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Oil vs. Water Based Paints

Still wondering about oil-based versus water-based products like primers, paints and varnishes for your remodel or renovation? This is a common question. Here’s a simple answer…or as simple as I can make it.

Oil based paints have been around about as long as paint has been around. Historically, they have good one coat coverage and boasts a smooth, hard and durable finish. Some homeowners and painters still fight for oil based paints today. However, the main issue is these products are slowly being phased out as safety, air quality and environmental regulations become more strict. These products have high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), they are flammable, can have toxic fumes and odors and require strong solvents for clean up. In fact, some oil base products are already banned in some US states!

In the 1940’s, Sherwin Williams introduced the first latex, water-based house paint. These paints also have their pros and cons. However, the main thing is they are environmentally friendly. These products have a low or zero VOC, are non-flammable, non-toxic and require only soap and water for clean up. Additionally, the industry continues to research and further develop water-based paints to provide the best qualities of both the oil and water-based products – and the gap continues to narrow.

Working with our local Sherwin Williams representatives, MRC has sampled, tested and studied many different water-based products over the past couple of years. In 2018, MRC narrowed and standardized all of our primers and paints to just a hand full of high-end, water-based, Sherwin Williams products. Besides the advantages just discussed, this has also reduced variability in our painting process. This helps us to achieve the same, repeatable, high quality results with every project.