A fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior is a great way to upgrade its look, boost its value and protect your investment. Perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that homeowners face is choosing the paint. “Should I use latex or oil paint?” is a question that numerous homeowners in Amador County ask every time. At the end of this article, we hope to have fully answered that question.

Latex paint is a general term used to describe all non-oil based paints and typically require water for mixing. Oil-based paint, on the other hand, is used to loosely classify paints that require mineral spirits, such as turpentine, when mixing. Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of the two options and when to use each of them.

Oil-Based Paint


• Durable: oil-based paint doesn’t shrink as much as latex and can withstand erratic temperature changes. Additionally, it can withstand exposure to water, which makes it a pretty solid option for the exterior.

• Effective Coverage: these paints will cover the surface better in one coat compared to a single coat of latex. This means that you can complete your paint job in fewer coats.

• Takes Longer to Dry: some might view this as a con, but actually the 24 hours required for the oil-based paint to dry means that it will settle better, creating a smoother finish.

• Overwhelming Fumes: oil-based paints typically produce lots of fumes, but this shouldn’t be a big issue when painting the exterior.

• Becomes Brittle Over Time: When oil-based paint oxidizes, it becomes brittle and may fade, crack or yellow over time.

Latex Paint

• Dries Faster: latex paint requires just about six hours to dry up, which minimizes chances of dirt, leaves and other forms of debris sticking on the paint before it dries completely.

Resistant to Direct Sunlight: latex paint doesn’t harden upon extended exposure to sunlight, and retains its colors for longer.

Better for the Environment: latex paint is environmentally friendly and doesn’t require special handling during exposure.

• Easier to Work With: this is because you can easily clean up spills using soap and water, but for the oil-based paint spills, it takes mineral spirits and a little bit more scrubbing.

• Less Durable on Water Exposure –since it’s water-soluble, water-based paint might not last as long when constantly exposed to water.

Peels Off if Applied Incorrectly: if you’re painting wood, water-based paint might cause the wood to swell and the paint to peel.

So Which One Should I Use?

Paint formulations have been improving over time, and latex paint has managed to replace oil-based paints in many scenarios that had traditionally been reserved for oil-based paint. Today, you can find latex paint for nearly any type of surface. This means both latex and oil-based paint can be used for exterior painting.

However, based on the above pros and cons, you might want to stick to oil-based paint if you’re painting surfaces that are continually exposed to low temperatures. An oil-based paint might also be the best option when painting dirty or rusty surfaces that can’t be cleaned. This is why they’re common for painting metal furniture, railings, and outdoor metalwork.

While DIY painting is an available option, hiring a professional painting contractor is the best way to guarantee quality results and a durable exterior paint job. If you haven’t yet appointed a professional residential painter for your home in Amador County, California, consider giving Michael Hines Painting a try.

We specialize in interior and exterior painting, as well as cabinet refinishing. Please give us a call 209.256.4587 or email us any time to schedule a meeting so we can discuss your needs.

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