How to mix enamel & acrylic paint

Written by eve frost
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How to mix enamel & acrylic paint
(red acrylic image by Andrew Brown from

Acrylic paint comes in many different colours. When it is used it has a flat (non glossy) finish after it dries. It can be mixed with water to create a muted version of your colour. If you are interested in mixing it with enamel, this will create a shiny version of the acrylic colour you choose. It will take longer to dry so do not drive the car, or use whatever it is you are painting, until it dries completely. Enamel makes your paint finish glossy and easy to clean.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Enamel paint
  • Acrylic paint
  • Bucket
  • Stir stick
  • Painting supplies/ paint gun
  • Sander (optional)
  • Protective mask
  • Protective eye wear

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  1. 1

    Be certain that you are purchasing true enamel paint and not lacquer paint. Read all labels carefully when purchasing the enamel paint. Do not ever mix lacquer paint with acrylic because this will create a harmful, toxic chemical reaction. Read instructions before mixing products.

  2. 2

    Work in a well-ventilated area, like a garage or basement, that you can air out. Secure babies and animals, and do not forget to open or crack a window when working with enamel, because some products can have very intense fumes.

  3. 3

    Wash the surface you will be painting, then dry it off completely. If needed, sand the surface and then wash to remove all debris. Be sure your surface is completely dry before adding your paint mixture.

  4. 4

    Use mixing ratios to create the custom look you want. For a standard gloss, you will use an eight to one ratio. For vehicles, use this guide if you will be adding a reducer: (see link in Resources). Use eight parts acrylic and one part enamel. Use a little more enamel if you want extra shine, but keep in mind that enamel will "bubble" up when it is layered, so do not use too much unless this is your desired effect.

  5. 5

    Achieve this ratio by counting to eight as you pour your acrylic into a bucket, or use a large measuring cup. Count to one as you pour the enamel into the same container. Wear protective eye wear and a face mask before pouring. Pour slowly as you mix to prevent splatters. Load your paint gun if you will be using one at this time.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use any of this leftover mixture on home accessories, like a chair or a wooden step stool. Do not save the unused portion; instead, try to use it on items that could benefit from an acrylic "facelift."
  • Consult with your doctor if you have asthma before attempting this. You may not want to work with these chemicals if there is a possibility of an asthma attack. Never work with these paints in 80-degree weather or higher.

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