Waterborne paint coatings are becoming the most preferred type of paint used by the majority of painting contractors.

Waterborne's, are at this time, more expensive than other coatings but do have advantages including being healthier for the painter and the home owner.

Other benefits include water clean up, low odour, color retention and long lasting durability.


All coatings are formulated using an assortment of components to help the paint, in this case, either color or stick to your surfaces. Below are a few of the products that a paint or coating is made up of.

  • Pigments:
    Adds the color to paint.

  • Resins:
    Creates a film on the surface of paints.

  • Additives:
    Thickening, drying, or an anti-foam agent for paints.

  • Solvents:
    Prevents liquefaction prior to application.

  • Benefits:
    Waterborne type exterior and interior decorating paints are extremely durable, clean easily, and have less environmental hazards.


Both interior and exterior waterborne paint coatings are a suspension of synthetic resins in water. The resins can include acrylics, vinyl's and epoxies. Waterborne type paints are more durable than regular latex and environmentally superior to alkyd (oil base) coatings.

Furthermore, waterborne coatings have high acrylic content, good color retention and can be applied over glossy surfaces (in most cases) with little or no prior sanding. Also, after using a waterborne on an interior project any excess can then be applied to an exterior surface (do read the paints product label prior to doing so first though).

  • Health and the Environment:
    Waterborne type paints emit less solvents or volatile organic compounds than oil base paints do.

    Smog can be made up of VOC's (as they are commonly called). Due to water-based paints having lower VOCs, it's less of an environmental pollutant. Presently one billion gallons of coatings are sold in the United States alone. Furthermore, DIY'ers use close to 200 million gallons of paint in the U.S. By using a waterborne coating you will decreases the amount of hazardous waste being manufactured.

    Waterborne products also handle wear and tear as well as most oil based paints yet do not have the same flammability.

  • Why are volatile organic compounds bad for you (VOC's):
    VOC's have been known to cause eye, lung and skin irritations. Along with headaches, nausea, respiratory difficulty, muscle weakness, liver and kidney problems.

    Waterborne paints significantly reduce the pollution that causes these irritants.


Here are some frequently asked questions related to waterborne paints. If you don't see an answer to a problem that you're dealing with then please feel free to use the Ask a question page to help you out.

  • Can I apply waterborne paint over top of oil based ( Alkyd ) paints?
    Yes, (most) waterbornes can be used to paint over an oil type exterior or interior paint with little or no sanding. Always follow the instructions supplied by your paint dealer ,though, to be sure.

  • Are there precautions for waterborne paint?
    Most waterborne's have a P.H. of 8.0 to 9.5 which makes it corrosive to some application equipment. Waterborne paints require a clean dry warm environments to cure properly. Some waterborne coatings also may cause rust, is very conductive of electrical components and has a minimum temperature application rate of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Can I thin waterborne paint?
    Thinning of paint can cause drips, sags and the probability of extra coats. However, diluting waterborne by up to 10% is recommended for some paint spraying equipment.

  • How do I keep my paint from aging?
    Paint can be kept for a minimum of two years. Be sure the lip of the paint can is clean and free of debris. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the can and then hammer down the lid. The paint should be stored upside down in a cool dry area and protected from freezing.

  • My paint froze what should I do?
    Prolonged or repeated freezing can cause paint to separate. Even so, paint can still be applied if it stirs freely when thawed and has no lumps or gritty feel when rubbed between your fingers.

  • Will waterborne's cover a dirty or greasy surface?
    Waterborne should not be used for areas that have been contaminated with dirt or grease and certain types of stains. Such dis-colored surfaces are better suited to alkyd products which are more forgiving of contaminates.

  • Are oil based paints or waterborne more costly?
    Generally alkyd paint and waterborne products are very similar in price and both are more expensive than a regular good quality latex coating.

  • Can I spray a waterborne coating?
    If spraying you should always check with your paint supplier in regards to health and safety concerns. Otherwise waterborne is well suited for most spray equipment and projects. If you are spraying with an HVLP, conventional or cup gun sprayer, then thinning by up to 10% is recommended.

  • Waterborne ease of use:
    Due to its quick set up time a waterborne coating requires some skill to apply. By working fast with a waterborne paint you will avoid lap or brush marks.

  • Is waterborne good in high humidity:
    Waterborne does not work well when applied during situations of high humidity or if the dried painted surface becomes cracked and moisture is aloud to seep under and lift the paint.


In time most oil based paints will no longer be used and will be replaced by waterborne or modified oil coatings. In fact, the majority of dollars spent by paint manufacturers today (for research) has been earmarked toward non-solvent based coatings. If at all possible it's always best to use a latex or water clean up type paint.

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