Latex and acrylic paints are water-based and made up of synthetic polymers that resemble natural latex—but there is no actual latex in them. They are an umbrella term, and within this category of synthetic water-based paints are a variety of specific types. This includes acrylics, vinyl acrylics, styrene acrylics, and more. So when you’re looking at one paint type vs. another, it’s not latex vs. acrylic because acrylics fall under the latex paint umbrella.

That said, roughly 75% of the paints sold today are latex because they offer a number of advantages over the alternative—oil-based paints. The acrylic within these water-based paints provides a number of advantages and generally speaking, the higher the acrylic amount, the better the quality.

Some of the many features and benefits of acrylic paints include:

• Excellent water resistance
• Great adhesion to non-porous surfaces
• Superb weatherability
• Excellent gloss, finish, and clarity
• Superior color retention
• Good mildew resistance
• Smooth, even application
• Little to no odor
• Anti-corrosion and great alkali-resistance
• Superior solubility

It’s also important to note that while paints with higher acrylic amounts tend to cost more, the quality is better—water- and stain-resistance will be much better, for instance—and they will wind up being more economical in the end. This is because lower quality paints often require a barrier coat, adding to the cost and offsetting any assumed savings.
When you know what it is you’re looking for, you wind up with the best paint for your needs. Knowledge is power, after all.