What Is Latex Paint And How Should It Be Used?

  • Why latex paint is more practical than acrylic paint.
  • Tips for using latex paint in your home.
what is latex paint

Explore the world of latex paint products and all of their uses around your home and commercial settings.

What is latex paint?

Latex paint is a water-based paint that is made from acrylic resin. In this way, it’s similar to acrylic paint, but it’s recommended to use the water-based latex paint if you find yourself painting larger surfaces.

This is mainly because latex paint is sold in larger paint tubs, in comparison to acrylic paint which we’re used to seeing in craft and art supply shops as small tubes. You’re going to get a lot more value for money if you paint an entire area with latex paint instead of acrylic paint.

what is latex paint
Paint being poured into a paint tray.

Which paint should I use?

What you want to paint will largely make this decision for you. Here is a bit of background knowledge to help you get started on your painting journey:

Paint is made up of colour pigments, which are added to either an oil-based binder or a water-based binder. The ratio of pigment to binder is what decides the finish of the paint product. A glossier paint (such as latex paint) will be much more hardwearing than a matte paint.

Emulsion paint is best for interiors, such as walls and ceilings. This is a water-based paint that is hardwearing and often sold in humongous paint tubs that are anywhere from 5 to 20 litres. You’ll commonly find this paint in 10-litre tubs in just about any shop with a home paint section.

Gloss is traditionally oil-based but can now be found in a water-based version, too. Gloss is great for bathrooms because it can be cleaned off fairly easily, but homeowners also enjoy using it in kitchens and even in the master bedroom! There’s also semi-gloss paint.

Satin is known as a “low-lustre” paint. It has a slight sheen to its colour, which is why eggshell is the main tone you’ll find satin paints in. Used correctly, it can add a good amount of depth to a room.

Do you see how most paints can be split into quick categories without any fuss? We even mentioned latex paint without using its name – that’s right, emulsion and latex paint are the same thing.

What can I paint using latex paint?

Fun fact: You can use latex paint to re-paint wooden furniture even if it has a coat of varnish on it. You don’t need to sand anything down, but you will need to apply a good coat of primer beforehand to stop the paint from flaking off or chipping.

Latex is an extremely versatile paint to have, which is possibly another reason that you can buy it in such oversized tubs that stay in the back of the garden shed for years on end.

As well as being perfect for the walls and ceilings inside your home, you can use latex paint on masonry (such as brick, concrete, stone, and clay), metal, wood, and more. That means that nothing inside or outside your home is safe from you wielding a paintbrush and a can of latex paint.

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how to use latex paint
A man painting a wall with a pastel blue paint.

Make your own primer

To make you own primer using that giant tub of latex paint you have, simply take a mix of four parts latex paint to one-part water. This dilution process will give you a quick primer without you needing to go and buy one for your next DIY project.

Alternatively, if you just need a thinner emulsion paint, you can do this by mixing one-part water with one-part latex paint.

Why not just use acrylic paint?

Despite quality acrylic paint being extremely similar to latex paint, you might find that the acrylic paint you come across is chemical-based, rather than water-based like latex paint.

Picking up acrylic paint that is chemical-based means that you have a paint which is elastic, in a way. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that your acrylic paint is more likely to contract and expand than the latex paint you have.

Latex paint can be cleaned up with soap and water. It’s a simple and practically costless action. However, acrylic paint would need paint thinner to get it off any surface that you don’t want it to be on.

That said, acrylic paint is also very durable, and its elasticity means that your paint won’t crack as much.

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