Oil Paint Vs Latex


Oil paint Vs Latex paint is a question that I have had to answer many times in the past. Many years ago, when I first came to the Carolinas, I was amazed at the fact that everyone around me was painting the exterior of their homes with latex paint. In Bar Harbor Main, it was unheard of. And really if you think about it, water based paint on the outside of a home doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But there was a time when environmentalist were trying to outlaw oil paint due to the cleanup process using either paint thinner or gasoline to clean the equipment. Personally, I can’t blame them for wanting to do so. Because of this, the paint manufacturers made new and improved latex paints that have proven to stand the test of time. However, we here in the south don’t have to worry about ice forming and staying on the sides of our homes for weeks at a time either. And with hardy board and vinyl siding taking over in a lot of cases, the worry is minimal.


As far as the interior in concerned, there is very little reason to use an oil paint at all unless it is for the priming of bare wood or to encapsulate a stained surface. I will explain that a bit further below in another section. If you decide to go with an oil paint inside then you should be aware of a few things. First, in order to go back to a latex paint, you are going to have to dull the painted surface by sanding your but off to give the next coat of paint a surface to adhere. Then you are going to need to paint the sanded surface with an oil-based primer before applying two coats of finish to have a professional finish.

But why would I want to switch from oil to latex in the first place?

The answer is, for many reasons. One is the smell that you have to deal with in your home. If there are family members that have asthma, they will have trouble breathing in the fumes. It is already hard enough o deal with the smell of latex for some so oil will be a shock to their system for sure. Also, oil paint yellows in the sunlight because it starts to pull the oil out of the paint over time. You can see this by pulling out a piece of furniture and looking at the baseboard. Where it has been exposed, you see a yellow tint and where it has not been exposed, it should look close to the day it was painted minus a few dust bunnies. This will go on forever until you switch over to latex paint.

How do I know if my home is painted with oil paint?

First, if your home has been built in the last couple of decades then you probably do not need to worry. If there is a question about it then you can call me and I will come and check it for you free of charge or you can do a simple procedure that will tell you. Use a cotton swab dipped in acetone or denatured alcohol. If the paint is oil based, nothing will happen, but if the paint is latex, some color will come off on the cotton swab and the area will feel tacky.

When is oil paint absolutely necessary?

Oil KilzNo matter what improvements that are made in the latex paint market, oil primer has to be used on both the interior and the exterior when we are talking about bare wood or any surface that has been previously stained by a person or by water. Only an oil primer such as Kilz will prevent what is called tanning or a water stain to reappear almost instantly at times. Anything latex, even latex Kilz will not be enough to stop this from happening. Hope this page has helped to answer some of your questions and if you still have more then feel free to write or give me a call. Advice is always free.