Acrylic vs Emulsion

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Established Member
12 Sep 2017
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I've just had a decorator in who has "emulsioned" our walls & ceilings with acrylic paint. Obviously it's water based and has turned out really nice, no problems there.

But is acrylic now the new paint on the block replacing emulsion? I couldn't get an answer from the decorator other than acrylic wipes down better when it gets dirty.
Water-based acrylic paints were subsequently sold as latex house paints, as latex is the technical term for a suspension of polymer microparticles in water. Interior latex house paints tend to be a combination of binder (sometimes acrylic, vinyl, pva, and others), filler, pigment, and water.

Acrylic paint is water soluble when applied but becomes water resistant when it dries.

I always use acrylic primer for this very reason, as it provides a very good substrate for top coats.
Acrylic emulsion paints have been around to my knowledge since before 1972, so they are not new as such. Without over thinking, emulsion really was just a generic term to describe water based as opposed to oil-based paint.

Emulsions were generally used on walls and plaster, oil-based paint on woodwork to achieve a level of durability. Saying that, there are some quite impressive water-based paints for wood now.

The durability (wipes down better when it gets dirty) is something that has improved over the years and is also related to the quality of the product. You get what you pay for.

It is more labour efficient to use good quality paint and when decorating as materials costs are a relatively low proportion of labour, so don’t skimp on materials.
I’m curious, if it’s a plastic, what happens when you sand it down? Do micro participles of plastic go into the atmosphere, into the ground run off into the drains and then the oceans? It feels like this is another source of plastic pollution that at sometime needs to be addressed.