Oil vs. Latex Paint

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It is general knowledge that the two most common types of paint. There is oil-based paint and water-based paint, also known as latex or acrylic-based paint. Off course there are many more categories of paint but for almost all residential applications you will be dealing with these two types. How do you decide on latex vs. oil paint exterior for your home? How does one know which one to choose and what are the advantages of each one?

History of Oil vs. Latex Paint

For many years, oil-based paints were popular for home painting. From the 1920s to the 1960s, oil-based paint, which covered in fewer coats, leveled beautifully and was highly durable, was considered a miraculous innovation. When latex-based paints arrived following World War II, they quickly began gaining favour due to their being more environment- and user-friendly.
Many oil products have been slowly taken off the shelves due to government policy pushing for all environmentally friendly paint with low to zero VOC. Some primers are still oil-based without a latex alternative.
VOCs are volatile organic compounds which are found in many chemical formulations, especially paint, and which can be harmful to human beings and to the environment.

Advantages of Oil-Based Paint and Water-Based Paint

Naturally, oil-based paints had a lot going for them.

  1. Great at adhering to surfaces,
  2. Harder finishes and as mentioned
  3. Better levelling.
  4. They tend to have a more natural look than some latex-based paints as well.

However, water-based paints make up for these in a lot of ways.

  1. Latex lasts longer.
  2. You’ll see less colour fade.
  3. Acrylic-based paints are mildew-resistant.
  4. Much better for you and your surroundings, with low levels of VOCs, meaning fewer harmful fumes and less overall damage to the environment.

There are ways to make latex-based paints close to the equal of oil-based paints in those other areas, such as adhesion-friendly primers and sandpapering surfaces before painting to improve adhesion. Latex paints are also continually improving in terms of hardness. Finally, as environmental regulations get stricter and stricter, oil-based paints may be phased out altogether.