Oil Paint vs. Latex Paint

Who Knows What's Best?

It does not seem to matter what it is you are painting - everybody has an opinion, whether it is what color you should paint the wall, object, or whatever, to what type of paint is best for the job. Without a doubt, there is a controversy raging about which paint is best for which project. At the end of the day, each person ends up picking the paint he or she wants-whether it is really "best" or not.

Oil Vs. Latex

We want to take this time to talk about the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of two specific types of paint: oil-based and latex. Use the differences to your advantage and, be assured, there are differences to both. Oil paints can seal. That means they seal in stains and other undesirables, which is a good thing. However, they can crack under severe temperature changes. For interior work, nothing beats stain killing oil-based paints. However, if it is outside painting you want to do, then latex primers are far superior for galvanized metals. So...what's a person to do?

Really, the preferences are determined based on experience and superstition. Superstition? Shocking, right? Well, at the end of the day, it does not matter which camp you come from, there are truths and conjectures on both sides. Don't get caught in the web. Different paints have different strengths or weaknesses. The best person to connect with is the salesperson in the paint store who has all of the latest data on what works and what does not in each particular circumstance.

Latex - The Panacea???

The advantages of latex are many. For instance, latex is water soluble, which means that when you get it all over you, you can just wash it off with soap and hot water. It is also easy to apply and can be thinned out with water. Cleanup is so much easier than oil-based paints. You do not need paint thinners or turpentine to get the job done. Latex dries fast, it is non-toxic and does not have fumes that make people dizzy or nauseated.  For this reason many people choose to use it as an interior paint.  However, really it can be great for interior and exterior applications.   Latex resists fading, blistering, pealing, and chalking, because the paint has the ability to breathe. Oil paints do not have that capacity. Latex, unlike oil, is non-flammable. Latex does not yellow over time, is tolerant to masonry surfaces, and does not do too badly on metal surfaces either.

Oil Ain't So Bad

Oil based paints have their benefits as well. They are high-gloss and have a shiny finish. Oil-based paints are stain resistant, making them a great choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and trim around the house (inside and out). There is less shrinkage with age for oil-based paints and lower temperatures tend to affect the paint less than latex. High traffic areas benefit from use of oil-based paints because they wear better and they seal stains better than latex. Oil-based paint also tends to hold rust on steel better than latex and it adheres to dirty and chalky surfaces better.

When it comes right down to it, the best thing for any person to do is determine the type of surface they want to cover and after careful research, choose the paint that is best suited for that surface. One paint works better than the other does - it just depends on the need.