When To Use Oil Based Paint Vs Latex Paint


Oil-based vs Latex PAint–If you have never used oil-based paint, then it is important to know the difference between the two.

Oil-based paint is a great option when you’re looking for a durable finish that can withstand moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors. It’s ideal for painting the exterior walls of your home or garage doors because it resists fading and peeling. It also has a higher tolerance for dirt and grime than latex paint. This means that you can get away with less frequent cleaning and maintenance, which is why many people choose oil-based paints over latex. If you’re looking to paint a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen, however, latex paint may be your best bet. It’s less toxic than oil-based paints and easier to clean up after use.

In general, oil-based paints are better for high-quality finishes, while latex paints are better suited to low-end projects. However, each type of paint has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to know how each one works so that you can make an informed decision.

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 colour often.”

Oil-based paints are extremely durable and can withstand routine contact, making them ideal for mouldings and trims.

How to tell if the 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.

Interior Painting Home Blue Painter with Roller

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 the 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 vapour pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere, causing smog and other air quality problems.

     • Gives off a strong, unpleasant odour 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 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 to use 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 that 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 nicely 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

The thing to remember about oil-based paints is that even though they look stellar, they’re not the most environmentally friendly paints nowadays. We always like to give you both sides of the coin here at Home Painters Toronto. Even though lead has been banned from paints in the late 1970s, 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, and 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 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 vapour at room temperature. They’re often put into interior house paint to stop the growth of mould 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!

Painting Over Oil-based Paint

Is it OK to use oil-based paint over latex paint, or vice-versa? This is a common question that many people ask when they’re thinking about repainting the interior of their home. The short answer is yes, you can. However, it may not be as easy as you think. : If you have an oil-based paint job, it’s possible to put latex over oil-based paint. However, this isn’t the best option for a couple of reasons:

     • First of all, latex paint will not adhere very well to the surface of your walls if there are any oil-based layers underneath. So, you may end up with peeling paint and cracks in your walls after a few years.

     • Oil-based paints can stick very well to other types of oil-based paints. However, they don’t stick well to latex paints. So if you want to repaint over an old oil-based coat of paint, it’s best to use another type of oil-based paint first and then put on your latex topcoat afterward.

     • If you’re painting over oil-based paint, you have to use an oil-based primer first. The reason for this is that the water in latex paints can eat away at the oil in oil-based paints and cause them to peel off over time. This is because oil-based paints have a different chemical makeup than latex-based paints. So they don’t react well with each other and tend to flake off or even bubble up if you try to paint over them with regular interior house 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 35 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!