Latex, Acrylic and Oil Paints

When you take up a house painting project, you are confronted with several mind boggling decisions. Not only do you have to choose what colors or finish you want for your project, you also must choose from three types of paint: latex, acrylic, and oil. The three types of paint have different properties that meet different standards for interior, exterior, and trim work. 


Despite the name, latex paint does not contain natural latex protein. It is made from water and acrylic resin, so people with latex allergy can safely be exposed to latex paint without allergic reaction. 

Latex paint is water-based, therefore it is easy to work with and dries quickly. It has considerably low amounts of VOCs than other paints, which means it emits less fumes and odor. You can usually cover a wall with fewer coats than oil or acrylic. It also cleans up easily without need for harsh, toxic chemicals—soap and water is all that is required to remove paint. It is cheaper than oil and acrylic. It can cover vast surfaces, which makes it good for painting interior walls and ceilings. 

However, it is not as durable as acrylic or oil-based paints and it chips and burnishes easily. It also damages easily with exposure from ultraviolet rays and rain, therefore it is not recommended for exterior or trim work. 


Acrylic paint is chemical-based, which means that it is made from acrylic polymer solution and acrylic resin. It dries very quickly, and when dried, it is water- and moisture-resistant, as well as resistant to ultraviolet rays. It is more flexible—it can contract and expand with the walls without chipping or cracking. Its resistance and flexibility makes it good for exterior projects as well as bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. 

However, it has more VOCs than latex and creates more chemical fumes which is why painters are encouraged to wear masks or respirators, as well as open windows when working with acrylic paints indoors. It does not mix well with oil-based paints, and it won’t adhere to a wall covered with oil paint. Lastly, it is difficult to clean and requires dangerous chemicals for cleanup, such as turpentine, paint thinners, or mineral spirits. 


We rarely use oil paint, partially because it is the most expensive and least environmentally-friendly paint out of the three.  

It is made from alkyd or linseed oil; alkyd is a type of polyester and linseed is an oil pressed from the seeds of the flax plant. Because of its durability, it is good for trim work as trim takes more abuse than walls. It can also be used on glass and metal as it grips these surfaces better than latex or acrylic.  

However, oil paint contains more VOCs than latex and acrylic, therefore it creates more fumes. It takes longer to dry, and like acrylic, cleanup requires dangerous chemicals like turpentine, paint thinner, or mineral spirits. 

You know the three primary kinds of paint and their makeup, so you can be confident in choosing the right kind of paint for the job! If you need any more information, call Ville Painters so our experienced professionals can assist you. With unrivaled craftsmanship and attention to detail, Ville Painters provides an exceptional customer experience. Call us now at (717) 396-1176 for a quote!