Oil Based Paint Or Latex Paint – Which to Use for Your Home?

The question of ” oil-based paint or latex paint” has been around in the painting world for as long as the chicken and the egg conundrum. Okay, maybe not that long but still, it is a question that is complicated for both homeowners and painters alike. Treat this as one of those teenager magazine columns that try to establish which zodiac sign is best for you. But instead of astrology, figure out if you are more compatible with oil-based paint or latex paint.

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Oil Based Paint vs Latex Paint – When it comes to picking paint base, selection begins with choosing between oil based or latex paints. For hundreds of years, people have been using oil-based paints for their impermeability and toughness.

Unlike water, oil does not dry by evaporation. It dries through a process of oxidation that converts the oil into a polymer chain. This means that the layer formed will be resilient and long lasting, and will withstand the degenerative effects of water and air longer than water or latex based paints.

However, there are some major disadvantages of choosing paints that are oil based. We’re going to take you through the two very distinct types of interior house paint and why and why not you should choose them.


Some Disadvantages Of Oil Based Paints

There are several disadvantages to paint that are oil-based.

  • First of all, oil-based paints take longer to dry than water-based paints. Since latex paint is water-based, they have a faster drying time.
  • Paints that are oil-based also have a strong odour that lingers long after the paint has been applied. A lot of people can’t stand the smell when they’re doing interior painting.
  • • Oil paint is more susceptible to chipping and cracking 
  • • There are more dangerous chemicals in oil paint that the painter needs to be extra cautious about
  • That’s why they’re often recommended for more exterior painting projects rather than interior painting.
  • Paints that are oil-based do contain “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). VOCs are found in this solvent and are released as the paint is drying or being cured. VOCs are harmful to occupant health as well as the environment.
  • Indoor air pollution has now been identified as being three times more harmful than pollution outdoors. So, in terms of oil-based paints vs latex, latex paints are the healthiest option for your home.

Latex paints offer fewer disadvantages than oil but it is still necessary to know about the negatives for full transparency.

  • • Latex paint causes wooden grain to inflate, meaning the painter must sand in between the first and second coat.
  • • Latex paint is more susceptible to rust metal.
  • •  Cannot be kept in places that will cool or freeze the paint.
  • •Harder to stick to glossier surfaces.
  • Longer wait periods for washing and cleaning the surface.
  • • High-quality latex paint will add more to the initial cost. This is because latex is now the preferred choice, the demand is higher.

Interior and Exterior Paints in Canada – Low VOC Paint

Government regulations regarding VOCs are becoming stricter; this may be one reason why paints are decreasing in popularity. When you see paints labeled as “low VOC”, they should contain fewer than 50 grams per liter of volatile compounds. That is, if it means the Green Seal standards. It’s still important to consider that when it says “low VOC paint”, it’s simply lower in comparison to other paints. You’ll find that most low VOC paints are latex based. To learn more about low VOC paints, visit this blog here.

Advantages of using Latex Paints

Water-based paints (often referred to as “latex paints” or “acrylic paints“) do not use solvents; the carrier for the pigment is primarily water. Latex paints have come a long way from when they were considered an inferior replacement for oil paints, and they now dominate the market. The advantages of latex paints are many.

  • The drying time is significantly shorter than oil-based paint, which requires up to 48 hours to dry.
  • Latex paints also have a minimal odour and release significantly fewer VOCs during the drying process.
  • Latex paint also doesn’t yellow over time, which can sometimes happen with oil-based paints.
  • Also, latex paints are far easier to clean up with some soap and water.
  • You’ll also likely find that latex paints are far more available and easier to find now as well.

How to Thin Latex Paint

Because fewer or no VOCs are released, latex paint (acrylic paints) is significantly less harmful to building occupants. In addition, it requires less care to apply than oil based paint and solvent, which are both highly flammable. Latex paint (acrylic paints) can also be thinned with water, unlike oil based paint, which requires a special paint thinner.

Why would you need to thin your latex paint? Often times latex paint is quite thicker than oil based paints. If that’s the case, you can thin the paint yourself before application. Be sure to check the quality of your latex paint prior to the thinning process though. A lot of good quality latex paints are ready for use nowadays.

Beyond oil- and water-based categorization, paints can also be classified based on their function (e.g. Primers, sealers, binders, finishing paints, etc.). They can also be classified according to the type of pigment used, like zinc, lead, and titanium (each has slightly different properties).

Read our next blog to find out whether you need a latex paint or oil based paints?

Now that you’ve picked your paint, what about colour? 

Now that you’ve learned all about the two main types of interior house paint, do you need a little help picking out colour? Not to worry because we have you covered! If you want to take a look at some of the top interior paint colour trends for 2021, visit this blog here. It will help you see some of the top trending interior painting colours of the season.

Or maybe you want your space to be a sanctuary of peacefulness and Zen. If that’s the case, check out this blog completely dedicated to the top stress relieving colours of the season. You might find yourself surprised as to what interior painting colours will help you feel that serenity in your space.

More interesting blogs related to “Oil-based Paints or Latex Paints: Which To Use For Your Home?” :

Of course, if you aren’t feeling up to the extra work, why not let our professional house painters take a load off your back? With over 30 years of experience in home painting and renovations, call us NOW at 416.494.9095 or email us at Brian@HomePaintersToronto.com to get a FREE estimate for your interior painting project and consultation about what interior house paint to choose. And don’t forget to check us out on our social media channels below!


From The Owner & Founder


Hello and welcome!

I’m both deeply honoured and flattered you are considering using our services.

Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, we take our jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

At Home Painters our mission is to paint homeowners’ dreams, and make your painting experience last a lifetime!
I look forward to hopefully meeting you one day, as it brings me tremendous joy to make homeowner’s dreams come true.