Painting Basics: Oil vs. Latex

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Painting Basics: Oil vs. Latex

Two fundamental types of paint exist: oil and latex.

Deciding which to use depends on the circumstance, and it can be confusing to the novice painter. That’s why we thought it would be a fine idea to give you a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of latex and oil-based paints, along with a few other general painting suggestions.

Oil-Based Paint

Advantages of oil-based paint
• It goes on smoothly.
• It covers more thoroughly in one coat.
• It shrinks less.
• It holds up well, and is great for use in high-traffic areas.

Disadvantages of oil-based paint
• It is more likely to crack, fade and yellow over time.
• It takes longer to dry, so you have more working time.
• The fumes oil-based paint produces can be overwhelming.
• Hazardous cleanup chemicals like mineral spirits and turpentine are required to wash the brushes. These chemicals must be handled with the upmost care.
• It cannot be applied over any existing latex primer or paint.
• Oil-based paints should never be poured down a drain. Contact your local hazardous waste management agency for proper dispose instructions.

When to use oil-based paint
Oil-based paint is best used for cabinetry, exterior or interior trim, doors, kitchens and high-moisture rooms, like the bathroom. Oil-based paint dries much slower than water-based latex paint, resulting in a richer, glossy look. Use oil-based paint when you want to achieve a semi- or full gloss finish. If there’s wood involved, you may want to consider oil-based paint.

Latex (Water-Based) Paint

Advantages of latex paint
• It doesn’t yellow over time.
• It is better for the environment.
• It dries faster.
• Soap and water are the only cleanup materials needed, which makes it a great choice for the weekend warrior.
• Generally speaking, latex is more widely available than oil.

Disadvantages of latex paint
• It tends to swell the grain in the wood, making sanding between coats a necessity.
• Additional coats may be requires to achieve full color and a complete coverage.

When to use latex paint
Latex paint is incredibly versatile and can be applied to almost any surface. If you’re painting a wall or doing some simple effects, reach for latex.

All paints contain chemicals, so always wear protective gloves to minimize direct skin exposure. When in doubt, talk to a painting expert at Norberg Paints. We are happy to offer our expert advice and set you up with the right paint for the job.

HGTV, Painting 101: Oil or Latex?
wikiHow, How to Know when to use Oil Based Paint Instead of Latex