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What is Enamel Paint and When Should You Use It?

A collage of different types enamel paint.

Paint itself has a long history. From the stone ages until the modern-day, paint has always been a part of human life. In the late 1800s paint became a larger part of our society. Paint factories started to spring up all across the U.S. The paint was widely manufactured to make it more readily accessible. Because the paint of that era was so heavy, it was hard and expensive to transport. This led to smaller factories popping up all over the country. 

In the early 1900s, as cars became more accessible to the general population, the need for paint was on the rise. Early models of vehicles like the famous Model T Ford needed loads of paint to give the car color. The paint was used as a way to beautify the car and protect it from outside wear and tear. 

In today’s society, there is no shortage of paint. From paint for your home and car to paints you can find at craft stores, there are a million paints to choose from. When it comes to finding paint for your home there are a plethora of choices you have. Enamel paint, for example, is the perfect paint for home improvement projects and surface touch-ups.

Related: Satin Paint | Flat Paint | Eggshell Paint | Oil-Based Paint | Gloss Paint | Primer Paint | Latex-Based Paint | Chalkboard Paint | Matte Paint | Water-Based Paint

What is Enamel Paint?

Enamel paint is widely thought of as having similar qualities to fingernail polish. It is hard, glossy, and generally used for small projects. The purpose of enamel is to touch up small projects around your home. Many individuals who make model cars or airplanes, use enamel paint as a way to give their project a vivid color, with a shiny finish. Enamel paint is oil-based and when it hardens it possesses a glass-like quality. 

When To Use Enamel Paint

Your Outdoor Grill Needs to be Refurbished

Pieces of carved wooden railings being painted with orange enamel paint.

Enamel is the perfect paint for anything outdoor-related. Given that it has a glass-like finish when dried, it acts as a perfect protectant from weather and outside factors. Enamel can also be found in a heat resistant formula, so make sure to buy that specific type if you are using it on a surface that will get hot. 

You Make Model Figurines 

If you love painting model cars or airplanes, you should use enamel paint. It gives your items a great shine as well as a hard finish. The hard finish that makes the paint almost glass-like, will provide a protective layer for your model. This can make the piece more durable overall. 

Painting Outdoor Furniture

Most outdoor furniture has a fairly short shelf life. Due to outdoor factors, wear and tear occur more often. With that being said, repainting the furniture is necessary. Even weather-resistant paint can fade over time. Enamel paint can often be found in spray paint form, which is perfect when refurbishing outdoor furniture. 

You Are Refurbishing Floors

A wooden floor being painted with white enamel paint.

If you have a porch or floor that is in need of a touchup, enamel paint is the perfect option. Floor enamel can not only be used on floors but on concrete and window trim as well. If you have concrete in your basement or garage, putting a few layers of enamel will act as a protective layer from dirt and scuffs.

If you have a porch, adding a few layers of enamel will also act as a protectant. It will keep you from having to repaint your porch for years to come. 

When To Not Use Enamel

You Are Painting Interior Drywall

Items such as interior drywall have no need to be painted with enamel. First and foremost, you will most likely not want your walls to have a hard, shiny finish. In this specific instance, you will be fine to use a less expensive paint.

You Are Painting Siding

The same issues with painting your interior walls with enamel occur when you paint exterior siding with it. Exterior siding has no reason to be hard and shiny. Although enamel is good at protecting items from outside factors, you won’t want your shutters or siding to be hard as glass. These specific items require a little more flexibility than enamel allows. 

You Are Sensitive To Paint Fumes

Most of us are sensitive to paint fumes. However, if you have respiratory issues or other factors that could cause paint fumes to be harmful to you, don’t use enamel. Enamel is an oil-based paint, after all, meaning it has more toxicities.

Oil-based paint has been banned in several states across the U.S. for high levels of toxins. Because enamel is also an oil-based paint it contains these toxins making it possibly dangerous to breathe. 

What Can Enamel Paint Be Used On?

A piece of wooden railing being painted red.

Enamel paint can be used on most, if not all, materials. If you have an old bicycle that needs repainting, the enamel will stick to not only the medal but the rubber as well. If you have a wood bench that you use outside your home, the enamel will stick to it as well.

If you have a rubber tire swing that needs some color, you can spray it with enamel spray paint, too.  Enamel is the perfect option for many projects around your home. So grab your spray paint bottle and get to it! 

Where To Buy Enamel Paint

  1. Home Depot —Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel Gloss Black Interior/Exterior Paint, 1 Quart
  2. Home Depot — Behr White Oil-Base Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint, 1 Quart
  3. Michaels — Americana Decor® Satin Enamels™ Paint Smoke Gray, 8 fl oz
  4. Lowes — Valspar Cabinet Enamel Base 4 Satin Enamel Tintable Interior Paint, 1-Quart