Can You Use PVA Glue for Acrylic Pouring?

These days there are many kinds of paints, surfaces, pouring mediums, and additives that acrylic pouring artists use to create with.  Each of these items has its strengths, weaknesses, and associated monetary costs.  With this in mind, we are exploring one of the more inexpensive, but highly effective, pouring mediums commonly available to most artists; PVA glue.

PVA, or polyvinyl acetate, glue works quite well as a pouring medium.  The texture and composition mix nicely with acrylic paints and dries into a sturdy, slightly flexible, solid that adheres to many different painting surfaces.  PVA glue is also relatively inexpensive and easy to find in most countries.

Read on for more information about the composition of PVA glue and a few of the advantages and disadvantages of using PVA glue in your fluid acrylic pouring project.

Why Use PVA Glue in Acrylic Pouring?

PVA glue is a multi-purpose glue made from polyvinyl acetate.  This glue is most commonly used as an adhesive to porous materials like wood, cloth, paper, and cardboard.   

Vinyl and acrylic resins are similar in composition with vinyl being a much cheaper alternative, hence its use in things like house paint and glue.   The vinyl resin is both a hardener and a binder which makes it an ideal candidate for extending acrylic paint without compromising its strength and composition.

Here are a few of the other properties of PVA glue to consider before using it as a pouring medium.

Acrylic Pour with Glue Large
Acrylic Pour with PVA Glue

Cost

One major factor in favor of using PVA glue for your acrylic paint pour is the price.    All-purpose glue like Elmer’s Glue-All can be found any almost any hardware, grocery, or convenient store.  This glue costs a fraction of the price of most name brand acrylic paint pouring mediums.

Fewer Cells

When used in an acrylic paint pour, glue tends to have fewer cells form naturally when compared to other pouring mediums like Floetrol or Liquitex Pouring Medium.  This is especially beneficial when you are looking to get more solid colors in your paint pour techniques like a ring pour.

Cells are a tricky business with fluid art and we recommend you read our article specifically dedicated to cells here.

Strength and Drying Times

PVA glues were created to improve the strength of the glue and to minimize their drying times.   PVA glues are made of binders/resins, water, and ethanol or acetone.

The binders/resins create the bonding connection between surfaces.  The water gives the mixtures it’s fluidity and contributes to how long the material takes to dry.  The ethanol or acetone is used to control how quickly the glue dries.

Drying times for acrylic pour artists are less important than a woodworker where minutes can be important. 

Acrylic pour artists expect their paintings to take a day or two to dry and a few weeks to fully cure.  

You can learn more about drying times of acrylic pours in our article here.   

Glue Provides Sheen

Since many acrylic paints are more matte, when combined with a pouring medium made of semi-gloss glue and water you get a shinier result when dried. 

PVA Glue is Non-Toxic

Another plus for using PVA glue as your pouring medium is that it is non-toxic.  These glues are made from synthetic materials that do not create very much outgassing.  No special equipment like masks or gloves is required when using PVA glue.

How to Acrylic Pour with Elmer’s Glue-All

Common Ratios for Using PVA Glue in a Pouring Medium

Many acrylic paint pouring artists us PVA glue as the base of their pouring medium.  Here are a few of the most common ratios we have seen for a pouring medium.  PVA glues are usually quite thick so water or another liquid is added to give the medium a less viscous consistency.

  • 2/3 PVA Glue – 1/3 Water
    This is the most common recipe for using a PVA glue like Elmer’s Glue-All in a pouring medium that we have seen.  The ratios are relatively easy to eyeball without needing to use a scale.
  • 70% PVA Glue – 30% Water
    This is the ratio we use most often in our painting with a medium made from PVA glue.  This gives a slightly thicker consistency that works well for any pour that you want the colors to stay a little bit more solid and not intermix as much.  A tree ring pour is one of the pours we like to use this mix on.
  • 50% PVA Glue – 25% Water – 25% Floetrol
    This is the mixture we use when doing a flip cup or a dirt pour where we want some small natural cell to come out.  This also works well with a swipe as it produces some pretty spectacular lacing. 

ACRYLIC POUR PAINT CALCULATOR

For craft paints, we mix a 1:1 ratio of paint to glue-based medium.  For student quality acrylic paints the ratio is 1:2 parts paint to pouring medium.  Heavy body acrylics and professional paints the ratio goes up to 1:3 or 4 depending on how vibrant you want the colors to look.

NOTE: Most glue looks slightly opaque (or misty white).  When added to acrylic paints the colors will look lighter.  When the glue dries, it will dry clear and your colors will show brighter than they looked in the original liquid mixture.  Keep that in mind when mixing your acrylic pour paints with a glue-based medium.

Don’t forget to read our Best Acrylic Paints for Pouring article to get insight into some of the great acrylic paint brands we use.

Additives for PVA Glue based Pours

  • Silicone Oil
    A drop of silicone per 2 oz of paint will help bring out cells in a pour with a PVA glue medium.  You may need to torch the pour after it is on the canvas to help break the surface tension and allow the oil to filter to the top.

    Torching early before tilting the canvas will allow for the cells to grow and be stretch the longest and therefore you’ll get the largest cells. Torching at the end of the pour, after the majority of your tilting is done, will give small and more round cells (since there is no tilting to make the odd shaped).
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
    Just a small amount of isopropyl alcohol added to a PVA glue medium will produce a lot of tiny cells.  Do no torch a pour with alcohol in it as it may light it on fire. 

    Be warned the alcohol in opaque colors like white does tent to make that color dry blotchy.  This is one additive we recommend practicing a fair bit with as it reacts differently to each paint and medium.
Acrylic Pouring with Glue and Water – Elmer’s Glue-All as a pouring medium review

Alternative Glues

There are a few different types of PVA glue that you can use.   Here I a list of the most common ones, at least the United States. 

  • Glue-All or White Glue – This is a multi-purpose glue that we use the most.  Elmer’s is a popular brand in the US but there are a few others.
  • School Glue – This a watered-down version of the Glue-All.  It is made to be washable, even after it has dried which is why it is favored in-school use.  This will work for practice pours but we don’t recommend using it for artwork you want to last longer than a few years.  If you use silicone you can’t wash that off before putting a resin or top coat on or you will pull up the color. School Glue also dries a smoky white where Glue-All dries clear.
  • Bookbinders Glue – This glue is specially made for long term use.  It is PH neutral so that it won’t break down or yellow over time.
  • Clear Glue – Some glue comes in a clear form. In most cases clear glue is similar to the Glue-All or white glue. Bear in mind that some school glues are also clear so read the label carefully.

Is PVA Glue Archival in Pour Paintings

Archival refers to the lifespan of a material and how well said materials keeps its original color, texture, and form.  Because the composition of PVA glues varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, every glue is going to have a different archival quality.

Most PVA glues, like School Glue, Clear Glue, and Elmer’s Glue-All are slightly acidic.  These glues will last years but will break down over time in part because of the acid.   However, based on what we’ve seen from other artists, this time tends to be in the decades for acrylic pour art.

Many fine artists prefer book binder’s glue or other similar acid-free or PH neutral glues as they will last much longer than traditional glues.  Bookbinders and acid-free glues are also more expensive than more common PVA glues.

90 thoughts on “Can You Use PVA Glue for Acrylic Pouring?”

  1. Thank you for your articles, I am learning a lot from them. I am not a professional artist…yet. I started pouring as a way to release stress plus its pretty cool and I needed art for my house.

    Reply
    • That is how I started out too. I think it is awesome that a math/computers guy like myself can make such amazing art. Enjoy the journey and thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  2. hi and thanks for the awesome blog. can PVA wood glue be used when mixing with the paints or as a medium, if not why? thanks again
    louise

    Reply
    • PVA glue can definitely be used as a pouring medium and be mixed with paints. You can also mix PVA glue with other pouring mediums to get the texture, finish, and effects that want.

      Reply
  3. Thanks so much for your article! It’s been so helpful. I was wondering how long you’d recommend to wait before coating the pva glue and acrylic pour. I’m looking to do resin coating. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • I would still wait at least 14 days before sealing/finishing. You could get away with 7 on smaller canvases but anything bigger than 8X10 I’d wait 2-3 weeks. You don’t want any of the water to be outgassing after you put the resin on or it will cause it to go smokey looking or pull away from the canvas.

      Reply
  4. Loved this article.
    Have been playing around with different mixes for a couple months!
    Amazing fun!
    Now that we r on lockdown, stocked up on elmers glue and some others.
    Can’t wait to try👍🏻👍🏻Ty

    Reply
    • You and me both. I got a gallon of floetrol, Liquitex pouring medium, and Glue-All. Going to have some fun as soon as I have some spare time.

      Reply
    • Yes. Almost any glue will. I’d shy away from kids and school glue just because it doesn’t last as long and can be dissolved easier with water even after dry.

      Reply
        • I honestly don’t know. As long as you get the right consistency and the glue doesn’t have any odd chemical properties that make it different from glue-all I don’t see why not.

          Reply
      • I’m in the process of doing 3 tests:
        1. 33% Fevicol (a locally made glue that I believe is a PVA glue), 33% Elmers Glue-all and 33% Liquitex pouring medium. (Rationale: Fevicol here is cheap, Elmers Glue-all is expensive and Liquitex medium is very expensive. However, Fevicol tends to crack after drying. So hoping Fevicol helps me bring down overall cost while Elmers + Liquitex give me the quality output)
        2. Fevicol 50% + Elmers Glue-all 50% (Rationale: Can I eliminate Liquitex altogether thereby significantly reducing cost, while getting good quality end output)
        3. Fevicol 50% + Liquitex 50% (Rationale: Can I simplify my medium and eliminate Elmers while Fevicol helps bring down cost, if end output quality is up to the mark)

        I’ll mix the paints and then do the pours, should know by tomorrow on how the end output is looking. Wish me luck!

        Reply
  5. Hi,
    I just made some pouring medium with glue but when I poured I had lots of small bubbles.
    I tried to pop them with a propane torch, a heat gun then finally a hairdryer…. nothing worked.
    Any advice.
    Really wanted to try the glue method as it’s so much cheaper.
    Appreciate your help!

    Reply
    • That happens when you mix the paint vigorously, either in the cup or shaking in a bottle. If you leave your paints for an hour or so after you mix them up you’ll get rid of the majority of those bubbles.

      Also make sure your room temperature is a little warmer. For example in Utah I keep my house at 68′ but I have a little space heater while I am working to get that up closer to 73/75′.

      Another thing you can do is pop them toothpick also. Just poke the center.

      I agree on pouring with glue. SO MUCH CHEAPER.

      Reply
  6. Hi, this was a great topic and I learned a lot thank you. Wanted to know if you know of any additives that make acrylics matte. Similar to matte medium. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Floetrol is the best matte pouring medium to use. I just did a roundup of 11 popular pouring mediums (videos coming out in the next few weeks) and Floetrol was the only matte one.

      Also keep in mind that if your paint is very glossy you’ll have to add a fair bit if Floetrol (at least 1:1 if not 2:1) in order to dull the acrylic paint.

      Reply
  7. Why does the following happen? I have my pouring medium already mixed up made up of PVA glue and water, when I had this to my paint and start to mix it goes all creamy fluffy sand looks like sand is mixed with it… it only happens with the PVA… can any one help?

    Brian

    Reply
    • Which brand of PVA are you using?

      I have used a few paints, especially more heavy body paints, and gotten kind of a gritty consistency because the paints didn’t incorporate all the way. Could that be the problem?

      Reply
    • Hi Brian, and anyone else out there reading this. I freely admit to being an acrylic pouring newbie, but I might have the solution to this gritty problem. Try mixing just a little (1/4) of the pouring medium into the acrylic. Make sure it is completely incorporated before adding the rest. You should find you have beautifully smooth silky paint. Best of luck

      Reply
  8. You have a great site with very detailed information. Just got into pouring and LOVE it! I have a huge bottle of Elmers glue used for a paper mache project and didn’t realize it could use it for this. I went thru a bottle of Floetrol in one night and thought it was kinda pricey to practice my pouring. Thanks for all the great info.

    Reply
    • That is exciting. Now you just have to find a place for all of them to dry. 8)

      Glue and Floetrol and definitely great for beginners and are by far the cheapest pouring mediums. I’ll have a post/video out this week about the most common pouring mediums and some of their properties. I think that would be another post you might be interested in.

      Reply
  9. Hi, thank you for your informative articles they are a great help.
    Could one use wood adhesive in the same way as PVA glue? The one I have says it is resin based.
    Kind regards, Maria

    Reply
  10. Thank you for really good information!!
    I am really struggeling with getting cells to stay small, they turn gigantic most of the time.
    But you are saying that torching closer to the canvas will heat up the paint and stop the cell enlargement process? In that case I am really happy!

    Reply
    • The key to small cells is to torch as late as possible. Torching early gives the cells the most amount of time to grow and to be stretched. I just put out a new video on YouTube, also Leftbrainedartist, today on my review of pouring with glue and I show how the cells from early torches are much bigger than the cells from late torches.

      You never want to have your torch very close the surface of the paint. Maybe a quick drive by to pop air bubbles. Otherwise you’ll scorch the paint.

      Reply
      • Hi there David. I am so loving your page.. Very clear, precise and not too wordy.
        I have been using Floetrol and water for my pouring medium and now I know I can use Elmers Craft Glue it is going to lower my costs..
        I too have trouble keeping the cells small unless it is a swipe.
        Doing a Beach Themed based canvas for a lady with real sand and now I know that the Elmers Glue is so applicable and economical I can use that for the real sand.
        Thank you so much for sharing.
        We can all learn something new everyday in life Hey.
        Cheers from Heather in NSW Australia.

        Reply
        • In Australia they sell a clear glue, I am trying to remember the name, that supposedly works even better than glue-all. The artist on the channel Pouring Your Heart Out uses it. Her painting are fantastic.

          On the small cells, don’t torch until after you have done all your tilting. If the cells form early they get elongated and stretched by the tilting. Also, if you are using silicone, cut back a bit if your cells are way too big. I usually use maybe one drop per 2 ounces of 60 grams of mixed paint.

          Reply
    • I have updated the article to give additional details about that. I apologize that it wasn’t clear and it was partially incorrect before. If you need any more guidance please let me know.

      Reply
    • I need a recipe for this pour painting, I am 79 and really I can,t remember the ratio , for Elmer’s glue. I do not like the cells at all. They bother me. I have tried a few ,hit or miss on the glue and find the right consistency. I do like this very much,

      Reply
      • First mix your glue-all 70% glue to 30% water. That is now your pouring medium

        Next, if you are using craft paints (FolkArt, Craftsmart) mix the same amount of paint and pouring medium (50:50 or 1:1 ratio). If you are using student acrylic (Liquitex, Artist’s Loft) mix 2 parts pouring medium to one part paint. The higher quality paints have more and better pigments so you can mix in more pouring medium.

        Last, check the consistency and add a make sure that each paint is the same. You can add additional water to any that are too thick.

        Reply
    • you are some guy David ..many thanks for all the information..im a beginner from scotland i have trouble with additives if its anything more than pva and water ..theres so many and different Artists have different recipes ..also not everyone can afford the expensive mediums x

      Reply
      • You are very welcome Margaret. I am always looking for the cheapest way to be able to continue my pouring obsession. If I can get 80% of the results with 20% of the costs that is my sweet spot.

        Reply
  11. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I have the Glue-All and thank goodness I found your video before I tried it. So much great information!! And your pour was gorgeous!!

    Reply
      • Would the archival time be better if it’s finished with varnish or resin? Want to practice with pva, but if I turn out something good, I’m wondering if an extra finish will keep it going for longer!

        Reply
        • As long as they are both UV resistant or have a UV resistant coat before varnishing the longevity should be lifetimes. Where they are stored and displayed probably affects the longevity more than the finish coat.

          Reply
    • I’ve never tried wood glue. I would assume the PVA version would work fine but you’d have to experiment. Do let us know if you try it and how it works please.

      Reply
    • Absolutely you can. Just make sure you wait at least 3 weeks before doing so. You want every single bit of moisture out of the painting so it doesn’t get trapped between your paint layer and your varnish or topcoat.

      Reply
  12. Thank you for your article, which i have to be honest i found to be the easiest and most understandable that I’ve come across. Concise and straight forward – thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge. I’m ‘m fairly new to paint pouring and have had soooooo many what I thought were failures! I love paint pouring -it is so addictive, but for me it has meant some commitment to keep trying and learn to be less critical of myself, which is a challenge. However I have hung some of my pieces (albeit in the bathroom!). As you can imagine lockdown has been great for me!! Stay safe stay well paint pourers.

    Reply
  13. Do you worry about the longevity of the glue? I know that I can get fragile over time. I’m looking into using glue as a sculptural element in my work but I’m worried about creating with archival quality in mind.

    Reply
    • Glue, especially glue mixed with acrylic paints, will last for 10s of years but I don’t believe it will last a century without an amazing varnish and great care.

      Reply
  14. hi any advice on how to salvage the edges where i used houseplant and water to prime the canvas the middle is great with paints and floetrol and now realise i should have used floetrol in the priming white but don’t want to waste painting should i just paint over the ridges and canvas showing through bits on edges ? any advice gratefully received

    Reply
    • I frequently overpaint on my edges when silicone shows through or I don’t get enough coverage. Especially when I have lots of one color like white on the outside.

      Reply
  15. Hi, thank you for all these gorgeous videos! I am wondering about using tile and glass for pours. Do you have to prep the surface with anything special? I was thinking of Kilz primer or some type of glass painting medium. Have you found that to be necessary?

    Reply
  16. Great website and great videos David!! I’m new to paint pouring and you’ve helped me a lot in terms of keeping my costs down while I practice. I’ve started using a PVA glue mix (60% glue, 40% water mixed at 2:1 (medium:paint)). I’m using small canvases so don’t generally use a great deal of paint and sometimes only need splashes of a particular colour. In your opinion, how long would a PVA medium mixed with paint and bottled in squeezy bottles last??
    Thank you and keep up the great work!!!!!

    Reply
  17. Hi David. First of all, let me thank you for your amazing tutorial. 😍 I learned a lot. I think being “a left-brained artist” helps to go to the point and be precise. Hehe. Thanks.
    I’m a principiant in this acrylic pouring journey and the only thing I can say is… I love it! I’ve been using Floetrol but it can get very expensive in the long run so I hope using Elmer’s glue-all will be less pricey. Like many of us, I’m on a budget. 🤗 Any advice for a budding artist? Best regards.

    Reply
    • Start out with one method. Learn everything you can about it. Then move on. Jumping around to different techniques is what most people want to do but you’ll find that you get many more failed paintings (at least in your eyes, other always seem to think otherwise) than you will get real winners.

      Reply
  18. Hi David, I am very happy I came across your site. I’m very new to acrylic pouring. I ordered Glue All from Amazon and was sent school glue. Stupid me, I didn’t realize until recently that there is a difference and I’ve been using the school glue. Anyway, I did a couple pours and am happy with the results. My concern is can I put a glossy finish on my dried paintings and if it’s okay what should I use. Any advise you can give will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you, Peggy

    Reply
    • I have a video on my YouTube channel on the easiest way to finish your pour and not get brush marks. I’d recommend you start there. Finishing can be a tricky one.

      Reply
    • I have not tried slime glue. I assume it is similar to school glue where it would work better for some techniques and not others.

      Reply
  19. Love your site! Just wondering when you use tiles to make coasters, etc.… Do you need to prep/prime the tiles? Does it matter if the tiles are made of ceramic, porcelain, or a pottery? And is it important to put some sort of finish coating on the tiles if they are going to be used as coasters?
    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • I generally use the cheap tiles from Home Depot/Lowes which are porcelain. If the tiles are unfinished you want to put a gesso or something on them to keep so much of the liquid getting absorbed in to the tile. Otherwise they just need to be clean.

      A finish is a must for a coaster that is going to get use, especially if it gets used for hot drinks. Normally I recommend a heat resistant resin.

      Reply
  20. Hi David. Thanks for your advice. It is much appreciated. I’ve got a problem with the glue medium. My poirs tend to crack. What am I doing wrong. Help please!…Many Thanks…Jenny

    Reply
  21. Have you seen any yellowing in any of your paintings with glue? Also, we were curious what your oldest painting is, and is it holding up alright?

    Reply
    • The consistency is the problem. I can’t get it to work correctly with paint. I always put a finish coat on so I am not as worried about water resistant right out of the box with glue.

      Reply
  22. I’ve been watching your videos and find them very informative and helpful. I missed a batch of glue all and filtered water this morning. It didn’t occur to me until after I mixed it to verify if the ratios are based on weight or volume. I calculated my 70:30 split based on grams and wonder if it will be too thin.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Nope. I do everything by weight. it is so much easier to measure and less to clean up when mixing small batches (no measuring cups to clean as I just put my cup on the scale).

      Reply
  23. Thank you so much for all of your articles and for all of your videos! I have always loved art but struggled to find the specific area that i liked most. I like to draw but I also wanted to find something else if you know what I mean. I went from one thing to another, each one no better than the rest. Then, paint pouring entered my life and boom, i was charmed. As a beginner, your resources have been the best that I could ever find! Thank you so much and keep it up!

    Reply
  24. Hi I am in Australia and very new to paint pouring. I am dabbling with glue and water with paint so far i have done 3 small canvas’s. I wasn’t happy with the first but 2nd one gave me a buzz and the third one was wow factor. Have not used floetrol or silicone as yet. I have ordered some silicone oil online so when i get it i can see how my piece will work out. I am so not a savvy person with the layer of paint to put on the canvas to begin. can you suggest an easy way to make it workable as my pour doesnt always move like yours.

    Reply
    • The base coat? I just did a video about that if you want to go the my YouTube channel which is “leftbrainedartist” also (link in the menu of the website). I use about 30% of the total paint as a base coat they the other 70% for the pouring cups.

      If you want use the contact us form on the website to send me a picture that would let me help you better Debra.

      Reply
  25. Hi David! I love your videos. My question is….do you also add PM to your base paint? I typically use house paint which is usually thick. Does the base also have to be the same consistency as your paint mixtures? I also seem to struggle with getting cells and I don’t generally care for silicone because I can usually see the canvas. Any advice?
    Thank you so much for your helpful information.

    Reply
    • Yes, except for the Sheleeart blooms and the pearl cells techniques the base paint is mixed exactly the same as all the other paints.

      I would not use house paint as your base paint for regular acrylic pours. You’ll always get strange effects.

      You need to use one very heavy paint and then lighter paints. My video this next week will have some additional info on how to tell paint densities if you can wait till Saturday.

      Reply
  26. Off the subject. My personal rules have become:
    Never paint when sleepy
    Never paint when tired
    Never paint when dinner is waiting
    Never allow a cat in your pouring room
    And my David Voorhies rule…Always go to David when you have a question

    Reply
  27. hi David im margaret from scotland..been pouring for over a year..love your videoes really easy to understand..thank you..my question ..ratio for pm with pva ..is 70/30…what is the ratio for the base paint for a dutch pour..im using paint and water to a very thin consistency ..sometimes it works but other times i think i might be putting too much paint on..thanks David

    Reply

Leave a Comment