Water Based Paints

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Water Based Paints

Find the definitions of water based paints or water thinned coatings, and learn the advantages and disadvantages of using them for home interior decorating and design.

Emulsion Paints

The medium or vehicle is an emulsion, which is a substance consisting of one liquid (oil) dispersed in droplets throughout another liquid (water).
In respect to paints, the oil is a drying oil or an oil based binder like alkyd.
Emulsifying agents are then added to make the substance stable. These agents could be soda, ammonia or detergents. After application the water evaporates and the coating hardens by oxidation. Emulsion paints are used as exterior coating on blocks and plasterwork. They have some of the advantages of oil-based coatings, the ability to bind back loose powder on the substrate, and a more penetrating adhesion.

Latex Paints

The medium or vehicle is a man made latex, which is a dispersion of a synthetic resin binder in a watery base. The resin is made up of tiny sticky globules, which are surrounded by the base of water. On application, the water evaporates and the sticky globules adhere together, in turn trapping the pigment particles between them. The resin finally hardens by polymerization. To improve the quality of latex paints many additives have been used, wetting agents, freeze-thaw stabilizer, acidity control agent, perfume, fungicides, dispersants, anti foam agent, flow agent.

Advantages of using Latex Paint
  • The product has a fast drying time
  • It is relatively easily applied
  • It has a non offensive odor
  • It is alkali resistant (for example with new concrete it requires that the substrate only needs to be surface dry)
  • The brushes are easily cleaned (if properly used)
  • The thinning substance (water) is cheap
  • The breathing properties mean that the chance of blistering is lowered
Disadvantages of using Latex Paints
  • There is no penetration, the product adheres by surface bond only
  • It doesn’t flow as well as oil based paints
  • The high gloss level of oil based paints is not achievable
  • It retains dirt on the surface because of its thermo plastic nature (capable of softening or melting when heated and of hardening again once cooled)
  • It has a Minimum Film Forming Temperature (MFFT) of 10° C

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