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Should I Use Oil or Latex to Paint my Home?

Should I Use Oil or Latex to Paint my Home?

When painting your home, one of the first considerations that you’ll have to make is what paint you want to use to do the job! Often that decision comes down to two major types: Latex (i.e. Waterbase) or Oil. Both kinds of paints have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Oil based paints—which contain natural and synthetic resins—are rarely used for interior walls and trim these days. This is because they contain high levels of VOCS (volatile organic compounds) that can be unsafe indoors. VOCS are organic chemical compounds that can vaporize and become airborne under minimal pressure. One reason that oil based paint has such a strong smell is due to the VOCS evaporating into the air. It’s a bad idea to have paint that sometimes causes smog in the air to be on the inside of your home. If you’re going to use them—use them on outside surfaces!

Besides the health hazards, oil based paint is famously difficult to clean up (requiring paint thinner) and dries incredibly slowly (8-24 hours). It’s also more likely to fade, crack, and turn yellow with age. So is oil good for anything you may ask? And the answer would be YES! For example, it’s ideal for painting exterior metal. When applied to metal, it goes on smoother than latex, shrinks less, and it requires less coats. Oil based wood stains and primers are also a highly recommended coating for raw wood.

Latex paint, on the other hand, is better for the environment, less hazardous for your health, has milder odors, dries fast, is easy to clean up, and doesn’t discolor or turn yellow overtime. Different kinds of waterborne paints are geared for different surfaces. For exterior/outdoor painting alkyd-modified latex is a good choice. But when it comes to interior/indoor jobs, acrylic is your best bet.

Despite Latex paints countless strengths, DO NOT use it on bare steel or on the grain of raw wood, without first priming the surfaces. These are jobs that are best reserved for oil based coatings. Oil based paint may be less popular than it was twenty years ago, but there are still particular jobs that it is best suited for: steel and raw wood are two of them.

MB Jessee is the premier painting outfit in the San Francisco Bay Area and we’re happy to help with all of your painting needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions related to any and all things painting related!

Note: There are exceptions to the rules above about oil based paints. Sometimes oil finishes, inside, look amazing. So if you don't have children in the home or have breathing problems, oil finishes are beautiful.

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Customer Reviews

“I want to express my thanks for a job well done. The rooms look great and there is no problem with any marks on the all the trim, floor, carpet, etc. The paint job is lovely. I also want to express my thanks for the level of professionalism the foreman showed in running the job. He was very attentive to any changes I needed to make, was extremely careful in getting the faux paint color and effect correct. Thanks so much for a job well done.”

— Suzan D’Arcy

“Richard and crew have been great, for sure. As much as I look forward to having the job done and my house back in order, I really enjoyed having them around. You should feel really good about how they represent your company.”

— Jessica Dodson

“Hello Matt,Just another notice of thanks to your wonderful crew, Rigoberto, Javier and John. They did fantastic work, with Rigo providing meticulous and conscientious attention to the details and excellent woodwork finishing, as evidenced by the beautiful fireplace. Javier did a fantastic job in the bathroom especially, it looks "brand new," and John always does quality work, both with the interior and exterior. I can tell they care about what they do. Rigo's "punch out" was very thorough, too. I will call again when I need some more work and will definitely recommend your company and fine crew. I also felt as a homeowner, I could leave my house in their good hands during the day and that took a lot of worry from me, they were honest, prompt and reliable. They were also very kind, respectful and clean in their work, very professional. Thank you.”

— Beth Marx & Melissa Kirsch
Oakland

“Today I received a beautiful bouquet from your company. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated--a lovely surprise. Also today, your crew finished my job. I am so pleased with all their fine work. Richard is absolutely amazing and a total delight to work with. He was also extremely helpful during the paint color process. The interior work in my home far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you to you and the crew for an outstanding job. Thank you, thank you for a terrific job!”

— Barbara
Piedmont

“Thank you for the support you have given the Women's Cancer Resource Center over the past year!”

— Margo - Director Women's Cancer Resource Center

“Awesome work by highly experienced, professional painters. They were: Conscious about the amount of time it would take. Ours had a lot of pre-work and took 3 weeks. Accommodating when we added a few last-minute changes Understanding when a heatwave hit and we remove some of the plastic sheeting over windows, which they had to put back up the next day. Accessible, especially the on-site crew (Hi Jose & Victor!) -- always answering questions and checking in. The end result is a perfect paint job that makes our 94-year-old house look brand new. I would definitely hire MBJ again”

— Stacey R.
Oakland, CA

“I just wanted to thank you all for doing such a phenomenal job on our recent house painting. We are very happy with the outcome and can't say enough good things about the crew. Everyone working on the project was outstanding and made it a great experience. Thanks to everyone.”

— Daylan
Piedmont

“I can't say enough about how courteous and professional my foreman was. He was on time every morning and arrived cheerful and ready to go. He is highly organized and very thoughtful. He was extremely careful and respectful when moving my belongings - a mature professional.”

— Nora Robinson

“Julie, by the way, I have never been so impressed with the service of a painting job before! It was like magical elves came and painted our walls without us having to do a thing! It looks amazing and just wanted to let you know how happy we are. Thanks”

— Anja
Piedmont

“High quality work from a pleasant and qualified staff. Thank you!”

— Paul Markovich

“Charles finished yesterday and did a fantastic job. We really enjoyed meeting Charles and having him in our home. He is a great guy in addition to his attention to detail in his work, the protection of our floors, walls and furnishings, and his overall interaction with us both. I would be pleased to recommend him to any of my clients.”

— Ken Morrison
Oakland

“My entire experience with MB Jesse was very professional. The crew were very friendly and super accommodating of my ridiculous schedule and geriatric pets in the house. The finished product, which was pretty much my entire house, far exceeds my expectations. Would definitely work with them again!”

— Heather Jordan