Acrylic Pouring Medium Guide

This page contains affiliate links, As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (with no extra cost to you). Learn more

Acrylic pouring has become a popular art form used by beginner and professional artists, alike. This is a type of painting where acrylics are mixed with a pouring medium to decrease the viscosity and are poured out onto a canvas. 

Acrylic Pouring Medium Guide

What does pouring medium do to acrylic paint?

To get a high-quality acrylic pour, make sure to use a quality pouring medium. It will improves the flow of the acrylics so you don’t end up with just a blob of paint on the surface of your canvas. A quality medium also decreases viscosity while keeping the paint colors rich. 

In addition, pouring medium makes the paints dry more slowly, allowing more time for your pouring techniques. You can experiment with different methods and, when you’re done, the painting will dry smoothly, instead of getting cracks on the surface from drying too quickly.

Do I have to use pouring medium for acrylic pour painting?

Yes, without a doubt. Acrylic pouring mediums give the artist a high-quality painting. Acrylic paints are not thin enough, themselves, to be used for pour painting techniques. The paint alone will not move on the canvas or other surface.

Adding water will decrease the quality of the paint too much, so a pouring medium is truly the best option. The paint will keep its consistency and colors when the medium is used. It will also prevents cracking and crazing, which is caused by the paints drying too quickly. 

Can I just use water? 

It can be tempting to add water to your acrylics for ease or cost, but the best pouring techniques will result from using a professional pouring medium.

Why not using water for acrylic pour painting?

  1. Acrylic paints dry quickly, and water does not slow down the time to dry.
  2. Water will also cause you to lose the brilliance in your colors, by watering them down.
  3. It dilutes the binders so the paints will not hold to the painting surfaces as well.
  4. Acrylic paint also does not mix completely with water, meaning your colors will appear inconsistent, as well. No artist wants that!
PRO TIP: If you want to use a lower-cost option, Elmer's glue is effective as a pouring medium. The colors will not be diluted and the paint will still stick to many surfaces. The adhesive in the glue acts as a binder so the colors stick to the painting ground, while the lower thickness of the glue is successful at thinning the acrylic paints to the right consistency.

Are pouring mediums all the same? 

There are many differences from one pouring medium to another. Of course, you would like to use the best pouring mediums for your paintings, but some of the properties of these mediums will depend on the effect you want.

Consistency, surface hardness, and color protection are pretty objective. You will want your paints to be consistent and surface area to be as hard as possible. You will also want your colors to remain bright and vibrant, so color protection is important as well

Pouring medium effects and features

Pouring medium effects and features

Different mediums will provide different effects, so it is really up to you, as the artist. You may want different looks for your gloss level. Some artists really appreciate the matte finish, while others love the gloss. You may even want to use a different finish on different products.

You also may have a deadline and want to finish your painting within a day or two. If so, you will want a faster drying medium, since some can take weeks to dry. 

More about different types in my related post: What is Acrylic Medium?

Let’s get started and name some key effects and features you want to have and may want to apply to your pour painting.

Consistency

You will certainly want to use paints and a pouring medium that are balanced for a runny, but not watery consistency. If your paints are thinner, you will need to use a pouring medium with higher viscosity. Meanwhile, if you are using thicker acrylics, a very thin medium works just fine. 

If your paint is thick, and you choose a heavy medium, it may still be too thick to flow across your painting. If your medium and paint are both too thin, you may end up with a total mess.

NOTE: You should be familiar with both your acrylic paints and your pouring medium to choose the best-weighted mediums for your project and to pair with your paint.

Gloss Level

A gloss finish is the most popular finish for fluid painting, however some artists like the matte look. Gloss can be added to many pouring mediums to accomplish this look. You could also seal your painting after it is complete.

The gloss finish will bring a new dimension to the color in your paints, as well. If you do prefer the matte look, Floetrol or Decoart will be good choices for you.

Surface Hardness

Make sure to use a medium that dries very hard. You don’t want to leave your canvas sticky and soft. If the paint remains sticky, it will attract dust and other particles. Be sure to find the pouring medium with the hardest dry surface that you can find.  

Color Protection - acrylic mediums

Color Protection

Over time, UV lights can deplete the color of acrylic paint. Some pouring mediums have additives to combat this problem. Another way your colors could be damaged is with high acidity in your pouring medium. This is common with homemade glue mediums, due to the high acidic content of craft glues.

NOTE: If you are just experimenting with paint pours as a hobby, glue mediums will work just fine. If you are planning to sell your paintings or have them hung for some time, it is worth the investment for a higher quality medium. 

Drying Time

Different pouring mediums have drastically different times to dry. Some only need overnight, while others can take upwards of a week. I know many artists tend to procrastinate, so if you need a medium that will dry quickly, overnight or within 24 hours, know they are out there.

You can shop around and choose the medium that works best for you. Mixing mediums is another option to achieve the properties best for your acrylic pouring project.

Which are Best Pouring Mediums?

Floetrol Pouring Medium for Acrylic Paint

[amazon box=”B07FNZ8QGD” template=”horizontal”]

Floetrol is a thinner medium for water-based paints and can help create large cells in your art. It was not created as a special pouring medium, but rather a home improvement paint thinner. You will find Floetrol more affordable than an “art” product. It will keep your paint colors from muddying and will clean up easily with soap and water. Also, air bubbles rarely form in this medium.  

PROS

  • Great for creating cells in your art
  • Great for extending and leveling paint

Cons

  • Floetrol can form lumps, so your consistency may suffer unless you filter the medium before adding it to your acrylics.
  • It also has a matte finish, so you may get an inconsistent finish if some of your paints have a glossy finish. This can be remedied with a quick varnish, though.

Liquitex Professional pouring medium (gallon)

[amazon box=”B001US0L8W” template=”horizontal”]

Liquitex pouring medium is a professional artist quality acrylic pouring medium. It provides a beautiful gloss finish. It also creates good large cells, while keeping the color vibrant. Air bubbles are not an issue with Liquitex pouring medium, either.

PROS

  • With Liques puddles will be even
  • Without transparency when mixed with color
  • No bubbles or cracks
  • Gloss will stay when dried completely

Cons

  • Liquitex is difficult to clean up. It is wise to wear gloves when using this product in your acrylic pouring.

Elmer’s Liquid Glue (or 3 PVA glue)

[amazon box=”B002FTOBZE” template=”horizontal”]

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a basic DIY glue pouring medium. Most artists have a bottle of this glue on hand, somewhere in their craft room. Mixing Elmer’s or PVA glue with acrylic paint can create a low-cost option for acrylic pouring.

NOTE: It is the best affordable medium for fluid art. This is great for beginners, just experimenting with flow paintings.  It is fine for hobby art but on the other hand, any professional artist should invest in actual pouring mediums. 

Pros

  • budget-friendly
  • great for beginners to experiment with acrylic pouring

Cons

  • This glue tends to be more acidic than a dedicated acrylic pouring medium. Because of this, your painting will not have an archival quality. The acrylic paints will be broken down by the acid of the glue over time.

Decoart pouring medium

[amazon box=”B07BL6CPF1″ template=”horizontal”]

If you want a good pouring medium, without the professional price tag, Decoart is a quality option for a moderate budget. Decoart has great consistency when added to acrylic paints. This medium works well for artists of all skill levels, as it is simple to use, and it keeps the color-rich. 

PROS

  • Great value for money
  • Offers above-average consistency
  • colors will stay rich and it’s easy to use

Cons

  • Decoart pouring medium, like Floetrol, tends to have a matte finish. You can mix this with another pouring medium or additives to create a gloss finish. 

PRO TIP: for some projects and some acrylic paints Decoart can be a bit muddy and with the uneven flow. You can mix it with Floetrol to achieve the best results and avoid this problem.

Can I make my own acrylic pouring medium?

Absolutely! Here is a pouring medium recipe that can lower your cost without sacrificing much quality.

To make this acrylic flow medium, you need: 

1 part Floetrol, 1 part Liquitex pouring medium, and 1 part Acrylic Paint. 

Mix all three items together. 

You want to stir and mix the Floetrol, Liquitex, and acrylic paint until they have reached a good pouring consistency. Be careful to use the right ratio of pouring medium to your Floetrol and acrylic paint.

Filter the acrylic pouring medium

Because Floetrol can develop chunks, it’s a good idea to filter this pouring medium before use. You can do this by forcing the medium through woven cloth. 

NOTE: With any pouring medium recipe, be sure not to add too much water, if you are adding any. You want your acrylic flow art to look great. 

How much pouring medium should I use?

You’ll want the acrylic medium to bring your paint to a good pouring consistency. A common rule of thumb is to use 1 part paint to 3 parts pouring medium. 

Remember this is art, and experimenting is the best way to find out what materials are for you. With that in mind, know that the higher quality your pouring medium is, the better your picture will look. 

Liquitex is a top of the line option, for serious professional artists. Floetrol or Decoart are the best mid-budget options. They offer good properties with a fair price. Basic craft glue can be used in a pinch, but will not maintain the quality of your picture.

NOTE: You should never use water though. Invest in a medium that ensures your work will be high quality.

How to create an acrylic pouring painting

There are several steps, when creating Acrylic pouring painting involved.

Step 1: Choose your painting surface

Acrylic paints bind well to many surfaces, so pick whatever items you’d like to try the acrylic pouring on. 

acrylic pouring on wood
Check my related posts: Can you use acrylic paint on wood, metal, plastic and Styrofoam?

Step 2: Choose the colors and acrylic pouring medium(s) you want to try

There are several types of mediums, with many different effects. The most important property is that the medium thins your acrylic paints to a good pouring consistency, without forfeiting the binding quality or the strength of your pigment.

I will discuss some of the different effects you can create in your painting in a moment. 

Step 3: Mix Acrylic paint with medium

Mix acrylic paints with a fluid medium, to your desired consistency. Thiner mediums are more suitable with Paints who have thicker consistently. On the other hand thicker mediums should be used with thinner consistency paints.

Step 4: Apply the paint mixture to your canvas or other painting surface

You can put the paint into a container, then flip it onto your painting surface or pour the acrylic mixture in a freehand form. 

Step 5: Allow your painting to dry completely

Allow plenty of drying time. Although acrylic paints take less time to dry than many other paints, the fluid mediums will lengthen the time it takes to dry. Allow ample time for drying to avoid sticky or damaged paintings.

Read more: How to dry Acrylic paint?

I hope you manage to learn something new regarding best pouring practices. Hopfully your paint pouring will be full of joy, stressless emotions and excitement.

Read next: