You just started painting with acrylic paint and discovered that the paint is thin. The end effect is a runny blob of paint, regardless of how many layers of paint you apply to your painting. Your first instinct is to throw out the paint, but before you do, how about attempting to thicken the acrylic paint? While you might be tempted to mix some standard household products into your paint, there are a few things to consider. In this article, we will talk about how to thicken acrylic paint.

What Exactly Is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion, plasticizers, silicone oils, defoamers, stabilizers, and metal soaps. Most acrylic paints are water-based but dry water-resistant. The completed acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor, gouache, or oil paint depending on how much the paint is diluted with water or manipulated using acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, or it might have its own particular features that other media cannot replicate.

Latex house paints are water-based acrylic paints since latex is the scientific name for a polymer microparticle suspension in water. Interior latex house paints are normally composed of a binder (which might be acrylic, vinyl, PVA, or another substance), filler, pigment, and water. Exterior latex house paints may also be a co-polymer blend, although the best exterior water-based paints are 100% acrylic, owing to their flexibility and other characteristics. On the other hand, vinyl is half the price of 100% acrylic resins, and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) is even less, so paint companies make many combinations of them to match the market.

Why Is Acrylic Paint So Special?

Artists, house renovators, schoolchildren, and students all use acrylic paint because it is so adaptable. The paint may be used on canvas, paper, walls, doors, cabinets, and a variety of other surfaces. So, why do certain painters like acrylic paint?

You Only Need A Few Simple Tools

To get started with acrylics, you just need four simple tools: the paint itself, a brush, a cup of water, and a surface. Tauchid suggests investing the most money in your paints—the greater the grade of your acrylics, the more pigment they’ll have. Good support is also an important part of your artwork. She suggests that you don’t use too many brushes and that you use ones with synthetic bristles rather than raw animal hairs. The choice has little to do with morality; synthetic bristles simply absorb more acrylic paint.

You Can Control Its Consistency And Texture

One of the most important characteristics of acrylics is their malleability. Acrylics may take on the attributes of other paints if a medium (an additive that thins or thickens your substance) is used. You may also add media to your acrylics to make them crackle, glitter, or dry faster.

Suppose you’re a painter who is new to acrylics but is experienced with another medium, such as watercolors. In that case, utilizing media might be a useful approach to adjust to the behaviors of acrylic paint. You may change the appearance and behavior of the paint by experimenting with different media. 

Acrylics Allow You To Paint Anywhere

Acrylics are an excellent alternative if your budget does not allow for a ventilated studio area or if you just want to paint in your kitchen or living room. Because they are water-based, “there is less in there that emits gases, and you don’t have to use solvents with them.” While you may be tempted to scrape oil paints off your hands to avoid discomfort, acrylics are gentler on the skin. Acrylic paints are popular in schools for a variety of reasons, including their low cost and safety.

Acrylics Dry Rapidly, Allowing You To Layer Colors Swiftly

You may apply a layer of acrylic paint, which will be dry enough to apply another layer in a few hours. Its matte finish and quick drying time allowed him to quickly overlay vivid colors without muddying them. Because you can build colors on top of one another so rapidly, you can even complete a glazing method quickly. “You can make lovely glazed surfaces where the color and texture are built up through successive layers; you can have the look of an Old Master painting in a fraction of the time it would take to do that with oil paints.”

Your Paintings Can Become Sculptural

Acrylics’ capacity to take on three-dimensional shapes is another flexible feature. Acrylic may be peeled off a nonstick surface and utilized as a soft sculpting material, taking it beyond the domain of paint and into the realms of sculpture and collage. Although the concept of the paint becoming a sculpture may seem far-fetched, many painters employ acrylics particularly to construct vast volumes of sculptural texture on their surfaces.

Does Thickening The Paint Worth It?

When it comes to their painting, artists will attempt almost everything. We are also, should we say, inexpensive. This prompts us to come up with a slew of solutions to problems with our materials. Attempting to thicken acrylics is no different.

It may make sense for the thrifty artist to employ a common home substance renowned for thickening things. Corn starch and flour are two common examples. After all, they work great for thickening sauces, don’t they?

While such things may appear to be ingenious paint hacks at the time, we must consider the long-term consequences. The key worry here is the influence on the paint’s lifespan. These tricks may be effective now, but you want your painting to last for a long time. Introducing an unknown ingredient will risk your paint’s preservation properties.

You should also consider the workability of your paint with these non-traditional additions. Artist paints are produced with a certain formula, and part of that formula dictates how well acrylics combine with water.

Even if you’re attempting to thicken the paint, it’s conceivable that you’ll want to thin it or put a wash on top of it at times. Adding water to an acrylic containing cornstarch or flour may produce an ugly, slimy slurry that is unpleasant to deal with.

What Can Materials Be Used To Thicken Acrylic Paint?

There are two methods for thickening acrylic paint. They are the time-honored techniques that painters have used for many years. The first approach involves adding a small amount of modeling clay, while the second involves adding some acrylic gel medium.

1 Using Modeling Paste

You might be interested in learning how to thicken your paint with modeling paste. For those procedures, you’ll need a palette knife. Apply the paste directly to the surface using the palette knife to disperse it from the tube or tub. Modeling paste is too thick to apply directly to a surface such as a canvas and works best when applied to a harder board. If you wish to paint on a canvas, I recommend incorporating the paste into your paint for the best effects.

The first step is combining all ingredients in a mixing dish. Thicker pastes require more paste, so just add a small amount at a time and thoroughly mix after each addition. Remember that the dried color may not be the same because the modeling paste is white and may dull the color’s brilliance.

Use a palette knife or an art brush with stiff or firm bristles, depending on whether you are applying plain modeling paste or textured paint. You can get those textured lines using this, whether they are smooth or not. From a birds-eye perspective, the palette knife is best if you want to make those peaks with sharp edges that resemble dunes in the desert. Add a few blocks of modeling paste, then swiftly press your palette knife into the glob and lift it in a staccato manner. These magnificent textures are the result of this.

Any errors that could occur can be readily corrected by removing the paste. The palette knife you used to make your designs may also be used to scrape it off. It will be simpler if you try to remove the paste before it dries; in dry, hot temperatures, this can happen more quickly; in humid, damp, or cold climates, this can happen more slowly.

There are one or two extra stages to complete the procedure if you put the modeling paste straight onto the board you are painting on.

The paste must first be applied and molded into the appropriate designs before being allowed to dry. Before the paste dries, make sure to fix any mistakes you make; otherwise, only sandpaper will be able to remove them. When your design is finished, you may use acrylic paint to cover it. This technique aids in preserving the color brightness of the paint while hardly dampening it.

2 Using Acrylic Gel Medium

A palette knife is required for applying the acrylic gel media, much like it would for modeling paste. The acrylic gel medium may be used in the same way as modeling paste by painting with it, drawing patterns directly on the canvas or board you are painting on, and then painting over the dried acrylic gel medium. Alternatively, you can mix it with paint and use the thickened paint to paint.

If you choose the second choice, you simply need to use a small amount of acrylic gel medium. When too much is added all at once, the mixture may clump together, and blending those lumps into the required smooth yet thick consistency may be challenging. Using various tools, you may use the gel to create various textures and patterns. You might use an ice cream stick instead of a palette knife to create the same sharp edges, peaks, and rough-textured grooves.

3 Using Gesso

The two previous examples may be accomplished similarly by gradually blending small quantities of Gesso into the paint until you get the appropriate consistency. After achieving the ideal consistency, you can have some fun experimenting with the patterns that the thicker paint may produce.

Thickening Acrylic Paint At Home

There are a few other choices available in addition to the items indicated above for thickening acrylic paint. The majority of choices may be found in your house. Let’s examine how to utilize each of these homemade acrylic paint thickeners.

DIY Joint Compound Thickener

It can come as a surprise to you to learn that you have always had this material in your garage supplies. It is worth a try to take a look because this is surprisingly common in most houses and works well as a thickening for acrylic paint.

The only drawback to this choice is that because it dries hard and brittle, paint is more likely to split.

DIY Joint Compound Thickener

It can come as a surprise to you to learn that you have always had this material in your garage supplies. It is worth a try to take a look because this is surprisingly common in most houses and works well as a thickening for acrylic paint.

The only drawback to this choice is that because it dries hard and brittle, paint is more likely to split.

  • Get a mixing container ready.
  • Talcum powder and PVA glue are combined to create a paste by adding a small amount of each.
  • Depending on how thick you want your paste to be, adjust the amount of talcum powder you add.
  • Before you start painting, make sure the powder and paint are combined equally.

DIY Thickener Made of Corn Starch and Flour

Another common DIY method for thickening acrylic paint that can be found online is using cornstarch or flour as a thickener. The technique is the best choice for anyone looking for a quick way to thicken acrylic medium. This home cure would have a similar impact as thickening acrylic paint with gel. The cornstarch and flour approach is inexpensive and plant-based, but there are also some drawbacks.

Since cornstarch is made from plants, there is a good chance that the paintings you created with the thickened paint may begin to develop mildew on their surface. Therefore, even if the paint thickening is environmentally friendly, it could not be the best option for the long run, or you might need to apply a transparent sealer over the painting after it is finished. This could stop the growth of mildew. Another drawback of this technique is the mushy appearance it gives the paint, which can make color mixing considerably trickier. These homemade thickening pastes could also have an impact on the acrylic paints’ water resistance qualities, which are also a feature of some acrylic paints.

Acrylic thickeners can be made from flour or cornstarch. But you’ll have to do it at your own peril. You might want to hold off on giving any paintings you create as you experiment with thickening your paint using cornstarch or flour. This is the case until you have tried combining those two substances a little.

Using Flour Or Cornstarch To Thicken Acrylic Paint

We’ll now guide you through the procedure for generating your acrylic paint thickening paste using the cornstarch approach. Make sure you thoroughly read the directions before you begin, and gather all the required tools close to your workstation.

  • Cornstarch and water are added to a saucepan, the heat is turned on, and the mixture is allowed to thicken into a paste.
  • Stir often until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Include extra cornstarch if necessary.
  • Allow the paste to cool entirely after removing it from the heat until you are pleased with the thickness.
  • You can add tiny quantities of the mixture to paint when it has cooled, thoroughly stirring after each addition.
  • If there are any leftovers, put them away in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

Video On How To Thicken Acrylic Paint?


There are important elements that can help you do that using items you can find in most houses, so you don’t have to go out and get the most costly acrylic paint or expensive thickening agents. Both methods will impress you as long as those elements are remembered and accepted. The color and texture of the paint could differ, but as long as those characteristics are recalled and accepted, any approach will work.


You are free to do this in any way you choose. The consistency of the paint will depend on the type of artwork you produce; for example, if you want a light watercolor look, you’ll need thinner paint, but if you want an oil paint effect, you’ll need much thicker paint.


How you’ve been keeping the paint will determine this. You must ensure sure the lid is well fastened and that the paint is maintained at a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. This problem is additionally highlighted by the fact that certain paints are less expensive than others and thus more watery than the other brands.

The pigment, binder, and all other components may have settled to the bottom of the paint bottle or tub if you discover that paint you haven’t used in a while has gotten a tiny bit too runny. All that has to be done to fix this is to securely fasten the lid and shake the bottle until everything is well combined. The texture should return to its previous state of being creamy.

In a dry, hot atmosphere, acrylic paint dries more quickly. If you do not reside in that climate, we advise you to work indoors and turn on a heater to increase the temperature of the space where you are doing so. You can test out a dehumidifier if you are in a humid atmosphere.

Choosing an acrylic thickener is best done through trial and error. Examine various pastes and gels to observe how they impact the finish and consistency of your paint.


Many homemade techniques for thickening acrylic paints can shorten the paint’s shelf life or result in discoloration over time. While you could be tempted to thicken your paint using household goods, it’s preferable to choose a product made with your objective in mind.

Acrylic gel thickens your paint and contributes to its glob-like appearance on your canvas.



Feature Image by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *