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What Are The Best Paints For Hydro Dipping? (Pro, Spray & Acrylic)

With hydro-dipping, you can make your old pair of shoes or t-shirts look new. If you use the right 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.

I have a few paint options I would recommend for professionals and crafters, based on the performance and budget.

Let’s dig in.

Best Paints For Hydro Dipping
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

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Hydro Dipping Paint Types

Hydro dipping works as a very simple process: special paint or film is applied over the water’s surface and then you can dip in an object in this water. The hydrographic film will wrap around it and stick to it.

Not to mention this method is very cost-effective.

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.

An example would be Rust-Oleum American Accents or Painter’s Touch.

You can even hydro-dip a candle! micheile dot com

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 interact?

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

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

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

We can use:

  • marble paint – the easiest and coolest paint for beginners. Marabu Easy marble paint is my top choice for hydro-dipping and paper marbling.
  • enamel paint – requires borax and doesn’t give the best results
  • acrylic paint – can work, but needs borax or a floating agent. Acrylic spray paint like MTN Hardcore works amazingly.
  • epoxy and oil-based paints are not very popular and safe to use but can work for hydro-dipping.
  • Professional paint for hydro-dipping – One Hit Wonder. Yet, for amateurs, it is excessive and expensive.

Paints that I don’t recommend for hydro dipping:

  • Krylon ColorMaster Spray Paint and Primer

Best Marble Paint for Hydro Dipping – Marabu

Marbling paint that is very good

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.

Professional Hydrographic paints

Professional paints for hydro-dipping are called hydrographic paints and are all spray paints.

How to use: you simply spray professional paints over water in a tub and then dip an item – anything – in it. They stick immediately and form a permanent film on the surface of your item.

The biggest advantage is that they are designed for this and it makes them the easiest paints to use for hydro-dipping: the paint doesn’t need a primer and gives the longest dip window time – the period when we can still dip things in paints and they are wet. All the craft paints have shorter dip window.

But it comes with a significant drawback – price. They are all quite expensive.

Another thing to consider is safety – spray paints are the least safe to work with as they have toxic fumes and are highly flammable.

My verdict: I would not use them for one or two crafts, but only if you’re considering hydro-dipping as a commercial side hustle or you want to customize something truly valuable like a guitar or firearms, where you don’t get a chance to mess it up.

The best professional hydro dipping is One Hit Wonder paint (OHW)

the best paint for professional hydro dipping

Alternative brands: OHG Hydrographic Spray Paint and TNW – automotive grade hydrographic paint

Hobby-level Spray Paint for Hydro Dipping

Regular spray paints will also work for hydro dipping even though they were not designed for hydro dipping.

This leads us to their main disadvantage – Results are not guaranteed and your first hydro-dipping experience may as well be a huge disappointment (it happened to me many times!) – the coverage can be uneven, and they are prone to peeling or cracking.

They work the same way as pro spray paints – you simply spray them over water and dip. But as they are not formulated to stick well with water to a surface, I would recommend using a primer.

Note, that compared to the pro paints, regular spray paints have a shorter drying time and you have only about 15-20 min to spray all colors and fully dip the item until the paint starts to dry.

Brands to try: Rust-Oleum (Painter’s touch, American Accents, Metallic), Majic Paints Camouflage.

Best Spray Paint for Hydro Dipping
Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint for hydro dipping
camouflage paint for hydro dipping

Acrylic Paint for Hydro Dipping

The acrylic paint is extremely hard to use for dipping because it is simply not floating, I tried, it doesn’t. They are too heavy for water.

How it works: You must use borax to keep acrylics floating and it is very challenging to get an even bright color coverage with them.

My experiments: How To Hydro Dip With Acrylic Paint in 4 Steps? Dos & Donts

Brands: However, there is one spray paint – MTN – that is a spray acrylic paint and it works really nice. You can also try other acrylics paint but only choose thin, fluid acrylics like pour paints or craft acrylics like Folk Art.

MTN Hardcore Spray Paint

Note: This paint is actually tested for hydro dipping

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

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

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

FolkArt Color Shift Acrylic Paint [Metallic]

FolkArt Color Shift Glossy Metallic Finish Acrylic Craft Paint Set Designed for Beginners and Artists, Non-Toxic Formula Perfect for Indoor and Outdoor Projects, 2 oz, 8 Fl Oz

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 dips may be needed
Non-toxic Runny paint

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.

Liquitex Professional Matte Pouring Medium Set, Includes 3 x 2-oz Soft Body Acrylic Paint Bottles

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 the set and it is quite pricey
Only 3 colors in the set and it is quite pricey

Oil-Based Paint for Hydro Dipping

Humbrol Oil-Based Enamel Paint

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

The Humbrol enamel paints don’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 the US
Requires a lot of stirring to get the paint smooth

How To Choose Hydro-Dipping Paint That Is Right For You

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 dry 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. 


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).

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 produce 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.

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API