Permanent vs Paint Marker – Which One is Better?

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

permanent vs paint marker

Selecting the ideal marker for your creative endeavors can significantly impact the outcome of your projects. When faced with the choice between permanent markers and paint markers, it is essential to understand their distinctions and advantages.

In this permanent vs paint marker blog post, we will explore the characteristics and applications of both, enabling you to make an informed decision about which to get. Read on!

Permanent Markers vs. Paint Markers


Permanent Markers

Paint Markers

Ink Composition


Oil or water-based

Surface Compatibility

Paper, Plastic, Metal, Glass, etc.

Wood, Metal, Ceramic, Glass, Fabric, etc.

Color Range

Wide Range

Wide Range

Visual Effects

Matte finish

Glossy or matte finish

Drying Time

Quick Drying

Require Additional Drying Time


Resistant To Water, Light & Fading

May Require Sealing Or Protection


Labeling, Writing, Creating Bold Designs

Creating Artwork, Customizing Objects & Decorations

Ease Of Use

Ready To Use, Easy Cleaning

May Require Paint Activation, Difficult Cleaning


Generally More Affordable

Generally Higher Price

What is a Permanent Marker?


Permanent markers and paint markers are two different types of writing instruments commonly used for various purposes.

Permanent markers, as the name suggests, are designed to create long-lasting, indelible marks on surfaces. They typically use an alcohol-based ink that adheres strongly to materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and ceramic.

Permanent markers often have a fine or medium-sized tip, allowing for precise and consistent writing or drawing. They are popular for labeling, writing on CDs or DVDs, signing autograph, and other applications, where durability and permanence are desired.

What is a Paint Marker?


On the other hand, paint markers are markers that contain paint instead of ink. They are usually equipped with a valve-controlled tip that releases paint when pressed onto a surface. Paint markers are known for their ability to create vibrant and opaque marks on various surfaces, including wood, metal, glass, etc.

They come in a wide range of colors and tip sizes, offering versatility for different projects. Paint markers are commonly used by artists, DIY enthusiasts, and hobbyists for tasks such as creating artwork, adding details to sculptures, customizing objects, and decorating surfaces.

Read more: Ways to remove paint marker.


Permanent markers and paint markers have distinct differences in terms of their ink composition, application versatility, and visual effects.

1. Ink Composition

Permanent markers typically use alcohol-based ink that dries quickly and adheres strongly to surfaces. This ink is resistant to water and fading, providing long-lasting and durable markings.

In contrast, paint markers contain pigmented paint or ink that is oil-, water-, or solvent-based. The paint provides opaque, vibrant colors and can create a glossy or matte finish.

2. Application Versatility


Permanent markers and paint markers are similar in terms of surface compatibility. Both are typically suitable for plastic, metal, glass, cardboard, and paper. They are commonly used for labeling, writing, and creating bold designs. You can use these tools for customization projects and decorations.

However, permanent markers are more prone to smearing on porous surfaces than paint markers.

3. Visual Effects

Permanent markers typically produce fine to thick, consistent lines with a uniform color intensity. They are ideal for precise writing or drawing tasks.

Paint markers, with their paint-like consistency, offer equally impressive visual effects. They can create bold, opaque lines with varying thicknesses and can be used for blending colors, shading, or adding texture to artwork.

4. Drying Time and Durability


Permanent markers dry quickly, allowing for immediate handling and minimizing the risk of smudging. Once dry, their markings are resistant to water, light, and fading, ensuring long-term durability.

Paint markers, however, require more drying time, especially if multiple layers or thicker applications are used. While some paint markers offer excellent durability, the paint can be susceptible to scratching or fading, requiring additional protection or sealing.

5. Ease Of Use

Permanent markers are generally easier to use as they do not require mixing or shaking. To use paint markers, you will have to take extra steps, such as activating the paint before use by mixing or shaking and pressing the tip repeatedly for smooth ink flows.

6. Cost

When comparing the cost of permanent markers and paint markers, several factors come into play, including brand, quality, and quantity.

  • Permanent Markers

Permanent markers are widely available and come in various price ranges based on the brand reputation, tip size, and pack size. But they are generally considered more affordable than paint markers.

Here are some prices of famous permanent marker brands:





$5 to $22 per marker


$0.5 per marker


$2.5 per marker

  • Paint Markers

Paint markers tend to be more expensive compared to permanent markers. This is mainly due to the nature of the pigmented paint or ink they contain.

Paint markers often offer a wider range of colors and specialty effects, such as metallic or fluorescent options, which can contribute to their higher price point. The cost of paint markers also vary depending on the brand, quality of the paint, and the pack size or set configuration.

For both, purchasing markers in bulk or multipacks can provide better value for money compared to buying individual markers.

Here are some prices of well-known paint marker brands:





$3 to $10 per marker


$3 to $10 per marker


$7 to $17 per marker

Pros and Cons


Permanent Marker

Paint marker


– Permanent ink that’s ready for use without activation

– Blendable and vibrant

– Non-toxic products available

– Less prone to smearing on porous surfaces

– Blendable and vibrant

– Non-toxic products available


– Stains are harder to remove.

– Needs mixing before usage.

– Not permanent without sealing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are paint markers permanent?

Paint markers can offer permanent markings if you seal them. However, they are rarely called permanent paint marker, since the pigment can still fade without additional treatment.

Acrylic paint markers vs. chalk markers, what is the difference?

The main difference between acrylic paint markers and chalk markers lies in their ink composition and the surfaces they are designed for.

Unlike acrylic paint markers, which may contain oil-based paint that creates vibrant, opaque marks on various surfaces, chalk markers always use a water-based chalky ink that mimics the appearance of traditional chalk.

They are ideal for non-porous surfaces. It is also worth noting that permanent chalk markers removal is a lot simpler.

Paint pen vs Sharpie, which is better for wood surfaces?

For wood surfaces, it is generally recommended to use a paint pen. It offers better coverage and durability, ensuring long-lasting results.

However, you can still choose to use permanent markers for wood. Just be sure to opt for a waterproof permanent marker to protect against moisture and ensure the longevity of your markings.

Can you use a paint marker for painting?

Yes, paint markers, such as Posca paint pens, can be used for painting on various surfaces. They are particularly suitable for metal due to their ability to adhere well and provide long-lasting results.


To conclude, the choice between permanent markers and paint markers depends on the specific needs and requirements of your project.

Permanent markers excel in providing long-lasting, durable markings on a variety of surfaces, making them ideal for labeling and tasks that demand longevity. On the other hand, paint markers offer easier editing due to their non-permanent pigment, making them popular among artists and crafters.

Consider factors such as surface compatibility, desired visual effects, and ink characteristics when deciding between permanent vs paint marker to achieve the best results in your creative endeavors.

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