The Guide to Water Based Paints

Posted on: May 23rd, 2022

The Guide To Water Based Paints

Water based paint is commonly used on both indoor and outdoor projects for several reasons. It’s easy to clean-up, doesn’t leave behind a harsh odor, and dries extremely fast. So, when is it best to use water based paints over oil based paints? In this article we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of water based paints and how to use them for the best results. 

Is Latex Paint Water Based? 

It’s easy to get confused when it comes to painting terms. Simply put, latex paint is often called water based. Latex was introduced in the manufacturing of paint in the 1940’s and entirely revolutionized the paint industry. Latex made it possible to produce a superior quality of paint as well as enhancing its applicability. The synthetic polymer that is in latex paint should not be confused with rubber latex. 

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Water Based Acrylic Paint 

Water-based acrylic paint is composed of pigment particles dispersed in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Three main components make up acrylic paint:

1. Pigment 

Pigments are the granular particles that give paint its color. They don’t dissolve but instead remain suspended in the paint.

2. Binder 

Binder is the substance that helps pigment remain in place after the paint dries. Acrylic polymer is the binder used in acrylic paint.

3. Vehicle 

This component of the recipe carries the pigment and binder. In water-based acrylic paint, water is the vehicle. When mixed with the binder, it creates a polymer emulsion. Once the water is either evaporated or absorbed, the paint dries leaving behind a clear polymer film full of pigment particles. 

Acrylic paint dries quickly, is flexible and can be cleaned up with water but remains permanent once dry. They come in a range of consistencies and formats to suit a variety of needs and will stick to almost any surface. Acrylics are versatile enough to be used for different styles and painting techniques. With no fumes, they are non-flammable and carry very little odor.

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When to Use Water-Based Paint? 

There are two types of water-based paints: latex paint and acrylic paint. Each is unique and serves a different purpose. Some types of acrylic paints are predominantly used for crafts and hobbies but we are referring to acrylic paint used for residential home painting. 

While acrylic and latex are both water-based, they each have their distinctions. Before you purchase paint for your project, it’s important to know the characteristics of each one to ensure you bring home the right paint for your needs. 

  • When is Latex Paint Best? 

Latex paint is perfect for vertical surfaces such as interior walls. It provides excellent coverage and is less expensive than acrylic. It’s also more environmentally friendly. Latex paint contains less acrylic polymers which also makes it more affordable to produce. 

  • When is Acrylic Paint Best? 

Acrylic paint contains a higher acrylic polymer than latex paint, making it a bit more expensive to purchase. 

  • When is Oil Based Paint Best? 

Because it dries much more slowly, oil based paints appear smoother and glossier than their water-based counterparts. It also dries with a hard enamel that is more resistant to scratches, dents, dirt, and fingerprints. 

It’s common knowledge that mixing oil and water together isn’t a good idea. When you add oil into water it just doesn’t blend well. Instead, it separates. Painting over a surface that was previously painted with an oil-based paint with water-based paint can be done only if the surface is properly prepped first. For this reason, when painting over a surface that already has oil-based paint, use oil-based paint to repaint the same area as it will adhere better. People typically use oil-based paints for projects such as interior and exterior trim, doors, cabinetry, and popcorn ceilings. 

Pros and Cons of Water-Based Paint 

Water-based paints are extremely popular for good reason. Here is a list of the pros of using water-based paint:

  • Easy to apply- Paint application of water-based paint goes on smoothly due to minimal brush drag. 
  • Color retention- Water-based paints have a significant resistance to paint failures such as chalking, fading, flaking, blistering, and peeling. 
  • Resistant to mildew and mold- Additives in the paint make it harder for mildew to grow and spread. 
  • Dries quickly- Expect a drying time of 1-6 hours which means you can apply a second coat in the same day. 
  • Easy cleanup- Paint can be a real mess to clean up. With water-based paint you only need soap and water to get the job done. 
  • Less odor- Oil-based paints tend to be accompanied by a harsh odor. Water-based paints carry a more mild scent. 
  • Versatility- Water-based paints are commonly used because they are great when working with wood, concrete, brick, vinyl and aluminum siding, stucco, and more. 

While there are so many advantages to water-based paints, there are certainly times when another paint is more appropriate. Here is a list explaining some of the cons of using water-based paint: 

  • If you’re painting in a wet, humid climate, oil-based paints are preferred. 
  • Water-based paints tend not to adhere well to shiny or glossy surfaces such as raw metal. 
  • Temperature sensitive-When painting in cooler conditions (under 50 degrees Fahrenheit), water-based paints become harder to work with. This could cause the paint to not adhere properly. 
  • Primer recommended- It’s always recommended to apply a primer coat when using water-based paint. This adds an extra step that takes more time and money. 
  • Water-based paints can raise the grain when working with un-primed wood. 

Guide to Water-Based Paints Conclusion 

Water-based paints come in both latex and acrylic forms. Both are used frequently for painting home interiors and exteriors. Knowing what kind of paint is right for your project is the first thing you need to figure out before diving in. If you live in the Sacramento-Elk Grove area and have any sort of painting questions, PaintRite Pros can help. Our team of professionals has years of experience painting homes in California and offers only the highest quality painting services. We work extra hard to ensure you’re completely satisfied once the project is complete. We serve the entire area including Woodland, Roseville, El Dorado, Dixon, and more! We do interior and exterior home painting, apartment painting, and commercial painting!

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