Latex vs Oil Paint For Exterior-Which is the best one?

Most homeowners are confused about latex vs oil paint for exterior painting when doing a home renovation. They are confused about what type of paint to use and what surface needs to be painted. 

Other than exterior painting, there are no home improvement projects that give a new look to your home quickly, efficiently, and at an affordable price.

Latex paint is getting more popular as solvent-based oil paints cause various environmental hazards.

As per Adroit market research, North America is experiencing exponential growth in the latex paint industry.

 Latex paint is a type of water-based paint with 60 to 70% water content.

Therefore, it is crucial to know when to use latex paint and  oil paint. And what are the advantages or disadvantages of latex paint and oil paints?

You might have noticed that the houses painted a few years back are starting to look faded as compared to the others, which still look fresh and painted a long time ago. The reason is the quality of external painting, which is applied after a well-prepped area of painting.

Whether you are doing any home renovation projects or just giving your house a fresh look, it is important to know what all kinds of paints are available for the exterior.

In the article below, I have covered the details about latex and oil paint and which surfaces they can be applied to so that you don’t have to look for more information about these paints.

About Latex Vs Oil Paint for Exterior Painting 

We know that exterior painting is essential for keeping your house in good condition and making it attractive and unique. You can give your roof, siding, front door, porch, patio, gutters, and deck a new look after doing exterior painting.

Generally, the same type of paint is needed for painting these surfaces. There is a difference only in the application and finish of the paint.

Conventionally, paints are broadly divided into two major categories, i.e., water-based and oil-based.

Water-based paints are referred to as latex, vinyl, or acrylic. Oil-based paints are referred to as alkyd, polyurethane, or varnish. 

If you apply paint to any surface, the solvent will evaporate, and only the solid coating will be left. Before proceeding further, we will learn about latex and oil-based paint. Both these paints have their advantages and disadvantages.

Latex Paint for Exterior Surface

Latex paints are based on vinyl and acrylic and can be easily cleaned with water. Latex paints can also be called water-based paints.

In latex paint, the solvent is water. Due to government regulations and consumer demand, there are continuous changes in the paint formulation.

These regulations have led to a change in the formation of paint, such as making more paint solid and using less solvent. There is a shift in the paint from oil-based to water-based paint.

Latex paints do not use organic solvents as their primary medium, so they emit very little VOC as compared to oil-based paints, even if they do not require any solvent for cleaning the tools and equipment after paint use.

Latex paints are used by everyone, irrespective of the professional requirements for them. Homeowners can apply this paint on the exterior walls of their house and can easily clean the tools and equipment used.

Latex has excellent durability and won’t fade quickly. Even latex paint resists cracking on the walls. 

Pros: Latex Paint for Exterior

  • Superior resistance to fading and chalking when exposed to the sun.
  • It’s easy to apply on surfaces with less brush drag.
  • More mildew resistance
  • Has very little odor.
  • Cleaning of brushes and rollers or any spill is easy with soap and water instead of any special kind of cleaner.
  • Drying time: one to six hours, permitting quick recoating.
  • Eco-friendly option
  • It is cheaper compared to oil paint 

Cons: Latex Paint for Exterior

  • Less durable than oil paint.
  • Two coats are necessary while doing darker colors.
  • It doesn’t hold wood as well as oil-based paint.

Oil Paint for Exterior

Oil-based paint contains natural (linseed oil) or synthetic (alkyd) oil as a solvent. The alkyd solvent is very popular due to its low price and higher strength.

However, both types of solvents are suitable for exterior painting and are tough and durable. Oil-based products are adhesive to the surface to which they are applied.

Oil paints are hard to handle, apply, process, and manage after use. It will take at least one day to get the oil paint dry. If the oil paint gets oxidized, the paint can be brittle and crack.

This paint is often used to paint the trims of houses. Oil-based paints have high volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, and have an adverse effect on air quality as well as the environment.

Pros: Oil Paint for Exterior

  • Excellent adhesion properties.
  • Pricing is based on quality.
  • Hard, Smooth, and Glossy Finish
  • Highly viscous, so fewer coats are needed

Cons: Oil paint for Exterior

  • It is difficult to apply due to greater brush drag.
  • There is less mildew resistance due to the oil base, but most products have mildewcide to reduce the growth.
  • Noticeably more odor 
  • Cleaning of any brushes ,rollers or spills  will  need turpentine, paint thinner, or solvent 
  • Drying time: 8-24 hours
  • Non-eco-friendly option
  • Can be faded over time

What are the ingredient of Paint?

Paint Ingredient
Paint Ingredient

Paint is a mixture of four ingredients. They are binders, pigments, solvents, and additives.

A binder is a natural or synthetic resin, whereas the solvent can be water or an organic solvent. A solvent is a medium that can be water or an organic solvent where binder, pigment, and additives are dissolved.

The pigment will impart color to your paint. Lastly, additives are small amounts of substances mixed into any paint to modify the properties of the paint, like fungicides, defoamers, UV stabilizers, etc.

Difference between latex vs oil paint

latex vs oil paint for exterior
Latex vs oil paint for exterior

When it comes to painting your house, latex vs oil paint for the exterior will come to mind. The most significant difference between latex paint and oil paint is their composition.

 Oil paint is a good option when you want to paint the doors, trims, and any other high-traffic areas. In contrast, latex paint is a good option to paint the walls.

Another big difference is that oil paints are harder to apply than latex paints. Oil paint is thicker in consistency, so one may need different brushes or rollers to use.

Since the odor of oil paint is also very strong, one should make sure the area is well ventilated while applying it. And the great part about oil paint is that you can easily get it from any nearby paint store. You can tint your oil paint any color you want to apply.

On the other hand, latex paints are easier to work with than oil paints. They are thinner than oil paint, so you may not need specific types of brushes and rollers. Latex paints are easy to tint any color.

Before applying the oil paint, you may have to use the primer first and then apply the oil paint. However, this is not the case with latex paints.

Oil paint may bubble during the painting process and lead to damaged paint surfaces. In contrast, latex paint won’t bubble during the process.

You can apply one single coat at a time with oil paint. However, you can cover the area faster with latex paint by using a couple of more coats.

Oil paints will take a longer time to dry than latex paint. 

Oil paints-are flammable as the binder it contains is very similar to the paint thinner. And latex paints are non flammable as the binder is water and does not contain volatile elements like petroleum, methanol, or ethanol. 

Oil paints are harmful for humans and also for the environment as they contain large amounts of volatile organic compounds(VOC).However, latex paints are not toxic and hazardous to the environment . 

Latex paint can often be  recycled into new paint but oil paint cannot recycle into new paint.

Latex vs Oil Paint for Exterior : Which One Should I Use?

Most DIYers and homeowners like latex paint because it can be easily cleaned with soap and water. Latex paint can be used on wood, stucco, concrete, brick, galvanized metal, vinyl, or aluminum siding.

Oil-based paints have hard-wearing properties, and their paint is also luminous in color. It is mostly used for the exterior painting of wood and metal.

Earlier, oil-based paints were only considered for exterior use, but now with advanced painting performance, even water-based paints can be regarded as exterior paint.

Latex paint for the exterior is gaining popularity nowadays due to its advanced adhesion performance, resistance to mold and mildew, and low VOC emission through paint fumes.

Oil paint can be applied when the temperature is 40°–90° F, and latex paint can be used when the temperature is 50°–85° F.

Water-based paints are best for DIY homeowners, and oil-based paints tend to change the color, becoming yellow and brittle over time.

Latex paints are a more eco-friendly option than oil paints. Latex-based exterior paints are best for painting outdoor projects like house walls and house trims.

Oil paints are also good for outdoors as they hold the surface more firmly than latex paints and even last longer.

Best Latex vs Oil paint for Exterior :Choose the best one

Before selecting the paint, check the door’s durability, sheen, color, and surface suitability. Exterior paints, labeled as “exterior,” are thicker paint, and they can withstand fluctuating temperatures and staining, chipping, fading, and peeling.

Exterior paints come with a separate primer or exterior paint and primer in one product. Selecting paint and primer in one can save some money and time as drying time will get reduced due to usage of all in one product.

Latex paints and oil paints are best for exterior house painting. We have put together the best latex paint and oil-based paints for the exterior to help you identify the correct one as per your needs.

All the exterior colors will not equally suit all surfaces. There are lots of products available on the market. So we have selected some of the best paints for your exterior house.

If you choose the right latex paint, it will have a durable bond with siding, decks, bricks, and other outdoor surfaces. Good quality latex exterior paint will have a tag acrylic like “all acrylic” or “100% acrylic.”

Paints that have mildew resistance are preferable for rainy and humid areas. Paints having a UV resistance tag are more suitable for very sunny areas. The surface selection also plays a critical role in the painting project for the house’s exterior.

If the earlier surface has latex paint, try to select the latex paint for the next time you paint. Try not to mix the latex paint and oil paint on any exterior surfaces.

BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer in One

This paint is moisture-resistant, fade-resistant, and stain-resistant. It will give your exterior surface an excellent finish and a long-lasting, smooth touch.

It has excellent durability and enhances adhesion to the surface, which helps resist peeling. This paint is available in over 5000 different colors, so there is a wide range to select the color for your project.

It is mildew resistant and provides adequate protection from mold and mildew. This paint is Greenguard certified, so it has low chemical emissions in indoor post-application of color. They are low in VOC content.

They are best for stucco, wood, brick, and concrete surfaces. You can clean the painting tools and materials with the help of soap and water.

You can use a 3/8 in. to 1/2 in. nap roller cover and a nylon/polyester brush for smooth surfaces, and for rough surfaces, use a high-quality 3/4 in. to 1 in. nap roller cover.

You can use this paint on wood, brick, masonry, stucco, doors, windows, trims, shutters, fences, garage doors, and even outdoor furniture.

You can select flat, satin, or semi-gloss finish paint. This paint is available in 1-quart, 1-gallon, or 5-gallon containers. One gallon covers 400 sq. ft. of surface area, depending upon the porosity of the surface.

Diamond Brite Oil Based Enamel Exterior Paint

They are oil-based exterior paints and excellent for external surface use. Apply this paint on metal, concrete, wood, plaster, masonry, and hardboard surfaces.

Paint is available in 1-quart, 1-gallon, and 5-gallon containers. They are available in 12 colors. It can cover a 400 sq ft surface area in one paint can, depending upon the porosity of the surface.

They provide a hard and shiny finish. They will require more drying time after application on painting projects.

Do not use thinner for this paint; use it directly from the can. You can use ¼ inch,⅜ inch,½ inch paint roller ( use ½ inch for best results) for smoother walls and use ¾ inch or 1 ¼ inch for rough surfaces.

Modern Masters 275266 Front Door Paint

If you are planning to add curb appeal or want to cover some old water stains, you can put paint on your front door to hide the imperfections.

You have to select a color that can withstand stormy weather and the scorching sun. They have low VOC content.

A 1-quart container of this paint can cover 100 sq. ft. They have a quick-dry formula that will help you give a smooth satin finish while painting and closing your door on the same day.

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They are available in many shades. This paint has never-fade technology, which will give your door a vibrant color the same as the first day. This paint is best for doors and shutters.

Rust-Oleum 1986502 Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex paint is suitable for your exterior surfaces. It will give your exterior surfaces a glossy finish and a new, refreshing, smooth look.

They will dry faster due to their quick-drying formula than ordinary paints, saving you time.

They have better durability, so they resist chipping and fading on various surfaces. If you prime before using this paint, it will give a better and longer-lasting finish.

They cover up to 120 sq ft, and the drying time is 30 minutes so that the project can be completed quickly.

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Before applying this paint, sand the surface with 180/200 grit sandpaper, then use a degreaser. Then you can allow the surface to dry, and once it has dried, you can apply this paint.

KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint

This paint is a 100% acrylic latex product for a durable and long-lasting finish. It is perfect for an exterior house. 

This paint is mildew resistant and even resists scuffing, fading, cracking, and peeling.

It is best for applying to porches, floors, decks, basements, patios, siding, trim, and furniture.

This product has low luster enamel, so it is best suited for deck, porch, and patio siding and floors for various weather conditions.

It can be quickly dried in 1 hour, and other coats can be applied within 4-6 hours. This is highly durable and easy to clean.

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You can apply a high-quality ⅜ to ½ inch-nap roller cover or by nylon or polyester brush. This paint can cover 200-300 sq. ft. on rough surfaces and 300-400 sq. ft. on smooth surfaces.

Wrap up :Latex vs Oil Paint for Exterior

The latex or oil paint you choose for your exterior will depend on the surface you wish to apply the paint.

If your exterior painting projects include projects for woodwork, if you want to hide water stains on drywall, or paint metal surfaces, then oil paint is your best bet.

But if you have plans to do walls, siding, ceilings, decks, or fences, then latex paint can be more suitable.

While purchasing latex or oil paint for exterior painting, you can consider durability, paint drying time, water resistance, and surface and climate suitability factors.

FAQ: Latex vs Oil Paint for Exterior

Finding latex or oil-based paint for the exterior can be tricky, especially if you don’t know which type of paint to apply to your project. This section will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about latex and oil-based paint.

Can I put oil-based paint over latex primer?

Latex paint is more flexible, whereas oil-based paint has a more brittle nature. So when you apply the oil-based paint over the latex primer, there will be binding issues, and your painting surface will have cracking or splitting. Therefore, if you want a good finish for your project, it is not advisable to cover latex primer with oil-based paint.

What is the best type of paint for exterior walls?

The type of paint for exterior walls depends on the paint formula, whether acrylic, latex, or oil. Secondly, the paint finishes refer to the look when the paint is dry. Thirdly, it is the surface on which you want to paint. Oil paints are suitable for doors, wrought iron, trim, and even porch floors. And latex paint is ideal for walls and large areas.

How to tell if old leftover paint in a can is oil based or latex?

Oil-based and latex paint are two common types of paint used for painting projects. You can quickly identify the leftover paint in a can as oil-based or latex by its consistency and odor. If the leftover paint has a strong smell, it is probably oil-based paint, whereas if it has a light aroma, it is latex paint. Latex paint has a thinner consistency than oil paint. While latex paint is easier to work with and clean up, oil-based paints provide a more durable finish.

Over the years, she has perfected her expertise in various aspects of home improvement, from crafting inviting kitchens to revitalizing entire living spaces. Through this blog, her mission is to generously share the wealth of hard-earned knowledge, experiences, and insider tips, empowering readers to enhance their homes and turn them into their dream living spaces.

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