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Oil Based Paint versus Latex Based Paint

Oil and Latex based paint Advantages and Disadvantages

By Mark J. Donovan

Whether you are planning to do interior or exterior house painting the inevitable question always comes up on what type of paint to use. Should you use an oil based paint or a latex based paint? Both have their advantages and disadvantages and neither is ideal for every situation.

Described below are summary descriptions of the advantages and disadvantages of oil based paint and latex based paint, however before buying any paint you should check with your local paint store professional first.


Oil based Paint Advantages

Oil based paints are typically known to be better stain sealers. They are also better for adhering to metal, steel, and dirty surfaces.

Oil based paints are typically more impervious to low temperatures and are thus less susceptible to shrinkage.

Oil based paints are typically used in higher traffic areas due to their durability and ability to be cleaned.

Oil based Paint Disadvantages

Oil based paints typically require longer drying periods, up to 24 hours, and have strong odors. Interior rooms should be well ventilated when painting.  Oil based paints overtime fade in color and turn yellowish.

Oil based paints also become brittle in time, which leads to pealing and chalking. Blistering also appears overtime.

Oil based paints are more susceptible to mildew.

Oil based paints require clean up with mineral spirits or turpentine.

Oil based paints and their necessary thinning / cleaning products are highly flammable.

Oil based paint is considered a hazardous material and cannot be disposed of as easily as latex based paints.

Latex based Paint Advantages

Latex paints are made from a water-soluble base. Consequently, latex paints are easy to apply and clean up. Latex paint can also be thinned with water when applying. Latex paint spills can easily be cleaned up with just warm soapy water.

Latex paints also dry quickly (1-2 hours), are non-toxic, and have significantly less odor, however interior rooms should still be ventilated when painting.  Latex paint can be used in both interior and exterior applications.

Latex paints are more resistance to fading, chalking, blistering and pealing as the paint has the ability to breath, unlike oil based paints.  Latex paints are also non-flammable. As a result, of these advantages, latex paints are ideal for exterior painting.

Latex based paints will also not yellow over time, are less susceptible to chalking, and are tolerant to masonry surfaces. They also adhere well to galvanized metal.

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Latex paint is considered a non-hazardous material and can be disposed of similar to other household waste.

Latex based paints are offered in a variety of finishes, including gloss, semi-gloss, and satin finishes.

Latex based Paint Disadvantages

Latex based paints are more temperature sensitive and are thus more susceptible to shrinkage, particularly during the drying process.

Stains can more easily penetrate through latex based paints.

Latex based paints need to be applied to clean surfaces for best adhesion. They do not adhere well to dirty or chalky surfaces.

Latex based paints are ideal for non-high traffic areas, e.g. dining rooms, living rooms, or home exteriors.

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- Oil based Paint versus Latex based Paint -

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