Oil Based Paint or Water Based Paint?


As if trying to pick a paint color wasn’t enough of a decision to make, you also need to determine if an oil-based paint is better suited for your project or if a water-based paint is what will really do the trick. Knowing which paint to pick can be done by comparing some of the advantages and disadvantages to both:

The Choice


imageOil Based Paints
Oil-based paints result in scratch-resistant, durable finishes while providing a smooth, even finish. Surfaces that have been painted with an oil-based paint are much easier to wash tan a water-based (latex) paint finish and they are chemically resistant to washing detergents. Oil-based paint has a thicker consistency which can make it much easier to cover up inconsistencies and imperfections on the surface of a wall or piece of furniture which often results in better coverage and a more even finish. Once oil-based paint surfaces have dried, the texture is much smoother to the touch that surfaces painted with a water-based paint which, when dry, has almost a rubbery feel to its surface.

Some disadvantages when working with oil-based paint include a requirement for maintenance, particularly if the paint is used indoors. White oil-based paint tends to yellow over time, so consider that, particularly when painting walls or trim in white. Those who live in moist climates should be aware that oil-based paints are not particularly resistant to moisture and may be prone to mildew if overexposed. Oil-based paint can take a lot longer to dry and generally requires a good 24 hours between coats or even longer if humidity is present. Of course, there’s always the strong odor that oil-based paints tend to produce so proper ventilation is of particular importance when painting with oil-based paints.

Water Based Paints
Also referred to as latex paint, water-based paints are not as prone to cracking or peeling the way that oil-based paints are. Dried surfaces of water-based paint are much more flexible and porous and tolerant of moisture. Water-based paints are easy to wash with mild soap and water and the tools used to apply the paint are easy to clean as well. One of the biggest advantages to water-based paint is that it’s non-flammable and it is free from the strong odor that is often associated with oil-based paints.

On the other hand, water-based paint is more sensitive to any drastic change in temperature, it almost always requires a primer before surfaces of wood or steel are painted, and surfaces painted with water-based paints are more prone to scratches and scuffs.