enamel vs latex paint

Latex Enamel Paint – What Are The Differences

What is the difference between latex and enamel paint? Many people, when choosing a repair latex enamel paint, oil or water-based, are guided by the seller’s recommendations. Unfortunately, this may not be the best way to choose paint. The seller will say nothing about the fact that the paint rubs off easily from porous surfaces, or is not UV-resistant, or that it cannot be applied over previous layers of paint. Just to punch a check. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between different types of latex vs enamel paint and when it makes sense to use them. What is latex enamel paint? Read to the end so you can buy the right paint the next time you go to the store.

Most varieties of paint today fall into two massive groups. Oil paints and water-based paints. In turn, they differ in function and properties. The wrong paint is likely to lead you to overconsume material and increase the amount of work.

The most important difference between enamel paint and latex paint is their base. What is enamel paint? Enamel paint is made with an oil base, while latex paint is water-based. Enamel oil-based paints, sometimes used in construction as hard surface paint, dry very slowly but are very dense, which only comes in handy when painting hard surfaces. Water-based latex paints dry fairly quickly, which are more malleable, making it a great choice where the surface can get wider, or where the surface will move or bend frequently.

If you look at all compositions, you can conclude that in enamels the base is pigmented components, and in paints the binder elements. Enamels contain only organic solvents. There are differences in physical and chemical characteristics. So, enamel differs from paint by the fact that enamel is harder and more elastic, but the coating is much thinner. But it is much less affected by temperature differences. Therefore, the enamel is used for domestic purposes. And also it has many shades and a huge choice of colors. The decoration comes out much more varied and interesting.

Normal paint is a fairly viscous suspension. The paint is created on the basis of olive, oil, latex and emulsion. It must also contain substances that form a film on the surface and coloring pigments. Film-forming agents are a binder, due to which an opaque hard film is formed on the painted surface after drying. The paint should also contain solvents so that the material is shaped in the most convenient way for application.

There are different kinds of paints – water-based, silicate, adhesive, art. Their properties usually depend on the film-forming material that is part of their composition. Usually, they are used to create a protective layer on the surface.

Although the base of the enamel vs latex paint seems like a minor detail at first, it affects a myriad of factors, here are the most important ones:

  • Finish
  • Interior and exterior painting
  • Long life
  • Brushes
  • Vapors
  • Various additives
  • Drying time
  • Cleaning up after painting
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latex enamel paint

Choosing a finish that will play an important role in the course of your project will help you choose enamel paint vs latex. Eggshell and matte or flat finishes will only be successful if you choose latex paint. This finish is accepted in modern design and is characterized by its unique sophistication. Latex paint finishes are easy enough to clean and are highly durable enough to maintain their durability on moving surface areas throughout your home.

The enamel, when dry, takes on a stable hardness like glass, is easy to clean and quite problematic to repaint. Available in satin, gloss or high gloss, oil and commonly used to finish cabinets and other areas that get hit in the home because of the hardness of enamel paint.

Interior Vs. Exterior Use

what is enamel paint

Latex paint takes on a flat or eggshell appearance, a trendy look that has become well-known for use on the walls inside the home as well as on its ceilings. Flexible, yet hard, latex paint is easy to clean from dirt and is highly resistant to water, making it a great choice for a lot of home interior changes. Although latex paint is resistant and resists water, it continues to remain lightly flexible even when completely dry, which prevents it from being used for exterior home finishes because of climatic conditions.

But conversely, a durable, glossy enamel paint finish may look harsh and old-fashioned in vast areas of your home, but is great for the constant exposure to sunlight and other weather conditions that occur outside. Although enamel paints are most often affected by time, so they become dull and yellow, exterior oil paints in modest or earthy tones, such as beige, brown or gray, will not be as susceptible to deterioration and loss of hue as other, brighter colors.

Long Life Is Latex Enamel Paint

It would seem that both types of paint can last you quite a long time, if you create the right conditions, enamel paint will last longer than latex paint by all accounts. Enamel paint, made specifically very hard after drying, unlike latex paint, which still retains a little flexibility after final drying, is more suitable for painting in the ever-changing climate and temperature differences outside your home.


If you suddenly come to the decision to paint a surface using a brush, there are a large number of brushes available, and for many types of paint, all professionals recommend buying special brushes made for the needs of that paint. Brushes made of natural bristles, such as those that use pig bristles, will work well with enamel paint, but on no account use them when working with latex paint, they are very water-absorbing. Synthetic brushes are friendly to both types of paint, and are generally versatile for your purposes.

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enamel vs latex paint

Vapors from any paint, if large enough, can cause severe dizziness, a terrible headache, eye discomfort, and difficulty breathing while working. Latex paint has a more tolerable odor than enamel paint, making it ideal for walls and large labor-intensive jobs. Oil-based enamel, which has more fumes in it, is better to buy for short-term painting or use it outdoors in exterior finishes, if possible for your project. In any case, whichever paint you choose, if you have to be indoors, it is advisable to ventilate it regularly or even open all doors and windows so that air is constantly circulating in the area.

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Paint and varnish products themselves are not able to provide reliable protection of the surface from various negative factors and damage. That is why its manufacturers use specialized additives to improve the characteristics of their products. Depending on the composition they can increase the strength of the paint, simplify its application, make the consistency more homogeneous. A substance such as pigments give paint compositions the desired color, matte or glossy effect. Most often such components as fungicides, antiseptics, emulsifiers and stabilizers are used as additives. When they are used, for example, ordinary paint acquires antibacterial properties. Certain additives can reduce such a peculiarity of any paint products as quick flammability. Whatever the additive, the paint it is added in very small quantities so as not to deprive it of its basic properties. But even this is enough to significantly improve the properties of paint compositions.

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Drying Times

latex vs enamel paint

The drying period of a paint material on a surface depends on the type of paint, the condition of the surface where it is applied, the layer of paint, the temperature and humidity in the room. Oil paints have the longest drying time. Usually, it takes at least 24 hours until the surface is completely cured. Water-based and acrylic paints have the shortest drying time. Here the surface becomes suitable for refinishing as early as 4 hours after applying a layer of paint. Consider the drying speed of paint products on different types of surfaces.

Water-based paint products usually dry on wood surfaces in 4 to 6 hours. If oil-based paints were used to smell, you will have to wait at least a day. Here the time depends on the initial thickness of the paint, the degree of readiness of the wooden surface, the temperature conditions.


Latex paints usually require only water and a rag to clean them. Because latex paints are water-based, they are fairly easy to clean. Enamel paints require a paint thinner to clean brushes and surfaces on which paint has spilled.

Paint Thinner


What Are The Advantages Of Enamel Paint

enamel paint vs latex

Enamel paints are a gelatinous or aqueous product where an organic solution is present to form a film. This process occurs due to the presence of varnish or alkyd resin. Some manufacturers use other ingredients, but with similar chemical properties.

After the paint dries, it forms a thick film on the substrate, which performs a protective function and increases the durability of the surface. It protects against abrasion, minor scratches, dirt and water due to its repellent properties.

This point is important for many housewives who do not like or cannot spend a lot of time cleaning. It is enough to wipe the enamel-coated surface with a damp cloth, and it will regain its original appearance.

Another great advantage of enamel paintwork materials is their incredible gloss, which gives the base a rich and beautiful appearance. This property depends not so much on the film formulator as on special additives.

Most professional painters prefer to paint surfaces with enamel enamels: they are easy to handle, they are perfectly applicable and put down evenly. They can be applied to wood, primer and metal.

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Does Enamel Paint Need Primer

what is latex enamel paint

When using 3-in-1 rust primer enamels the question often arises: Is it necessary to prime the surface before painting? In most cases the answer will be yes, even if the paint instructions say that it is not necessary.

The primer promotes better adhesion of the paint coating to the metal surface. In addition, it performs another important function: it protects against corrosion – the main enemy of metal products. If you want to get reliable and long-term protection – hold a full set of preparatory work before painting. Today there are many varieties of primers on metal, so you can always find the most suitable type.

Insulating primer forms a film that protects the metal from moisture and oxygen. This is the cheapest option. Phosphating primer creates a thin layer of chemical compounds on the metal surface that blocks the appearance of corrosion. It also increases the adhesion strength of the paint being applied to the surface. This type of primer can be used for galvanized steel, against which most paint materials have very low adhesion.

The passivation primer forms a special layer on the surface that reduces the electrochemical activity of the metal. It works as follows. When water does get on this layer through the finish coat, it dissolves the substances it contains. This produces a solution that prevents the formation of corrosion.

Tread primer has about 90% of the metal pigments in it that are not susceptible to corrosion. It forms a very thick film on the surface to be painted through which moisture does not penetrate. The primer got its name due to the fact that when scratches occur on the paint coating the metal particles contained in the primer layer continue to protect the surface from corrosion.

The inhibiting primer can be referred to a special class of quick-drying primer enamels. It combines the properties of a primer and a finish coat. The rust primer contains orthophosphoric acid which converts the rust into insoluble iron phosphate. This creates an extremely corrosion-resistant polymer film on the surface.

Once again: a primer is necessary. When selecting the material, you must consider the operating conditions, type of metal and finish coating.

Is Latex Paint Washable?

After drying, latex paint is washable with a sponge and soapy water. As some chemicals, such as alcohol, can remove latex paint, cleaners other than soap and water should not be used to wash latex painted walls.

With the various parameters now accessible in paint, knowing some background knowledge can help guide your decisions. Regardless of whether your project is performed inside or outside, there is the ideal paint for the job you’re doing. Use of some of the extra products we’ve talked about can simplify your project and help you achieve the best possible result.


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