Why is Acrylic Paint So Expensive?

Acrylic paint is one of the primary media to start your art. With mastering the paint, you have no limit to reach. From kids to professionals, acrylic paint has a possible adaption.

Thus, its quality and price differ and matter in different cases. Maybe you might wonder why acrylic paint is so expensive at times or maybe question its validation.

All gets shattered once you use it properly in its definite manner. Before that, you must know about choosing the proper acrylic paint for your budget. Things like waterproofness, toxicity, and adjustability matter significantly in your buying.

Let’s see what makes the paint so expensive. Also, you can explore more about it through some frequently asked questions.

Why is Acrylic Paint So Expensive

How Much Does Acrylic Paint Cost?

If you’re an artist who prefers a high-quality finish and fast drying attributes, then surely acrylic paint is the best choice for you. The ability of acrylic paint to bond to surfaces of all kinds when mixed with additives makes it a perfectly versatile option.

Acrylic paint can come in a thicker form that’ll give you an oil painting effect, or a thinner form, giving an appearance like watercolor.

Certain factors affect the price of acrylic painting. Acrylic costs vary depending on the quantity, the amount of paint in a set, the brand, colors, and the retailer you purchase it from.

In the commercial market, you’ll find two grades of paint quality, both of which are used by different classes of artists. The two grades are artist grade and student grade.

The artist-quality, or professional-quality, has a very high permanence rating. So, they are sold as expensive acrylics. The following grade means the student paints are often sold as less expensive acrylics as they contain less selection of colors.

But most importantly, it’s the price of the pigments that designate the cost of acrylic paint.

Besides, the higher the series number, the more will the acrylic paint cost. Below, I’ve included a table showing you the main difference in acrylic painting prices according to the color consumed.

Approximate Price of Acrylic Paint

Amount of ColorPrice
2-8 Ounce$1-$6
12-90 ml$10-$70
1 Gallon$25-$45

Factors That Set the Price of Acrylic Paint

When you’re going to buy a product, you will have to consider some related factors on which the price of that product depends.

Let’s find out.

Paint Quality

Whenever you try to set the price of acrylic paints, you need to consider the quality first. Acrylic paint has two different grades. One is the artist quality, and the other one is student quality.

The price difference between student grade and artist grade can be huge when it comes to cost. Student grade paints have lower pigment contents and don’t have an extensive range of colors. Because of its poor quality, the price of this grade of acrylic paint is low.

On the other hand, artists’ grade acrylic paintings have a higher concentration of pigments, smoother consistency, better lightfastness, and more vibrancy. Because of these unique qualities, if you want to buy artists’ quality paints, you have to pay a reasonable amount.

Often many artists who are on budget use student-grade paints on the inside and coat a topping with professional quality paint.

It’s alright to start as a newbie with students’ quality paint, but I would highly recommend switching to artists’ quality paints as you start painting more professionally.

Choosing your paint and other art supplies is a good decision depending on the paint quality and not quantity.


Acrylic paints have good longevity. You might be surprised to know that an unopened acrylic painting can last from 10 years to 15 years if the paint is stored correctly. And open acrylics can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

The longevity of acrylic paints mainly depends on the quality of the paints and how well it is stored. And if you think about the longevity of the paintings made of acrylic paints, they can be as permanent as the painting surface.

So, it is quite natural that those paints will last long, and the price of those paints will be higher. I have worked with cheap acrylic paint, and trust me, the finished painting surface appears to be okayish and becomes sticky, making it difficult to work further. Be careful. [source]


One of the most apparent advantages of acrylic paints is their adjustability. They are so versatile and adjustable that they can be used on almost every surface.

Then acrylic paint adjusts on the paint surface very quickly. It dries so fast that it can be painted and transported overnight.

Waterworks a thinner in acrylic paints. They are very flexible as they can be mixed and adjusted with several different textures and features. Even acrylic paints can be adjusted with water.

Final Outcome

The outcome of the acrylic painting means the appearance, painting surface finish, and the paint quality of acrylic paints.

So, what does it look like? Well, acrylic paints produce a smooth and rubbery-look finish.

It’s because acrylic paints are very much flexible. You can create textures like water and paint abstract landscapes.

Oil paintings are one of the most expensive paints. And you are getting oil paintings finish and appearance in acrylic medium. Even the acrylic paintings containing more texture look like oil paintings. Now you’re clear about the importance of quality paint and the extra expense.

So, can you ignore these factors when setting the price? Your answer will be “No.” Cheaper paints require more coats and are less efficient than more expensive paint.

Things to Consider Before Buying Acrylic Paint

You’re standing in the local shop to buy a set of acrylic colors for your painting or art project. All of a sudden, you discover yourself confused between different brands and the tumultuous writings of the labels.

How are you supposed to choose the better-quality paint? Which one is a better brand?

From my painting experience, I have learned some of the significant points to be kept under consideration before consuming acrylic paints.

Without any further ado, let’s jump onto the discussion.

Series Number

When you look for acrylic paint in the local shops, you’ll find paints of different brands with different series numbers.

So, what role does this series number play? In simple words, the lower the series number (“series 1,” for example), the cheaper the paint will be. And as the number increases, the price also gets higher.

Having worked with different types of color, I’ve figured out that serial number is primarily a pricing strategy. But you cannot assume how the quality of the paint will depend on the series number.

Keep experimenting, and don’t settle for any particular brand. Discover other brands and keep your options open.

ASTM Rating

ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a lightfastness standard that should be taken under consideration while selecting a paint.

Lightfastness or permanence refers to the ability of pigment in the paint to resist fading when exposed to light. ASTM classifies the artists’ colors based on a test that simulates 20 years of gallery exposure:

ASTM Permanence Standard

ASTM IExcellent lightfastness
ASTM IIExcellent lightfastness
ASTM IIINot sufficient lightfastness

 I would always recommend choosing ASTM I or II, which means paints with excellent or outstanding colorfastness.


Safety should be an essential consideration while consuming any paint. Acrylic paints are water-based, so they usually don’t contain harmful components.

As I’ve used different quality and brands of acrylic paint, I noticed that most paints containing harmful elements like cadmium, cobalt, manganese, chromium, and lead could leave a subtle smell. They are sold relatively cheaply.

Acrylic paints are generally safe to use. Before buying, always check the labels and go for non-toxic paints. Besides, some paints also contain ingredients like propylene glycol, which is harmful not to the body but the environment.

So be mindful of how you are going to dispose of the paint. The earth colors are the cheaper. But when cadmium is used in acrylic paint, it can cost you up to four times as much.

Nowadays, many brands offer cheaper paints while substituting them with synthetic pigments. And end up having a lower permanence level with lighter colors.


Acrylic paints are slightly water-resistant, but they don’t provide a 100% waterproof coating. Acrylic paints are water-based. So, the water can make the paint thin. This may ruin your whole painting.

The sealer can protect the layer of acrylic paints from water. You need to make the paint waterproof before applying it by adding a sealer such as a varnish over the acrylic paints. Also, prepare the surface before painting to get a better result.

You can’t ignore this drawback of acrylic paint. To make the paints waterproof is a matter of cost. So, you need to consider it before buying it.


Q: Are Acrylic Paints Cheaper Than Oil Paint?

Yes, acrylic paints are cheaper than oil paint because oil paints have a good quality of pigments, richer depth of color, glossier look, durability, longevity, use, and importance of the paintings.

Moreover, oil paintings stay wet for a long time than acrylics. So you can take your time. But you won’t get this chance from acrylic paintings.

Again, oil paintings are expensive because of their high loaded concentration of pigments. Generally, the highest quality oil paintings contain 75% of pigments.

These unique qualities make oil paintings way more expensive than acrylic paintings.

Read Also: Difference Between Oil and Acrylic Paint

Q: What is Unique About Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paints are unique because of their versatile uses. You can use acrylic paints on almost every surface like cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, wood, and stone besides canvas.

Besides, acrylic is water-based. So, you don’t have to use any thinner or turpentine to make the color thin.

Even acrylic paints are very much flexible. You can mix them with several different textures and features.

Furthermore, when the acrylic paints dry, it becomes water-resistant.

Finally, these paints are non-toxic, solvent-free, low odor, and non-flammable. These features make acrylic paint special.

Can you make your acrylic paint?

Yes, you can make your acrylic paint. To do this, you need to follow some steps-

Step 1: Take a liquid base like water or alcohol on the glass surface and add pigments to the water or alcohol. You need to grind the pigments properly before mixing them. 50/50 is the recommended mixture ratio of water and pigments.

Step 2:  You can use a medium to mix the mixture properly to get the desired surface finish. You can choose your medium according to your requirements.

Step 3: Finally, your paints are ready, and you can store them in any tube, bottle, or container.

Q: Are Acrylic Paints Better Than Oil Paints?

If you compare two things, you need to compare them in the same parameter. Let me clear this point with some examples.

First of all, if you count which paint is less expensive, and has less drying time, then surely acrylic paints are better than oil paints because acrylic paint dries faster than oil paints and produces an almost similar look to oil paints.

But if you count which paint has richer color depth, longevity, good quality of pigments, and better flexibility, you have to go for oil paints. In these parameters, oil paints are way better than acrylic paints.

Final Words

Acrylic paint, in its use, sets the perfect value for money. It is not apparent to buy the best acrylic paint always. You might not even need them at times.

Instead, go for the one that meets your needs. It might be decent compared to the most expensive one.

But never compromise in getting the right one at the correct number. If your material is good at first, your next steps will be nailed and perfectioned suitably.

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Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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