How long does acrylic painting last?

By Mandy Moss

I’m going to be sharing my insight into how long do acrylic painting last and things you might want to look out for when trying to determine if a picture has gone bad. 

How long does acrylic painting last?

Acrylic paintings have been introduced to the world a little bit less than a century ago so we don’t have exact data yet. Due to the composition found inside acrylic paint, we could tell they will last longer than oil paintings which we know have been around us for more than 500 years.

Let’s take a closer look and learn all about acrylic paint life and how do we make it last longer.

How Long Do Acrylic Painting Last?

As long as you store paintings appropriately, they can last for centuries

Since the medium of acrylic painting has only been around 70 years give or take, art historians and preservationists haven’t had the required time to inspect an acrylic piece after a century.

However, it is safe to say that acrylic paintings should also last for centuries due to the composition found in acrylic paintings. They are not water-soluble and, once dried, become very tough pieces that can withstand wear and tear. 

Does Acrylic Painting Last Longer Than Oil?

It is essential to point out that oil paintings have been around for more than 500 years, becoming a popular paint medium much earlier than acrylic. Because acrylics are hardier pieces, it is speculated that acrylic paintings may outlast oil paintings twice over! 

The main reason for this speculation is because acrylics are not water-soluble, unlike oils.  An oil painting may easily become defaced after being in existence for 200 years because it gets rained on in a dusty attic somewhere or because a drink gets spilled on it. 

That is not so with acrylics – rain, spilled drinks, and any other water-related mistakes will not deface acrylic painting! 

How Can You Tell If A Painting Has Gone Bad?

So, how do acrylics stand up to the four most common problems that ruin typical painting mediums?  Let’s look over each common problem and see how acrylics stack up! 


Acrylic paintings win this common problem as they are much less prone to cracking than oil paintings! Due to the polymerization of the acrylic paint, paintings have the help of elasticity found with this paint type that reduces cracking to where it is uncommon for them to crack. 

While acrylics may not crack as easily as oil paintings, they are heat sensitive – making the fact they crack less a small victory.  At 140 degrees Fahrenheit, acrylic paintings begin to soften and become pliable.  Keeping this paint medium away from such heat is essential for an acrylic painting to stay in pristine condition!

How to fix cracked acrylic painting in my related blog posts.


When it comes to yellowing, a typical problem with most paint mediums as they age, acrylic paintings genuinely shine. They do not yellow very quickly and, when put against oil paintings, seem to yellow at a much slower rate!  Therefore, yellowing is not a common problem for acrylic paintings. 

acrylic painting peeling


While acrylic paintings may win over oil by not generally yellowing, they do tend to peel. 

When it comes to peeling, it depends how canvas was prepared for painting and what backing was used by the artist. Plexiglass, plastic, and even regular glass are not the best backings for acrylic paint because it has little to adhere to as it dries. 

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Even some canvas backings, such as canvases that were varnished before beginning the painting, can be poor choices making acrylic paint more likely to peel or “lift” as many in the art community call this process.  Acrylic paintings are much less likely to peel or lift when painted on porous, primed canvases and backings. 

Color Fading 

Color fading is a common problem with most mediums of paint. Acrylic paint is no exception and it does fade, but it comes down to the colors the artist chose to use when selecting the acrylic paints.

Some paint films are ultra brilliant, and some are more subtle and faded. It also comes down to the question – How quality paints are used on the canvas?

No matter the paint quality or lightfastness, though, you should keep an acrylic painting out of direct sunlight just as you would with any other piece of art! 


A common problem with acrylic paintings is that they can become moldy. Unfortunately, artists have not found a way to get around this molding problem successfully. Acrylic art collectors, painters, and dealers are aware of this unfortunate problem and have found that the best way to protect a painting from this downfall with proper care, which is detailed below. 

How Do You Make A Painting Last Longer? 

Keeping a piece of art in good shape throughout its lifetime is no easy task – humidity, temperature, oxidation processes, ultraviolet light, and dust all contribute to wearing a painting down.  It is a chemical process we want to slow down as much as possible.

  • By start you could seal your painting – at least those, who you want to preserve and keep in best possible shape for generations to come. Varnish or sealant does not have to be glossy – it also comes in matte and satin finishes, making it easier to find a finish that best suits the paint medium and look you desire for the finished piece of art.

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  • Keeping your painting out of direct sunlight and ultraviolet light is crucial for a long-lasting piece. 
  • You also should pay attention to the humidity and temperature of the rooms your paintings are held in.  Most galleries and art collectors keep the humidity at levels between 40-60%, and it is best not to go further than a 20% difference. 
  • As far as temperature is concerned, this varies due to specific art mediums, but the general rule of thumb is typically 70-75 degrees. Again, it is best not to change either of these ranges more than 20% over or under, as warping or other damage may occur. 
  • Even with a painting medium such as acrylic, keeping water and rain off paintings will also help stave off mold and mildew. This is important to remember, especially since acrylic paintings tend to develop molding to some degree eventually! 

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