Enamel Vs Latex Paint (Pros, Cons & Pricing)

When you are planning your next project and you are needing to paint a wall or something like that, then you are going to be faced with a very difficult choice, what color to paint it. But once you decide that you will have to choose the type of paint to use as a variety of different paint are available.

When it comes to enamel paint, it is easy to apply, durable, and comes in a wide variety of different colors. Latex paint is very easy to clean up, dries very quickly, doesn’t yellow over time, and is one of the best paints for the environment. Both paints range from $15 to $40 per gallon.

So you know some of the basics about each of these two paint types but I am sure you still have plenty of other questions about them so that you can know which paint is going to be the best for your next project.

Throughout the rest of this article, I will talk about both enamel and latex paint and what their pros and cons are. And to finish I will talk about the pricing for the paint and which paint type is best.

Using Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is a type of paint that will often dry and end up with a fine glossy finish, sharing a similar appearance to fingernail polish.

Enamel paint is most commonly used by hobbyists who use it to paint a variety of things ranging from miniature figurines, and models of anything from planes to trees, to even just your standard painting. When it comes to using enamel paint around a home, typically it is used for doing touch-ups on different appliances.

Enamel Paint

Enamel is an oil-based paint, and it is because of this when it dries it will for that hard, glossy, shell-like finish. When getting enamel paint, you will want to make sure it isn’t a type of enamel meant for ceramics, as your standard enamel while still having a tough finish is softer than ceramic enamel.

When it comes to actually using enamel paint in your house, you are only going to want to use it on something that needs an ultra-durable, glassy, or glossy look.

This means you likely aren’t going to want to use it for anything super large like a wall. Some of the larger things people use enamel paint for include door trims, indoor appliances, and a variety of outdoor elements.

Pros of Enamel

One of the first pros that you are going to get to enjoy if you are painting using enamel paint is the fact that when the paint dries and is finished it is going to have a naturally clean and uniform look to it. Along with the overall uniform look to it, enamel paint holds its color extremely well and is going to be resistant to any sort of yellowing caused by time.

By the time the paint dries, it is going to be extremely smooth due to its hard, shell-like nature, which is another large positive of the paint. Along with this, you are going to be able to use enamel paint on a very wide variety of surfaces, which I will cover a bit later.

The paint is also going to dry fairly quickly once it is exposed to the air, meaning you don’t have to spend days waiting for a larger project to finish and dry. Lastly, you are going to have a massive selection of colors to choose from, as stores are going to be able to produce just about any color of paint you request.

Cons of Enamel

However, while there are plenty of benefits to using enamel paint, there are plenty of different negatives that you are going to have to deal with (source).

The first of these is that enamel paint can be potentially toxic. The odor that enamel paint produces is extremely strong and can become irritating if you breathe it in and if you breathe in enough it can become harmful.

This is because enamel paint is made with urethane, which is a chemical that can also become flammable while still wet. Not to mention that any sort of spills are bad for the environment as well.

Another problem that you are going to face with enamel paint is the fact that if you try to mix these paints you will find they don’t mix well.

Along with this, you are going to need to get a solvent in order to thin it for any cleaning to happen. Lastly, enamel paints are extremely difficult to clean up, and even buying enamel paint is expensive, however, I will cover this in more detail next.

Cost of Enamel Paint

When you are purchasing enamel paint there are two different types of paint you can get. The first is a bucket of enamel paint, and the second is to get a can of enamel spray paint.

If you are going for the more simple method of a spray can, then the most common size you will get it in is a 12-ounce can. For the majority of 12-ounce enamel spray paint cans, you are going to be spending about $5 up to $15.

When it comes to the much more common bucket of paint you are going to be looking at a much higher price as well.

If you are looking for a gallon can, which is the standard size of a paint can, you are going to be looking at a price tag ranging from $30 all the way up to $100 dollars depending on if there are any preadded thinners or other additions to the paint.

The most common price that I was seeing was $40 per gallon, but this may vary on location. You can also get small 2 and 8-ounce tubes of enamel paint that will cost you around $5.

Common Uses of Enamel Paint

There are a variety of uses that people tend to prefer for enamel paint, and in this section, I will go over the most common uses along with all the different materials that you are able to use enamel paint on.

As mentioned earlier, enamel paint is great as there are tons of different surfaces it works on, and these surfaces include:

  • Glass
  • Aluminum
  • Galvanized steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Caulking
  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Porcelain
  • Ceramic
Enamel Paint Applied on wood

When it comes to common projects people use enamel paint on, the most common are:

  • Doors
  • Window trim
  • Cabinets
  • Crown molding
  • Window sashes
  • Porches
  • Floors
  • Decks
  • Handrails
  • Cabinet Fixtures
  • Washers and dryers
  • Barbeque Grills
  • Door Casings
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Kitchen Appliances

Using Latex Paint

In recent years latex paint has become more and more popular for any project that you are needing. This is for all of the positives it has, however, I will get to those later.

Latex paint is the most common type of paint sold and about 75% of all paint you encounter is latex paint. Latex is a water-based paint and is very similar to acrylic paint as it is also made from acrylic resin.

Latex Paint

However, latex paint is much better when it comes to painting large areas. And this is one of the reasons that latex paint has become so popular because it leaves a good color and is great on large areas.

Another major difference between latex paint and enamel paint is that latex paints offer a bit of variety in the fact that latex paints can end with a glossy finish or with a matte finish, making them slightly more versatile.

Along with this, latex paint uses acrylics or polyvinyl to help it stick to the wall or surface better, making it easier to use while painting.

Pros of Latex Paint

I have already talked about a few of the many positives that latex paint has, though now I will go into more detail about them.

First, when you are using latex paint, since it is a water-based paint, it is going to be thinner when you apply a coat to the wall or surface you want, meaning that it is going to dry and cure fairly fast. Along with this, water-based paints are very easy to clean up, even if they have dried some, so once you are done it shouldn’t take long to clean everything.

And with the wide variety of colors that come in both a gloss and a matte finish, you aren’t going to have to worry about the color fading or yellowing over time.

A big win for latex paint is the fact that it is very environmentally friendly. The water base that the paint has means that spills aren’t going to damage the environment at all. And the last major pro of latex paint is that it is extremely easy to find the paint and get the color that you want.

Cons Of Latex Paint

But, just like all other things in existence, latex paint is not without a few flaws, however, for the most part, the positives outweigh these flaws. The first negative is that since it is a water-based paint the color will be lighter on the first coat, meaning you may need to apply two or more coats to get the ideal color you want.

Typically you need two coats to get a deeper color. Next is the fact that latex paint isn’t that good when used on wood, as the color will not come through super well and will fade much quicker than on other surfaces.

A few other negatives that you are going to have to deal with when using latex paint is that it does not handle extreme temperatures very well. This means that for the most part, you are going to be limited in using latex paints in an inside environment.

The last negative with latex paint is the fact that the area you are painting must be primed and dry in order for the paint to take its full effect. This means you will have to let the first coat dry before applying another coat.

Pricing of Latex Paint

When it comes to the price of the paint you are in luck, because latex paint has become such a common paint to use, you can find it in most stores.

When it comes to buying the paint, the most common size you are going to get to use will be a gallon bucket, and the cost of these buckets will typically cost you anywhere from $15 to $40.

For a typical room you are going to need two cans of paint since you will need multiple coats, so expect to pay about $30 to $80 for these cans. This makes latex paint much more effective when painting a major project.

Common Uses of Latex Paint

When it comes to the most common uses of latex paint, you are going to see that the paint is typically used for painting walls.

This shows that latex paint is extremely focused on doing this one job well, and it does work extremely well when it comes to giving both interior and exterior walls a vibrant, clean, and long-lasting color. Other common uses for latex paint are for trims, siding, and ceilings.

When it comes to materials that you can use latex paint on, you are slightly more limited as latex paint doesn’t stick to as many surfaces as enamel paint does. Surfaces that latex paint does work on include:

Latex Paint applied on the door wood
  • Wood
  • Fiber cement
  • Aluminum
  • Stucco
  • Plaster
  • Concrete

Which is Best

When it comes to determining which paint is going to be best, the main determining facts are going to be determined by what kind of project you are working with.

On major projects like painting your house, you are going to want to go with latex paint, as it is cheaper and will perform much better when it comes to painting a wall.

However, for smaller projects and times when you need to work on difficult-to-paint materials, you are going to want to go with enamel paint. But when it comes down to it you are going to want to choose whichever paint you prefer.

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