Do Painting Contractors Recommend Oil-Based or Latex When House Painting in San Ramon?

When people start a project doing house painting in San Ramon, they may want to know which type of paint is right for their home’s exterior. Should you choose latex (water-based) or oil-based (alkyd) paint? Homeowners, especially those who haven’t had the experience or painting their own house, may not be able to tell the difference. Professional painters will be able to help you decide.

The first step is to know which the previous layer of paint was before you begin painting with new paint. There is an easy way to find out for those who don’t know about the type of paint that was previously used on your exterior. Simply take a rag, moisten it with denatured alcohol, and rub the paint. If it gets clean, it is oil based. If it softens, it is latex.

Despite the name, latex paint actually contains no latex or rubber at all. Rather, latex paints are made of either acrylic or urethane. Latex paint is the more popular choice among many people, because they appreciate the many advantages. Latex paint is known for its flexibility, meaning that it moves with the natural expansion and contraction of the walls; it less likely to crack. Latex paint is also breathable, meaning an air can get through it. One famous advantage of latex paint is that it dries quickly. Since latex’s base is water, it needs no chemicals in cleaning it up; plain water and soap will do.

Alkyd, or oil-based, paints also have advantages. Although it dries slower compared to latex paint, it otherwise provides a smoother finish once it is completely dried. And when it’s dry, it will become resistant to scratches, fingerprints, scuffs and stains because of its smooth finish. An oil-based paint is definitely more durable and weather resistant. You won’t need the weather to be dry to cover your home’s surface using an oil-based paint, because it can be applied in moist weather or at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. An oil-based paint has the ability to penetrate chalky surfaces, unlike latex. Oil-based paints can also be painted on metal, as the paint will protect it. However, it dries really slowly; it can take 12 to 24 hours or more before the paint is considered completely dried. An oil paint is not flexible nor breathable, as it doesn’t have to ability to contract and expand. Over time, any surface that has been coated with an oil-based paint will eventually show dullness, chalkiness and cracks. Cleaning a surface with an oil-based paint is difficult, because it requires chemicals to break it up.

Paint will adhere best if you prepare the surface by scraping off the peeling paint, and sanding the surface. If the previous paint being applied was latex, apply a new latex paint. It’s not recommended to use oil over a surface previously applied with latex paint. If you find the previous later of paint was oil-based, you can either use oil or latex for the new paint. Priming is not necessary, but it is strongly recommended, to help the paint adhere better to the surface.

If the last coat of paint was applied a long time ago, check if the paint was lead-based. You can have it tested by a professional to see if the paint contains lead. If it’s indeed confirmed that the paint has lead, you will want to use protective measures to keep the lead from affecting your family. To find out more about lead in old paint, call the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or visit for the EPA’s recommendations.

When doing house painting for your home’s exterior, painters should first determine what paint has been previously used. This will let them know what the right kind of new paint for your home’s exterior when house painting in San Ramon.