Oil vs. Latex Paint

You are about to repaint a wall in your home. You have made your plans and you go out to the hardware to purchase tools and paint. You arrive at the paint aisle, and scratch your head after seeing a lot of colour choices. Finally, you reach for the colour that is your final choice. However, at the corner of your eye, something catches your attention. You pause at seeing the words “latex paint”. All of a sudden you aren’t sure now. You reach for another can of paint and the same thing happens but this time, it’s “oil-based paint” written on the can.

Situations like this are fairly common at hardware stores. It is clear, despite the information you heard or received, that there is still confusion between latex and oil paint. Read on to find out the real difference thanks to Paint Works.


Originally, oil paint was made from linseed oil as a form of binder. The term “oil-based” paint was used during its conception and is still being used presently. Turpentine or mineral spirits are used to thin out or dilute paints. Formerly, oil-based paints were preferred by many painters. However, with the creation of latex paints and due to the restriction in using oil-based paint in a number of states, painters have leaned towards latex paint.

Oil-based paints are famous for their smooth, hard enamel and glossy finish. Because of this, it was a popular choice among painters who work on cabinets and other woodworks. As a matter of fact, there are contractors that still stick to using oil-based paints in their woodwork. But, there is a downside to using oil-based paint. The paint has a lot of volatile organic compounds or VOCs which can release gas as the paint dries, making it inconvenient for the environment and your family.

Latex (Acrylic) Paints

In 1940’s, latex paint was invented in Canada, which used resin from rubber trees as a binder. The word “latex” was the general name for the original binder. Although many latex paints don’t use the rubber resins anymore, the name is still used. The binders which are utilized today are made from man-made resins of styrene butadiene, polyvinyl acetate and other man-made binders.

Nowadays, latex paint is the paint of choice for most painting projects. This is because latex is much easier, economical and safer for painters and homeowners to use. Latex paints have a long film life and superior colour retention. The only disadvantage in using latex is that it will take time if you want to attain a smooth and glossy finish.

Thanks to Paint Works for helping explain the difference between oil and latex paints. If you need a Victoria BC painters, contact them for more information on pricing.

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