As an artist, you want your paint to look unique and spectacular. Imagine what your painting will look like if you mix oil and acrylic paint.

You want to know if you can mix oil and acrylic paint and you don’t know if it’s possible or not.

  • The answer is No, you can’t mix acrylic paint and oil-based.

However, there are some exceptions known only to professionals that I will be giving you at the end of this article.

Mixing oil and acrylic paint is a common question that people ask. Especially when they want to complete a range of home improvements, art projects, or some other leisure activities.

You may also want to mix oil and acrylic paint because there are some characteristics of each paint you are trying to capture.

Can You Mix Oil and Acrylic Paint

Can you mix oil and acrylic paint?

Generally, the criterion for mixing any two paints is dependent on their bases.

If the bases of the paints you want to mix match, then it’s very possible that you can mix them.

If the bases are different from one another, then these paints won’t combine correctly.

Although some acrylic paints are considered chemical-based, most acrylic paints are often water-based.

Oil paints on the other hand are oil-based. Since the bases of these paints are different, mixing them is not possible.

If you are thinking that you can use a mixing machine, think again. Oil is hydrophobic, so regardless of how much you stir or swirl them together, it won’t dissolve in water.

Even if you disperse both paints in a container at the same time, the two paints will separate over time.

This will in turn create a layer of oil paint on one side of the container and a layer of acrylic paint on the other side.

What happens when you mix oil paint with acrylic paint

If you mix oil paint with acrylic paint, you are going to get several reactions depending on the type of oil paint and acrylic paint you are working with.

These are some of the reactions you might get if you mix oil and acrylic paint.

  • Dispersal: oil paint and acrylic paint won’t mix in a container.

The two paints will disperse within the container and they won’t combine.

  • Odd dripping and spreading pattern:  oil paint and acrylic paint have different dry times.

For this reason, the paint will be dripping oddly and the spreading patterns as well will be odd.

  • Bubbling: Another very common reaction you can get if you try to mix oil and acrylic paint is that the paint can start bubbling.

Although this does not happen often.

  • Cracking: This is a very common reaction you can get when you try to mix oil with acrylic paint.

Usually, the coat will not start to crack until after it begins to dry, so you might not notice this until after a few days.

  • Flaking and peeling: it is a sad thing after you paint, only for you to discover that your paint is flaking or peeling off. This is another reason why mixing oil and acrylic paint is not a very good idea.
  • Streaking: this is also a possibility that degrades your painting when you mix oil and acrylic paint.

Now that you can see the risks and disadvantages of mixing oil and acrylic paint on a palette or in a container.

The question that comes to your mind is, how about on the surface?

Could it be possible to paint oil and acrylic on the same surface?

This, of course, will help achieve uniqueness and spectacle.

Can you paint oil over the acrylic surface

The answer is an emphatic Yes.

You can paint oil paint over acrylic paint because oil paint can stick on acrylic paint without any issue.

But put it at the back of your mind that the underlying acrylic paint has to be dry. Generally, acrylic paints dry in a few minutes or at most hours, so this is not a hindrance when painting oil paint over acrylic paint.

The same applies to sealants. You can put an oil-based sealant over acrylic paint.

The oil-based sealant will adhere to the acrylic surface.

Disclaimer: Some oil-based varnishes and polyurethanes can have a yellow tint and may discolor over time, altering the look of the original painting.

Can you paint acrylic over oil paint?

While it’s possible to paint oil over acrylic paint, you can’t paint acrylic over oil paint.

Even if the oil paint is dry, the acrylic paint will not stick to the surface properly.

For this reason, any paint you apply on the oil paint can drip, crack, streak or flake.

You can experience these issues during the application process or when the paint dries.

What about water-based sealers?

Is it possible to use water-based sealers over oil paint?

Well, this is a possible option, however, for the water-based sealer to stick properly, you need to prepare the surface correctly. One of the methods is to degloss the surface.


  • Most deglossing steps are not ideal for artistic works. They can alter the color and texture of the underlying paint.
  • Plus, some of the deglossing approaches may be too harsh and difficult to paint on canvasses. Aside from all of these, deglossing helps to prevent peeling, cracking, bubbling, or other issues.
  • But, if you don’t want to degloss, then it is better not to apply water-based sealers over the paint at all.

Can you use acrylic paint on oil-based primer?

It is possible to use acrylic paint on an oil-based primer, however, you will have to thin the acrylic paint first.

Most acrylic paints are thicker than the oil-based primer, so they will flow smoothly. Acrylic paints are water-based so a few drops of water and thorough mixing will help you to thin them. But oil-based paints require more than water to thin them.

You can also add a flow improver to help the paint flow smoothly. After you have thinned the acrylic paint, then you can begin painting.

How to make acrylic paint look and behave like oil paint

Many artists prefer oil paints because of their final look and how they act when they are being applied.

Oil paints also offer a very rich color depth that acrylic paint can’t easily provide.

Plus, the fact that oil paint has slower drying times makes it easy for artists to mix and blend oil paints to create beautiful effects that you can’t get if it dried quickly.

However, oil paints require harsh solvents to clean up and take far longer to dry than acrylics. It is because of this that many turn to acrylics, but we still often wonder if there was a way to make acrylic look and behave like oil.

Some products have characteristics that give acrylic paint oil-like features.

Steps to make acrylic paint look and act like oil paint

Step 1Find a highly pigmented-acrylic paint
Step 2Apply enough paint during each layer
Step 3Do not over-thin the acrylic
Step 4Choose slow-drying acrylics
Step 5Choose the right medium
  • Find a highly pigmented acrylic paint: You need to get an acrylic paint that has high pigment.

This way, you can get the strength of color that is only available in oil paints.

  • Apply enough paint during each layer: You also want to apply enough paint during each coat. This will also contribute to the thickness of the paint.
  • Do not over-thin the acrylic: If the paint is not overly thin, it won’t dry as quickly as normal.

This will give you more time to blend and mix as much as you like.

  • Choose slow-drying acrylics: Some acrylics don’t dry quickly.

Choosing these types of acrylics will help you reduce the drying time.

  • Choose the right medium: In your quest to make acrylic paint look and act like oil paint, choosing the right medium is very important.

For instance, adding an acrylic gel will give you a greater thickness. Not only that, it will slow your drying time and make the final look of your painting glossier.

These are the steps to follow when you want to make your acrylic paint look like oil paint.

Ways to mix acrylic and oil paint

If you are not satisfied, just make acrylic paint look like oil paint but if you want to mix the two paints by any means possible, you have come to the right place.

However, before you know these ways, you need to learn the properties of these types of paint and the type of acrylic paint you can mix with oil paint.

Features of oil paints

Oil paints as the name implies are oil-based. They also come with several chemicals that help to add flexibility and depth to the color pigments. Some of the properties of oil paint include the fact that;

  • Oil paints have great color richness with a range of shades and transitions.
  • Oil paints are slow to dry and help artists to work longer compared to acrylic paints.
  • Oil paint colors do not fade out even after drying.
  • Oil paints can be toxic depending on the brands you acquire their colors from.
  • Oil paints do not crack or peel off when it dries.
  • Oil paint brushes cannot be used to paint acrylic paints.
  • Oil paints can produce both transparent and opaque effects.

These are the general features of oil paints.

Now let me show you some of the features of acrylic paints;

Can You Mix Oil and Acrylic Paint

Features of acrylic paints

Acrylic paints contain a water-based composition. It also has little particles that comprise acrylic resins. Some of the features of acrylic paint include the fact that;

  • Acrylic paints are water-soluble when they get wet.
  • When acrylic paints dry out, they become insoluble and permanent. The built-up surfaces remain free from cracks.
  • Acrylic paint gives smooth transitions and is easier to blend.
  • Acrylic paints can be easily cleaned with soap and water.
  • Acrylic paint has no fumes and an unpleasant odor.
  • Acrylic paint brushes are easier to clean up, especially when they are wet.
  • Acrylic paints are non-flammable.

These are the features of acrylic paint. From the look of the features and properties of oil paint and acrylics, we can see that both paints are almost worlds apart.

However, some types of acrylic paint make it not only possible but also easier to mix acrylic and oil paint.

Types of acrylic paint

As I mentioned earlier, there are several types of acrylic paints. Some acrylic paints are designed specifically to be used with oil, while others can be used on their own or mixed with other mediums. Acrylic paint can be used on all kinds of surfaces ranging from kitchen cabinets to metals and even concrete walls.

Let’s look at the types of acrylic paints available;

We have heavy-body acrylics, fluid acrylics, high-flow acrylics, medium-viscosity acrylics, and low viscosity acrylics.

  • Heavy-body acrylics;

Heavy body acrylics are types of acrylics that are thick and creamy, this makes them perfect for making textured effects.

You can use heavy body acrylics straight from the tube or mix it with other mediums, this creates a variety of interesting effects.

They also dry quickly and are extremely versatile, which makes them a favorite among artists.

One other cool thing about heavy-body acrylics is that they can be used on any surface, ranging from wood, metal, and even canvas.

  • Fluid acrylics;

Fluid acrylic is a thinner type of paint that is suitable for creating smooth and even layers of color.

Fluid acrylic dries quickly and have a very high pigmentation; this makes them perfect for a variety of surfaces.

  • High-flow acrylics;

High-flow acrylics are known for their thick consistency.

They are usually more expensive compared to other types of acrylic paints.

However, they are a wonderful choice for experienced artists who are looking for a versatile medium.

  • Medium viscosity acrylics;

Medium viscosity acrylics are somewhere between fluid and heavy body acrylic in terms of their consistency.

  • Low-viscosity acrylics;

Low-viscosity acrylics are a type of paint that is thinner than fluid acrylics.

They can mix well with oil paint, but they will not mix well with thicker paints.

You can see now that low-viscosity acrylic is the best option to mix with oil paint.

How to mix acrylic with oil paints

The easy way to mix acrylic and oil paint is to;

  • Use oil paints that are water-soluble or
  • Make your water-soluble oil paint.

Using water-soluble oil paints

Since oil and water do not typically mix, some artists have chemically modified some oil paints and thus make them possible to mix with water.

When you use these kinds of oil paints you can only mix them with water, you can also thin them with water.

Make your water-soluble oil paint

You can also make your water-soluble paint instead of buying one.

The secret is using acrylic mediums or thinners to modify the oil paint and start making it acrylic soluble. After mixing the oil paint with thinners or mediums, add some acrylic paint to it, if it mixes up well, then you are good to go. If it doesn’t, add some more thinner until you get a uniform mixture.

That’s the way you mix oil paint with acrylic paint.

Can you mix oil paint with acrylic paint on canvas

The answer is yes and no.

If you intend to use ordinary oil paint mixed with acrylic paint, then it won’t work. However, if you use water-soluble oil paint and mix it with acrylic paint, then it’s possible to mix oil paint and acrylic paint on a canvas.

Is it better to use oil or acrylic paint?

This is not exactly a question because it depends on what you want to achieve. If you are looking for a fast-drying paint that can be thinned with water, then acrylic paint is the man for the job

If you are looking for pain with a slow drying time and can be thinned with solvents then oil paints are your best choice.

The bottom line is that no one is acrylic paint is better than oil paint and vice versa.

The one you choose is determined by what you want to achieve.


You can see now that although it is not feasible to mix oil paint with water paint, however, there are some exceptions to this general rule.

Which is to either buy or make your water-soluble oil paint.

And like I said earlier, no one acrylic paint is better than oil paint and vice versa, the paint you choose will depend on what you want to achieve.


Can you mix water with acrylic paint?

Yes, you can mix water with acrylic paint.

Acrylic paints are water-based so they can be thinned with water. But ensure you add only a small amount of water at a time until you achieve the desired consistency. Adding too much water can make your paint runny and difficult to control.

Can you mix water with oil-based paint

No, you can’t mix water with oil-based paints.

Oil paints are not water-soluble, so adding water will not thin them out. If you want to thin oil-based paint, you will need to use solvents like turpentine or mineral spirits.

Can you mix oils with enamel paint

Yes, you can, enamel paints are oil-based, so the only paints you can mix them with are oil paints. However, you may want to add a flow improver to your oil paints to help them flow more smoothly and evenly.

Can you mix acrylic paint with latex paint?

Yes, you can mix acrylic paint with latex paint.
This is a very nice idea because both acrylic and latex are water-based so they will mix just fine.