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19 Best Paints For Hydro Dipping: Ultimate Buying Guide

Best Paints For Hydro Dipping
Image by Ikonicswiki from Wikimedia Commons

Hydro dipping allows you to make one-of-a-kind pieces with each dip.

With hydro dipping, you can make your old pair of shoes or t-shirts look new. If you use the recommended and best paints for hydro dipping, the prints become durable and will last longer.

You can use hydro-dipping spray paint, acrylic paint with borax, oil-based paint, enamel paint, and marble paint. Spray paints are the best to use for hydro dipping. These paints will work for dipping shoes, guitars, and other items. Popular brands for hydro dipping are Rust-Oleum and Krylon Spray Paints. 

If you are curious about hydro dipping and the best paint to use you have come to the right place.

You will also know the other paint alternatives that you can use for hydro dipping. If you are interested to know more, keep reading.

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Hydro Dipping in Brief

Hydro dipping is a new trend that many people are fascinated with.

This is a printing technique that allows you to transfer interesting color patterns to shoes, clothing or any object that you desire simply by submerging it in the water with paint.

This technique can also be called water transfer printing, hydrographic printing, swirling, and marbling.

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Hydro dipping has captured the hearts of many artists and even DIYers for it is easy to perform and highly customizable.

Not to mention this method is very cost-effective.

Learn about different hydro dipping techniques and how to hydro dip your fav sneakers: How To Hydro Dip With Acrylic Paint? 4 Easy and Fun Ways

Hydro Dipping Technique: Using Spray Paint

Spray paint is the most widely used paint for hydro dipping as it floats on water and is durable.

This is used by both professionals and even beginners. You have better control when using spray paint. Spray paint also offers better coverage.

The downside, however, is not all spray paints can be used for hydro dipping. In hydro dipping, it is advisable to use oil-based or synthetic spray paints.

Water-based spray paints are not advisable to be used for hydro dipping as they do not float.

Remember how oil and water interacts?

Oil sits on top of water. This is why oil-based and non-water-based paints are best for hydro dipping. 

Below is a quick rundown of the best paints for hydro dipping. This can be very helpful for beginners and  DIYers.

Note, that paints like Rust Oleum and Krylon were NOT initially made for hydro dipping.

They can be ok for amateurs to test but they are NOT professional paints and it is exactly why they give unpredicted results. I will put a fair warning for such paints.

Yes, some people use them anyway and get good results, but I want to be 100% open with you!

Best Professional Hydrographic paints

Ultimately the best paint for professional hydro dipping is One Hit Wonder paint

the best paint for professional hydro dipping

OHW paint is initially created as hydrographic paint and it will work amazing on dipping projectsof any scale as it has durability, enough open dip window time, great coverage and stick to all surfaces, including plastic, metal, and fiberglass.

The big advantage of these paints is that it is all-in-one paint.

It doesn’t require an activator, a primer, a base coat – nothing.

OHG Hydrographic Spray Paint Kit

This hydrographic paint kit by OHG comes with 10 paint colors and 4 hydro activators.

It is expensive- almost $300 but it is one of the professional dipping paints you can get.

But we are not all pros in dipping and we probably don’t want to be.

We can still try DIY methods and regular paints people tried to use, and it worked somehow, for hydro dipping on a small scale. Just for fun!

If you look for “hydrographic paint” nothing will really come out.

So what we can use:

Best Paint for Hydro Dipping OVERALL for amateurs

Best Paint for Hydro Dipping on Shoes

Best Metallic Spray Paint for Hydro Dipping

Best Paint for Hydro-Dipping on Guitars

  • Mixture of borax and enamel paint

Best Acrylic Paint for Hydro Dipping

Paints that I don’t recommend for hydro dipping or home improvement projects:

  • Krylon ColorMaster Spray Paint and Primer

Best Spray Paints for Hydro Dipping (And Worst)

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Multi-Purpose Spray Paint

Best Spray Paint for Hydro Dipping

Rust-Oleum is undoubtedly the best paint for hydro dipping.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch series is perfect for beginners and paint enthusiasts because of its durable paint and primer formulation. 

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed. But beginners do have great results with Rust Oleum brand.

This is an oil-based spray paint that is highly durable giving your hydro-dipped object a longer life span.

This multi-purpose spray paint is specially formulated for ceramics, wood, masonry, metal, and plaster.

Excellent coveragePaint can adhere to the object unevenly
Water resistant (oil-based)Prone to cracking
Fast dryingFlat is not recommended for dipping, better use gloss paint

Often not available on Amazon, better browse options for Rust Oleum on Walmart.

Krylon ColorMaxx Spray Paint

paint for hydro dipping

Krylon COLORmaxx Spray Paint is widely available and perfect for hydro-dipping beginners.

The great thing about Krylon spray paint is the fact that it can adhere to several types of surfaces may it be wood, ceramic, glass, metal, or fabric.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

Krylon ColorMaxx Spray Paint is relatively cheaper compared to Rust-Oleum.

If you are on a tight budget, you may opt for Krylon for it is also durable and comes in several color options.

Releases paint evenlyNot always leaves a smooth surface
No runs and drippingsReported (rarely) to be less durable than Rust-Oleum
No paint leakage

If not available on Amazon, try Walmart: Krylon on Walmart.

Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Metallic Spray Paint

metallic spray paint for hydro dipping

If you are looking for metallic spray paint for hydro-dipping, the Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Metallic Spray Paint works wonders.

It has the same formulation as the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint but with a metallic color and finish.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

This spray paint can be used on wood, vinyl, fiberglass, concrete, metal, and plastic. It is formulated with rust protectant perfect for hydro-dipping metals.

Your object can be completely dry within 30 minutes.

DurableSpits out blobs of paint if pressure is not enough
Realistic metallic finishOften unavailable on Amazon (can buy on Walmart)
Water resistant (oil-based)Users don’t like the style of the nozzle and how it can leak sometimes.
Fast drying (within 30 min)
20+ metallic colors in the palette

NOT RECOMMENDED – Krylon ColorMaster Paint and Primer

Krylon ColorMaster Paint worst paint for hydro dipping

If you are looking for fast-drying spray paint for hydro dipping with primer, you may want to check out the Krylon ColorMaster Paint +Primer.

This spray paint is primarily made for automotive surfaces. 

However, it can also be used for hydro dipping for it contains primer which aids in the easy application of paint to most surfaces.

You can comfortably spray with ease and less pressure with its EZ touch conical tip.

Crafters said it didn’t work well on guitars.

Comfortable nozzle technology Not evenly covers the surfaces and tend to peel
Easy to use Paint finish may look cheap and streaky
Without strong smellReportedly can adhere poorly
Some colors differ significantly in real life from what is advertised.
Reportedly required multiple recoating (5+ coats)
Unfortunately, takes hours and days to fully dry and while drying can still mildly smell

Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint for hydro dipping

Rust-Oleum is definitely a game player in hydro dipping.

The Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint is another multi-purpose paint with a satin finish.

It can be used on different types of surfaces such as ceramics, plastic, wood, vinyl, and metal.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

This paint offers excellent consistency when it floats in water. It doesn’t dry up on water but quickly dries up when the immersed object surfaces from the water

When using this paint, it is advisable to be extra careful for wrinkles may form if too much paint is applied.

This is a fast-drying spray paint where you can expect the hydro-dipped object to be completely dry in 20 minutes.

Results in a low sheen finish May result in uneven finish or application
Paint can adhere to most types of surfacesProne to chipping or cracking
Also available in metallic
Tons of positive reviews on Walmart

If not available on Amazon, here is the link to the spray paint on Walmart.

Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic Spray Paint

best metallic spray paint for hydro dipping

The Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic Spray Paint has a more saturated, richer finish, and shine.

This spray paint is not multi-purpose for it tends to result in a hard finish as soon as it dries up. This paint is not suitable to be used on fabrics such as socks and shoes.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

The Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic spray paint should be sealed with a clear coat to minimize cracking and chipping.

Though, the manufacturer suggests otherwise. It is best if you can experiment with this spray paint before using it on your final project.

If you intend to try this paint for hydro dipping, do make sure to submerge the object fast. This paint tends to dry up fast and becomes harder.

Despite this, you may want to give this paint a try for it is one of the spray paints in the market that can give you the best-looking results.

Offers best-looking finishesProne to chipping and cracking
Dries fast

Majic Paints Camouflage Spray Paint Kit

camouflage paint for hydro dipping

Not just single can but a set of 6 camouflage colors of Majic oil-based paint. They all dry to matte finish and can adhere to various surfaces.

As it is a camouflage palette, it is mostly can be used to hydro dip hunting tools, shoes and hunting styled accessories and gifts.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

Please shake well and test before using as some reports said it’s clogging and the paint doesn’t stick for long.

Best Acrylic Paint for Hydro Dipping

MTN Hardcore Spray Paint – best acrylic spray paint for hydro dipping

Best Acrylic Paint for Hydro Dipping

MTN Hardcore spray paint is a synthetic paint that is made suitable for hydro dipping.

MTN comes in high-pressure cans which allows you to deliver paint at a high volume at a faster rate  resulting in a gloss finish with good coverage. 

Note: This paint is actually tested for hydro dipping

This spray paint is considered one of the best acrylic spray paint for hydro dipping available on the market today.

This makes MTN the choice of many professionals and beginners.

The downside, however, MTN spray paint can be quite expensive and difficult to find.

Good coverageExpensive (up to $60 for can)
Easy and comfortable to useNot easily accessible
Link on Amazon
Link on Walmart
Comes in interchangeable nozzles

FolkArt Color Shift Acrylic Paint [Metallic]

best metallic acrylic paint for hydro dipping

The FolkArt Color Shift acrylic paint set offers you lustrous color options fit for your hydro dipping needs and so much more.

The amazing thing about this paint set is the fact that the color changes when hit by light at a certain angle.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

Not only is this paint best for beginners, but it is also well-loved by many experienced paint artists because it is quick drying and produces a shimmery and glossy finish.

There are several specialty finishes this paint set offers –  glitter, chalk, enamel, neon, and many more.

Rich and creamy paint consistencyPoor paint coverage. Multiple coat applications may be needed
Non-toxic Runny paint

Castle Art Supplies Fabric Paint – Best for Hydro Dipping Fabric & Shoes

Best acrylic paint for Hydro Dipping Fabric & Shoes

The Castle Art Supplies Fabric Paint set comes in 24 different colors that are great for hydro dipping. This paint gives you a 3D effect once it dries up.

Not only is this paint works on fabrics, but this can also be applied to wood, glass, and many more.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

This paint set is easy to use, non-toxic, and can be used by children. It is also quick drying which is perfect for hydro dipping.

Quick DryingThick and gloopy
Non-toxic (can be used by children)Paint has the tendency to peel and flake off
Affordable – a whole set for under $30

Flash Acrylic Paint

The Flash Acrylic Paint set is another paint option for hydro dipping.

The paint formulation offers a high level of pigment strength, high performance, and opacity. This paint is perfect to use on different materials because of its good elastic capacity. 

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

The great thing about this paint set is that you can create or build up your own hydro dipping kit by combining different types of colors (metallic color, pouring medium, and fluorescent paint) and finishes.

Non-toxicMashy consistency
Rich and vibrant paint colorsPoor paint coverage
Often not available to buy on Amazon

Neon Nights UV Paint – Great for Tie Die and Shoes

best neon paint for hydro dipping

If you are looking for glow-in-the-dark paint that you can use for hydro dipping, you should try the Neon Nights UV Paint set.

This paint is not only used on fabrics but also for other materials or surfaces as well.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

This UV paint has vibrant colors with high opacity.

These are made from high-quality materials and are very safe to use. The paint on the submerged object can withstand frequent washing and wear.

Easy to usePaint needs to be shaken or stirred well before using
Glows well (use UV light)

Liquitex Pouring Medium Paint 

The Liquitex Pouring Medium Paint is perfect for hydro dipping because it has been designed for flow painting as well as pouring effects.

This acrylic paint set will last longer and will not fade because it is made up of lightfast pigments and no dyes.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

If you are a beginner, this paint set is a perfect start. You can expect excellent results when you hydro-dip paper or canvas. The end result gives you a high gloss finish which looks amazing.

Easy to use and versatileCannot be reactivated with water
Quick dryingOnly 3 colors in set and it is quite pricey
It comes with pouring medium that you can keep using with other paint brands

Best Oil-Based Paint for Hydro Dipping

Humbrol Oil-Based Enamel Paint – best paint for hydro dipping plastic

The Humbrol enamel paint is another paint choice for hydro dipping.

The Humbrol doesn’t require to be thinned out which is an advantage for beginners.

You can create amazing immersible marble effects with this paint on several types of surfaces.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.
Can be applied on several types of surfaces and comes in over 80 colorsStrong paint odor
Quick dryingThe can is very small!
Best for plasticHard to get in US
Requires a lot of stirring to get the paint smooth

Dupli-Color Engine Enamel With Ceramic Spray Paint

The Dupli-Color Engine Enamel Spray Paint is made for automotive applications. However, it can also be used for hydro dipping.

This spray paint formulation is made from ceramic resin. It is highly durable and heat resistant. 

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

Mostly used for metal and items that interact with heat.

Durable and long-lasting finish, heat resistantCan have defective nozzle
No prone to cracking, flaking, or peeling

Rust-Oleum Gloss Protective Enamel Spray Paint

The Rust-Oleum Gloss Protective Enamel paint is a good choice if you want to hydro-dip metal surfaces. This paint can also be used for other surfaces such as alloy and wood.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

It has some rust resistance.

Effortless spray paintingShould be used outdoors (harmful fumes)
Dries slower than some paints – 2 to 4 hours vs 30 min.

Best Epoxy-Based Paint for Hydro Dipping

The most durable epoxy-based spray paint that you can use for hydro dipping is the Brownells Aluma-Hyde II.

This is a highly durable and hard-curing product that can withstand pressure at varying points. This is ideally used for steel, plastic, alloy, and aluminum surfaces.

Fair warning: this paint was not designed for hydro dipping. Results are not guaranteed.

The best thing about this spray paint is that it offers a durable finish and excellent coverage. It can withstand solvents or other cleaning agents.

The downside, it is possible for you to find a can with a defective nozzle and without enough pressure. 

Best Marble Paint for Hydro Dipping – Marabu

Marabu Easy marble paint is a solvent-based marbling paint that is easy and flexible to use. This is why it is considered the best marble paint for hydro dipping.

The Marabu marble paint is safe and non-toxic which means even children can do hydro dipping.

Note: This paint is designed for marbling technique! So it is good for hydro dipping canvas and papers. 

Since Marabu marble paint is flexible to use, it can adhere easily to paper and even earthenware.

This can be used as a practice tool for children or beginners who are exploring the world of hydro dipping.

It is also incredibly affordable considering that you are buying a set for around $15.

However, the paint may clump and solidify when in contact with water.

Image by Deeppaint from Wikimedia Commons

How to hydro dip with acrylic paint?

The most common and popular method of dip painting technique is marbling.

The marbling technique allows you to make a swirl design by floating different paint colors on the water. The swirling design makes 3D objects look very stunning.

But acrylic paint is extremely hard to use for dipping because it is simply not floating.

You must use borax or other paints, ex. marbling paint Marabu or spray paints.

You can even hydro-dip a candle! (Image credit: Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash)

Here are the materials you need for the marbling technique:

  1. Tub of water
  2. Paint (colors of your choice)
  3. Object to dip (example: shoe)
  4. Borax if using acrylic paint
  5. Stick or brush (or any item that you can use to manipulate the paint on water)

Here are the steps on how to do hydro dipping:

  1. Wear protective clothing. Wear your goggles, mask, and gloves.
  2. Thoroughly clean the object to ensure that dirt or particles are removed.
  3. In a large and deep tub full of water, mix borzx, then you can start mixing your paint colors by carefully dropping paint one at a time on the water.
  4. You may use a stirring stick or any disposable object to make a swirling effect and to avoid the formation of bubbles or froth.
  5. You may use painter’s tape to cover portions of the object that you don’t want to be painted.
  6. When your paint is ready, you can now submerge the object. Slowly remove the object from the edge of the tub.
  7. You can remove the painter’s tape slowly. Place the submerged object on a non-stick surface or wax paper. Let the object dry in the open air for at least 24 hours.
  8. You may apply a sealant or clear coat once the object has dried completely.

If you are using acrylic paint in tubes, you may need to add cornstarch or borax to the water to make the water denser to allow the paint to float. However, some may find this process unnecessary and would rather use plain water to thin the acrylic paint instead.

If you are a beginner, you may want to practice using a hydro dipping kit. The kit contains everything that you need to start your hydro dipping project from different acrylic paints, mixing sticks, canvas, wood slices, gloves, and many more.

Do you need to apply a primer and sealant?

It is advisable to apply a good primer to the object before hydro dipping.

The best primer for hydro dipping is the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Flat White Primer. Aside from the white color, it is also available in red, gray, and black.

You can still hydro-dip even if you don’t apply a primer on the object.

You can instead look for spray paint that already contains a primer to save you time.

After hydro dipping, you need to apply a clear coat to seal the paint. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch series has clear coat options for you to choose from.

It is available in gloss, satin, semi-gloss, and matte.

Image by Ikonicswiki from Wikimedia Commons

How To Choose Best Hydro-Dipping Paint

There are several brands in the market claiming to be the best choice for hydro dipping.

You may find yourself experimenting day after day just to see which one is ideal for you. 

Each type of paint offers different results. For instance, many hydro drippers prefer to use acrylic paint or latex-based paint because they offer better coverage. 

If you want results with more vibrant colors, water-resistant, and dries fast, you may opt to use oil-based paints.

Whatever your choice for hydro-dipping paint may be, it all depends on you – whichever is convenient and easy for you to use. 

With that said, below is a brief buying guide to help you make an intelligent decision about the paint you will use for your hydro-dipping project.

  1. It is important that you consider the resulting color that you expect to see on the submerged object after hydro dipping. Different brands have different color palettes and sheens. You may want to check product reviews before buying your hydro-dipping paint.
  2. It is equally important that you know what paint finish you expect to see from your submerged object. If you want to hide the imperfections of the object, it is advisable to go for flat finish paint. On the other hand, a semi-glossy or glossy finish can give you a more lustrous finish.
  3. It is best to use paint that is quick drying. Your exposure to VOC is minimized if the paint you use is fast drying. You want a hydro-dipping paint that you can touch in a matter of a few minutes and is cured within a couple of days. 

Best Hydrographic Activators for Hydro Dipping

For beginners and pros to get the most out of the dipping and get the smoothest coverage possible, experts recommend using activator and base coat that will assure paint sticks perfectly and evenly over the item, whether you are dipping shoes or even your pistol.

  1. DIP Demon Hydro Graphic Activator

The DIP Demon Hydro Graphic Activator is the perfect choice if you are planning to hydro-dip several items or one massive object.

The formulation of DIP Demon offers better printing results even with just a small amount of paint.

This activator offers great coverage and the paint doesn’t clog. This paint is cost-friendly and is available in a 16 oz aerosol spray can for easier handling. 

High functional nozzle Can only be applied to a few types of surfaces
Can be used for both household and professional purposes
  1. Dip Bite Hydrographic Base Coat

The Dip Bite Hydrographic base coat offers a professional and smooth first coat that dries quickly before you dip your item.

This is a beginner-friendly supply and ideal for those who want to elevate hydro dipping.

This coat dries fast which allows you to recoat or reapply paint. This paint is durable and you can expect the paint to stay on for a longer period of time.

Quick DryingAn activator is required to process the film
No issues with paint running or dripping
  1. Hydrovator Hydro Dipping Aerosol

The Hydrovator Hydro Dipping Aerosol is is another excellent activator choice for experienced hydro dippers.

It is highly versatile which can be applied to several types of surfaces.

Easy to useReleases strong fumes
Consistent and vibrant paint finish
No clogging, even film


Can you use regular acrylic paint to hydro dip?

Yes, you can use regular acrylic paint to hydro dip but you need to add borax to make it float. Some sources suggest silicone oil or glycerin to make it float but I tested and silicone oil does NOT work. You need to bear in mind that adding a medium may change the paint’s properties. Before working on your actual project, it is best to test your paint first.

What are the best colors for hydro dipping?

Red, black, and blue are the most popular color choices for hydro dipping. However, there are several color combinations you can make for hydro dipping. You may want to try some color combinations such as black paired with bright colors, white and gold, green and blue, or yellow and orange.

Look at color wheel and pick colors that are located opposite to each other like red and green – they are complementary colors and always will create a contrast.

You can go monochromatic or pick the main color and only use its values (adding white and making the color lighter).

Can I do hydro dipping with enamel paint?

Yes, you can do hydro dipping with enamel paint. Rust-Oleum gloss protective enamel spray paint is ideal for metal surfaces. You can do hydro dipping using this type of enamel paint on alloy, metal, and wood surfaces.

Final Thoughts

At a glance, hydro dipping may seem too easy. However, you need to remember that hydro dipping is a process and requires practice for amazing results. You may need to experiment with different paints to determine which one works well for you.

The ideal spray paint to use for hydro dipping should be durable, flexible, and produces good-looking results. It should also be comfortable on the hands and doesn’t produce a strong and harmful odor.

Always remember to wear gloves and masks when using spray paints with aerosols. Hydro dipping is a fun process that doesn’t require too much effort. It simply requires that you follow instructions and keep practicing.