Oil-Based or Water-Based Masonry Paint – Which to Use and When

By Mike Cupit


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.


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.


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.


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Oil-Based or Water-Based Masonry Paint