Oil-Based or Water-Based Masonry Paint

Updated Jun 6, 2024 | Posted Nov 21, 2020 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 5 comments

Both oil-based and water-based masonry paints have a place in the market, and it is just a case of choosing the best option for a particular job. They’re very different products, which I can explain in very general terms quite easily (there will be variations between brands). Just make sure you stick with trade rather than retail.


Benefits of Water-Based Masonry Paint


Water-based masonry paint is the choice you would go with more times than not. It is easier to use, easier clean up, more breathable and better for the environment than it’s oil-based counterpart. You can dilute the paint, or clean your tools using clean water. Moreover, water-based masonry paint is cheaper and will last just as long.

Water-based masonry paint is also a lot quicker and easier to use. This makes it ideal if you’re rolling large areas of masonry such as render. You’ll find it just flies on.


Benefits of Oil-Based Masonry Paint


Oil-based masonry paint is mainly made up of pliolite which is a synthetic rubber, but why on Earth would anyone use oil-based masonry paint if the water-based version is so good? Well, you’ve got to think of it as the problem-solving alternative. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

First off, you can use oil-based masonry paint in adverse weather conditions. Not to the point where you’re painting in the rain, but it’s shower proof in 30 minutes, dry in an hour and you can use it in much cooler conditions. This means you can use oil-based masonry paint all year round, whereas water-based relies on evaporation to dry, making it problematic to use in winter.


Another quality of oil-based is it’s stain blocking capabilities. Technically, you shouldn’t paint a garden wall anyway because they don’t generally contain damp membranes. That said, if you do paint a garden wall using water-based paint, it’s likely you’ll get brown water marks bleeding through your finish. Paint it with an oil-based paint and it’ll look great for a couple of years at least.

Stains do come through on other structures too, particularly when painting sandstone. I thought I’d give you the garden wall scenario because it is an extreme example.




As a decorator, I will use water-based masonry paint for about 80% of my exterior work. I find it much easier to use, there isn’t a drop off in performance, and it’s cheaper. I think most tradesmen agree with me, especially when coating rendered walls.

Oil-based masonry paint is used for exterior painting in winter, garden walls, and sandstone windowsills.

One more note; Do not be tempted to use either of these products inside your home. Masonry paints contain high levels of fungicide, which can be harmful if used in confined spaces.


The Best Masonry Paint


I thought I’d include a little section on the best masonry paint options. Whether you’re going for water-based, or oil – based, it’s important you buy quality. Good masonry paint will always look better for longer. If you buy retail, you’ll end up redecorating after a couple of years.


Johnstone’s Pliolite-Based Masonry Paint

I’ll start with an oil-based option. My absolute favourite is a product called Wethertex PP77, but I thought I’d talk about Johnstone’s because not only is it a good product, but if you buy it online, you can have it mixed into any colour from any brand. Opacity is good, as is the overall finish. Click here to see online prices.


Emperor Paint

This is by far the best water-based option on the market, although it is also very expensive. Emperor Masonry Paint looks great and is easy to apply, but what really makes this masonry paint stand out is its heat retention and the longevity. Paint the outside of your house with Emperor masonry paint and it acts as an insulation to keep your home warm. It also has hydrophobic technology to keep your masonry dry, it’s self-cleaning, and is likely to last a good 25 years!! Click here to see online prices. Use code DFUK at the checkout for your discount.


Dulux Weathershield

Dulux Weathershield is another water-based masonry paint. Great opacity, is available in any colour, has a good lifespan and looks great. Click here to see current prices.

This blog was written by Mike Cupit, a Professional Decorator of over 20 years and owner of Decorators Forum UK.

Updated Jun 6, 2024 | Posted Nov 21, 2020 | 5 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Paul

    The paint on my rendered chimney stack keeps flaking off ,how can I remedy this ?what masonry paint can I use ?should I seal it with unibond?.thank you

    • Gaynor Parkinson

      My gable end wall has red stripes down from the brick dust from the roof when it rains hard. I want to get the wall repainted. What should I use so the wall is not spoilt again? Thanks

  2. Sheila westwood

    At present I have oil base masonry paint on my wall can I use water base masonry paint on top of it or do I have to continue using oil base

  3. Rob

    I lived in France for 13 years and always used an oil based wall paint. I think the brand was Dulux Valentine. It was guaranteed for 5 years and in 13 years I painted the house three times (last time just before we went on sale).

    Our now, U.K. house was painted with Sandtex, water based (and so inferior a product they only guarantee it for 1 year) just before we bought it 3 years ago. It’s flaking off at the front of the house, where most of the rain hits the house.

    Yes, the French oil based paint was 100 euros for 12 litres tin and Sandtex is about £25 (probably not for 12 litres though) but you paint your house every 7 years, or every year and which works out cheaper?

    I wouldn’t waste my time using any water based paint product outside.

  4. Imogen

    Really helpful article thanks


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