Oil Based Paints VS Water Based Paint: Uses, Pros and Cons


If you’ve read our blog about 5 Things You Should Know When Preparing to Paint a Room, you’ll understand that part of the process of having your home painted is choosing which paints to use inside or outside your house. There are many varieties available on the market and each is useful in a unique application. 

Water based paints and oil based paints can both be used on houses, and both have strengths and weaknesses that make them more or less useful in different circumstances. We have compiled a list of situations where these paints are most useful and the pros and cons associated with each product.

Sheen Levels

There are both sheen and matte varieties of oil and water based paints available on the market. Oil based enamel paints (oil or turps based alkyds) are slightly more effective at providing a sheen than water based paints. Water based paints look slightly matte in comparison to oil based paints. Oil based paints can be effective when you want the inside of your house to appear shiny. However, the trade off is that the oil based enamel paints see their sheen levels wear off much faster than water based enamel paints. Water based enamel retain their sheen for a long time.

Water based paints make great exterior coverings for your house because of their long lasting sheen, cohesive bonds and malleability. Their shininess property is steady over a period of time so will appear attractive for the long term. Painting exterior surfaces with water based paints ensures the house retains its value for a long time. In addition, the flexibility of water based paints allows the house to change shape comfortably in rain, hail or sunshine. In contrast, oil paints are less flexible than water based paints.


Oil based paints are more durable and abrasion resistant than water based paints because they dry harder. The exchange here is that because they dry so hard, they tend to crack and become chalky over time, especially when exposed to moisture. However, they are resistant to humidity.

Interior applications are the most appropriate for oil paints. Oil paints can complement interior embellishments very nicely, especially on areas such as doors, door frames and window frames. Oil based paints tend to crack when exposed to UV light, so they’re definitely not ideal for outdoor applications on residential properties.

Convergence of innovative technology with water based paints (solvent based acrylic paints) has seen improvements in their durability. Some water based paints will last longer than oil based enamel paints and are on the whole more flexible following application.


Water based paints tend to require additional sensitivity during application. They won’t apply as well to wet surfaces and discrepancies in temperature can result in the paint taking either too little or too long during drying time. You need a clear day to paint water based paints on an exterior effectively, but once the paint has dried it will last a long time and will be resistant to weather.

Most of our clients choose paints based on their preference for drying time and the smell. Let us know what your preferences are and we’ll be sure to recommend a product that fulfills your needs perfectly.

At DC Painting services, we can service your residential property according to our understanding of the pros and cons of oil and water based types of paints. We have a wide variety of brands of enamel available, including Dulux paints, and are happy to work with you to ensure your project is completed to perfection.