Are Oil Base Paints Going Out With a Limp?

As the aroma of paint filled the work area and surrounding areas, you could identify whether the applicator was applying water base paint or oil base paint. You may have pinched your nose and your eyes may have watered, yet, that was the willing sacrifice to achieve a hard, glass like finish. This finish was once believed to be a coating of high quality. Some may have a hard time accepting this fact, yet others know there was no choice. Are oil base paints going out with a limp?

Due to some state regulations, in lowering the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) limits to help reduce air pollution. It is becoming less likely that you will experience the unique smell of an oil base paint. If you are from California, as I am, you may know that in most counties the new 2007 regulations lowered the limit of VOC’s. Some coatings, as little as 50 grams per liter. This new regulation took 1 and 5 gallon oil base paint products off the shelves, leaving behind the availability limited to only quarts. Which also gave the entire paint industry a new learning curve. Manufactures began developing new and improved waterborne paint products. Some painters had no choice but to learn and accept new products and application methods.

Professionals questioned the quality of the new water based paints, swearing they could never achieve a quality finish, as an oil base paint could so beautifully display. As a result, manufactures such as Vista Paint and Benjamin Moore  developed some unique products, like Vista Paint 9700 Protec Exterior Alkyd Emulsion, and Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd. They also improved some existing products like Vista Paint 8700 Carefree and Benjamin Moore Regal Select line.

Some of the new products are more difficult to maintain a wet edge, as the open time had been drastically reduced, compared to that of the slow drying oil based products. The leveling requires more skill to achieve the glass like finish, yet the superiority of the waterborne products are way more advanced then the oil based products. Unlike oil base products, the new waterborne products do not chalk up on exterior surfaces, they have better color retention, they have no yellowing and through time they maintain their hard shell without becoming brittle.

The quality and longevity of the new advanced waterborne coatings, have given oil base coatings it’s limp. With the technology we had available at the time, oil based paint, had its characteristic qualities. As paint manufactures have advanced with new technology, applicators are faced with a learning curve and a choice, that of the old or advance to that of the new.