Is Oil Or Acrylic Paint Better For Canvas?

by Marshall | Oil Paintings

Choosing which paint to use on a canvas can be difficult. Acrylics dry faster, but they are water-soluble and may not last as long. Oil paints take longer to dry, but once they do, they are very durable. This article will help you decide whether oil or acrylic is the best option for your canvass.

Getting To Know Your Oil And Acrylic Paints

Oil and acrylic paints are very different from each other. Oil paint is a traditional painting medium that has been used since the Renaissance era of art history, whereas acrylic paint was developed in the 20th century. Because oil paint takes days or even weeks to dry, it can't be applied on top of another layer for at least several months without compromising its strength. Even after they have dried completely, there's still some flexibility leftover with oil paintings until enough time passes where cracks begin to appear as more weight gets placed upon them, such as hanging pictures or drapes across the frames. In contrast, an acrylic painting will harden within 24 hours so you don't need to wait nearly as long before applying additional layers to your initial artwork.

What Are Oil And Acrylic Paints Used For?

Oil paints are a more recent addition to the world of art, but they have quickly become one of its most popular and versatile mediums. Oil-based paint has an oily base which helps it adhere better when used on canvas or thicker boards with primers assisting in this adhesion process for long-lasting works.

Acrylic paints are perfect for all sorts of creative projects they dry quickly and can be used on paper, canvas, or any other fabric. They're even suitable as a temporary fix if you need to paint outdoors. To make sure your acrylics last longer outside it's best that have some specialty outdoor acyclic which will give our work better durability against harsh conditions like weathering from sun exposure. Acrylic paintings provide both visual interest with their interesting techniques but also offer opportunities in craft making by giving us access to new mediums such as glassware using these versatile colors.

Oil And Acrylic Paint on Canvas: Pros and Cons

Drying Time

Oil paint has a relatively slow drying time compared to acrylic. With the right kind of oil paint and medium, you can get it to dry within minutes, but some types take longer than others. On average though, it takes about 24 hours for oil paint to dry completely on canvas so that’s why most artists don't use oils when painting on canvass unless they want their paintings to be varnished later or have them displayed in an environment where they won’t encounter any humidity issues.

Acrylic dries much faster which is more convenient if you're working on a large project with several layers of colors overlapping each other one after another because these coats must dry before adding new ones. The fact that acrylic paints are water-based makes the drying process faster than with oil paints, but it also has its downsides like fumes and must be used in places where ventilation is fine.


Longevity is the main difference between oil and acrylic paint when it comes to painting on canvas. Acrylic is, however, a good substitute for a student or beginner painter who doesn’t want to invest in high-quality oils yet. Oil paints can last up to 100 years if preserved correctly while acrylic lasts only about 25 years without fading.

By Dru Bloomfield -, CC BY 2.0,


Cost plays a big role when it comes to choosing paint for your canvass. Oil paint is not only expensive but can also be heavy and difficult to work with, thus making acrylic more popular among artists who wish to keep their costs down while still achieving great results. Acrylics are water-soluble so they don't require additional solvents or mediums to perform well on the canvas surface. Furthermore, since most of them dry quickly you'll be able to start painting within just 15 minutes.

On the other hand, oil paints need approximately two weeks before becoming fully cured which means that you'll have plenty of time during this period where you won't be able to use your canvasses at all. Oil is more expensive than acrylic, but many artists prefer it for its smooth consistency and a higher level of pigmentation. If you are using your canvas as an investment piece or intend to frame your painting upon completion, then the cost will play less of a role in determining which kind of paint to purchase.

Painting on canvas with either oil or acrylic paints has its pros and cons. To help you decide which is best for your needs, we’ve outlined the most important considerations in this article. If you have any questions about our process, please feel free to contact us.

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