Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Regular Paper?

Can You Use Acrylics on Regular Paper
Can You Use Acrylics on Regular Paper

Acrylics are an incredibly popular medium for all kinds of painters. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or an A+ pro, acrylic paint will treat you right. 

But there is one issue.

Is regular paper enough for acrylic paint? Do you need to buy special paper to paint with acrylics? Don't stress, we've got all the answers.

Ready? Then, let's jump right in!

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Regular Paper?

The short answer is yes, you can. However, you shouldn't expect the quality to be super amazing. Why? Because there are some properties inside in regular printer paper that do not bode well for acrylic paints (or any paint for that matter).

Generally, regular paper is thin and very fragile. So, the more water or liquid paint that is applied, the soggier it will become. 

Unfortunately, this can lead to tears and holes in your finished masterpiece. Ideally, you should be looking for paper that won't repel water, but absorb it instead.



Alongside this, regular paper is usually acidic. While this won't necessarily affect your work straight away, over time, it will start to turn brown and very unsightly. If you're just messing around with acrylic paints and aren't expecting to create a work of art, this should be fine.

Put simply, regular paper won't help you paint something that will last forever. But you can use it for your practice runs or just general painting fun.

Now, let's take a look at the qualities your paper needs to be able to withstand your acrylic masterpiece for years to come. Oh, we'll give you some great recommendations too!

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How Do You Know If Your Paper Is Suitable?

It Should Be Durable

As we said earlier, the more liquid you put onto regular paper, the more likely it is to tear. Ideally, you want to use paper that can withstand lots of acrylic paint, erasure, sanding, scraping, scrubbing, and more.

With that in mind, you should opt for paper made from linen or cotton pulp. This tends to be stronger and far more durable than your regular paper made from trees.

To make sure you buy the right type, look for a label on the package saying “100% cotton” or “100% cotton rag”.

It Should Be Acid-Free

For acrylic painting, it's best to use paper with a pH of 7 (i.e., it is neutral). We mentioned earlier that acidic paper will cause all sorts of issues over time. So, for best results, stick to a neutral type to ensure archival quality.

It's important to note that this will cost you more. After all, you get what you pay for!

You will know you are buying the right type when a label stating “acid-free” is displayed on the packaging.

It Should Not Discolor Over Time

As you now know, acidic paper (i.e., regular printer paper) will discolor over time. Plus, they typically become brittle too, which isn't helpful when you're looking to create a painting that will stick around for years. While you will pay a lot less for the acidic types, it won't be worth your while in the long run.

It Should Be Heavyweight

Using a lot of water or any other medium alongside your acrylic paint will cause regular paper to buckle (unless you've performed a high-quality stretch beforehand). High-quality paper, on the other hand, will not buckle and ruin your painting.

We suggest that you don't use anything less than 300 gsm. If you can go heavier, do so! You will thank us for it.

It Should Not Be Glossy, Super Smooth, Or Oily

The ideal paper for acrylic paint is one that absorbs water. Typically, you can tell by the surface texture as to whether it will repel liquid or not. Paper that feels rough (like watercolor paper, for example) will generally be the best fit.

Smooth paper lets your brush glide effortlessly across the surface. However, it will not absorb the medium you use and will begin to buckle very quickly. Hence why we're suggesting you choose one with a rough surface.

Our Recommendations

Yes, you can use regular paper for your acrylic paints. But as you now know, you will not get exceptional quality from it. For those of you looking for excellent archival properties, you should purchase one of our recommendations below.

Canson Montval Acrylic Paper — it's super thick (400 gsm!) and very textured. You can use any type of acrylic with this one.

Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Pad — again, this is 400 gsm. It has a beautiful cream linen finish and has the bonus of being easy to transport.

Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Board Pad — this one is great if you prefer to have a smooth surface to work with. It is made of vellum and is 100% acid-free.

Create Art With My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I like Udemy if you want to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques. Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounts for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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Can You Use Acrylics on Regular Paper