What's the Difference Between Acrylic Paint and Tempera Paint?

What’s the Difference Between Acrylic Paint and Tempera Paint?

Do you know the difference between acrylic paint and tempera paint and when to use either one?

Does it really matter which one you use?

It absolutely does! The right paint makes all the difference.

It would depend on what you’re looking to get out of the paint and on what surface/type of material you’re painting on.

First, we’ll break down the characteristics of each paint and then we’ll help you choose the right one for you.


Acrylic Paint


Acrylic Paint


  • Acrylic paints are permanent – so always make sure you’re not working on a surface that you don’t want to ruin or lay out some kraft paper underneath
  • Acrylic paints tend to be pretty lightfast, meaning they’re not prone to discolor when exposed to light – so all your hard work and skilled painting will look as rich as the day you painted it
  • Acrylic paint has good opacity
  • Acrylic paint has a thick consistency to it
  • Acrylic paint mixes very well
  • Acrylic paint is a more “plastic” feeling paint. It dries to a stiff texture and can be built up more on paper or fabrics
  • Acrylic paint dries glossy to semi-glossy

Tempera Paint


Tempera Paint


  • Regular Tempera paint is not permanent, but it’s not so easy to wash off. You can get washable tempera paint, but it won’t be as good in lightfast and opacity as regular tempera
  • Tempera paint’s opacity if by far the best
  • Tempera paint has a creamy consistency
  • Tempera paint mixes very well
  • Tempera paint is thinner and more liquid than acrylic
  • Tempera paint dries matte

So When Should You Use Acrylic Paint and When Should You Use Tempera Paint?


Acrylic Paint is Best Used On:


Swamp Nature Pals from Zirrly


Tempera Paint is Best Used On:


watercolor paper by zirrly

The Last Word…


Both acrylic paint and tempera paint are water-soluble and can be thinned with a little bit of water.

Kids can work with either acrylic paint or tempera paint, but because acrylic paint is permanent, you’ll probably feel a lot more at ease if they worked with tempera paint. Because acrylic paint dries to hard plastic, don’t pour the extra paint down your drain – IT WILL CLOG IT. And if you don’t clean your brushes well, the same hard plastic will adhere to the bristles.

Even when using a washable tempera paint, try to clean up and wash your hands with soap right away. It will wash from most fabrics. Repeated laundering may be necessary on sever stains. May not wash completely from porous household surfaces or materials that cannot be laundered.


Whichever paint you decide to go with, here a few things you might need for your next arts and crafts project:

For a fun and fantastic, mess-free alternative to liquid paint, check out our Kwik Stix – tempera paint in a stick form!


Kwik Stix solid tempera paint for mess free creativity



Let us know in the comments below what you’re going to paint.  

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Econocrafts Who’s EconocraftsEconocrafts is a manufacturer of unique and exciting arts and crafts kits and hobby supplies. They sell to Schools, After-School, Camps, Recreation Centers, Nursing Homes, Hospitals, Government Agencies, and crafters all over the world. From the classroom to your home, for a party to a DIY project, Econocrafts has everything you need to keep you creatively entertained.

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