Has Oil Based Gloss Had its Day?

Updated Feb 11, 2024 | Posted May 31, 2019 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 9 comments

We all know that oil-based gloss goes yellow very quickly nowadays, especially when used internally. We asked Professionals from The Decorators Forum UK how they work around the problem. Do they use alternative products? Has oil-based gloss had its day? This is what they came back with….

If you asked me which I prefer, it has to be oil-based gloss because it’s harder wearing. I was at a job recently where a painter had used water-based. The paint was coming off the door before he’d even finished the job. It isn’t fit for purpose.

James Hunter

Mostly Satin work these days over gloss. Johnstone’s aqua all day long. Love it. Nice sheen level and and dries quick. The finish is every bit as good as oil-based and it lasts a lot longer.

Derrick Knight

This is a rental property I look after. woodwork done with Zinsser Allcoat water-based gloss 2 years ago. If it was oil based how bad would it be?? The whole lot would be magnolia by now, especially in a hallway.


has oil-based gloss had its day?

John Kerry

For me, yes! Oil-based gloss really has had it’s day. It isn’t fit for purpose anymore. Luckily satinwood is a lot more popular nowadays and it lasts a lot longer than gloss. Other than that, there are plenty of water-based options around which are just as good as oil. Paint technology has moved on and I can’t see the point in sticking with outdated products or finishes. Choose something that will not only look good after you’ve painted, but will look good a few years down the line.

Joshua Green

Before anyone starts…I’m not necessarily saying you have to use Scuff-X on everything, nor that you necessarily always have to use an adhesion primer with it. It’s just a bit of fun, for those of you who can remember what that is.

To the tune of “The sound of silence”:


Hello oil-based, my old friend,

I’ve come to sort you out again.

When you were new they were so proud to own ya,

But now you’ve turned from white into magnolia

And that finish, which they said would last for years


Will end in tears.

I’m sorry, but it’s time for Scuff-X.

When in the bedroom light I saw

That oil-based gloss, I knew the score.

Quick degrease, key, adhesion primer;

I’m using Whitson’s and there’s nothing finer,

Now the door that was letting down the side

Regained its pride

Thanks to a coat of Scuff-X.


No, maybe I’ll stick to the day job!

Robin Gofton


Gloss is a little bit dated now, and oil-based gloss tends to turn yellow after a few weeks, especially in a hallway. Satinwood looks so much better.

Ian Dodd

I use water-based on mostly all my domestic work but still use oil-based gloss on all my rental work.

Scott Connelly

I always use Dulux trade white oil undercoat and gloss and seems to stay white for years. I’ve never had a problem with it, so I’m not changing now. I’m using the Dulux trade oil base satinwood a lot and that stay white too.

Alan Shorney

For me no-brainer oil-based gloss is still the best option.

Darren Flint

I do about 3 or 4 full rental properties a month for an estate agent on top of normal workload. I’ve taken to Crown fastflow for most work, but can’t see past oil-based satin on the rentals. It’s just the way it is.

Davey Hamilton - Has Oil Based Gloss Had its Day

People don’t ask for gloss much nowadays, it’s usually satinwood. Gloss tends to turn yellow too quickly when used internally.

Paul Oakes

I generally always use Dulux oil-based undercoat and gloss. Or even their satinwood. I’ve never have a problem with it. There’s nothing wrong with using oil-based gloss.

Billy Millward


Mostly use oil-based eggshell or satinwood. Oil-based is too good to drop, but gloss isn’t very popular any more.

Nigel Moore

Still oil-based for me, because I haven’t found a water-based system that works as well yet. A lot has to do with profit margins being tight and not having that little extra time to experiment. Maybe there are good water-based systems out there. I agree with other comments about most people wanting satinwood instead of gloss now.

Jez Norman

You can’t better the shine on oil-based gloss, just a shame it stinks so much.

Phil Emms

Gloss yellows a lot quicker than satinwood. I generally talk my cusomers out of gloss nowadays.

Duncan Cave

There are some great water-based paint products on the market.

Sam Simpson

I was a stickler for oil-based as I used it through my apprenticeship and beyond back in the 80’s

I tried water-based gloss around 7 years ago and wasn’t impressed. A few years later tried again with johnstone’s Aqua systems, using the specified Aqua undercoat and thought it was pretty good. More recently tried F&B then now using Tikkurila. I learned that the application techniques are different from oil based. As of last month, I now use no oil-based paint apart from floor varnish.

I use water-based because;

1/ no thinners apart from water

2/ No strong odours for us or customer.

3/ washing equipment is easier

4/ extended durability (10-20) for some

5/ better eco credentials

6/ easier application

7/ easier clean up

Stuart Gillanders

I’ve only ever known water-based gloss. so for me it’s a no brainier.

I think some guys who have been in oil-based for years struggle with relearning a new products and techniques.

Ted Teddy


I use oil-based gloss as I like using it. However, it does yellow fast nowadays.

Kev Donohoe

I give the customer the choice when it comes to gloss, and tell them the pros and cons.

Stuart Baggott

If I’m working on a residential job, I use water-based gloss or satinwood. It just stays white for a lot longer. Commercial/rental I’ll use oil-based.

Darren Walpole

Oil-based gloss hasn’t had its day at all.

Kevin Wood

I have stopped with oil-based gloss inside because all my customers want white longer lasting…an am winning 90% of my jobs for that reason… 👍

Mark Pioli

I’ll use oil if it’s not white. Tried a lot of water-based paints recently, Scuff-x is by far the best I’ve tried. Johnstone’s Aqua is sticky. Helmi is good but coverage isn’t the best. Caparol Aqua PU leaves a lovely finish but is very loose and must watch the runs. Will carry on using both depending on what the job is, although my oil brushes have all gone hard now as not used them for months.


Has Oil Based Gloss Had its Day

Dave Pearce

I’ve just used oil-based paint on 2 jobs internally in the past 8 years. Otherwise everything is water-based. Customers love the lack of smell and longevity of finish. 😉

Steve Trebilcook

Oil-based gloss is still great for me. If it yellows then get called back for more work, lovely jubly.

John Wild


Dulux trade oil-based satinwood for me. Went back to a job a few weeks ago to do another room. 2 years on and the woodwork still looks fresh

I’ve heard the Dulux diamond water-based satin is decent stuff. But I don’t fancy changing my system, considering I’ve never had a problem with oil 🤔

Adam Atkins

I’m going to do a test. I’m going to paint half at door at my house in oil-based gloss and half in water-based and see what happens.

Daniel Shaun Critchley

Crown water-based Fast Flow for me, love the stuff!! I’ve only ever had one problem and that was a dodgy batch that they replaced and refunded. Apart from that, spot on stuff, love it. Haven’t used oil-based gloss for about three years now. It’s had its day unfortunately.

Simon Blanchett-Parker

I still use a lot of oil but starting to get into water-based. I used the Dulux undercoat and gloss, it was quite impressive.

Noel Prendergast

Only really recommend water-based gloss for interiors now after I went back to a huge staircase I had done 3 months earlier & it had already started yellowing. I was mortified but luckily the client had supplied the paint.

Still use oil-based Satinwood though, it stays white a good long while still.

Paul M Chapman

I chop and change. I prefer to use oil-based gloss, but will use water-based if there is lack of or no natural light.

Mark Barton

I don’t use water or oil-based gloss. I tend to go with oil-based satinwood instead.

Daniel Street - Has Oil Based Gloss Had its Day

Updated Feb 11, 2024 | Posted May 31, 2019 | 9 comments


  1. Idecor

    I inform my customers of the pro’s and cons of each and then let them have a say, after all they are the bill payers.
    I use both and would agree with many of the comments although the best oil based doesn’t yellow as much, and water based still has some brush marks. My favourite quality of good water based finishes is the quick drying time stops a lot of dust or fine particles sticking to the surface like oil based

  2. Ben Hooson

    Water based has to be used properly, they are full system coatings, also if covering oil base adhesion primers are recommended. If its applied professionally water based is as bulletproof as oil based,

  3. Alex day

    I very rarely use gloss these days, I find it’s either satinwood or eggshell finish, most of my top coating I use oil base but I have started using more Johnstone’s aqua systems and find that they do dry really well and settle like a oil based paint when using a finer tipped brush, I would like to star using tikkurila systems but haven’t found a supplier yet near Exeter area.

  4. Mike nicholson

    Mostly use all waterbased on woodwork these days quicker to use and stays white improving aswell but i like a bit of oil occasionally

  5. Jack Wardley

    if your using oil go with palatine paints a british company that didn’t have to follow the EU rules on voc’s there oil formula’s are pre 2007 so they will stay whiter longer than even the pre 2010 glosses etc.

  6. Mike O

    Using quality water based systems are a no brainier really. You have to use quality brushes and have good technique. I think the pros out way the cons.

  7. Martin Conway

    Oil based is the most durable when compared to water based products. However, they do discolour quicker, especially in warm indoor environments. I can see a future with only water based products being available.

  8. kenny McKay

    Apart from staying whiter longer, water-based paints are in general pretty poor.
    The coverage is truely pathetic, and the extra work that goes into counteracting this lack of coverage can be costly for the customer.
    Yes, the cleanup is great.
    The drying time is great.
    The whiteness lasts longer, but the coverage with primer/undercoats is really bad.

  9. Jack Wardley

    Good quality water based paints are expensive or more than a lot of people want to spend and you risk losing the job if you just price for them as a competitor will come along and price for oil based and cheap oil based paint at that. Cheap oil based paints are superior to cheap water based paints still and thats what makes oil based paints appealing still especially on large jobs. macpherson is probably the cheapest oil paint on the market or one of them and to better it you have to go one of the highest priced water based paints on the market thats why oil paints probably out sell water based still.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *