June 1, 2014

Water borne Enamel Vs Oil Enamel

Has Australia’s paint manufactures truly made a replacement to traditional oil base enamels for trims, doors and cabinets?

Environmental regulation and consumer demand has been slowly pushing paint manufactures to create paint products that are environmentally responsible along with being safer for the user. With this new trend being in full swing for the better half of 10 years the need for a water borne enamel has been the biggest hurdle for manufactures to overcome.

The early attempts by paint manufactures to create a water based enamel weren’t welcomed with open arms. Painters had a lot of issues with applying the new style of products, the early water based enamel dried very quickly which caused the paint to dry on itself as it was being applied. The primary challenge manufacturers had to overcome was to develop a water borne enamel that was durable and low VOC.

Customer awareness of enamel was impacted as historically the term “enamel” was widely known to be a durable gloss protective finish.

The two primary water based enamel, which oil like finish paints available on the Australian Market are:

1. Dulux Aqua Enamel

2. Taubmans Water Based Enamel Trim

Dulux has been able to create a water based enamel with 74 g/L  VOC inclusive of Dulux Low VOC tinter. The dulux aqua enamel dries nearly as hard after full cure time than oil based enamels. In our experience water based enamel need at least a week to cure in order to make an accurate final inspection.

Even with the new paint technology both water borne enamels have a learning curve in relation to application, thinning and touching up.

Water based coating/ modern 

+ environmentally friendly (water based)
+ fast drying
+ longer lasting, 5 -6yr manufacturer warranty
–not as glossy (brush marks more visible)
–not as hard wearing to bumps and knocks

Oil based coating/ traditional system
+ very hard wearing
+ highest sheen level (high gloss)
–not very environmentally friendly
– tendency to yellow over time, typically light colours with low UV exposure (manufacturer will not warranty the product for this issue)
– manufacturer warranty is only 2 -3 yrs



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About Glenn

I have been a Painter for 12 years. I enjoy helping people solving their House painting issues, from restoring an old Queenslander through to a painting new construction and commercial properties!

If you require an Brisbane Painter then please get in touch and we can help.


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