Oil Based or Latex Paint – Which to Use for Your Home

latex based paints for exterior painting, painting tips for painters, professional home painters in toronto

Oil Based Paint vs Latex Paint – When it comes to picking paint base, selection begins with choosing between oil based or latex (water) based 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.


How to Tell Oil Based Paints

There are, however, several disadvantages to oil based paint. 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. Oil based paint also has a strong odor that lingers long after the paint has been applied. A lot of people can’t stand the smell when they’re doing interior painting. That’s why oil based paint is often recommended for more exterior painting projects rather than interior painting.

However, oil based paints do contain “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs).   The paint pigment in oil paint is suspended in the solvent. VOCs are found in this solvent and are released as the paint is drying or being cured. VOCs are harmful to occupant health and the environment. Indoor air pollution has now been identified as being three times more harmful than pollution outdoors. This is mainly due to the release of VOCs by paints and other off-gassing interior VOC containing finishes and furnishings. So, in terms of oil based paints vs latex, oil based paints are perhaps not the healthiest option for your home.

Oil-Based Paints in Canada


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.

Is Latex Paint Water Based?


As opposed to oil based paints, water-based paints (sometimes 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’re now on the verge of dominating 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, leaving the room unusable during this time. Latex paints also have a minimal odor 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 than oil based paints 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?


Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest page for all sorts of interior painting inspiration! 

More interesting blogs related to ” Oil Based Or Latex Paint – Which To Use For Your Home “:

  1. What Is Low VOC Paint?
  2. Do I Really Need A Professional Painting Contractor To Paint My Condo?
  3. Picking Paint Colour For A Condo Bedroom
  4. How To Paint A Room By Yourself

Of course, if you aren’t feeling up to the extra work, why not let Home Painters Toronto take a load off your back? With over 30 years of experience in home 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 paint to choose.

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.