Latex and acrylic paint are similar in that both are made from an acrylic resin. Their development in the 1950s and 1960s offered an alternative to alkyd and oil paints, both of which required to be diluted with mineral spirits or other flammable solvents, whereas the newer paints could be diluted with water.
Latex paint is a commercial, decorative paint, designed for painting the interior or exterior of a house, building or structure. Acrylic paint is designed for making art.
Latex paint has the consistency of heavy cream for easy application. Acrylic paint varies in consistency, from thick like toothpaste to fluid like cake frosting.
Latex paint is readily available, and can be found at home improvement stores, hardware stores and even certain supermarket chains. Acrylic paint is sold at craft stores and art supply stores.
A gallon of interior, semi-gloss white paint sells as low as $11 from a home improvement store, whereas a gallon of titanium white paint (artist-grade paint) costs a minimum of $40.
Stores sell latex paint in quart-, one-gallon and five-gallon containers. Art supply stores sell acrylic paint in 2- or 5-oz. tubes, pints, quarts and one-gallon containers.