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Choosing the Right Paint

Alkyd vs. Latex

Choosing the right paint is difficult due to the wide selection of products paint stores offer today. However, it is important to choose the right product for your project. One of the most important decisions in selecting paint is choosing the carrier; that is, the liquid base of the paint product. You have two options: water or oil.

Water-based latex products are the top sellers in paint stores today. They go on much more smoothly than did in the past. They also dry more quickly. However, the quick drying time can be a problem when it comes to correcting mistakes. 

Latex paints have very little odor. This also means less VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to harm the environment. And clean-up is easy; all you need is a little soap and water.

Pure acrylic (water based) paints are usually better quality than regular water-based latex paints. They are usually more expensive, as well. Before buying a pure acrylic paint, be sure to read the label for ingredients.

Alkyd is a term that is used to refer to oil-based paints. Alkyd, or oil-based, paints go on more smoothly and have a longer drying time than latex paints. This may be a bonus when it comes to correcting mistakes.

Alkyd paints cure to a very durable finish. Cleanup is pretty messy, however. Spills need to be cleaned with a solvent, such as mineral spirits or turpentine. Alkyd paints also have a long-lasting odor, so ventilation is mandatory when using them.

When comparing the two carriers, consider the longevity of a paint finish. How often do you expect to apply a fresh coat of paint? A good oil paint may last decades, but a cheap latex paint will only last up to 3 years. Although latex paints have less VOCs, applying them every few years may be just as harmful to the environment as applying an oil paint every 10 years. 

Choosing the right paint for your project is a difficult decision with the wide range of options provided in paint stores today. It is a very important decision, though. Once you have decided between oil and water, the rest will come easy. At least, until you have to decide on a color.