Latex vs. oil for interior trim?

sjmayeNovember 6, 2010

I just bought a home. The amount of trim is much more than my previous home, but it looks no where near as good. My previous home's trim was painted with a very high grade SW gloss, oil based paint. This one appears to be semi-flat latex.

I don't even know if painting over the latex with oil is an option, but I am trying to understand the pros and cons of oil vs latex on trim. My oil based trim was super slick. No brush strokes. At 15 years old it looked as good as it did when it went on. The only issue I noticed when replacing some trim was that it had yellowed. Never would have noticed otherwise.

On the other hand, all the latex trim I have looked at seems to lose it's gloss after it has been painted. Not sure. Just seems that way. I also always see heavy brush strokes. Almost like it was brushed while semi-dry. I am not at all a painter. Just observations.

My question? We will most likely repaint everything. I am thinking it would be difficult to switch the trim to oil based. Do they make a comparable latex?

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mainegrower

Oil based paint is largely a thing of the past due to ever increasing restrictions on solvents and other VOCs, so the question really isn't oil vs. latex. The kind of oil based paint you used 15 years ago is just not made any more.

Use the best quality latex/alkyd you can find with the finish you desire. This is the best paint on the market today.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 6:15AM
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sjmaye

The paint I used is actually still made. Very expensive, but I just bought some a few weeks ago to touch up my old house to get it ready for sale. The professional painter doing the touch up said they still don't make a latex to compete with this stuff, but wanted to get more opinions like yours here. This way I can make an informed decision.

BTW- Thx for the reply :)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 6:32AM
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inox

Imagine trying to explain this topic to people who think it is simple to determine the true environmental impact of anything:

Here is a link that might be useful: The Fog Surrounding Green

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:39AM
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brickeyee

If you add Penetrol to newer alkyd paint you can restore most of the handling characteristics (flow out, leveling, etc.) without altering the gloss level.

If you want a 'latex' full gloss, look at Sherwin-Williams acrylic latex.
It needs some Floetrol added to improve handling (especially leveling) but works very well with about 3-4 ounces per gallon of Floetrol added (even more if painting in high temperatures).

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:25AM
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macv

Oil-modified solvent-based alkyd paint generally has a higher solids content than acrylic paint but the acrylic is more flexible and therefore can often have a longer life in the right circumstances.

The top coat should always be at least as flexible as the one below it and proper preparation of the old finish is critical.

It is important to buy the best quality paint of either category but that can be difficult to determine since paint companies change their formulations (due to changing material costs) so test results are not always helpful and advertising is often misleading.

Latex is a misnomer adopted to describe any paint made of synthetic polymers like acrylic, vinyl acrylic (polyvinyl acetate), styrene acrylic, etc. The more pure acrylic resin the better and more costly the paint is but that is not always clear from the information on the can. If in doubt, stay away from the cheap stuff and/or store brands.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 12:38PM
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brickeyee

"Oil-modified solvent-based alkyd paint generally has a higher solids content ..."

Thids is wy it nbo longer performs well.

The high solids content means there is less solvent present and the paint does no level well at all.

The same thing happens trying to reduce the VOC level of acrylic and latex paints.

This goop covers well (thick as can be) but does not level worth a darn (lots of roller and brush marks).

Add the solvents back with Penetrol and Floetrol and the paint works as it should.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 1:20PM
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stash-hdy

FYI - Sherman Williams still sells an oil based paint here in Dallas, Texas. Used it on my interior repaint last year and it worked well. It's expensive

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 3:13PM
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alan_s_thefirst

I have to say I prefer oil. Over the years people tell me "oh nobody uses oil any more, latex et al is so much better now.

I've been fooled by that a number of times, and it's not as good, and not as tough.

Cars are the same story - the new stuff scratches too easily. I would prefer to do the environmentally sound thing, but I suspect one time with a higher VOC paint is better and lower impact than a bunch of redos with stuff that doesn't cut it.

Penetrol et al does a great job of giving a better finish, I also bought a cheap but good airless sprayer (Wagner) at Costco and the finish is perfect.

If only it would last.

I've heard Melamine paint is tougher, I'm considering that.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 4:17PM
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macv

I believe Melamine paint is oil paint reinforced with urethane. It's primarily used to repaint plastic laminates. Be careful what you wish for.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 5:37PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Fine Paints of Europe (FPE) and Farrow & Ball each make great oil enamels and have the price tags to prove it. But it is a life-changing experience to see how it looks.
Cabinet Coat is a acrylic or water-soluble paint that has a super-smooth, hard finish to rival any oil enamel. Unfortunately the color palette of CC is very limited.
Casey

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 8:55AM
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inox

The link I posted above, The Fog Surrounding Green, is from Fine Paints of Europe. I put one coat of their exterior oil primer on a porch railing bare spot just to get me through last winter, and I cannot believe how well it held up.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 12:02PM
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brickeyee

"Fine Paints of Europe (FPE) and Farrow & Ball each make great oil enamels and have the price tags to prove it."

If they meet the present VOC rules (federal) they are likely excessively thick for good leveling and a flat smooth surface.

Those perfect and smooth surfaces took at least a couple coats with light sanding between to knock off ANY dust nibs that settled into the paint.

Few can afford, or are willing to perform, this amount of labor.

I have a house from ~1930, with a few original doors.

After cleaning them up from years of sloppy painting (dust nibs do not go away, they get larger with each coat of paint) they are spectacular.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 12:49PM
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sjmaye

I really do appreciate all the replies. Seems there is no definitive answer as to whether the oil-base interior trim paint finish and appearance holds up better over the years as compared to latex based.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 1:57PM
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macv

So called "oil paint" is solvent-based and so called "latex paint" is water-based. There is more nonsense available regarding these materials than celebrity gossip.

If you use a professional, take his/her advice. If you are going to do it yourself, use the most expensive 100% acrylic paint you can find. Second only to the quality of the materials (regardless of the type) preparation and application skill are the next most important factors.

We live in such a consumer driven society that we tend to believe that everything that matters in the can.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 6:32PM
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brickeyee

"Seems there is no definitive answer as to whether the oil-base interior trim paint finish and appearance holds up better over the years as compared to latex based."

There is no doubt that the alkyd (oil) based paint holds up better than the semi-gloss latex paint that was 'standard' for years.

The new acrylic paints are almost as hard as oil based.

All the paints are suffering from VIC rules making them much less 'used friendly.'

Oil over latex is generally a bad idea since the oil paint film is harder than the latex under it and adhesion problems are very common.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 1:58PM
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sjmaye

brickeyee,

Thanks for that simple summary. Exactly what I wanted to know.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 2:59PM
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jimrac

The only problem I have with oil, especially using white,, it fades to a yellow hue... I have used very good Pittsburg inerior paints, latex, with very good resultson ceiling and walls,, that have retained their color and have durability..

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 1:27PM
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a.girl.named.max

Any thoughts/opinions on Impervo for interior trim?

A girl named "Max"

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 7:12AM
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