One of the most accessible and therapeutic ways to paint, acrylic pouring can produce surfaces saturated with mesmerizing swirls and dizzying color. Key to this process is a good pouring medium, which aids the flow of acrylics. Good additives will retain the original color of paints, and some even add a beautiful sheen. Our picks will help you decide which one is best for your needs.
1. Liquitex Pouring Medium
Both our top recommendation and top-of-the-line, Liquitex’s pouring medium is a silky-smooth substance that enhances the flow of acrylic paint without diluting it or affecting its color. You can achieve beautiful sheets and even puddles with this medium, which won’t split or crack as it dries. It also won’t yellow but will leave a glass-like gloss finish. This is a pricey option, but you can purchase it in smaller amounts before committing to the largest container: a 1-gallon bucket that presents the greatest value but does call for more careful transfer of paint.
2. Flood Floetrol Additive
Sold in an easy-pour 1-quart bottle, Floetrol is a less costly alternative to Liquitex. It performs nearly as well, and possibly just as well, but is less archival. Formulated as a latex paint additive and commonly used to paint the exteriors of houses, Floetrol mixes very well with acrylics to create free-moving paint without affecting the binding. Unlike Liquitex’s pouring medium, this one leaves a matte finish, which may be more appealing to some artists. One note: this formula can contain some clumps, so it’s good practice to strain your mixtures before use to guarantee uniform consistency.
3. DecoArt Pouring Medium
This is a great all-around pouring medium at a good price. Slightly more viscous than Liquitex’s product, DecoArt’s liquid mixes nicely with acrylics, making them suitable for dirty pours, direct pours, or ring pours. Colors stay separate as your mixtures flow to form satisfying swirls, and you can even achieve pretty cells—bubble-like formations—by creating and layering different densities. The medium also dries clear with minimal to no cracking. The 16-ounce bottle is a good size for artists who are newcomers to acrylic pouring.
4. Elmer's Multi-Purpose Liquid Glue
It might surprise you, but simple liquid glue is actually a very effective, budget-friendly pouring medium. Elmer’s Glue-All (not its School Glue) performs well as an extender when mixed with water and paints, and it dries clear with no residue. You may have to conduct a few trials to determine the ratio you like best, but you can find guidance in the many recipes that reside online. We also like this product because it comes in a 1-gallon container with a handle for easy pouring, which makes it perfect for classrooms or long-term use.
5. Unicone Art Silicone Oil
One of the most coveted effects in acrylic pouring is the blossoming of cells, which can add a certain wow factor to abstract works. It’s possible to achieve them with paint alone, but a supplement like silicone oil can encourage their formation. Made of 100 percent pure silicone, Unicone’s product can produce small and large cells; simply add a couple of drops to the desired colors. The 6-ounce bottle is fitted with a narrow nozzle so you can control how much oil you dispense and avoid messes.