Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Spray Paint? Thorough Guide

What if you want some acrylic designs over an already-painted surface? Will you waste your time scratching the color or just paint over it? Especially if the surface is painted with spray paint, it is more difficult to remove it. 

In the blog post, I’ll  specifically talk about different aspects of bonding between spray paint and acrylics and answer the query, “Will acrylic paint stick to spray paint?” Moreover, I’ll share my experience of applying acrylic paint over spray paint as tips. 

Acrylic paint can stick to spray paint, but some factors must be considered, like as the composition of spray paint, preparation, and application of paint over the surface, top, and base coat.  

Acrylic Paint vs Spray Paint

Let’s compare some of the features of acrylic paint and spray paint to make you understand the topic well. Acrylic paint is a water-based versatile medium and can be used over almost every kind of surface.

It dries quickly and lets you manipulate it in many ways for various desired effects and distinct designs. It comes in small tubes and even in small containers for larger projects.

Spray paint is an aerosol form of paint. The solvents used in spray paint are mostly hydrocarbons and alcohol. Some are water and oil-based as well. It is easy and convenient to apply over a surface. 

To mix acrylic paint and spray paint, you must use suitable types of both, which are compatible with each other. For example, you should not apply acrylic paint over oil-based spray paint, as oil cannot stick or blend with water. 

4 Factors Affecting Sticking of Acrylic Paint To Spray Paint

Acrylic paint may stick to spray paint firmly, or the bond may be weaker, depending on various factors. You must consider these factors to get a thriving painting of your favorite acrylic colors over the spray paint. Some of the most potent factors are discussed below. 

  • Composition of spray paint:

The composition of the spray paint is the leading factor playing its role in deciding whether acrylic paint will stick to spray paint or not. Composition means the ingredients used in the paint, especially the solvent. 

For example, oil-based spray paint is incompatible with water-based paint (acrylic). In other words, water can never be mixed or adhered to oil. This makes acrylic paint less sticky to oil-based spray paints.

  • Top coat and finish 

If the spray paint is sealed with a top coat, acrylic paint will be less likely to stick to that surface as the sealer provides resistance to many elements. Moreover, sealed paint is somehow waterproof, making the bond between water-based acrylic paint and spray paint weaker. 

Another thing is the finish of the painted surface. If the finish is smooth and glossy, bonding with acrylic will be weak, while if the finish is textured and rough, bonding will be stronger. 

  • Quality of acrylic paint

The quality of acrylic paint can not be ignored and should never be compromised if you want the paint to stay longer and more durable. The same is the case here while painting over spray painted surface. 

With low-quality acrylic, you can’t expect good adhesion to any surface. If you ask me, I’ll suggest using Arteza as they have a huge collection of acrylic colors and high-quality products. 

  • Correct application 

Many painters might disagree with me but believe me, if you’re not skillful or don’t know how to apply acrylic paint over the already-painted surface, you’ll end up wasting your artwork. 

So I suggest you read the guide below on how to apply acrylic paint correctly over a spray-painted surface. But before that, we’ll look at how to check the adhesion of acrylic and spray paint.

How to Test if Your Acrylic Paint Can Stick To Spray Paint

Good quality acrylic paint is costly and heavy on the pocket, so you’ll never wish to apply it over a surface blindly and end up gaining nothing but chipping, peeling, and cracking acrylic paint. So here is a guide on how to check if acrylic paint will stick to spray paint.

  • Read the labels

You must read the label on the spray paint to know about its composition. It’s essential because oil-based spray can’t be mixed with acrylic paint, as we have mentioned above. Moreover, the resin used, solvent, and binder should also be checked to see if they are compatible with acrylic paint.

  • Trial On Raw Canvas

The best way to check if your acrylic paint will adhere to the spray-painted surface is by doing a live practice. Take a raw canvas, or you can choose cardboard or stiff paper.

Apply the spray paint with caution and let it dry well. Now, apply a thin coat of acrylic paint and wait for it to cure fully. The next step is to take a hard tool or knife and scratch dry acrylic paint from the surface. 

If you feel difficulty while scratching, you should realise that paint is stuck to the surface well and suitable to be used over that spray paint. If acrylic is not compatible with spray paint, you’ll see peeling, chipping, or cracks during application and drying.

Caution: Use the knife or hard tool carefully, Don’t hurt yourself while removing or scratching the paint.

How To Paint Acrylic Paint Over Spray Paint?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the correct application is the key to sticking acrylic paint to spray paint. Most of the time, the adhesion is weak only because you’re not following the proper method to prepare the surface and apply the paint. If you’re a newbie, here is a beginner’s guide to applying acrylic paint over spray paint.

Step 1: Sand down the surface

The first step is sanding the surface using fine-grit sandpaper to make the surface rough. It is necessary because the smooth and non-porous spray-painted surface is a big hurdle to accepting acrylic paint coating. 

Step 2: Clean surface dirt, oil, and debris

The next step is cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove debris, dust particles, and oil or grease contamination. Without cleaning, the contaminants on the surface can weaker the bonding between acrylic and spray paint. Clean the surface using cotton or a piece of cloth; if required, you can wash it with water and soap.

Step 3: Prime the surface 

Applying primer over the surfaces enhances adhesion and provides long-lasting protection against peeling. So prime the cleaned surface with Gesso or another good quality primer. I prefer Gesso as it is water-based and specifically designed to be applied with acrylic paints.

Step 4: Apply acrylic paint

Now, you can apply acrylic paint using a fine-haired brush. Apply the paint gently and evenly. Use thin but multiple layers to cover the surface entirely. Let the paint dry well for at least an hour before proceeding.

Step 5: Seal the paint

One of the deciding steps is sealing the paint. Sealing helps the acrylic paint stick to the spray painted surface. Moreover, it provides resistance against a wide range of harsh environmental conditions, including weathering, heat, UV, etc.

Step 6: Let it dry

The final step is letting the sealed surface dry. It can take up to 2-3 hours, but you can speed up the drying process by putting it under a fan, near a window, or even using a hair dryer.

Caution: While using a hair dryer for drying. Choose minimum pressure so that the wet painting is not spoiled by the fast airflow.

Tips To Make Acrylic Paint Stick To Spray Paint

Even if you follow the correct applications and consider all the possible factors, there still remains a chance your paint will peel or not stick to spray paint. So I decided to share some secrets with you based on my personal experience. The following tips will help while painting over spray paint as a base coat. 

  • A lightly rough surface is crucial to binding acrylic paint to a surface or spray paint because it provides more surface area at the micro level to the paint molecules. So better to sand down the surface well to make it adhesive.
  • Apply the paint in thin layers. Wait for the coating to dry out, and then apply the second layer. It ensures strong bonding between the successive layers. 
  • Don’t apply acrylic over wet spray paint, especially if it is alcohol based. The alcohol will wash away the acrylic paint, resulting in peeling and flaking.
  • If you want to stick acrylic to spray paint, I’ll suggest you use a clear base coat or, in other words, use a primer. It promotes strong bonding. 
  • Make sure you apply a top coat after painting with acrylic. A top coat of varnish or polyurethane seals the surface, making it resistant to moisture, flaking, cracking, and climate.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint Over Spray Primer

Yes, you can use acrylic paint over a spray primer, and it is always advised to use it for larger projects. It is an easy and fast way to prime a surface for painting. Moreover, it saves your time and provides good coverage, and is convenient for the painters. 

Don’t confuse spray paint with spray primer. Both are different in their composition and use. 


Can acrylic be used over spray paint?

Yes, acrylic paint can be used over spray paint as long as both are compatible and you’re using the correct paint method. 

What paint can you use on top of spray paint? 

You can use any paint, including acrylic, oil-based paint, and enamel latex, on top of spray paint. But the sticking depends on the compatibility of spray paint and the paint you’re going to apply over it. 

Will acrylic paint stick to gloss? 

Yes, acrylic paint can stick to gloss if the surface is sanded and made rough. Moreover, applying a single coat of primer to the glossy surface also enhances adhesion. 


Spray paint is a convenient source of artwork, but at the same time, it can be tricky to work with using acrylic paint. All the necessary information related to sticking, bonding, and adhesion between spray paint and acrylic is provided in the article. I hope the post has provided what you were looking for.

Thank you for reading.

Jose Scott

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