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Choosing the right type of paint is an essential step when painting your home. There are different benefits and problems with both water based paints and oil based paints when used in different areas. Some of the basic points to consider are mentioned below.


The Difference Between Water and Oil Based Paintswater or oil paint


When we talk about the differences between water and oil based paints, we are talking about the type of solvent used in the paint. The solvent is the liquid it is based on, that evaporates as the paint dries.

Oil based paints are often referred to as “enamel paints” but this is an incorrect assumption. Oil paints are most often mineral turpentine based. Water based paints are based in water.

Water based paints have become more common in the market and you can now also get water based enamel and other quite high sheen paints that wash out in water.


When To Use What?


Exterior Painting

Water based paints perform very well when used outside. The main reason for this is that they are more UV resistant. This resistance helps them to keep their colour and sheen levels longer. Water based paints are often more flexible, which helps them to avoid cracking as exterior surfaces expand and contract due to heat and humidity.


Durability / High Use Areas

Because oil paints typically dry harder than water paints, they can be longer lasting and more durable. An example here could be door frames. Oil based paints can often not be affected by damage during removals, or from bringing in different items through your front door or hallway areas.


Sheen Levelsuse oil paint

Oil based paints can usually hold a higher sheen level. So again, on door trims and architraves this can be an advantage. A higher sheen can help enhance contrast and in many cases resist mould.


Weather Conditions

Water based paints are more tricky to use when painting during adverse weather conditions. When it is too cold or humid, water paints can take too long to dry. On the flip side, when it is too hot, the paint can dry too quickly. So, you just need to be more mindful of this when using water based paints.


Painting Surface Condition

If the surface you are painting is slightly damp, then it is better to use water based paint. Because oil paints resist water, they may not adhere as well to the surface you are painting. This is more often the case with exterior house painting.



Inside the home, oil paints can take a little longer to dry and they are known to emit more volatile organic compounds, which are responsible for that “paint smell”. When using oil based paint inside, it becomes even more important to keep the rooms well ventilated.


Clean Up

Perhaps the most famous difference between the two types of paint is the clean up. After painting, your brushes, rollers and any spills with water based paints can be cleaned up with water. Oil based paints need turpentine or other thinners for any cleaning required. It is also just stickier and harder to remove in general.


As experienced house painters in Melbourne, we use all sorts of paints depending our clients preferences, the surfaces we are painting, and what our experience tells us is the best paint for the job.

If you would like to speak to a painter in Narre Warren, or the surrounding suburbs, then call us for advice or to arrange a free quote today.