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The Difference Between Oil & Latex Products


Most painting companies steer away from using oil based products because they are harder to work with, more expensive, is hard to clean up, and smells horrible until dry. The fact is, it's tough as nails and resists rusting so it is a great product for commercial applications but can be used for residential as well. It also doesn't freeze if stored in the cold.

Oil seeps into the pores of surfaces instead of just laying on top like latex products do.

This allows for less flaking and peeling. Being stain blocking most of the times primer is not needed when applying oil-based products. Clean up needs to be done with paint thinner, mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.

There are 3 main types of oil-based products which include interior and exterior stains, primers, and paints. Typical oil-based stain applications you see daily are wood flooring, stair treads, and railings with a polyurethane finish to further protect the surface. Oil-based primer is usually used where there are stains, rust, or bare surfaces such as metal or wood. Wood has a natural tannin oil which will leak from the wood causing yelling and bleed through id not sealed with oil-based primer. Rust can not penetrate oil-based primer due to water not being in the product so oxidation can not occur.

Besides oil based products being tough to work with, oil-based clear coats are typically not used on exterior surfaces in direct UV rays due to yellowing. Oil based polyurethane coatings tend to yellow over time making it look like someones been smoking cigarettes right next to it for 10 years.

There is a lot more to learn when it comes to oil-based stains, primers, and paints to learn more please sign up for our newsletter as we send informative information about House Painting often.👌


Latex, the most commonly used stain, primer, and paint by professionals and homeowners. This water-based acrylic liquid is amazing and can basically be applied anywhere. It's easy to work with and you don't need a mask!

If a homeowner goes into a local paint store asking for paint for walls they will hand you over interior latex paint in an egg shell finish. Most stores try to push the "eggshell" finish because its cleanable and is more expensive. In reality though, if it's not a bathrooms flat finish is the way to go. Flat can be "touched up" much better than any paint with a sheen.

Latex primer is basically just cheap flat paint for a base coat. We typically just go with an extra coat of whatever product we are using if flat. Flat primer or paint is also used to prevent "flashing". If repaired drywall or bare surfaces are not primed they may be able to be seen from different angles causing a flashing effect or the area will be less shiny.

With clear coats like polyurethane, water-based applications are best because they stay clear and do not yellow or fade as fast as oil. Water-based painted are easily cleaned up with water only.

Latex paint needs to be stored in a temperature controlled environment to stay good or settlement and chemical decomposition may occur, especially in cold conditions.

Overall unless there is a stain, rust, or bare surface to coat, latex water-based paint is always top choice. 👍

If you have a project and you do not know what the best product to use give us a call or click today and we can help.


Thanks for reading!

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