One of my earliest “paint” memories was the smell of the house after my grandfather finished painting. Growing up in easter Europe in the 80’s I’m sure there weren’t a lot of options (and certainly no Pinterest!) so every couple of years the walls would get a fresh and very smelly coat of oil paint in a very uninteresting shade of off-white. That smell has stayed with me for a good 30 years.
These days, of course, paint technology has advanced at lightening speed and every year there are better, more durable and safer paint products on the market. However, some people are still die-hard oil paint users, especially on surfaces like woodwork, cabinets, furniture and floors. After all, those were the products we grew up with. But here are some reasons you should ditch those harsh paints and switch to a waterbased (latex) alternative.
First of all, oil paints will have a very strong smell, especially if you’re using them inside. Harsh chemical smells can lead to dizziness, headaches, and nausea. These can be a very severe if you’re already sensitive to odor or have a breathing condition like asthma. The smell will linger long after the paint is dry and can be especially difficult to live with in spaces like the bedroom, where you spend a lot of time at rest, breathing in the fumes. By comparison, most of today’s latex paints will have virtually no smell, especially environmentally friendly ones with zero VOC formulas. TIP: VOC stands for “volatile organic compounds” which are the ingredients that evaporate out of the paint as it is drying.
Talking about drying, depending on the humidity, most latex paint will dry in a couple of hours. Compare that with around 6-8 hours for traditional oil paints. You will only be able to paint on one (two at most) coat per day, extending your project time if multiple coats are required.
Now let’s talk about clean up. With oil paint, you’ll probably need a solvent like paint thinner to clean your brushes and rollers. Paint thinners will also have a very strong smell, plus they’re harsh on our delicate skin. Since they’re hazardous, you won’t be able to pour them down the skin and will have to dispose of them separately and safely according to local laws. To clean up after latex paints all you need is some fresh water and maybe a bit of dish soap!
Finally, from an aesthetic standpoint, indoors oil paints will change colour over time. If you ever painted your doors or woodwork with white oil paint did you ever notice it turning yellow? It will take around a year, but that bright white will turn into an antique cream with lack of sunlight. Waterbased enamels like Muralo Ultra Waterborne paints will stay bright white for years.
But aren’t oil paints more durable? Today’s latex paints are designed with acrylic resins, ceramic particles and nano technology, which are all fancy ways of saying that a lot of very smart people designed paints that are self priming, washable, and scratch resistant!
To be fair, there are some draw backs to latex paints and there are times when oil paints are the better choice. For example, you won’t be able to achieve that mirror high shine with a latex enamel like you will with an oil. And marine enamels are still more durable if you’re painting something outside that needs to stand up in a harsh environment with salt water, daily sun and rain. That’s why we still recommend them for shutters and rafter feet. Plus, as wonderful as house paints are these days, you still wouldn’t want to use them on your boat or car!
Finally, if you’re not sure which product is right for your project, don’t forget to ask! There are A LOT of choices and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated. That’s why we’re always there to help!
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