A Beginner's Guide to Using Oil Paint and Water-Based Paint

If there is anything more difficult than “not finishing” an open packet of your favourite chips, it would be home painting. It doesn’t end with the thought of giving the walls of your house new paint because that is just the beginning. From picking the right interior house colours to deciding whether to use oil paints for walls or water based paint, the quest continues. Understanding what type of colour and of course the shades before you give the painter a command “go” is vital. Therefore, understanding colours before you understand yourself matters as you will have a lifetime to explore yourself but once the wall is painted you have to live with it for a decade at least!

Before we go on further, if colouring the walls at home is on your mind, understanding the two types of paints available in the market and their characteristics matter. Decoding it further, the major point of difference is the composition and the solvent used. 

Let’s understand it better!

What are water based paints?

Water based paints are also commonly known as latex paint or acrylic latex paint. It is made up of plastic resin which betters the adherence of the paint on the walls. In these paints, the plastic resins and the pigments are suspended in water. Additionally, these water based paints are environmentally sensible thus making them one of the most loved!

Water based painting on the wall – Asian Paints

What are oil based paints?

An oil based paint utilises natural oils like linseed oil or synthetic alkyd as the base and is usually a combination of resins, pigments, and a solvent thinner. On external application, once the thinner evaporates, the resin forms a hard coating. The above-mentioned was a definition pointing out the basic difference, now let’s dive deeper with characteristics indicating the difference between the two. When it comes to interior home painting, oil based paints can provide a durable and high-quality finish, but they can also be more difficult to work with due to their longer drying times and strong odor, making water-based paints a popular alternative for indoor projects.

Oil based painting on the wall – Asian Paints


  • Sheen
  • Oil based paints have a higher sheen as compared to water based paints. Having said that, the sheen of the oil based paint becomes duller over time whereas the sheen of the water based paint remains intact, just like it was on it’s day one and also maintains it for a longer period of time.
  • Durability
  • As a known fact, wall oil paint colour dries harder than the rest which is why they are highly resistant to wear and tear. Having said that, as the oil based paint for walls dries harder, it loses its flexibility and thus increases the chances of becoming dry, brittle, and chalky over time in addition to it becoming yellow. Water based paints on the other hand dry hard but maintain the flexibility to expand and contract during weather conditions thus making them less susceptible to cracking or becoming chalky and dry.
  • Exterior Use
  • While we consider painting the exteriors, understanding the flexibility of the paint matters. No, the paint doesn’t perform yoga really, but a paint’s flexibility is defined as its movement with the substrate as it expands and contracts in the given weather condition. Water based paints being more flexible are an excellent option for the outdoors and are more UV resistant as compared to oil paint wall colours. In addition to the UV resistance, water based wall colours retain the sheen and the colour better than oil based enamel paints do. In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, there are a few differences between water based wall paints and oil based enamel paint based on application and clean up.
  • Weather conditions
  • Extreme weather conditions do not support water based wall paints. Factors like humidity and lower temperatures work on the drying times by either delaying it too much or otherwi se. This can drastically affect the end result and the paint performance in the longer run. On the other hand, oil based paint is more weather tolerant with no drastic impact on the drying time thus making the paint performance better.
  • Surface Conditions:
  • A little moisture on the surface of the wall can mess with the application of oil based paint due to it being water-repellent. Therefore, drying out the surface completely before applying an oil based paint is mandatory. Water-based paints on the other hand can tolerate some moisture content on the substrate prior to application. The moisture content will thin out the application but wouldn't affect its adhesion to the surface. This is particularly important to keep in mind while home painting, as ensuring the surface is completely dry before applying oil based paint can help to prevent issues such as cracking or peeling later on.
  • Application
  • Oil based paints take longer as compared to water based paints as the former is stickier and thicker to apply. In addition to this, the drying time between the two also varies. Oil paints take longer to dry whereas water based paints dry in a blink of an eye when compared.

    Though we have covered most of the points, we are forgetting one of the most important points distinguishing the two and that is, cleaning it. In a house with kids or in a house that is a party pad, knowing what’s easier to clean can be a deciding factor too.

    Water paints having water as their solvent makes cleaning easy as in an oil based paint, having a thinner or something similar to clean is a mandatory requirement.


    Beautifully painted living room – Asian Paints


    Our painters for home are trained and experienced in a wide range of painting techniques and can offer valuable advice on color selection, finish options, and other important factors to help you achieve the perfect look for your home. Get in touch with us at Asian Paints Safe Painting Services today to learn more about how our team of skilled professionals can help you bring your painting project to life!

    We hope this read made your paint game stronger, better, and hopefully more vibrant!


    Give us a thumbs up!



    Royale Play special effects for the interior

    Need help with your painting needs?

    Fill the form below to book an appointment with an in house interior designer. 

    By proceeding, you are authorizing Asian Paints and its suggested contractors to get in touch with you through calls, sms, or e-mail

    Our Divisions