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What is Latex Based Paint and When Should You Use It?

When I got my first apartment post-college, I had a rude awakening when it came to getting furniture. Stepping into adulthood was a big transformation. As a child, there are things you do not have to think about, that adults have to think about every single day. 

For example: how was I supposed to know that rugs cost upwards of $200? If you want good furniture (that doesn’t come from IKEA) you should be prepared to spend nearly your entire paycheck. Don’t even get me started on how much a good mattress and bed frame costs! 

But, what about paint? Although paint itself is not super expensive, the overwhelming amount of options on what type, the color, and sheen you have to choose, are enough to make any sane person’s head spin.

 As someone who can usually see something and know if she likes it or not, picking out the paint was a disaster.

 Never in my life have I felt more indecisive. 

When it came to painting my interior walls, my research led me to water-based paint. I then had to decide between latex and acrylic. If you are in your twenties (like me) you will probably lean towards latex as your choice of paint. 

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

What is Latex-Based Paint?

Some people think that all water-based paint is created equally but that could not be farther from the truth. Although water-based paint such as latex and acrylic are made very similarly, they have a few distinguishing factors. Latex is a water-based paint. It is like acrylic paint because it also contains acrylic substance. Latex paint usually comes in larger quantities than either acrylic or oil-based paint. 

Latex paints were named “latex” because they originally had a rubber base. Although this rubber base is no longer used, the name stuck. They are now created with water-soluble bases, which makes them easy to use and even easier to clean!

Where To Use Latex-Based Paint

A look at a magenta latex-based paint.

This really depends on what type of latex-based paint you are using. Latex is great for both interior and exterior paint jobs. You can easily use it on siding, walls, and ceilings, and even trim. 

Keep in mind that latex does not have the same durability as oil-based paints and you may have to paint more often in years to come. Latex paint is generally good on smooth surfaces but is not great on rougher surfaces with more texture, such as concrete. You should also avoid using this type of paint on woods and metals because it can cause the metal to rust quicker, given its makeup. 

How To Remove Latex-Based Paint

Have you ever experienced those times when you maybe should have prepared for something a little better than you did? Maybe you forgot to study for a test, you didn’t bring your umbrella when it was pouring down rain, or you failed to remember putting down a tarp when you painted. If you accidentally spilled your latex-based paint, don’t fret. Unlike oil-based paints, latex paint is fairly easy to remove from furniture, floors, and clothes. 

If you get latex paint on your floors, cleaning it with soap and water immediately will most likely do the trick. If you get latex paint on your clothes it could be a little trickier. If you do get it on your clothes, dampen the spot with warm water, or rubbing alcohol on the stain, scrub the stain out, pour more warm water on it, and then throw it in the laundry. Voila, the stain is gone! 

Yellow latex-based paint being readied for painting.

Pros To Using Latex-Based Paint

  • Perfect for DIY house painters
  • Dries Fast
  • Nonflammable
  • Can be cleaned off surfaces easily
  • Water can be used to thin it
  • Less toxic than oil-based paint
  • Can be found at most, if not all paint stores
  • Cheaper than acrylic paint
  • Latex paint needs fewer coats than oil to cover a surface
  • Does not yellow over time

Cons To Using Latex-Based Paint

  • Can not be used on glossy surfaces 
  • Can swell if painted on wood
  • Needs priming on steel or wood
  • Shrinks
  • Takes a week to cure making it more likely to crack
  • Not good for surfaces that will be moved/touched a lot
  • Won’t adhere to dirty walls well

Where To Buy Latex Paint

Unlike, oil-based paint, latex-based paint can be found just about anywhere that sells paint. Oil-based paint sales have dropped drastically over the last several years. Many states in the U.S. and other countries across the world have recently banned the use of oil paint.

It is said the oil/alkyd gives off fumes that are harmful to the environment and humans that inhale them. Because of this, latex paint sales have grown rapidly. Latex-based paint can be found at retailers such as Sherwin Williams, ACE Hardware, Lowe’s, and more!

Latex Based Paint

  1. Ace Hardware — Benjamin Moore Ben Flat Base 1 Paint Interior 1 qt. Smoke 2122-40
  2. Home Depot — Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 32 oz. Ultra Cover Gloss Hunter Green General Purpose Paint
  3. Amazon — Diamond Brite Paint 40400 1-Gallon Kitchen and Bath with Mildew Protection Semi Gloss Latex Paint White
  4. Lowe’s — Valspar Simplicity Ultra White Satin Tintable Interior Paint 1 Gallon
  5. Sherwin-Williams — Emerald Designer Edition Interior Latex Paint Gray Heron 1 Gallon