When it comes to painting stunning, durable outdoor murals that will withstand the elements for years to come, acrylic paints are the top choice. With exceptional weather resistance, unparalleled adhesion, and intensely saturated pigments that won’t fade over time, acrylics are ideal for creating vibrant, long-lasting murals on building exteriors, fences, retaining walls, and more. But not all acrylic paints are created equal when longevity and liveliness are key. By understanding what makes acrylics excel outdoors and choosing brands focused on lightfastness and longevity, artists can feel confident their outdoor mural masterpieces will stay looking flawless for decades.
We’ll also outline the essential factors in selecting the best acrylic paint for an outdoor art piece, from regional climate considerations to surface preparation. Finally, we’ll recommend our top acrylic paint picks from the most trusted professional brands like Golden Artist Colors, Liquitex, and Montana Cans to help you achieve the vibrant, enduring outdoor mural you envision.
How Acrylics Excel for Exterior Murals
When compared to other paint types like oils or latex house paints, acrylics possess several key advantages that make them the preferred medium for outdoor muralists seeking lasting results.
- Durability – Acrylic paints are highly durable and resistant to cracking, peeling, and flaking, even when exposed to harsh weather over many years.
- Longevity – Specially formulated acrylics contain pigments that are resistant to UV radiation, preventing fading and holding color brightness longer than other paints.
- Flexibility – Acrylic paints bond well and flex with the expansion and contraction of exterior walls as temperatures fluctuate.
- Weather Resistance – Acrylic polymers create a protective film that resists damage from rain, snow, humidity, and pollution.
- Quick Drying – Acrylic dries faster than other paints, facilitating efficient application and touch-ups.
These inherent acrylic paint qualities allow exterior murals to withstand the demands of outdoor installation and stay looking pristine despite sun exposure, moisture, and weathering.
Key Factors When Selecting Paint
While acrylic paint might be the preferred medium, choosing the right acrylic product for your specific mural project and location is also essential. Here are the most important considerations when shopping for an acrylic paint brand and line tailored to your unique outdoor art piece.
The climate where your mural will live greatly impacts the paint properties needed for it to thrive. In hot, arid regions, paints with maximum UV resistance are a priority. In tropical climates, mold and mildew resistance helps acrylic colors stay vivid. And in areas with frigid winters, flexibility at low temps and resistance to salt air prevent cracking and peeling.
Do your homework on the typical weather patterns, temperature swings, humidity, and UV exposure for your geographic area. Then select acrylic paints engineered to conquer the specific elements your mural will face.
Knowing the composition of the surface you’ll paint is also key. Concrete, stucco, untreated wood, and bricks each have different porousness, texture, and adhesion needs. On shiny or slippery metals and plastics, etching or sanding may be required for acrylics to bond properly. Oil-based primers designed for each specific surface ensure a sturdy foundation for acrylic paint.
Consult with the acrylic paint manufacturer for guidance on required surface preparation and compatible primers before application. This ensures your paint adheres tightly and seals fully.
Investing in premium quality acrylics means longevity can be measured in decades, not years. Leading professional brands like Liquitex and Golden Artist Colors offer heavier pigmentation and superior durability compared to student grade acrylics.
Check that the brand uses an acrylic polymer binder specially formulated for flexibility and UV resistance. Pigments should deliver rich, consistent color that won’t shift or fade. Some lines also feature varnishes or fixatives for an extra protective coating against the elements.
Higher performing acrylic paints do come at a price. But when calculating cost, remember that quality paints save in the long run by avoiding the need for frequent repairs or repainting compared to inferior paint. Estimate your square footage coverage needs based on your wall size and complexity. For massive murals, buying acrylic paint in bulk 5 gallon buckets can yield significant savings.
Setting a budget is wise, but allow some flexibility if a certain trusted brand offers the best longevity guarantee. A few extra dollars today preserves your mural for decades rather than years.
Top Acrylic Paint Picks
We’ve tested dozens of acrylic paint lines and brands over the years on our own exterior mural projects. These three manufacturers stand out time and again for their commitment to quality, durability, and unmatched color integrity.
Golden Artist Colors
Our top choice for pro-level acrylic paint is Golden Artist Colors. This employee-owned company focuses tirelessly on lightfastness testing and product innovation. We recommend Golden’s Heavy Body Acrylics for outdoor murals. With a thickness ideal for impasto techniques, they offer outstanding coverage on porous surfaces. QoR Watercolor Acrylics are also extremely durable despite their fluid texture.
Both Golden lines provide rich saturation and a wide color selection. Golden acrylics also resist yellowing, staying flexible and fade-resistant for decades in any climate. While they fall on the premium end of cost, we believe the results are worth the investment.
For over 60 years, Liquitex has engineered top-quality acrylic paints preferred by serious artists worldwide. Liquitex offers an extensive range of acrylics, but we suggest the Professional Heavy Body paints for outdoor murals. The heavy-bodied consistency provides excellent hide and adhesion on exterior surfaces.
Liquitex acrylics are specially formulated to withstand UV rays and humidity with Permanent PigmentsTM like phthalo blue and green. Affordable large size options like gallons and 5 gallons provide value for big mural projects.
Montana Cans has built a reputation for highly innovative spray paints ideal for street art, murals, and graffiti. We especially like their Montana BLACK 400ml cans for durability and rich matte finish. The versatile all-surface formula adheres to the trickiest metals, plastics, stone, wood, and stucco.
Montana Black spray paint lasts over 15 years outdoors, making quick work of large mural backgrounds. The no-gloss look resists yellowing too. Just be sure to use compatible primers and clears for maximum adhesion and weather resistance.
Prepping Walls and Surfaces
Acrylic paints rely on proper surface preparation to reach their full bonding and weatherproofing potential. First, clean the mural surface thoroughly with mild detergent and rinse well. Allow adequate drying time.
Use spackling paste to fill any cracks or holes, then sand smooth. Remove any loose previous paint flakes with sandpaper or a wire brush. Finally, wipe away all dust with a tack cloth.
Select an acrylic-compatible primer made for the specific surface material – concrete, wood, etc. Apply two coats of primer, allowing each to fully dry between coats. The right primer ensures acrylic paint sticks tightly.
Achieving Outdoor Mural Longevity
Follow all acrylic paint manufacturer instructions for thinning, drying times between coats, and any special application techniques. Never substitute paint thinners not recommended by the brand.
Allow each layer to fully cure before adding another to prevent trapped moisture and peeling. Drying time varies by brand.
We recommend applying 1-2 coats of a fixative spray designed for acrylics at the end for added UV protection. Anti-graffiti clear coats also protect against vandalism.
With research on durable brands, proper surface prep, and care in application, artists can feel confident in creating breathtaking murals destined to wow communities for generations.
For outdoor mural artists and homeowners seeking to install vibrant exterior artwork built to last, acrylic paints offer unparalleled performance. Their inherent durability, flexible polymers, and colorfast pigments allow murals to thrive despite sun, rain, snow, and pollution.
Leading brands like Golden Artist Colors, Liquitex, and Montana Cans formulate acrylics to survive decades in any climate. With the right surface preparation and application care, these acrylic paints yield rich hues locked in place.
Choosing acrylic paints designed for long-lasting exteriors paired with proper primers enables the creation of stunning, resilient murals the community can enjoy for generations. When only the best will do for your monumental outdoor art piece, acrylics deliver on durability, longevity and radiant color.