While painting a room can be an exciting endeavor, once the project gets underway, all of the many decisions that need to be made can become quite overwhelming. One of the toughest choices (after paint color, of course) is what type of paint to use. Each room may benefit from a different kind, so to help you choose, we’ve made a list of the Pros and Cons of the two most common types of paint: latex and oil.


Pros of Latex PaintCons of Latex Paint
• Will not crack or peel
• Allows moisture from drywall to “breathe” to prevent mold or mildew
• Superficially dries within minutes (can also be a con)
• No strong odor
• Water soluble = easy cleanup with soap and water
• Nonflammable
• Less expensive that pure, water based acrylic paint (but also lower quality)
• Requires extra primer for steel or wood
• Primer needed for a smooth finish
• Does not easily adhere to chalky or dirty walls
• Shrinks more than oil paint
• Very sensitive to changes in temperature
• Softer outer coating more sensitive to peeling and chipping
• Can damage easily after initially drying because it takes weeks to cure
• Not good for high-traffic areas
• Rubbery feel


Pros of Oil PaintCons of Oil Paint
• Goes on very smoothly
• Covers a lot of space in one coat
• Minimal shrinkage
• Holds up well in high-traffic areas
• Less reflective so provides more “depth” to the paint
• Allows walls to be more washable
• Easily hides wall imperfections
• Cracks, fades and yellows over time
• Needs 24 hours to dry between coats
• Bubbles can occur if not enough drying time is allowed between coats
• Fumes can be overwhelming with poor ventilation
• Hazardous chemicals needed for cleanup like mineral spirits and turpentine
• Must be disposed at a local hazardous waste facility


Pro Tip:

At a high level the main difference you should consider when choosing paint is the finish you’d like and the surface you’re painting.

We recommend using latex when quickly painting a clean, smooth surface in a poorly ventilated room with a consistent climate for a shiny finish. On the other hand, we recommend using oil when you have a more leisurely schedule on any type of surface in a less ventilated, high traffic room for a finish with more depth and warmth but may damage over time. As a helpful starting point, keep these two pointers in mind and you’ll be well on your way!

About the Author:

Pro.com is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, and San Jose area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.