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8 Ways To Keep Acrylic Paint Wet Overnight

Acrylic paint is one of the best paints to use as it blends well with various surfaces, including canvas, paper, wood, and rocks. However, it is expensive and dries fast. Hence, if you didn’t finish painting and want to save your acrylic paint for use the next day, you need an effective way to keep the paint from drying overnight.

Here are 8 ways to keep acrylic paint wet overnight:

  1. Use slow-drying acrylic paints.
  2. Use acrylic paints that you can re-wet after drying.
  3. Use wet palettes.
  4. Use nonabsorbent palettes.
  5. Use plastic pots with covers stored in airtight bags.
  6. Keep the paint in Styrofoam plates.
  7. Store the leftover acrylic paint in a refrigerator.
  8. Keep your acrylic paint in a conducive environment.

In this article, I’ll discuss how you can store your acrylic paint for later use without having to worry that it will dry overnight. Read on to learn how to get the best out of your acrylic paint.

1. Use Slow-Drying Acrylic Paints

Many artists love acrylic paints because they dry quickly on the painting surface, unlike oil paints. But, their fast-drying rate is also a disadvantage as it makes the paint unworkable after a short time and a challenge when storing them for later use. However, the type of acrylic paint you use will determine how fast it will dry.

While some acrylic paint brands take about ten minutes to dry, others stay wet for some hours. If you want acrylic paint that you can store overnight and use later, go for a slow-drying type. So, while shopping for the ideal acrylic paint, its drying time is one of the factors to consider.

Acrylic paints are available in two categories: professional and student-grade qualities. Student-grade are ideal for newbies since they’re cheaper and help you save money as you learn acrylic painting. However, they only have basic colors and also dry faster than professional ones.

After you’ve mastered acrylic painting, getting yourself artist-grade acrylic paint will be the best option. These paints have longer drying times and a wider variety of colors, producing vibrant pigments. So they’ll let you work for longer, though they’re more costly than student-grade acrylics.

Golden Open Acrylics and Winsor & Newton are high-quality brands that have slower drying times compared to other brands. Either would work whether you’re a beginner or a professional painter. Here’s a quick comparison between the drying times of different brands.

2. Use Acrylic Paints That You Can Re-Wet After Drying

Nothing frustrates a painter more than having dry paint that they can’t re-use. It’s not only disappointing, but it brings along unnecessary replacement costs. Now, having a paint that you can re-wet once it dries is a life-saver.

If buying a professional-grade or slow-drying acrylic paint is beyond your budget, try a quick-drying brand that’s still workable on re-wetting. However, you can only use this kind of paint on canvas instead of acrylic or watercolor paper. Atelier Interactive acrylic paint is a great brand to try out.

If you want to read more about Atelier’s slow drying interactive paints you can read about it here.

3. Use Wet Palettes

A palette is a surface on which you mix your acrylic paint. So, it can be a waterproof plastic container with compartments or a disposable paint paper palette. In addition to these types, there are two other types of palettes: dry and wet.

Dry palettes are simply flat containers, mostly used by oil paint artists. While they serve to mix and hold paint, they aren’t the best for keeping acrylic paint wet for long periods. Hence, it’s advisable to use a wet palette to keep your paint from drying overnight.

Wet palettes are specifically made to keep acrylic paints wet. They consist of a flat container, a lid (mostly airtight), and a thin sponge at the bottom. To keep your paint wet, you have to place a specific palette paper on the sponge.

After mixing your paint and when evaporation starts, the palette paper will absorb some moisture from the sponge to prevent the paint from drying up. This way, your acrylic paint will stay wet overnight, for a few more days, or even a week. However, the sponge starts drying up after a prolonged period, and you might have to moisturize it then.

Different types of wet palettes are available, here’s a popular (and affordable) one among artist on Amazon. However, you can also improvise and have yourself a makeshift wet palette (it may not always be the best idea). You can use a flat plastic container with an airtight lid and a wet paper towel beneath the palette paper.

4. Use Nonabsorbent Palettes

Some palette papers are absorbent, meaning that they can also absorb moisture from the paint, speeding up the drying process. If you store your paint on a palette with this kind of paper overnight, you’ll notice that the paper will have buckled up the next day. It shows your paint has dried up.

As an alternative, you could use a nonabsorbent palette to store your paint. The palette is also peelable and won’t absorb any moisture from your acrylic paint. It’s also easy to clean, especially when the paint is wet. Here’s a peelable palette, that’s simple and easy to use.

5. Use Plastic Pots With Covers Stored in Airtight Bags

If you can’t find a wet palette, you can use a plastic pot to mix and then store your paint after use. Whether it’s a face cream or makeup container, it should have a lid to help keep the paint wet. These containers are an ideal alternative to wet palettes as they are readily available.

A flat container with compartments is a great choice as you can squeeze several paint tubes in each and place the lid when not in use.

After you’ve finished painting, place the paint in a large airtight (or Ziploc) bag. Then put a wet paper towel inside to provide a moisturized environment, and keep the sealed container in a cool area, or better yet in the fridge(label as paint so nobody ingests it). This will keep your acrylic paint wet overnight and you’ll have no difficulties working on it the following day.

6. Keep the Paint in Styrofoam Plates

Styrofoam plates are another alternative to wet palettes or plastic containers. 

You can mix your acrylic paint in a Styrofoam plate and use it as a palette. They also come in handy when you have some leftover paint after working and want to keep it overnight for later use.

So, to store leftover paint on a Styrofoam plate, gently cover the plate you were using with another one. Then, use a rubber band to fasten them together (ensuring that you don’t disturb the paint). However, use them as a last resort when other storage materials are unavailable.

7. Store the Left-Over Acrylic Paint in a Refrigerator

It’s uneconomical to dispose of leftover paint after a day’s painting session. So, it’s better to save it for later use by storing it overnight. If you’ve been wondering whether you can store your acrylic paint in a fridge for later use, the answer is yes!

Whether you’ve been using a palette or container to mix your paints, you can keep them in the refrigerator after use, and they will remain wet. However, storing your leftover acrylic paint in the fridge is best for a short duration of time (like overnight). Keeping it for a couple of days will alter the paint’s texture and color, making it hard to use.

How To Store Acrylic Paint in a Fridge

The storage container will determine how you keep the paint in the fridge. Regardless of the container type, you must ensure that it’s airtight to maintain the paint’s moisture. Also, don’t disturb the paint while sealing it to avoid altering its texture.

So, if you’re using a palette, just cover it carefully using plastic or saran wrap and place it in the fridge. Wrapping the palette tightly will protect the paint from having any lumps or drying up. But, don’t overdo it, as this will disturb your acrylic paint. 

Alternatively, you can place one or several covered palettes in an airtight container and then place them in the refrigerator. Mason jars come in handy in such cases. Still, ordinary plastic containers with lids will do. These containers will maintain the paint’s wetness overnight and even for a few more days.

To re-use the acrylic paint after storage, take it out of the fridge and allow it to stand for one or two hours. You’ll notice that the paint will get back its smooth, creamy texture after this duration. Don’t rush to use it before the time elapses, or the paint will develop clumps.

While it’s always recommended to only store mixed acrylic paint in a refrigerator, don’t worry if you have kept unmixed paint. If you wish to mix it after removing it from the fridge, use a palette knife or a strong paintbrush.

You can also keep your roller or paintbrush in the refrigerator to prevent the paint from drying up. Simply wrap the paintbrush in a wet towel, cover it with plastic wrap, or put it in a plastic bag, before keeping it in the fridge. However, this is not always the best option.

It’s advisable to keep the paint off your paint brush or roller by washing it after use. You only need some warm water and soap to clean the paint brushes. Removing dried paint on a paintbrush is an uphill task as you’ll have to use solvents to dissolve it.

8. Keep Your Acrylic Paint in a Conducive Environment

Your painting or storage environment can also determine how long acrylic paint can remain wet. 

Wet palettes help maintain wetness for longer despite the condition you’re storing them in. But, if you’re using a regular palette, a non-conducive environment will speed up the drying process.

Environmental factors like humidity, temperature, and airflow can either quicken or slow down your paint’s drying process. Let’s take a look at each factor in detail:


Humidity is simply the amount of moisture or water vapor in the atmosphere. If you’re working in a room in a coastal town, you’ll notice that the air will be more humid than in other higher-altitude areas. Higher humidity will keep acrylic paint wet on a palette for longer (if you don’t store it in a refrigerator).

Acrylic paint will dry faster in a less humid environment (drier air). So, your paint will have a shorter drying time and may dry up even before you store it for later use. 

Now, if you don’t wish to have your acrylic paint drying up so fast or taking too long to dry due to unfavorable humidity, you can have a humidity monitor in your working area. The device keeps track of the water vapor content in the room and allows you to decide on the appropriate environment to do your painting.

If you’re in a less humid environment and using a regular palette, you can keep the paint wet by moistening it (with water) or a wetting spray. This way, you’ll keep the paint wet for longer, even when you want to store it overnight (in an airtight container).

Temperature and Airflow

Acrylic paints dry faster when it’s hot than when it’s cold. High temperatures tend to increase the paint’s rate of evaporation. Now, let’s look at how this process takes place.

Acrylic paint consists of some pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer suspension. The paint is water-based, meaning that you can use water to dilute it. Moreover, water usually evaporates when you expose the paint, especially when the temperature is too high.

In contrast, when the temperature is lower, acrylic paints will dry slowly. Hence, storing your leftover paint overnight may be easier on cold days as the paint will stay wet for longer. 

But it doesn’t mean you can’t store your paint on hot days. 

When it’s too hot, especially during summer, you most probably use an air conditioner or a fan in your painting area. However, these appliances tend to increase the airflow around the room, speeding up the acrylic paint’s drying process.

So, if you want to preserve your paint overnight in an open space, ensure that there’s minimal airflow. Let the paint be in an airtight container and at room temperature (20-22°C or 68-72°F).

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