Enamel paints and acrylic paints are two completely different types of paints that each serve specific purposes. Understanding the difference between these two is vital to knowing which to choose. In general, enamel paint is a durable household paint appropriate for many do-it-yourself projects. Acrylics are water-based art mediums appropriate for, among other things, scrapbooking activities. But artists also use "enamels." Educate yourself about the details of the differences.

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Enamel paint is a great choice for home projects.

History of Enamel

Enamel used to refer to only some oil-based paints. Today, some water-based finished products use the term "enamel." Acrylics are always water based.

Finish Differences

Acrylics dry to a matte finish and can be covered with a gloss if preferred. Enamels dry to a glossy finish.

Function of Each

High gloss enamel paints work well in kitchens and bathrooms. Enamels dry to a hard finish and are washable. Acrylics are often used by artists.

Fun Fact

Acrylic paints can be used in place of fabric paints. After painting cotton clothing, allow it to dry and then heat set.

Warnings When Using

Many enamel paints must be used with ventilation due to fumes. Acrylics do not have this problem.

Types of Paint

The term "acrylic enamel" refers to an automobile paint. Many feel that it is inferior to acrylic urethane, because the latter has better UV protection.

Misconceptions About Enamel

Artists who use oil paints instead of acrylics on paper or canvas are not using enamel paints. Artists do use enamels on surfaces such as copper and glass.