrylic paint on them, but also marks made from a sharpie, I think I will just spray a clear glaze enamel on them...really didn't want them shiny, but that will probably fade in a while...

  • katerlyn

    I saw outside art displayed, and bought some artwork on a canvas for outdoors. I have acrylic from menards, would that work ro seal it, what do the stores use for their Outdoor Art?

  • cindy edwards

    I paint concrete stepping stones and I use the acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby such as Americana, Folk Art ect. Then I use "U-Pol" clear coat from the automotive paint store. $20 can, but works great!!

  • spedigrees z4VT

    I use the acrylic craft paints in small plastic bottles (I get mine from Joanne's) outdoors and don't use any sealant. These are technically "artist paints" so are not subject to the same restrictions as house paint for instance. Therefore the colors are probably produced by using toxic metals, but they also hold up better than the "safe paints." Here is my birdhouse that I painted at least 5 years previous to this photo taken in 2013, and it still doesn't really need a touchup.

  • Dorothy Hanna

    hi. I bought a 4'. x. 4' picture on canvas a couple of years ago. I have it on a covered deck but a little rain got in and the paint ran a little in one spot. I want to seal it but am not sure what to use. sealer or varnish?? would something like that work with this kind of paint? we did use a product called Golden gel medium but it did not work. Any suggestions? Thanks Dee.

  • sunnyca_gw

    Odd that paint ran, was it a craft that someone made & maybe supposed to be inside? I'm thinking maybe poster paint or that paint they do windows with at Christmas, or maybe it's a watercolor paint & anything put on it will run I think.

  • Jeanette Klitz

    @Dorothy Hanna - Any item marked as a "medium" is usually meant to be mixed in with the paint. Gel Medium would be used to extend the liquid within the paint that is being used to create a piece of artwork and slow the drying time (typically used with artist acrylics). While it can be used as a topcoat to protect art pieces that are kept inside, I wouldn't recommend it for exterior applications.

    I'm going to assume that the reason your picture "ran" was because its not a painting, but a print. A piece of canvas that was fed through a printer and then stretched over bars - probably printed from a picture of a painting. I would recommend using some sort of matte sealer. You can find artists finishes at your local hobby supply store or home store - I like Rustoleum's clear matte finishes. Hope this helps!

  • Sumetha Thurairajah


    have recently made few leaf casting with cement and I painted mine with cheap metallic acrylic paint from the craft store and put a sealer on few times. its sitting in the yard for few weeks now, in rain, still looking good. I would not leave in out in the winter though.

  • danireneeprice

    Hello. I have a question/concern. I came across this post while researching. I'm painting on pine pressure treated fence boards. Making them into porch signs. I'm using paint from Home Depot like you'd paint your walls with and acrylics from Hobby Lobby. I'm not concerned about the wood so much as the paint fading. I have read on here about sealing but I don't want a gloss or any lettering to turn yellow. Any success with a non yellowing uv protectant sealer. Thanks in advance. Attaching picture for reference.

  • sunnyca_gw

    Hope you are using exterior paint, Krylon has a Satin, Clear, matte & couple of others so doesn't have to be gloss. Don't know if any yellow as I don't use much white paint on my items. Very nice work!

  • barbaramanolache

    I have made many birdhouses with ordinary craft acrylic and they have been great and long lasting. What I am having a problem with are certain colors fading - right now, yellow and pink. I was hoping to find an additive that would prevent that.

  • Renee Texas

    we spray then with a clear coat at school, they hold up well. Of course, depending on the signs, it may be a good initial class project each year- and then longevity may not be as much of an issue.

  • pveeser

    have any of you had experience in painting an outside window in acrylic? We have a window on our shed that I want to paint a flower design on the window pane. Any tips?

  • sunnyca_gw

    Don't use acrylic! Clean window with rubbing alcohol(after it looks clean) & don't touch it & use Enamels by Folk Art.

  • sunnyca_gw

    Sorry, had to answer phone.DD has whooping cough even tho she had shot when baby & in 2012, doing better! Enamels by Folk Art are what I use on glass, it's especially for glass & needs to "cure" about 30 days before cleaning. If you were painting a glass object you could put it in the oven for a time, don't remember how long. You can reverse paint on pane(from inside) or on outside of pane, just remember to use the alcohol(rubbing type) so there are no oils from your fingers or paint won't stay on! Have fun!

  • robcloud64

    For New Zealanders, Resene Paints have a huge range of colours (400) in 'test pots'. These are outdoor matt finish, don't need spraying, 60ml in each, cost under $NZ each.

  • spedigrees z4VT

    Acrylic paint is, by definition, plastic. So no acrylic paint is going to run, and it doesn't need a sealer to protect it from the weather. However all paints are subject to peeling from age and/or fading from exposure to sun, eventually.

  • Dennis Mattson

    Deco Art has a Pewter Metallic outdoor acrylic paint that I'm going to use to paint my CAR with and then apply Automotive 2k Clear Coat over... It's a 1968 Austin Healey Sprite... <aka MG MIDGET> There are people painting cars with Krylon Painters Touch 2x Ultra Cover Spray Paint that you get at Home Depot, then spraying 2k Clear Coat over it .. and they turn out Phenomemal .... As good / better than auto body shops... .. Lots of YouTube videos


  • sunnyca_gw

    Wow! Good luck, will take a lot of cans, think i would try to buy a case of the paint, if it comes in 12 or 24 lots so hopefully all exactly the same batch.

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