Benefits of Using Water-Based Paint

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jun 7, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

As a Painter and Decorator, I’m often asked about the benefits of using water-based paint, particularly products like satinwood, eggshell and gloss for interior and exterior woodwork. I switched from oil-based to water-based paint a few years ago (for the most part). I thought I’d put pen to paper and explain why.


Oil-Based Paint is Not as Good as it Used to be


The biggest factor in the push towards water-based paint development happened in 2010. The EU started to turn towards a more sustainable industry, and the first thing they did was restrict the amount of chemicals known as VOCs a manufacturer was allowed to use in paint.

This had a massive impact, as the oil in oil-based paint is an alkyd, and one of the properties of alkyds is they turn yellow over time, particularly when starved of UV light. Manufacturers used VOCs to slow this process.

No one had ever really noticed oil-based paint discolouring before 2010. Then, almost overnight, the problem became apparent. Oil-based gloss in particular yellows quickly because it contains more alkyd than satinwood and eggshell. Pre-2010, oil-based gloss was by far the most popular finish for interior woodwork. Now it’s all about satinwood and eggshell. I strongly believe this is down to the issue of yellowing.


Water-Based Paint Has Improved a Lot


The Quality of Water-based paint before 2010 was shocking, so it wasn’t really a viable option. It had poor opacity, durability, and you couldn’t avoid brush marks. It always looked cheap, no matter what you did. As a contrast, oil-based paint was fantastic, so there was no need for manufacturers to spend money developing water-based.


However, the 2010 VOC restrictions changed everything. It shocked the market, and manufacturers raced to produce the best water-based alternative they could (much like the development of electric and hybrid cars now).

There were lots of issues to iron out. I can remember, even 5 or 6 years ago, a manufacturer would use terms like, “it feels just like oil-based” in their marketing.

People think of water-based paint differently now. It doesn’t need to “feel like oil”, it just needs to perform well. In fact, one of the benefits of water-based paint is it doesn’t feel like oil! It’s quicker to apply because it’s loose. So even if you need to apply an extra coat of paint, it is still a lot quicker than oil-based.


The Benefits of Water-Based Paint


As already mentioned, one of the main benefits of water-based paint is it is a lot quicker to apply than its oil-based counterpart. There are other benefits too! Water-based paint, unlike oil, will never discolour inside the home.

Providing you use a good product (like the paints further down this blog), water-based paint is as durable as oil-based. It will also look as good, or better. Oh, and it is more environmentally friendly too! There is no reason to use oil-based paint now. There are so many good water-based options around and they all perform well.


Hybrid Paint – Water and Oil Come Together


I thought I’d get into this quickly, before going to talk about the best water-based paint products available today. Hybrid paint (also known as an alkyd emulsion), is predominantly water-based, with just a little bit of alkyd oil mixed in to help with durability and overall finish.

It comes down to the vast strides in paint development over the past decade. You’d think water and oil wouldn’t mix, but manufacturers use soap to bind it all together. It’s worth mentioning that although hybrid paints do contain some alkyd oil, it takes a very long time for these paints to discolour.


For me, you should always opt for a fully water-based product when using satinwood or eggshell. However, gloss is different. I think gloss needs a little bit of alkyd in the material to help achieve the desired sheen level, so opt for a hybrid.


The Best Water-Based Paints


As promised, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I think are the best water-based paint products on the market. These are only my personal recommendations, but they’re based on 21 years of experience as a Decorator.


The Best Water-Based Satinwood


Satinwood is an easy one! I’m going to give you two options, just choose the one that best suits your budget.


WRX Satinwood

WRX Satinwood is a great trade-quality product. It is a fully water-based paint which will adhere to previously painted surfaces without the need of a separate adhesion primer. The finish is a pure brilliant white that looks crisp and clean.

I love WRX! It does come with a couple of minor drawbacks though. It crazes over caulk and filler, so you will need to spot-prime any repairs before painting over. The other thing is opacity. If you’re going for a colour change then you should apply an undercoat, followed by a coat of satin.

Other than that, I think it’s great. It’s priced very competitively too. Click here to see online prices.


Benjamin Moore Scuff X

Benjamin Moore Scuff X is my second recommendation, and it is probably the best water-based satinwood on the market. Its finish is softer with a fantastic depth. Adhesion, opacity and ease of use are fantastic. Oh, it’s available in loads of different colours too. It is expensive, but you are buying quality. Click here to see online prices.


The Best Water-Based Gloss


Gloss is a little different because there are only a handful good water-based gloss products on the market. As previously mentioned, I prefer hybrid products when using gloss. The best I’ve used is Teknos Futura Aqua 90.

You must use Teknos Futura Primer before using the gloss, but as a system it’s fantastic. Great sheen level, fantastic finish and very durable. Click here to see current prices.


The Best Tools to Apply Water-Based Paint


We’ve talked about the benefits of water-based paint and the best water-based paint products available in the UK. However, having the correct tools for the job will also make a huge difference. You should always cut round the edges of the surface you intend to paint, roll any large areas, then ‘lay off’ with a brush to reach the desired finish.

So, you need a lint-free microfibre roller that will distribute paint evenly, and a brush that will hold its shape while you cut-in, but stays soft enough for you to lay off.

The best roller to apply water-based paint is the Two Fussy Blokes in my opinion. It holds a lot of paint, but applies it very evenly, which is very important when working with water-based. You will achieve a great finish, even if you don’t lay off. Click here to see current prices.

As for the paintbrush, I have tried a lot over the years, but I keep coming back to the Purdy Monarch Elite XL. It does everything it needs to when used in water-based paint, and it’s easy to strike super sharp lines. Click here to see current prices.

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jun 7, 2023 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.


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