The Five Biggest Myths About Oil Based Paints

There is no doubt that your grandfather and probably your father was told that for a lasting paint job, you needed to use oil-based paint. The truth is, that until fairly recently they were pretty much right. That being said, there are many times that using oil-based (also known as Alkyd) paints are really not a good idea at all. Here is a list of the top myths associated with oil-based paints:

1. Oil based paints are always better for exterior

Wrong! Alkyd paints are much more brittle than Latex paints and are much more prone to cracking on an exterior surface (such as wood trim, doors and shutters) that will expand and contract with the outside temperature. Alkyd paints will also fade dramatically and quickly in the sun so your bright red door will fade to pink in less than two seasons. Additionally oil based paints will chalk heavily in the sun. Today’s high quality exterior Latex Acrylic paints have none of those problems.

While oil-based coatings are better for exterior wrought iron railings, furniture, and some exterior specific alkyd primers are recommended for bare wood exterior surfaces, most oil-based paints will not hold up well compared to today’s  water-borne paint technologies

2. Oil based paints are much more difficult to clean up after painting

While you will need mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean up with, the fact that most oil-based paints take a long time to dry can actually make them easier to clean up than water based ones. Small spills or spatters from Alkyd paints can be easily wiped off of most hard surfaces with a rag after 30 minutes or more and even if you were out of solvent, there would be plenty of time to drive to the paint store to pick up thinner before most oil based paints would even start to dry. Conversely, most water-born paints and primers start to dry immediately and can be stubborn to remove completely.

3. You can’t put Oil-Based Paints over Latex Paint

This is a total myth. Waterbased paints and primers can make excellent undercoats for Alkyd paints.

4. You can’t put Latex Paints over Oil-Based Paint 

This myth started when Latex paints were new and most oil paints were high-gloss. Even when properly sanded, the early latex paints could be easily scratched off the hard glossy paint surface. Today this is not the case; in fact, the newer water based Acrylic and urethane Acrylic primers will stick to anything, including glass and ceramic tile.

5. All Oil based paints have a strong and harmful odor.

Ok, this one is mostly true, but not entirely. Oil-based odorless paints and primers have been out for a long time and they truly have little  discernible odor…But beware! The reason it is hard to detect a smell with most of these paints is because they contain a chemical odor masking agent so you could be still breathing in harmful vapors. Be safe and always wear at least a dust mask when using oil-based paints inside.

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