Floetrol is a general-purpose paint conditioner that can be used with water-based paints like flat or semi-gloss latex, enamel paints, acrylic, or vinyl and is widely available at the local hardware store. It is considered to be the hardware-store alternative to brands like Liquitex and as a result, tends to be much less expensive than additives that are specifically formulated for crafters and artists. Floetrol is meant for interior latex paint and has not been tested for durability over time.
If you are just making things for your own pleasure or to give as gifts that would not matter so much, but if you are considering selling I would advise against the trendy types of mediums used for this purpose. Floetrol is the best since it is manufactured for large scale use; it tends to be much less expensive than additives that are specifically formulated for crafters and artists. For new pourers, there are different brand mediums that can substitute for Floetrol. Although it is important to stick with the arts and crafts brands, when you are starting out, most of the experienced pourers will search around to find the best balance of performance and price.
The best substitutes for Floetrol include:
Liquitex pouring medium
Liquitex Pouring Medium creates even puddles, poured sheets, and flowing applications of color without crazing or cracking. The paint film dries without holding bubbles. It retains its high gloss and wet appearance when dry.
Pouring Medium will not add transparency when mixed with color. It is flexible, non-yellowing, and water resistant when dry. Liquitex Pouring Medium is designed primarily to go with the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic Colors. You have to mix with colors to promote drying with a smooth, evenly colored film.
Liquitex is the best-known brand and product on the art market. It is particularly aimed at artists, unlike Floetrol and some of the other products. You will find that a lot of painters use this and would not consider anything else. It is generally considered to be the best all-purpose medium, though opinions vary as wildly as prices.
Adding some water to your paint helps to keep a nice fluid workability, the same as the Floetrol. You just have to keep the same consistency all the way through your projects so as not to add more water one time- lightening the color- or less the next time- making a thicker consistency and darker color.
I would try adding a little water- in a small container of paint- not the entire gallon. We have all used water at one point or another to thin acrylics. It’s a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to make paint easier to work with–especially when you are pouring. However, using water has some big downsides. It dilutes colors, so your paints look washed-out when they’re on the canvas. It also dilutes the binding agents in your paints, which means they won’t stick as well to canvases.
This product is offered by a small company in California. It is a fairly popular and economical alternative to Liquitex. Shipping prices can be quite high, though. You’ll also have to deal with ordering directly from the company since Novaplex isn’t sold on Amazon.
This is the Golden brand’s equivalent of the Liquitex Product. It’s specially designed for pouring techniques. The Golden product sets itself apart from Liquitex in that it is formulated to be used in a very high ratio compared to paint, up to 10 parts GAC800 to 1 part fluid acrylic. Most of us do not work with ratios that extreme, but it is certainly a reason to try the Golden product out as you experiment.
Finally, by improving flow and leveling, Floetrol makes the paint easier to work with. You can get those large cells more easily, even without an additional additive like silicone. And by improving flow, it makes pouring that much more interesting. Flow improvement also helps the paint adhere to canvas more readily. That increases the staining properties of your materials, and it also slows down drying. The longer your paints take to dry, the more you can tweak and finesse your pours. A good pouring medium gives you the fluid dynamics you want from water-thinned paints while making sure the paint retains its integrity and vibrancy. When you use a pouring medium, you won’t need much water, if any, to make your paints flow the way you want.