Why is my acrylic paint flaky? Common Reasons

Are you a beginner who loves to express creativity with acrylics? There is no doubt that the feeling of creating a blank canvas in life is a work full of hope and excitement. But during the painting procedure, you may face the issues of flakiness of the acrylic paint as it does not have a better quality than oil paint. Don’t worry, we are here to solve this problem with this guide.

This blog aims to provide a complete guide on why is your acrylic paint flaky. We will also cover some important questions as well at the end of the blog.

So let’s start!

Why is my acrylic paint flaky?

Your acrylic paint is flaky due to not mixing the paint properly, using low-quality paints, applying thick layers, incompatible surfaces, temperature and humidity, and expired paints.

Here is a list of the common reasons behind flaky acrylic paint:

  • Not mixing the paint properly
  • Using low-quality paints
  • Applying thick layers
  • incompatible surfaces
  • Temperature & humidity
  • Expired paints

By understanding these common causes, you can overcome the issue of flakiness in your acrylic paints. Please note that these reasons are only just for acrylic paints.

Table of Contents

Not mixing the paint properly

Acrylic paints consist of pigments suspended in a polymer emulsion form. Mixing the paint properly will tend to disperse the paint evenly. If you don’t mix the paint properly, these particles cannot be mixed properly which will result in excessive flakiness and improper mixing is the primary reason behind flakiness.

Use a brush to mix the paint properly and if you mix two paints together, there is also a need to mix them well.

Using low-quality paints

Low-quality acrylic paints contain a high amount of filler-to-pigment ratio that does not provide the desired evenness to the surface. After drying, flakiness appears in such cases.

Applying thick layers

If you are working with a classic technique, don’t create too many thick layers but if you want to work with an impasto technique where it is compulsory to create thick layers then use an impasto medium.

Thick layers always take longer to dry and they are also hard to cure properly. Cracks on such kinds of layers may not be recovered.

Interested in oil painting? Learn the use of linseed oil in oil painting

Incompatible surfaces

Porous surfaces are most suitable for acrylic paints. If you are using imbalanced and not properly prepared surfaces, then it may also cause flakiness after drying. As acrylic paints are known for their versatility still there is a need to use them only on suitable surfaces to avoid any cracks and flakiness.

Want to know more about the cracks? Learn why the oil paintings cracks and how to repair them?

Temperature & humidity

The environment is also a major factor that can cause flakiness. Suppose, you have finished an acrylic painting and left it under the sunlight or you forget it due to some other work. In this case, UV rays will direct contact with the paints which will not just cause flakiness but also result in the loss of the original color.

Prefer only chill weather when you decide to do outdoor painting. In your studio, maintain a chill temperature as well. We have also seen some cases in which artist put their paintings in front of the fire during cold weather to make them dry faster. We recommend avoiding such methods and waiting for some more time to create the masterpiece.

Expired paints

Expired paints directly cause flakiness because they don’t have such abilities and qualities as they had in fresh form. No doubt that the shelf life of acrylic paints is more than 5 years but you still have to check the expiry before purchasing them.

Can varnish prevent the acrylic paint from flaking?

Yes, varnish helps to prevent the acrylic paint from flacking and also gives extra protection to your paintings. Before applying varnish check the surface is completely dry. Varnish is commonly used to seal artwork or paintings from dust, UV rays, and moisture. Apply a coat of varnish on the painting surface after completing the painting. It enchases the colors, protects the surface from dirt also enhances the shine of the painting.

After creating a strong bond with acrylic paints, varnish can work as a protective layer to ensure the paint remains anchored to the surface. Moreover, varnished surfaces are easy to clean and manage. they also help to boost the life of your acrylic paintings to more than 5 plus years but make sure that you use only suitable varnishes with acrylic paints.

Are you facing the issue of extra shine in acrylic painting? Learn why your acrylic painting is shiny

How to prevent acrylic paint from peeling off plastic?

To control the acrylic paint from peeling off plastic. Follow some steps to prevent acrylic paint from peeling off plastic:

The surface should be cleaned with mild soap and water to pull out any dust and then rub the sandpaper to prepare the surface after that apply the primer that is specially made for the acrylic paint and then apply paint. Make sure that you use artistic-grade acrylic paint on the plastic surface.

Start by creating a thin layer of paint on the plastic then wait for some time to let it dry completely before applying another layer. After finishing your artwork, apply a good-quality acrylic varnish on your painting that overcomes the chance of peeling off plastic.

If you don’t get the above procedure, here is a step-by-step process to prevent the acrylic paint from peeling off plastic:

  • Clean the Plastic Surface
  • Sand the Surface
  • Apply a Primer
  • Select High-Quality Acrylic Paints
  • Thin the Paint Appropriately
  • Use an Acrylic Varnish
  • Handle with Care

How to prevent acrylic paint from peeling off wood?

To control the acrylic paint from peeling off the wood. Follow these steps:

  • Clean your surface and prepare it well with the help of sanding to create a rough surface 
  • Use a high-quality primer on the wood
  • Apply the high-standard acrylic paint on the surface of the wood m
  • Make sure to apply a thin layer of acrylic paint on the wood surface.
  • Give a proper time to dry the paint after that you should be needed to apply sealer as well as clear acrylic varnish that is designed for the wood. 

What causes an old acrylic paint layer to peel off?

There are many reasons for an old acrylic layer to peel off:

  • The first one is weak adhesion between the paint as well as the surface. It occurs due to low surface preparation like not cleaning also not using a suitable primer for surface preparation.
  • The second reason is the environment which is the main factor that can cause peeling off. Weather, UV rays, and sudden temperature changes are some factors that can be caused due to environmental change.
  • The third factor is the quality of your paint as low-quality or student-grade paints are not suitable to work on professional projects.


What are the main causes for fresh paint to peel?

1. Not preparing the surface well
2. Using low or cheap- or cheap-quality paints
3. Using much water or acrylic medium in the acrylic paint
4. Applying paint on a non-porous surface without knowing the techniques
6. Apply paint on the already wet surface
7. Apply thick coats of acrylic paints

Does chalky acrylic paint peel off?

Yes, because chalky acrylic paints contain a porous nature that helps weaker adhesion as compared to normal acrylic paint.

Final Words

At last, there are so many factors that make the acrylic paint flaky. These reasons include not mixing the paint properly, using low-quality paints, applying thick layers, incompatible surfaces, temperature and humidity, and expired paints. By overcoming all these major causes, you will not face any issue of flakiness. But make sure to use a varnish as well after completing the artwork.

If this blog is helpful to solve your issues regarding acrylic painting then we will recommend you to read more in depth about acrylic painting. Here are some of the blogs related to acrylic painting:

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