Oil based paint or water based paint for your woodwork?

little greene oil eggshell

Oil based paint has been around for years and has been the best paint for woodwork. Whether you wanted to paint the woodwork inside your home or the external woodwork or metal work then oil based paint was the best choice. Oil based paint is known to be strong and durable, unlike it’s water based alternatives. It’s changed a lot over the years to become more environmentally friendly and in doing so it has lost some of it’s more popular aspects.

In recent times oil based paint has suffered, because of the high voc’s (volatile organic compounds). Voc’s are air pollutants that can affect people, animals and the environment. The European Union has set a limit for Voc’s levels in paint and because the levels were high in oil based paint something had to change.

Water based paint peeling away from old oil based paint.

As a result of this new regulation the old oil based paint was changed ever so slightly in order to lower the voc levels. This change caused problems with pretty much all oil based paint.

The problem with this altered oil based paint was that instead of staying white it was yellowing in a matter of months.

This gave rise to new and improved water based alternatives. Unlike oil based paint, water based paint dries a lot faster, can be re coated the same day, is friendlier to the environment and tends to keep its colour. It’s not all good though, water based paint generally needs more coats, isn’t as durable and can be problematic when applied over oil based paint.

Waterbased paint will also need a good stain block when painting over marks and stains (usually an oil based stain block).

Which paint should you use for your woodwork? There are lots of good reasons to use water based paint but in my experience you should let the surface you want to paint dictate what type of paint to use.

Oisin Butler Limited Painting And Decorating Specialist Dublin Ireland

If you are painting over a previously painted surface then find out what type of paint was used before. If it was water based paint then you use water based again, if it was oil based paint then use oil based again. If it’s a nice new surface thats never been painted before then I recommend that you use water based paint.

If you really want to paint over an old oil based paint with a water based paint like Dulux Quick Dry for example, then there’s a couple things you should do to prepare the surface:

  • First you should really clean the surface down with a de greaser like Krud Kutter for example.
  • Then make sure to give the old paint a really good rub down with a high grade sandpaper, 240 grade for example. You must remove the old sheen in order for the first coat of your water based primer to stick and grip properly.
  • Dust the surface clean and then give it a wipe down with a clean damp rag. Apply a good water based primer to act as a grip coat between the old oil based paint and the new water based paint. A good primer to use is Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer. Once the primer has dried your surface is now ready to be over coated with the water based paint
  • If you want to use an oil based primer/undercoat with a water based finish coat then you will need to be careful.  You must make sure the oil based primer has cured properly before painting over with the water based paint. Its hard to be sure that the paint has cured properly so it’s best to leave it for a couple of weeks. Farrow & Ball recommend that you leave it a month before painting over an oil based paint with any of their water based paints.
  • If you want a really good primer and want to use a water based paint for the finish then consider using Coverstain primer from Zinsser, this is one of the best primers you can get. Coverstain primer has lots of great qualities but top of the list is its curing  time which is about an hour, leaving you with a  surface that can be coated with any paint you like, water or oil based.