Water-Based vs. Oil-Based
In general, water-based paints are safer, easier to use and more versatile, but oil-based paints are recommended for chalky surfaces, as they offer better adhesion. Oil paints are not breathable, thus preventing stains, rust or wood saps from seeping through. If you’re painting a surface that may have adhesion or bleeding problems, many professionals recommend using an oil-based primer with a water-based paint to take advantage of the benefits of each.
- Water-based paint can often be applied over oil-based paint, but oil-based paint is not recommended for use over water-based
- If the surface was previously painted with more than four coats of oil paint, water-based paint may cause the oil paint to pull away and crack
Water-Based (latex; acrylic)
- Easily applied and touched up
- Less odour
- Soap and water cleanup
- Quicker drying
- Better colour retention
- Better surface penetration
- Better adhesion
- Better flow and levelling
- Dries to a smoother finish with fewer brush/roller marks
- Helps prevent bleed through
Is your painted surface Oil or Latex?
There are a few different ways to determine what type of paint has been applied to your surface:
First, scrub a small area with a solution of household detergent and warm water. Rinse well and towel dry. Then soak a cotton ball, Q-tip or soft rag in alcohol and rub it back and forth over the cleaned area. If paint comes off, it’s latex and another coat of the same is in order. If the paint doesn’t come off, it’s oil-based, and an oil-based primer is a must. Then you have options for the finish coat, and different types of latex or oil-based paint can be used.
Using a fine grade sandpaper, sand a small inconspicuous area. If the paint “powders” off, it’s oil based, if the paint “gums-up” the sandpaper, it’s latex (rubber based).
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