UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 17, 2020 8:23 PM
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Acrylic paint is extremely versatile thanks to its compatibility with a variety of other media that serve myriad purposes. Among these add-ins are flow enhancers, also known as flow aids, which thin acrylic paint without affecting its color or finish. While acrylics, being water based, can be thinned with water, this may weaken the paint’s binding agents and lead to uneven coverage and subsequent flaking. Flow enhancer, on the other hand, breaks down the surface tension of the water in the paint, resulting in a thinner paint that brushes or pours on smoothly with no loss of color strength or consistency. In addition, flow enhancers extend drying time, allowing painters to work more slowly on their creations. Flow enhancers are ideal for thinning paints for pouring or staining. Browse our selection of the best acrylic flow enhancers below.
1. Liquitex Professional Flow Aid Medium
Liquitex’s flow enhancer is ideal for prepping acrylic paints to go on porous surfaces such as wood, untreated canvas, or linen. When mixed with acrylic paint, this product increases the absorbability of paint and decreases film tension, making it perfect for creating fluid effects. This solution comes in a 4-ounce bottle and should not make up more than 25 percent of a paint mixture; otherwise it can weaken the integrity of the paint.
2. Golden Acrylic Fluid Release
Formerly called Golden’s Acrylic Fluid Release, this is another concentrated medium made to reduce surface tension and help paint brush on smoothly without beading or sticking. A versatile wetting agent, it can be used in a variety of ways, including as a first wash to achieve wet-into-wet watercolor effects with acrylics, an additive to prevent beading of paint on non-porous surfaces, and to prepare paint for pouring or staining. The 16-ounce bottle features a convenient nozzle tip for easy mixing.
3. Flood Floetrol Additive
A hardware store alternative to specialty flow aids, Floetrol was designed to improve flow and leveling of water-based interior and exterior latex paints and to reduce brush and lap marks. But it is also ideal for art applications like pouring, and can be used to thin water-based paints for use in airbrushes. Though it is meant to be used without dilution, Floetrol quart bottle of flow-enhancing additive is is priced well for how much area it will cover.
4. Winsor & Newton Flow Improver
This 4-fluid-ounce bottle of acrylic flow improver increases the flow of paint without altering pigment strength and without a color shift from wet to dry. Excellent for producing flat areas of color, it is ideal for hard-edge painting. It slows drying, letting artists to leave paints on the palette longer prevents paint from drying on small brushes when painting models and miniatures.
5. Mont Marte Acrylic Flow Medium
Mont Marte is known for quality student-level products, and this flow aid is all most students will need. Like the other products here, this medium thins paint without affecting color or finish. Great for painting minis, when you need thinner, but still saturated, paint for detail work, and for blending colors on canvas. Note that this medium only marginally slows down drying time. Like some of the other selections here, it can also be used to adapt acrylic paints for use with airbrushes.