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Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint: Similarities and Differences

fabric paint vs. Acrylic Paint

Both fabric and acrylic are two of the most familiar types of paint but are not the same. In this article, we will discuss everything there is to know about fabric paint vs. acrylic paint. This is the right place to visit if you’ve ever wondered if fabric and acrylic paints are the same or different.

While both are used for designing clothing, bedding, jewelry, or even accessories, they differ in some aspects. To name the most basic one, acrylic paint is way thicker in consistency than fabric paint. So, if you apply it to fabric, it will become stiff and uncomfortable. 

Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint – Just What Are They?

Fabric Paint

Fabric Paint is the most often used paint for dyeing and painting on garments and clothing. This kind of paint has a particular binding that allows it to adhere to most fabrics. Fabric paint differs from acrylic paint in this regard. Since the latter attaches best to clothing.

Fabric paint is made up of fabric dye and a kind of binder. If you have the right ingredients, you can easily render fabric paint in any color. Fabric ink adheres to fabrics even after many items of washing and frequent use, although dyes do not.

Fabric ink can only be used on natural fibers and does not stick well to synthetics. Fabric paint, in comparison to acrylic and other types of colors that can be used on fabric. It has a restricted range of applications.

Types of Fabric Paints

  • Alcohol-Based Fabric Paint

Since alcohol-based fabric paints seep into porous cloth surfaces, it isn’t a widely used form of fabric paint. Furthermore, the majority of our clothes or fabrics are elastic by accident.

Since ink does not have the same saturation as acrylic paint, it would be more translucent.

To achieve a rich color and texture, you’ll need a lot of it. Because of this, it doesn’t work well on dark-colored fabrics. Alcohol-based paint can provide the best results on non-porous fabrics.

  • Fabric Dye

Fabric dye is an alternative to fabric ink, but it is not the same as fabric paint. There are a variety of dyes designed especially for different types of fabrics. It may be clear, like alcohol-based paint, or more saturated and richer. 

Just like acrylic-based fabric paint, depending on the form of pigment. The way you do it depends on the kind of dye you use, and it’s a unique experience than using fabric paints.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint dries quickly and is permanent. And it may be used on both natural and synthetic materials. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, is a pigment type of acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paint is water-soluble, but it dries almost instantly after painting.

Acrylic paint, whether used on paper or linen, becomes water-resistant as soon as it dries. Most of the benefits it can be used in clothing to make garments and accessories washed several times. Acrylic paints are just as vivid and colorful as watercolor, but their quality is similar to oil paint. Acrylic paint transforms the clothing and fabrics into vibrant, artistic works of art.

Similarities Between Fabric Paint and Acrylic Paint

Fabric paint and acrylic paint may also be used to make masterpieces, and each adds to the art’s vividness in its way. They may be used to create cloth designs. Many people believe that acrylic paint is used only on paper. But It may be used to paint both natural and synthetic fabrics. These two paints are both water-resistant and long-lasting.

The only kind of fabric paint that minimizes the variations between these two paints is acrylic-based fabric paint. An acrylic polymer is used as the binder medium in acrylic-based cloth color. Fabric paint is made by mixing dye pigments with water. Fabric paint in this medium is the most common because it produces the best results.

 It lasts longer than alcohol-based ink. It adheres to the cloth even after many washes and is resistant to light decay. It’s also easier to add because it doesn’t lose saturation based on the paint’s flow or viscosity.

As a result, it provides a more precise and coherent painting experience. It’s also used in a variety of applicators, including liquid paint, stickers, and mist. As a result, working on your textiles and garments with acrylic-best fabric paint is the best choice.

Differences Between Fabric Paint and Acrylic Paint

  • Versatility

Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint Fabric paint only works on typical surfaces. At the same time, acrylic paints work on both natural and synthetic fabrics. Acrylic paint is known for being more durable than fabric paint due to its wide variety of fabrics.

  • Absorbance

Since acrylic paint isn’t fabric-friendly, it appears to stick to the fabric surface. Fabric paint, however, absorbs deep into the fabric. It is made up of a pigment and an indissoluble material. It helps it adhere to the fabric. If you’re using fabric paint, it’s likely that. The paint has soaked into the fabric and given it the desired color.

  • Fabric Friendly Paint

Fabric paint happens to be fabric-friendly. Because it absorbs into the fabric, while acrylic paint does not. This is because it leaves a stiff, chipped. And the rigid pattern on the surface of your cloth, similar to patterns drawn on paper.

When it comes to working on paper, fabric paints are no substitute for acrylic paints. Since canvases are primed before painting, they have a coating applied to them to improve painting longevity. This layer is impenetrable to any color. 

As a result, cloth colors are no longer suitable for use on canvas. Acrylic paints are sticky and adhere to a prepared canvas’s surface, where they can last for years.

  • Stiffness

Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint Fabric colors, as the name implies, are used on garments. It may be used on a bedsheet, a t-shirt, a hat, a scarf, a curtain, or trousers. The remarkable feature of fabric paint is that it keeps the fabric warm and allows it to be draped easily.

On the other hand, acrylic ink causes the cloth to stiffen and makes it harder to fold/drape. It could work on a t-shirt, but curtains, bedsheets, and carpets would be a complete disaster. Because they are rigid to fold, and forced folding might result in cracks.

  • Drying Ability

Fabric paint and acrylic paint are both easy to dry. On the other hand, fabric paint takes heat to dry, whether it’s from the sun, an iron, or a hairdryer. If not dry, the paint will start to wash away with water. 

Acrylic paint, on the other hand, does not have this problem because it is permanent paint. It dries immediately as soon as you add it to the cloth. As a result, there’s no need to expose it to sunshine or a heat source.

  • Effect of Washing

Fabric paint, for example, should not degrade during regular usage and several items of washing. The color may become slightly distorted after a few years. But there won’t be any structural damage, chipping, or breaking in the pattern because the paint adheres to the cloth completely. Acrylic paints are more likely to wash away from the fabric’s surface even after a single wash.

  • Durability

You may wear dresses that have been made or decorated with fabric paint for a long time without seeing any pattern changes. Acrylic paint is prone to being rigid and chipped. You should be careful when using acrylic paint on clothing because the pattern can begin to chip after a while.

Fabric colors are no substitute for acrylic paints while painting on paper. Fabric paints do not adhere to a canvas and are easily ruined. Acrylics adhere to the canvas immediately after application and stay intact for years.

  • Use of Washing Machine

Fabric paint-coated garments and shoes may be hand-washed. Or machine-washed with any good laundry detergent. And after several items of washing, this would not seriously harm the paint. However, after a long period of use, the style and color can begin to blend.

Acrylic paint can only be washed by hand without the use of a washing machine. So, the heat from the machine can ruin the paint on the clothing and cause it to appear chipped.

  • Permanent

If something goes wrong when painting with fabric paint (for example, a stain), you can easily wipe it away. Before the paint is subjected to heat for drying, this can be achieved with spray. 

Acrylic paint solidifies and becomes permanent almost instantly, and it cannot be dissolved with water. In the unlikely event that you make an error when drawing, it would be difficult to correct.

  • Quality

Fabric paint absorbs more uniformly on fabric, making it ideal for general painting and creating patterns that span a large area. Acrylic paint is becoming more suitable for itemized structures in smaller spaces. In this use, these colors are more striking and brilliant than fabric paints.

Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint – Purpose of Use

Fabric and acrylic paint both have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. They’re often used for a variety of purposes. Fabric paint is typically used on natural materials, such as cotton, linen, silk, and so on, rather than synthetic fabrics. 

When designing clothing that you want to wear yourself, it is preferable to use this type of color. T-shirts and shirts, as well as bedsheets, scarves, and upholstery, are examples.

The comfort level of your clothes will not improve because fabric paint dissolves quickly into the fabric. And after applying fabric paint to your T-shirts and bedsheets, they can remain fluffy and cozy. You will use them daily and wash them nearly every day without the paint chipping or fading away.

Fabric polish is ideal for everyday clothing and shoes since it keeps the garments comfortable. And when you want your clothes to have a full, healthy appearance.

Acrylic paint is vivid and colorful, and it will turn your drab and dark clothing into something new. Anything painted with acrylic paint, on the other hand, would be stiffer, crisper, and less relaxing.

This color is perfect for home decor but not for anything you’ll wear daily. Acrylic paint should be used to paint cushions, table mats, upholstery, curtains, and drapes so they would not be worn or used much. They also don’t have to be washed with each use.

As a result, there are a few minor variations in the finished materials and the purposes for which Fabric and Acrylic paints are used. And only when you’ve used both can you figure out what they are.

Fabric and acrylic paint will be used to make the patterns you choose to wear and use on clothing, shoes, and other fabric pieces. However, you must know when and when to use them. And maybe why, to get the best possible outcomes.


Q: Can I use fabric paint on canvas?
A: Yes, you can use fabric paint on canvas, but keep in mind that it may not produce the same results as acrylic paint. Fabric paint may not offer the desired texture and durability typically associated with acrylic paintings.

Q: Is acrylic paint safe for kids?
A: Water-based acrylic paints are generally safe for kids to use. However, it’s essential to ensure proper ventilation and avoid ingestion or contact with eyes.

Q: Which paint is better for outdoor projects?
A: Both fabric paint and acrylic paint are suitable for outdoor projects. However, fabric paint is specially designed to withstand environmental conditions and may be a more reliable option for outdoor textiles.

Q: Can I mix fabric paint with other paints?
A: It’s not advisable to mix fabric paint with other types of paint, as it may affect the paint’s adhesion and the fabric’s texture. Stick to using fabric paint on fabrics for optimal results.

Q: Can I wash fabric-painted items in a washing machine?
A: Yes, most fabric paints are designed to withstand machine washing after they are heat-set. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Q: Can acrylic paint be used on clothing?
A: Acrylic paint can be used on clothing, but keep in mind that it may result in a stiffer texture compared to fabric paint. For clothing that requires flexibility, fabric paint is the preferred choice.

Fabric Paint vs. Acrylic Paint Wrapping Up

You will get a general understanding of which paint to use on which project. You know how fabric paint relates to acrylic paint and its uses. Think about what you’ll be doing with the drawn item and the amount of comfort you expect from it.

Fabric paint is best if you’re painting your bed sheet, pillowcases, clothing, or curtains. If you’re making wood, canvas, plastic cloth, handbags, or something else, acrylic paint is the way to go.

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