Beth Moore

07:22AM | 04/08/02
Member Since: 04/06/02
2 lifetime posts
We are in the process of a remodeling project, combining old with new. In the old part, I want to repaint the step railing, wainscotting, and other trim with oil base since that's what's already on it (probably one coat), And paint all the new addition trim with latex. My husband wants to paint it all with latex even if it means sanding, priming and then painting over the oil. Help, which would be the better choice? Which holds up better in high traffic areas?


10:03AM | 05/06/02
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
Oil base paint is typically more durable and holds up better in high-traffic areas. It is also more water-resistant ("oil and water don't mix"), and thus holds up to cleaning better. There are new latex products that PURPORT to last as long and stand up to wear as well as oil based paints. They are more expensive and not as well-proven, but they are squeezing oil-based paint out of the market because most do-it-yourselfers prefers to use latex. These more-durable latex paints are the more expensive kinds, not the bargain paints.

The main drawbacks to oil-base paints are the smell while drying and the fact that you need to use solvents to clean up instead of just soap and water.

For beginners, latex is much better to use because clean up and correcting mistakes is so much easier. You should not overlook the value of being able to simply take a wet sponge and wipe off a mistake at an edge/corner. You might just decide to "live with" a small mistake because it would be too much of a bother to clean it up with solvents and do it again, whereas you would wipe it off it only involved a wet sponge. That luxury often makes latex paint jobs look better in the end because you do a better job. Oil-based paint jobs either require a lot of mineral spirits or some steady experience with a paint brush.

The up-side of oil-based clean-up is that it is quicker, albeit stinkier, so long as you use enough mineral spirits. You can sit at a sink rinsing out a latex-paint brush for ten minutes and still not completely get the paint out, whereas mineral spirits will quickly dilute and rinse a brush out. Mineral spirits dilute and dissolve slightly-dry oil-based paint much better than water does with latex paint. One gallon of mineral spirits on oil-based paint will do the job of, say, ten to twenty gallons of water on latex.

The other factor is that few people paint for a permanent change. Instead, they paint to get a result for five years or so. The better Latex paints do a good enough job to last 5-10 years, whereupon you can easily just re-paint with more Latex paint. But if you want a "permanent" color, then oil-based is better. French castles and other historic mansions that are centuries old and want to maintain the same color scheme for decades if not centuries will usually use oil-based paint because it will last longer.

Because most people prefer using latex paint, oil-based paint can be a small deterrent to buyers when you want to sell your home.

You should also balance the hassles of cleaning up with solvents against the inconvenience of sanding and priming an oil-base undercoat for water-based latex, which you would need to do so that the water-based latex sticks to the oil-based undercoat. The hassles of just using oil-based paint rarely outweighs the hassle of adequately prepping the area.

[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited May 06, 2002).]

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