Colorado Springs Painting Contractors: Article About Water Vs. Solvent Based Paints
House paints all have some ingredients in common. They consist of binders, which holds the paint together, pigments, which provide color, solvents, which evaporate as paint dries, and additives, which make the paint easy to work with and long lasting. However, the specific ingredients used for each of these purposes can vary a great deal. Two basic types of paints can be distinguished by the solvents they contain. Water based paints use water as their primary solvent, whereas oil based, or "solvent based," paints contain oils, which serve as binders or synthetic resins.
As most Colorado Springs painting contractors can attest, water based paints have gained prominence for house painting applications over the past 50 years. Prior to that, oil based or solvent based paints were widespread. Typically made with linseed oil, they required turpentine or mineral spirits for cleaning. Unfortunately, they also contained high levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds.
On the other hand, water based paints have increased in popularity through the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st century. Latex paint, which uses a form of rubber as a binder, is among the most popular kind of water based paint.
Given the fundamental differences in the constitution of water based and solvent based paints, there are multiple advantages to using each one.
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Water based paints are less likely to crack or peel, they are not flammable and they pose fewer risks to the environment or to public health. In particular, low VOC or no VOC versions of water based paint are widely praised for their healthier profile. On the other hand, water based latex paint is more sensitive to changes in temperature, making it less durable than oil based paints for some purposes. It "shrinks" more than oil based paint. Finally, because it is water based, it may cause staining if it is exposed to something water soluble.
Solvent based paints typically dry with a harder, more durable finish than water based paints, making them more resistant to scuffs and smudges. They are also easier to wash, since they are not water soluble. Compared with latex paints, oil based paints also have a smoother finish and feel. On the other hand, the high VOC levels make solvent based paints increasingly unpopular for interior purposes. They also have a higher tendency to peel or bubble, compared with water based paints. Finally, solvent based paints require longer drying and curing times between coats, making the painting process go far more slowly.
In many cases, water based paints are a natural choice, including most interior painting jobs. However, there are still some applications for which oil based or solvent based paints offer an appealing alternative. Depending on the home's particular needs, it may be worth discussing the options with a professional painter.