Latex Paint vs. Oil Based Paint

Latex Paint vs. Oil Based Paint

"Which type of paint should I use?" It is a question posed by many people who decide to paint the interior or exterior of their homes a different color. There are two basic choices: Latex paint or oil-based paint. In addition, differences between the two are numerous, but one thing in common is the change that takes place in the appearance of the painted room, door, chair, or other object.

Latex paints, also called acrylic paints, are fast-drying and are water-based paints, drying quickly following its application. It can take a couple hours or less to be completely dry. On the other hand, oil-based paint is made with oil, and it is a very slow drying paint, sometimes taking up to a week to dry thoroughly.

If someone is painting the interior of a home, latex paint is much better, especially on large surfaces. However, oil-based is best for metals, wood, and of course for canvas paintings completed as art work. The fumes of oil-based paint may also be toxic to a person's health, and the paint is not environmentally friendly. It is a less popular paint, and most people use latex when choosing a paint to use for their homes. The oil-based paint has a pungent odor, but the latex is usually odor-free.

The application of each paint is another difference people most often consider when choosing which type of paint to use. Latex paint is much thinner, easier to apply, and the clean-up is simple with just water. Multiple coats can be applied in a short period of time. The oil-based paint, however, is much thicker, more difficult to apply, and paint thinner or other chemicals are needed for cleaning spills and other droppings. In addition, it is more difficult to apply multiple coats.

A variety of finishes is available for latex paint, including flat, matte, semi-gloss, and a few other combinations, but will stain easily, though will not crack or peel. Oil-based paint is usually high-gloss only, which shows more imperfections, plus it may sometimes turn yellow and crack over a long period of time.

The composition of latex paint includes a mix of water and acrylic polymer and can be used in areas exposed to heat and cold. Because it contains water, it is less likely to feed mildew. A primer is not necessary with latex paint. On the other hand, oil-based paint contains linseed oil, pigment, plus a thinner or solvent like turpentine. Oil-based paint is more prone to mildew, and may need a primer prior to its use, plus bubbles sometimes form when applied if the paint is shaken and not stirred. This does not occur with latex paint, which can be shaken.

Regarding durability, oil-based paint gets the nod and is more stain resistant than latex paint. For this reason, oil-based paints are used in areas like kitchens, bathrooms, trims, and other exteriors. An amateur painter more likely will use latex paint because overall it is easier to use. There are also certain colors available in oil-based paints but not latex, but fluorescent colors are only available in latex.

Finally, the price of the paints varies depending on brand and finish, but overall latex paints are up to 40% less expensive than oil-based paints.

In summary, there are several advantages to latex paint versus oil-based paint, and the use of latex is most often used by DIY painters for interior projects, but oil-based paints are most useful for places where more durability is needed, like kitchens and bathrooms.

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