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5 Difference Between Water-based Paint And Oil-based Paint

Person Holding Blue White and Red Hand Fan
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

In order to create a perfect home environment for living, the choice of material for wall decoration becomes crucial. The most common material used for wall decoration is paint, and the common types of paint can be classified as water-based paint and oil-based paint.

However, a lot of people still don’t know the difference between water-based paint and oil-based paint. So, in this article, I have outline the 5 major differences between water- and oil-based paint in detail, let’s take a look at each of them now.


1. Composition

Water-based paint uses water as thinner (or in other words, diluted with water), contains filler, pigments, and binder, all dissolved in water.

Many people are worried about the residue of harmful substances in the interior. If you want to eliminate this doubt, it is best to choose water-based paint. That is because it does not contain harmful carcinogens composition and extremely low level of VOC (Volatile organic compound). Meanwhile, it is harmless to the human body, non-toxic, non-irritating odour, environmentally friendly, safe and non-flammable.

Oil-based paint (a.k.a. solvent-based paint) on the other hand, is a chemical mixture of paint, diluted with banana oil (also known as lacquer thinner). It contains organic compound as solvents and many harmful substances, such as benzene, toluene and their derivatives, which greater in toxic. It is highly flammable, strong pungent smell, and extremely low in environmental protection.

2. Smell

Cheerful ethnic woman against vivid red painted wall
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

In the process of painting, water-based paint is volatilized water only, it has the characteristics of being instant brushed and instant staying, and the smell is small or no pungent smell at all.

But the oil-based paint is different. It contains much VOC and has a very strong irritating smell. Staying in such an environment for a long time will cause strong headaches, tearing, and breathing difficulties, which is very uncomfortable.

3. Functionality and Area Apply

Photo by David Pisnoy
Photo by David Pisnoy

Oil-based paint has a colourful surface and good saturation, it is used to cover the surface of an object for protection, decoration, and marking, etc. The organic compound in oil-based paint ensures a hard and durable finish that resists scratches and abrasions, meanwhile the thicker nature of oil-based paint also tends to hide the imperfections on your wall, but it will also demand a persistent dry time. All these characteristics including the overwhelming odour of oil-based paint, make it an ideal choice for exterior coating rather than the interior.

Compare to oil-based paint, water-based paint is suitable for almost any application requirement, including swimming pools to barns, roofing to railings, and floors to cladding. Its little to no smell, environmentally friendly, and fast-drying time creates a more pleasant painting experience and make the environment children-friendly. Moreover, it also has the characteristic of abrasion resistance, aging resistance, good air permeability, not easy to crack or fall off, and the touch after brushing is smoother and more delicate.

4. Storage Method

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist
Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist

Water paint is diluted with water and is soluble in water. It is a non-flammable substance, hence the storage method for it would be much easier, just simply store it in a cool place at room temperature.

However, unlike water-based paint, oil-based paint is insoluble in water, contains a lot of flammable organics and solvent gasoline, which caused it stricter to store, requires separate closed storage management, and attention to fire prevention during construction.

5. Construction and Painting

House Renovation
Photo by Rene Asmussen

From the aspect of construction and painting, water-based paint has relatively low requirements. There are no special steps to be carried out. You can simply do-it-yourself or find someone else to do it.

But when it comes to oil-based paint, it would be different. Its construction and painting steps are more cumbersome. It can only be carried out after the procedure such as professional polishing and removing the old paint, which might be difficult to operate by yourself. If you want to achieve the best decorative effect, it would be better to hire a professional painter.



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