Ways To Thicken Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is probably the best type of paint that you can give to any newcomer. It is so versatile and eye-catching that it works brilliantly on all sorts of materials and projects. The texture and fast-drying action help too. However, there will be times when you find that your acrylic paint is runnier than you intended it to be. This could be for a few different reasons. So, what can you do to make your acrylic paint thick enough for your needs?

Below we will look at some of the different reasons for wanting to thicken paint, from dealing with thinner products to impasto work, and the potential benefits of both shop-bought solutions and some home remedies. Hopefully, one of these options will turn out to be the perfect solution for your next painting project.

How To Thicken Up Acrylic Paint

The good news for those that aren’t happy with the consistency of their acrylic paint is that there are plenty of options available depending on your project. For example, you can thicken basic paints with household ingredients for your general paintings. Or you can get a specialist paint thickener for impasto and more professional pieces. These impasto mediums also come in a range of styles with some interesting effects. It may take a little experimentation to get the consistency you were looking for, but it is worth the effort.

How To Thicken Acrylic Craft Paint?

Let’s start with some of the more general issues of thickening acrylic paint. Sometimes the paint is far too thin and watery to get the opaque blocks of color we want in our work. They end up more like vibrant watercolor. A common mistake is that we add too much water. Many artists that love to work with acrylic will work as dry and possible and make sure to avoid using wet brushes with the paint. But mistakes can happen when washing off a previous color. Also, inexperienced painters may not yet have the best techniques. With a good thick paint, you should be fine by simply adding more paint from the tube to counteract the wetness.

Should You Get “Better” Acrylic Paint?

This issue of runny acrylic can happen a lot with cheaper paints. There is nothing wrong with cutting costs with affordable craft paint when playing around with ideas. But you still want the right thickness. There are two choices here. The first is to go for a different brand of paint. If you have the budget to upgrade your materials, then this might not be a bad idea – especially if you have big goals or an important final canvas piece in mind.

A tube of own-brand acrylic paint from cheaper craft stores has its purpose for playing around with arts and craft projects when you don’t want to spend a fortune. Children’s and beginners sets are better off starting this way. But, big-name brands do tend to be a little denser with less water content. A quick switch could be all you need. If you aren’t keen on paying out for more expensive paint, there is an affordable alternative.

Thickening Acrylic with Household Products

The best approach here could be to get hold of an appropriate household ingredient, create a thick paste with water, and add that to the paint. The paste should mix in with the watery paint without getting grainy or losing its color so that you have something with the right texture for your work. Preferred methods can vary from artist to artist, and you may find some weird idea in online blogs and forum.

Can You Use Corn Flour to Thicken Acrylic Paint?

Corn flour, or corn starch, is a great option for learning how to thicken acrylic paint because it is so easy to use and accessible. It is much like making up the liquid to thicken sauces or soups when cooking. There, you mix the powder with a little water to create a paste, add that to your mixture, and watch it thicken as you stir. You should be able to get the same effect with paint.

Experimenting With Different Household Ingredients

If you don’t have corn flour, water, and regular flour may work. However, this could get a little messier as this is also a method for making wallpaper paste. There are also reports online from those that use talc. Depending on the scent, this might work nicely. It is a good idea to make notes in an art journal, or alongside your studies, of the thickening agent used in different projects. This could help you decide on the best approach in the future.

How To Thicken Acrylic Paint for Dotting

Dotting is a growing trend in painting because of the beautiful patterns you can get and the therapeutic nature of creating the dots one by one into those pretty patterns and mandalas. However, it takes skill to create the more intricate patterns with circles within circles. It also requires the right consistency of acrylic paint. If the paint is too thin, the watery substance can spread and not hold the glossy circular dot that you want. But, if it is too thick, you might get too much of a stiff peak on each dot, which can make it harder to overlay other colors.

This is where it helps to play around with those home remedies for thickening acrylic. Create the best recipe for the paint you have to get the look you are after. Once successful you should find it easier to create more vibrant and intricate patterns with ease. Also, don’t get too frustrated if a dot painting tutorial method for thickening acrylic doesn’t work for you. It could be down to a difference in the brand of paint.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Impasto Work?

Impasto work is a popular technique with oil paints where you create really thick paint, apply it to the canvas or board with a tool like a palette knife, and then create areas with an interesting texture. The best impasto artists can make really tactile pieces with great depth, such as seascapes with thick white seafoam. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same with acrylic paint if the material is thick enough. However, the methods above with the simple household materials may not be enough here.

How To Thicken Acrylic Paint for Impasto

The best approach for acrylic impasto paintings is to get a store-bought thickener. These gels and pastes are specifically designed to go in acrylic paint and get that denser consistency. There should be no negative effect on the paint, such as graininess, discoloration, or odor because they have that specific purpose. These could be an issue when dealing with other household materials that weren’t designed to go with paint.

A good tube of acrylic thickener will improve the feel of the paint and, with enough of it, you should get a suitable thickness for impasto work. The other benefit of using something made for this purpose is that you can add in additional ingredients without working about any negative reactions.

What Types of Acrylic Mediums Can You Get?

It is worth taking the time to look at the range of products available, especially from brands you already like and trust. Many will have a choice of styles that can have an impact on your work. For example, there are some great gel acrylic mediums that thicken acrylic really well, but you have a choice of finish. Matte finish mediums can stop an acrylic painting from getting too shiny while the gloss finish medium makes them shinier. You may also want to play with molding paste for a more intense way to add relief work to acrylic paintings, or texture gels that mimic glass beads and other effects.

Can You Use Oil Impasto Mediums on Acrylic Paint?

It is not a good idea to use oil impasto mediums to thicken acrylic paint because it is formulated for oil-based products and not water-based acrylic paint. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a good acrylic impasto medium either in stores or online from a respected brand. They may not be cheap, but they are worth it to get the effect you want on important work.


To summarize, there are different options depending on the type of painting you are working on, the effect you want, and your budget. Some of the home-remedy approaches to thickening acrylic paint are great for a lot of paintings, especially when dot painting or just working with a cheaper brand. But there are times when it pays to get a specialist acrylic thickener for your paint. These can reduce the risk of bad reactions and create brilliant textures and effects for your canvas.

Play around with different ideas, see what works best for you, and remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution here. You could use cornstarch in one project and a high-end impasto medium in the next and be just as satisfied.