Skip to content
All posts

Water-based paints v oil-based enamel paints

Water-based paints are typically used for new construction because they are easier to work with and clean up. Oil-based enamel paints are typically used for painting cabinets, trim, and doors because they provide a hard, durable finish.

Water-based paints v solvent based paints

When to use water-based paint?

Water-based paints are typically used for interior walls and ceilings. Oil-based enamel paints are used for exterior surfaces, such as doors, windows, and trim.

Water-based paints are easier to clean up and have less of an odor than oil-based paints. They also tend to be less toxic. Oil-based paints have a longer drying time, but they are more durable and resistant to scratches and chipping.

Water-based paints can be tricky to work with because they dry quickly. Oil-based paints can be difficult to clean up and can be toxic.

Application & Handling Properties

  • Nonflammable
  • Lower odour
  • Reduced volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Clean up with water
  • More tolerant of damp surfaces
  • Usually touch dry in 20-30 minutes
  • Usually re-coatable in 2 hours

Interior Use Properties

  • Non yellowing
  • Gloss and semi-gloss sheen levels
  • Not able to produce a brilliant gloss or as smooth a finish
  • Full range of colours
  • Not always suitable for harsh treatment areas
  • Not suitable for all window frames (blocking or sticking can occur)

Exterior Use Properties

  • More flexible hence more able to cope with substrate expansion and contraction
  • Retains its sheen level well over extended periods of time in UV
  • Excellent UV durability (good for exterior timber) (better resistance against chalking & colour fade)

General Use Properties

  • Excellent for use on masonry due to resistance to alkalis
  • Resistant to alkalis in zinc-rich metals

When to use oil-based enamel paint?

Oil-based paints are best used for surfaces that are going to be subject to a lot of wear and tear, such as cabinets, trim, and doors. They are also a good choice for painting metal surfaces.

Oil-based paints dry slowly, giving you more work with them. They are also very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Oil-based paints can be difficult to work with because they dry slowly. They also have a strong odor that can be difficult to get rid of.

Application & Handling Properties

  • Contains flammable solvents
  • Strong odour due to solvent fumes
  • High level of volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Clean up with mineral turps
  • Surface needs to be completely dry
  • Usually touch dry in 6-8 hours
  • Usually recoatable in 16 hours

Interior Use Properties

  • Tends to yellow in absence of UV
  • Full gloss and semi-gloss sheen levels
  • Able to produce a brilliant gloss and very smooth finish
  • Restricted colour range
  • Excellent resistance to wear & tear (harder and more abrasion resistant)
  • Generally suitable on all window types or frames (non-sticking)

Exterior Use Properties

  • Less flexible and becomes harder and more brittle with age (not good for exterior timber due to cracking)
  • Not capable of retaining its initial sheen level over time in UV
  • Poor UV durability(becomes chalky and more faded in short time frame)

General Use Properties

  • Not resistant to alkalis present in masonry (paint will lose adhesion)
  • Not resistant to alkalis in zinc-rich metals

Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not to use water or oil-based paints. If you do choose to use them, be aware of their pros and cons so that you can use them effectively. We can help you figure out which type of paint is best for your project, as well as provide tips and tricks for using either type of paint. Give us a call today to get started!