How to choose Oil-Based Paint or Water-Based Paint ?

Enamel paint contains a solvent base that is made up of organic alkyds. By contrast, acrylic paints contain a polymer that is water-based. In both cases, the color pigment is suspended in either the alkyd solvent or the water-based polymer respectively. Perhaps the biggest change in the paint market is the vast improvement in acrylic polymers that are now thicker and more durable.

Both types of paint are readily available at all good hardware stores but if you’re wondering which one to use, you might want to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each paint.

When it comes to enamel, here are a few things to think about:

Smell: During the painting process, oil-based paints are responsible for the emission of high VOCs, which creates that strong “new paint smell”. Thus, it is always best to paint in a well-ventilated area when using this product.

  • Cleanup: Enamel paints are oil-based, cleanup is not quite as simple since you’ll need to use a mineral spirit such as a thinner to wash off the paint. This has its own very strong smell.
  • Finish: Many professional painters still like to use oil-based enamels indoors because they find that they go on more smoothly and have a better and cleaner finish.
  • Durability: Likewise, enamels are often considered better for their long-term durability. Once dry, they tend to have a tougher finish; however, they will yellow over time due to the solvent base in the paint.
  • Application

Oil-based paints are typically slower to apply than water-based paints, as the paint has a stickier and thicker feel to it.  During the painting process, oil-based paints are responsible for the emission of high VOCs, which creates that strong “new paint smell”

Drying times

Touch dry: 6 to 8 hours

Recoat Ready: 16 to 20 hours

Fully Cured: 2 to 3 days

If you are strongly considering investing in water-based acrylic paints, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks:

Smell: One of the best things about a water-based paint such as acrylic is that it gives off very little smell. As water-based paints contain substantially less VOCs, the smell after painting is not as strong. This makes it very easy to work with in an indoor environment and is considered safer.

  • Cleanup: Unlike enamels, acrylics are easy to clean up with water because they are water-based. Most people find this a lot more convenient.
  • Finish: For most purposes, acrylics have a good finish, especially the more expensive brands. Many professional painters will tell you that it is harder to achieve a smoother finish with acrylic paint because it tends to show the brush marks more clearly.
  • Durability: In this area, modern acrylics have really improved but for exposed areas that take a lot of foot traffic, such as trim, enamels may be the better choice.

Application: Water-based paints are typically faster to paint than Oil-based paints, as the paint is not so stickier and thicker

Drying times

Touch dry: 30 to 60 minutes

Recoat Ready: 2 to 3 hours

Fully Cured: 1 to 4 weeks

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