Water Based Paints versus Oil Based Paint

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Why water-based paints ?

In the last few years water-based paints have considerably improved in terms of flow, application, quality and opacity

However, to get the best out them you must understand the application methods to reduce things like brush strokes and poor covering.

Water based paints work very differently to oil based paints; the standard oil-based paint needs to be worked in to the substrate with several strokes and brush lines automatically levels out.

Which even though takes more work, is easier to get a good finish. Whereas with water-based paint over brushing will cause the paint to breakdown thus losing opacity. Even professional painters who are used to oil based paints get frustrated with water-based paint as application is quite different.

So if its easier to get a good finish with oil based paint, why use water-based paint?

1. Longer lasting finish

Maybe this has happened to the woodwork in your home, maybe you noticed it at work or a friends house! I’m talking about when the woodwork turns a yellowy color, like a smoker’s house years ago.

All oil-based paints have pigment in them that will go yellow over time. At first its pure brilliant white but even after a few months it starts to fade, water – based paints will not discolour like this.

With good prep and application, they will last years.

FACT – oil based paint needs sunlight to stay white, without it yellow. Find a spot in your home that gets the least amount of light, if its painted with oil, it will be much more yellow then anywhere else.

2. Reduced fumes and smell

When walking into a room that’s had the walls painted in a fresh emulsion, you can smell the hint of paint and most people accept it as a freshly-painted smell.

But when using oil-based undercoat –  especially Gloss – you can really smell the fumes and it seems to last for ages; water-based, woodwork paints are no harsher then the emulsion we are all used to.

3. Better for the Environment

This is an obvious one but does seem to be overlooked.

Oil-based paint needs to be cleaned with white spirit, which is a volatile, colourless liquid distilled from petroleum.

You buy much more environmentally friendly products like clean spirit but with water-based paints, you can just run your brushes under a water tap and they’re clean in 3 minutes!

That has to be better.

4. Shorter drying times

When we’re working in client’s houses, drying times are very important.

With oil-based paints, we tend to coat in the morning as drying time can be anything from 10-15 hours depending on conditions.

Then, you must be careful not to touch wet areas or scuff them with your clothes etc.

A coat of water-based wood paint can be ‘touch-dry’ in an hour and it’s possible to apply 2 coats in one day.

This saves time and therefore money for our clients.

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