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When To Use Oil Based Paint Vs Latex Paint

When to use oil based vs latex paint

When To Use Oil Based Paint Vs Latex Paint

What is oil-based paint used for? Painters should use an oil-based paint for any surface where they want the finish to last for a long time, and they are not planning to change the color often.” Oil-based paints are extremely durable and can withstand routine contact, making them ideal for moldings and trims.

How to tell if paint is oil-based 

Before painting, dip a cotton ball/pad or a cotton swab into a small amount of denatured alcohol. Rub the damp cotton ball/pad or cotton swab over a small area on the surface. If the paint does not rub off, it is oil-based paint and you will need to prime the surface.

Oil or latex paint how to tell 

Rub the damp cotton ball/pad or cotton swab over a small area on the surface. If the paint does not rub off, it is oil-based paint and you will need to prime the surface. If the paint comes off, it is a water or latex-based paint and you can proceed by painting over the surface with any type of paint. 

Types of oil-based paint

Oil-based paint contains natural (linseed) or synthetic (alkyd) oil as a base. The alkyd base has become more common due to its lower price and higher strength. However, both types are tough and durable, making them good choices for exterior house painting jobs, interior doors, bathroom or kitchen cabinets, and trim.

Pros and Cons of Oil-based paint

These are the Disadvantages of Oil-Based Paint

  • • Is very hard to clean up after painting. To clean oil-based paint off brushes and rollers (as well as your hands), you will need to use a solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner.
  • • Also needs a solvent for thinning paint during use.
  • • Takes a long time to dry (about 8-24 hours for linseed-based, and 4-6 hours for alkyd) so you might not be able to apply a second coat that same day. Check manufacturer’s directions.
  • • Should not be used on untreated masonry or drywall without first applying a suitable primer.
  • • Can’t be touched up in small areas without causing noticeable marks.
  • • Contains high VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) levels — organic chemical compounds with high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere, causing smog and other air quality problems.
  • • Gives off a strong, unpleasant odor due to VOCs. When applying oil-based paint, wear a mask and ensure the area has proper ventilation.
  • • Is more vulnerable to fading, discoloration, mildew, cracks, and peeling. Is also flammable which makes it hazardous to save this paint.
  • • Must be treated as a hazardous waste for disposal.

In Ontario, oil-based paints have been highly discouraged, and sometimes banned in some manufacturers’ lines of paint. Therefore, the chances are if you go to your local hardware store or Home Depot, you’re going to be sold water-based or latex-based paint more often than not. Now, there isn’t a problem with using water-based paint, but oil-based paint vs latex paint can actually be the superior choice in some home renovation projects in Toronto and the GTA.

Why Should I Use Oil Based Paint?

Here’s when and why you should consider using oil based paint vs latex based paints:

There are many advantages to using oil based paint vs latex paint, including but not limited to:

  • • Oil-based dries much slower, and as a result it provides a smoother and sometimes glossier finish paint.
  • • Oil based paint dries with a hard enamel that is more resistant to scratches fingerprints, staining, etc. than latex based paint.
  • • Oil based paint also covers more thoroughly in a single coat. Which means that you could potentially use a lot less paint in the process.
  • • If you have an existing oil based paint, the best paint to adhere to it is using oil based again. This is particularly important in high traffic areas or doors and frames that are used often.
  • • If you look at a side-by-side comparison with latex or water based paint, some argue oil based paint simply looks better, more solid, and smoother with more body.
why should I use oil based paint

When Should I Use Oil Based Paint vs Latex Paint?

Oil based paint can be used in almost every situation, but it is up to you to decide when you want to put in the extra work for it. Here are some projects that you should consider using oil-based paint for.

  • 1. Interior and exterior trims
  • 2. Doors
  • 3. Cabinetry
  • 4. High-moisture rooms such as the kitchen or the bathroom
  • 5. Popcorn ceiling. If you go with latex paint, you may find that it doesn’t adhere nearly as nice as oil based paint.
  • 6. Also, if you have the time, it can really pay off to use oil based paint on your decking as well. Sherwin Williams Exterior Oil Based Stain is one we recommend for deck staining.
  • 7. When using a faux finish, oil based paint takes longer to dry giving you more time to play with the faux and make it more to your liking

Always consider the environmental & health effects of oil based paint

The thing to remember about oil based paints is that even though they look stellar, they’re not the most environmentally friendly of paints nowadays. We always like to give you both sides of the coin here at Home Painters Toronto. Even though led has been banned from paints in the late 1970’s, there can still be potentially hazardous hydrocarbons and high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in oil based paints.

Also, be sure to make plans to properly dispose of your oil based paints if you are going that route with your interior painting or exterior painting. You will need to look into the hazardous waste disposal measures and collection in your community.

So, if you’re planning on using oil based paints on the interior of your home, it’s important to speak to a professional first. Then you’ll really be able to properly gauge which projects — interior and exterior, are truly in need of it.

how do I use oil based paint

How do I use Oil Based Paint?

Painting with oil based paint is slightly different  than other paints (Latex based paint or water based paint). Here are some general guidelines to follow when using oil based paint.

  • Acquire a higher-quality paint brush that is advertised specifically for oil-based paint.
  • Expect to spend more on items such as disposable brushes, varsol to clean the paint off, other miscellaneous sundries, since the oil paint usually ruins most of the equipment so it can’t be reused like with latex based paint.
  • When buying the paint, it may be a little harder to find. Look for “industrial rust preventative” or some similar name, which is the same paint. In Toronto and the GTA, most of the oil based paints have been fazed out for more environmentally and zero VOC paints. So, keep that in mind prior to when your painting project begins.
  • Oil-based paint takes significantly longer to dry, but it can be worth it. You just need to make sure you have the time mapped out properly in order to be able to let everything dry. Be sure to let oil based paint dry for a 24 to 48 hours in a well-ventilated room, per coat. If you’re working outside with oil based exterior paint, it’s the same amount of time.
  • Before the final coat, sand the wall to keep imperfections out of the final finish.

And that’s all there is to it. Oil based paint does require a little bit more work, but it definitely pays off in the end with a much higher-quality paint job.

How about Low Or Zero VOC Paints?

When you’re thinking about all of the different interior house paints, of course, low and zero VOC paints will come to mind as well. VOC stands for “volatile organic compound”. VOCs are organic materials that turn to vapor at room temperature. They’re often put into interior house paint to stop the growth of mold and mildew. However, they can let off gasses that aren’t very healthy to breathe in over long periods of time.

So, it can be helpful to look for low VOC paint or even zero VOC paints when you’re thinking of doing interior painting. They’re often labelled, so they’re super easy to find. And most of the popular interior house paint brands have several options available. Simply do a little research and you’re all set to shop for paint!

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If you reside in Toronto and the GTA and need some help picking out Oil-based paint or Latex paint don’t hesitate to call us! We will help you pick the paint you want and show you the latest painting and home renovation trends. Our home painting services with the best pro painters have been around now for over 34 years.

Call 416.494.9095 or email brian@HomePaintersToronto.com for a FREE quote for your home painting needs. And don’t forget to check us out on our social media channels below! 

Brian Young - Home Painters Toronto

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.