• Jalal Lewis

Oil-Based Or Latex Paint: What Are Their Differences

Should you use oil-based or latex paint for your painting project? Interior or exterior painting is the most popular home improvement project however before you start, there are a lot of decisions and considerations to make, one of those is which one should be used, oil-based or latex paint. Each kind has its own advantages and disadvantages and which one is best for a certain kind of project. Learn the differences here before beginning your paint job.

Oil-based paint is a slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by the addition of a solvent such as turpentine or white spirit, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried oil paint film. Oil-based is excellent for painting metal because it adheres well to the surface and protects metal fences from the elements. Latex is a water-based paint, similar to acrylic paint, it is made from acrylic resin. Unlike acrylic, it is recommended to use latex paint when painting bigger areas because it is usually purchased in larger quantities.


  1. Very durable and high resistance to low temperature

  2. Provides great coverage during application

  3. Has a much richer color compared to water-based paint

  4. It can be applied to dirty, stained, or chalky surfaces

  5. It covers small imperfections or moderately damaged surfaces.

OIL-BASED PAINT Disadvantages

  1. Takes a long time to dry so the second might not be applied on the same day

  2. Noticeable marks can be seen when applied in small areas for touch up

  3. It contains high VOC or volatile organic compounds which are harmful chemicals carbon-containing substances that vaporize at room temperature and enter the atmosphere.

  4. It has a strong and unpleasant odor due to VOCs

  5. Cleaning brushes and rollers with oil-based paint is difficult, solvent such as paint thinner and turpentine has to be applied to soften.

  6. While using oil-based paint, a solvent is also needed for thinning the paint.

  7. It is more prone to cracks, peeling, mildew, discoloration, and fading.

  8. It is flammable so it has to be treated as dangerous waste for disposal.

LATEX PAINT Advantages

  1. It is easier to apply and touch up

  2. Cleans up with water easily

  3. Non-flammable

  4. Dries faster

  5. Less fading, peeling, or cracking

  6. It won't turn yellow like an oil-based paint

  7. Less odor

  8. Less expensive

  9. Covers well with only a few coats especially for interior painting and can be used on almost all surfaces.

  10. It resists chalking and retains its color for a longer period of time.

LATEX PAINT Disadvantages

  1. If there are imperfections in the surface painted, it tends to peel as it dries quickly

  2. Not durable as oil-based

  3. Sometimes it does not adhere to glossy surfaces

  4. Must be sanded between coats on new woodwork

  5. It may rust metal

  6. Requires extra primer for wood or steel

  7. Very sensitive to changes in temperature

  8. It is not recommended for high-traffic areas

As we list the strengths and weaknesses of oil-based and latex paint, consider the finish and the surface to be painted when choosing the appropriate type of paint. Paint comes in different finishes from flat to high-gloss. Oil-based paint is more durable than latex paint so it is commonly used for high traffic areas, doors, trims, and metal railings while latex is best for walls and ceilings.

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