What is the best pouring medium for acrylic pour painting? Ohhh, gosh. This is one of the hardest questions you could ask an artist.
Let me tell you why.
First of all, the type of pouring medium that is best for you will depend on the results that you want to achieve. And since there are tons of acrylic pouring techniques out there, finding just one that works for all of them is impossible!!!
Some pouring mediums will give you cells (without silicone), some others won't.
Some pouring mediums with a thinner consistency are best for swipes while thicker ones are best for ring pours.
So as you can see, there is no one kind of pouring medium that will be the best for everything.
Secondly, the pouring medium that is best for you might also depend on what you can find wherever you live and what you can afford. Some pouring mediums are not readily available in some parts of the world and some might just be too expensive for your budget. So you will have to improvise and adjust your art to whatever you can get your hands on.
Third, there are premade acrylic pouring mediums (matte, satin, glossy) that you can just use straight out of the bottle and others are homemade recipes.
Now you see why it is sooooo hard to answer this question!!!
So let me try to answer this question by giving you a few options based on the type of results you want to accomplish (cells or no cells) and the technique they are best for.
I will also try to give you as many details as possible as far as the cost, the finish (matte, satin, or glossy finish), availability of each ingredient, and a video so you can see the results for yourself.
I've picked some of the best pouring medium recipes out there from some of my favorite artists like Rinske Douna, Molly's Artistry, Julie Cutts from Pouring Your Heart Out, Mixed Media Girl, Gina DeLuca, Olga Soby, and more.
Here we go!!!
Floetrol Pouring Medium
Floetrol is actually not a pouring medium (it's a paint conditioner), however, it works very well as a pouring medium. This pouring medium alternative is a great option for cell formation.
You'll want to thin out the floetrol with just a tiny bit of water. Make your mixture 91% floetrol and 9% water (not too much water or your acrylic paints will crack, specially the cheap brands and white paint).
If you want the cheapest of the premade pouring mediums, then go with Floetrol. It is pretty inexpensive if you buy it at your hardware store (at least here in the USA at Home Depot or Ace Hardware).
Now, depending on where you live, the ingredients of the Floetrol that you find will vary and this will affect the cell making of your pours. English floetrol does not produce very many cells/lacing, American Floetrol produces a little bit more cells/lacing, and Australian Floetrol will produce the most cells and lacing out of all 3 options.
What is the difference in ingredients between these 3? No one really knows!
Some people have done tests and believe that the Australian Floetrol has some sort of wood conditioner added to it, so you will find people out there making their own mixtures to get more cells with their English or American floetrol.
This is actually one of my next experiments! Planning on testing an American Floetrol and wood conditioner mixture to see if wood conditioner will actually help produce more cells and if so, how much wood conditioner is actually needed.
Keep an eye out for my video on my Youtube channel.
This Floetrol pouring medium will give your paints a matte finish. You will have to use a satin or glossy varnish if you want your colors to be vibrant again.
Not a biggy, since it is always a good idea to protect the surface with a varnish, but it is something to keep in mind!
Where do you get the Australian or English Floetrol?
Sorry, I have no clue!
I live in the USA so I don't know any local hardware stores in Australia or England.
Where to Find American Floetrol?
Here is a video showing the results you can achieve using American Floetrol and water as a pouring medium.
Glue and Water Homemade Pouring Medium
Another pouring medium that is really popular out there is a homemade glue and water pouring medium alternative. Why? Because it is inexpensive and the ingredients are readily available.
This glue and water pouring medium is probably the cheapest homemade pouring medium that you will find if you buy your glue in a gallon. In my opinion, it is the second best pouring medium alternative that you will find (after the Floetrol with water pouring medium mentioned previously).
You can get some cells, but they will probably be the smaller kind. But it is okay because not everyone likes cells. Plus it is a great beginner's pouring medium and relatively inexpensive to start dipping your toes into this acrylic pouring world.
You might have a little bit of a satin finish, depending on the type of glue that you use. But I would still recommend you use a varnish on top after your paints have completely dried to protect your painting.
Where to Find Glue?
You can find this pretty much everywhere. I have found the gallon of Elmer's school glue at Walmart, Amazon, Michael's, and I have even seen it at my local Lowe's store. You might find it in other stores not mentioned previously.
Some people prefer to use the Elmer's Glue-all kind since it is believed that the school glue version is more prone to yellowing.
Here's a video showing the results you can achieve using a glue and water pouring medium.
Paint and Water for Dutch Pours
Yes, you can just use plain water mixed into your paints without the need of a pouring medium. However, make sure that your paints are high quality (like Amsterdam Standard Series) or the water will break the binders in your paints and you will end up with cracked paint when your painting dries.
Some famous artists mix 60% paint with 40% water (when using HIGH QUALITY paints).
This type of mixture is done mostly for Dutch Pours by some artists like Rinske Douna.
Since you will have to use high quality acrylic paints to prevent them from cracking when using just plain water to thin them out, the mixture will be a tiny bit more expensive than when using a paint extender like Floetrol and cheaper lower quality paints.
However, in Dutch pours, you don't waste so much paint as with other pour painting techniques. Therefore, you might end up not spending as much as you originally thought.
Even though you are not using Floetrol or silicone, you will get some beautiful cells and lacing due to the force of the air coming from the blow drier.
Even though the cost of the acrylic paints is a little bit higher, the end results are beautiful and rich in color. The colors will be vibrant and the patterns to die for.
You will still need to use a varnish, however, it will be mostly used to protect your painting's surface rather than to bring out the vibrancy of your colors.
Here is a video that shows Rinske Douna an acrylic pour with just paint and water.
Homemade Pouring Medium Recipe for Ring Pours and Dirty Cups
This recipe is a little fancier and has a few more ingredients. It can be used for pours like ring pours and dirty cups. It is a mixture of 1000ml of Floetrol, 500ml of Gloss medium and varnish, and 200ml of GAC 800.
This is a great homemade pouring medium for ring pours and dirty flip cups. You will not have to worry about paint crazing or cracking because of the addition of the quality artist grade pouring mediums. And you will get some cells thanks to the Floetrol.
Floetrol tends to make your paints look dull and matte when dry. The gloss medium and GAC 800 will bring back the glossiness to your dried painting.
Where to Find the Ingredients?
Check out the following video that shows a ring pour using this recipe.
Easy Recipe for Colander Pours
This recipe a tiny bit more expensive than just using plain Floetrol, because of the addition of the Gloss medium and varnish. But it is a very simple recipe so it is worth trying it out to see if you like it.
This pouring will give your acrylic paints the right flow to work for colander pour paintings. Since the paint will be going through a colander, your pattern will mostly come from this rather than the ingredients in the pouring medium. However, remember that Floetrol always tends to make some cells so expect a few.
Even though Floetrol tends to make your paints dry matte, the gloss medium and varnish will make your acrylic paints glossy all over again. Still, remember to always protect your paintings with a varnish to make it easier to clean in the future.
Where to Find the Ingredients?
Take a look at the following video to see how a colander pour is done using this recipe from Molly's Artistry.
Best Pouring Medium for Cells with Silicone
If you want to get amazing cells with the use of silicone, then try this recipe. I believe it is one of the best pouring medium for cells recipe.
It consists of 10g Floetrol, 20g Elmer's glue all, 2g Liquitex Pouring Medium, and 5g Distilled water.
For the colors, add ~1 drop silicone oil for every 2 oz paint mix (pouring medium plus your acrylic paints).
This pouring medium is relatively inexpensive as it's main ingredients are Floetrol and Elmer's glue-all. You'll need to add Liquitex Pouring Medium but it's a relatively small amount compared to the rest of the ingredients.
You will get beautiful explosive cells which will retain their shape because of the sticky properties of the glue-all.
You will need a varnish to bring back the life of your colors since you are using Floetrol which tends to dry the paints to a matte finish. But you will have to varnish all your paintings anyway, so no big deal.
Where to Find the Ingredients?
You can Elmer's Glue-all pretty much everywhere. I have found the gallon of glue all at Walmart, Amazon, Michael's, and I have even seen it at my local Lowe's store. You might find it in other stores not mentioned previously.
Take a look at these amazing cells in the video below.
Other Options for Easy Pour Paintings
Not everyone has time or patience to make their own pouring medium recipes. So for those of you who fall into this category, I am going to give you a Super Easy option.
PRE MIXED POURING PAINT!!!
Yes, did you know that you can just buy premixed acrylic pour paint?
You don't have to worry about pouring medium recipes, getting the right paint consistency, getting vibrant colors, etc.
Just pour, tilt, and you're done!!!
The cost of the ready to pour acrylic paints per ounce will be slightly higher than your regular acrylic paints, however, you won't have to waste money on pouring mediums. Plus you won't have to go through the headache of trying to gather all the other ingredients for your pouring mediums.
Great option for beginners who can't wait to start pouring with minimal effort.
So, in the end, I believe the cost of the premixed acrylic pour paints is worth it!
Since these premixed pouring paints are formulated specifically for fluid painting, you won't have to worry about getting awesome results from the get go!
The cell production will depend on what brand of paints you use and if add a cell activator or silicone to your pre mixed pouring paint. I will go over more details below.
You can expect to get rich and vibrant colors with this ready mixed pouring paint! Most of these premixed paints will dry with a medium to high gloss sheen.
Where to Find Pre Mixed Pouring Paint?
Here are 3 options of ready to pour paint that I love:
#1. Arteza Premixed Pouring Paints - Will not make very many cells and will dry with a medium sheen. You can help the creation of cells by adding silicone or a cell activator (like shown in the video below).
#2. Artist Loft Ready Mixed Pouring Paint - Will not give you cells but will dry with a very nice high glossy look. If you want cells, add some drops of silicone to your paints.
#3. Pebeo Pouring Experiences Kit - I LOVE this kit because it already comes with ready-to-use fluid acrylics, silicone oil to encourage cell formation, glitter sachets, canvas boards (7 3/4" x 9 3/4"), glasses, gloves, spatula, mixing sticks, and more! Will not give you cells unless you use the silicone, but silicone oil is included in the kit so no need to purchase that separately. Leaves a glossy finish look.
Take a look at the video below to see how the Arteza Premixed Pouring Paints perform!
Take a look at the awesome results using the Arteza Premixed Pouring Paints in the video below! Julie Cutts did use a cell activator so there is a lot of cell activity going on.
This video shows the Artist Loft Ready Mixed Pouring Paints in action. No silicone was added to the mix so you can see the true end results of just using the paints.
This video shows several paintings using different techniques while using the Artist Loft Ready Mixed Pouring Paints. You don't want to miss this video!!! You'll see some examples of the results when you use some drops of silicone.
These last 2 videos show a few painting examples using the Pebeo Pouring Experiences Kit with no silicone and with silicone mixed in. The results will amaze you (see the first video below)!!!
As you can see, the best pouring medium for you will be the one that will give you the results you desire and that is within your budget and reach.
Now that you have a few of the best pouring medium recipes to try... don't wait any longer to start acrylic pouring!!!
I made sure to choose the most easy and simple, yet effective and proven recipes on the internet and Youtube! I hope they are helpful to you and that you have the courage to get started with acrylic pouring, if you haven't done so yet.
Leave me a comment below to let me know if these recipes worked out for you!!!