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Painters Concord – Do They Recommend Latex or Oil-Based for Exterior Painting?

Painters Concord – Do They Recommend Latex or Oil-Based for Exterior Painting?

When painters in Concord are painting the exterior of a home, they may want to know which the recommended option for paint is: latex-based or oil-based (alkyd)? Professional painters will be able to tell what type of paint was used, however a homeowner may not be able to tell the difference.

First, you will want to know what the previous layer of paint was before you begin painting. If you do not know what was used the last time the exterior was painted, there is a fairly easy way to find out. Simply take a rag, saturate it in denatured alcohol, and rub the paint. If it just gets clean, it’s oil-based. If it softens, it is latex.

Latex paint actually contains no latex or other rubber products, but is either acrylic or urethane. There are many advantages to choosing latex paint. It is flexible, so moves with the natural expansion and contraction of the walls. It also is breathable, meaning air can get through it. It is less likely to crack, since it is more flexible. It dries quickly, and gives off less dangerous fumes. It is opaque, which results in better coverage, and it resists fading. It is moisture resistant, once dry. Since it is water-based, it is easy to clean up, requiring no chemicals. On the other hand, latex does not do well over a layer of oil-based paint, and should not be used on steel, due to the possibility of rust.

Oil-based, or alkyd, paint has some advantages of its own. Very durable, it is weather resistant and can be applied at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It dries more smoothly because it dries more slowly. It will penetrate chalky surfaces, unlike latex. Once it is dry, it is resistant to fingerprints, scratches, scuffs, and stains. It will protect metal, and is very washable. However, the slow drying can be a negative. It also is more prone to cracking because it cannot expand and contract. It may dull or get chalky. Cleanup is much more difficult, requiring mineral spirits or paint thinner to break it up.

You will always want to prepare the surface by scraping off peeling paint and sanding to smooth the surface for the best results. If you find the previous layer of paint was latex, you should paint with latex. It is not recommended to try to put oil over latex paint. If you find the previous layer of paint was oil-based, you can use either kind to paint the new layer. Oil-based paints will usually adhere just fine. Latex paints can be used over oil, after applying a good quality primer to help it adhere. If you prepare properly, the paint should do very well.

If the last coat of paint was applied a long time ago, remember that it could be lead-based. There are tests to determine the presence of lead. If it is found, you will want to use protective measures to keep the lead from affecting you or your family. You can find out more from the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or by visiting for the EPA’s recommendations.

In conclusion, when choosing to paint your home’s exterior, painters in Concord should first determine what has been previously used to know what the recommendation is for the exterior of a home.


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