Oil Based vs Water Based Paint - Pros & Cons.


When painting your wood and metal, especially interior, the advancement in paint technology means you are able to choose what finish you want, from matt, eggshell, satin or gloss depending on how shiny you want it to appear. This just leaves you 1 question to answer, do you want a water based product or an oil based product.


You may find that your decorator will advise or try to persuade you to use oil based, without you knowing which will be the best option for your needs. This is partly due to the fact that as little as 10 years ago, everyone would automatically use an oil based product, it has been around for years and water based wasn't up to standards. But since then, all leading manufacturers have invested time, money and resources in the improvement in water based products, leading to them becoming more popular and in some circumstances, matching or bettering their oil based counterparts.





Oil Based Gloss Water Based Gloss


The benefits to water based.


To help you decide which is best for your needs, we have made a pros and cons to using a water based gloss below, then you can make a more informed decision on which product you wish to use or be used.

  • Low Odour

The main noticeable difference between water based and oil based is the smell. A water based gloss has very little or no smell, making it ideal if you have breathing problems, or small children.

  • Quick Drying

Most water based paints will be touch dry within an hour. As they as an air bourn drying product, the warmer the temperature, the quicker it will dry. This makes it ideal if you have pets, children or want to put 2 coats on in 1 day. Oil based products usually take a minimum of 12 hours to dry.

  • Non Yellowing

A big selling point for the water based products is the fact that they are non yellowing. A common problem with a white oil based paint is the fact that it will discolour and start to yellow . This is determined by the amount of natural light that shines on the surface. If you paint a door where no natural sunlight shines you might find the door will be yellow within a month or two. However if you painted the same door in a water based paint it will remain nice and white for years to come.

  • Clean up

When a job is finished, you can clean your brushed and rollers out using warm water, this, not only is cheaper than buying turps or white spirit, but also better for the environment.


The drawback to water based.


Like any product, there are some disadvantages to using a water based product.

  • Application

Many decorators, especially those used to working with an oil based product, will find a water based product doesn't flow quite as smoothly as an oil based product. It can be more difficult to get a smooth finish without brush or roller marks, meaning a better brush or roller may needed to be used to get a better finish.

  • Finish

When comparing an oil based and water based gloss (or satins or eggshells), the finish is slightly different. An oil based gloss with give a higher, glossy finish than the water based ( same with the oil based satin will be a higher satin finish compared to the water based). This is simply down to the oils.

  • Durability

Some would argue that oil based paints are harder wearing than their water based counterparts. In some cases this may be true. However if you use a Trade Paint rather than a cheap Retail Paint you will find the finish very hardwearing.


In summary


If you are looking for a product that is quick drying, low odour and will stay white, then water based is the answer for you.

If you need something more durable or are having a colour, then oil based may suit your needs more. However, here at A and B Trade Paints we can mix both water based paints and oil based paints to thousands of colours too.


Here are some of our most popular water based trim products.













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