Expert Tips for Using Latex Paint

Latex paint has a water base and a low VOC formula. It’s the most common interior paint and probably what’s on your walls right now. Latex paint is available from all the top paint brands, such as Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Farrow & Ball, and Benjamin Moore.

What Is Latex Paint?

Expert Tips for Using Latex Paint

Latex paints have a thin consistency, which makes them dry fast. They’re available in various finishes, from matte to glossy. Like acrylic paint, latex paint also contains acrylic resin and polymers for better adhesion.

Uses of Latex Paint

Priming Surfaces

Latex primer is ideal for unstained wood surfaces and new drywall. It has a thin consistency that dries fast and prepares a surface for a fresh coat of paint.

Creating Indoor Murals or Other Works of Art

Many artists choose a latex eggshell finish for wall murals due to its subtle sheen.

Painting Wood Furniture and Trim

Professionals recommend using latex primer and paint on wood furniture and wall trim. Gloss and semi-gloss finishes are durable for wood surfaces and clean up easily with soap and water.

Walls and Ceilings

Latex paint lasts for up to 10 years on walls. It resists cracking and fading and retains its original color over time. Interior latex paints are fast drying even in rooms with poor ventilation. It’s also less expensive compared to oil-based paints.

Latex paint emits low volatile organic compounds, making it safe for homeowners with allergies. Flat latex paints are popular for ceilings since they hide holes, bumps, and scratches. They also have a quick dry time and leave a matte finish..

Latex Paint Finishes

  • Flat or Matte: matte paint contains less sheen because it reflects little or no sunlight. A flat finish is best for ceilings and uneven surfaces. Unlike other finishes, flat and matte paints don’t show brush marks or roller strokes.
  • Eggshell: eggshell finishes are partially reflective. Eggshell latex paint gives the surface a gentle sheen and is durable on wooden surfaces and medium-traffic rooms.
  • Satin: these paints have a higher sheen than eggshell and give a velvety finish. Satin finishes are ideal for high-traffic areas like living rooms and hallways. Satin finish is durable and withstands cleaning agents and frequent scrubbing.
  • Semi-Gloss: a semi-gloss finish gives a shiny and bright appearance due to its high luster. Its smooth application makes it easy to wipe off dirt from a surface. Semi-gloss paints are used in playrooms, kitchens, and other high-traffic areas.
  • High-Gloss: this ultra-shiny finish is used on doors, cabinets, and wall trims. It resists permanent staining and dirt and is the easiest to clean.


  • Quick drying
  • Resists cracking and chipping
  • Emits low-VOCs indoors
  • Easy to clean from brushes and surfaces
  • Seals the surface from mold and mildew
  • Available in various colors and finishes


  • Peels off in hot climates and when exposed to moisture
  • Causes rusting in metal surfaces

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Latex Paint

There are some common mistakes that newbie painters often make. Avoid these mistakes for an optimal paint job.

Using latex paint on bare steel surfaces

Since latex paint is water-based, it accelerates rusting on metal surfaces. Creating a barrier using an oil-based primer is advisable. The oil-based primer protects the metal surface from corrosion. But, oil-based primers have strong odors and take longer to cure.

Painting on a dirty surface

Latex paint won’t adhere to dirty surfaces, which results in air bubbles when the paint dries. The air bubbles pop and peel off, leaving a botched paint job. When prepping a surface, clean it with soapy water and a sponge. Use a primer to cover any blemishes, and leave it to dry.

Applying a second coat too soon

Applying a second coat over wet paint leads to an uneven finish, visible brush strokes, and peeling. Most latex paints take an hour to dry and are ready for another coat in four hours.

Paint recoat time is influenced by temperature, humidity, and the room’s ventilation. Always refer to the product label for optimal painting conditions.

Ignoring the weather

When using latex paint outdoors, ensure there’s a low humidity level. While good quality latex paints repel rain and other extreme weather, they only adhere to dry surfaces. The optimal temperature for latex paint is 50-85°F.

Several latex paints contain additives for mold and mildew resistance in humid regions. Other brands have a ‘UV/fade resistant’ label for sunny regions.

Painting latex over oil paint

Latex is a poor choice for repainting over oil paint – it doesn’t bond and peels off after drying. Remove the gloss from the surface using fine-grit sandpaper. After sanding, wipe down the dust using dilute trisodium phosphate (TSP). Allow to dry, and use a latex bonding primer before painting.

How to Remove Latex Paint Stains

Follow these instructions to remove latex paint stains from your clothes.

  1. Dampen the stained area using warm water and a clean cloth.
  2. Saturate the stain with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and let it soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Use a scrubbing brush to tackle the stain on tough fabrics.
  4. Flush the stain and rubbing alcohol out under warm running water.
  5. Launder the clothing according to the fabric label.

Latex Paint vs. Acrylic Based Paint

Both latex and acrylic paints have their perks and downsides.

Latex paint is water-based and made of synthetic rubber, resistant polyvinyl acetate, and other elements. It’s resistant to moisture and potent chemical cleaners. Latex paint is more flexible than oil paint and easier to clean. It’s less likely to chip or flake and holds fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Acrylic paint is synthetic and made of polymer resins and pigments. It holds a range of colors and has better adhesion than latex paint.

Acrylic paint is more suitable for painting your home’s exterior since it’s resistant to UV light. It also resists fading and water damage. The paint type is also ideal for high-moisture and high-traffic areas. While it’s more expensive, acrylic paint dries faster than latex paint.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can you mix latex paint with latex paint?

Yes, you can mix both paints since they’re all water-based. Use a water-soluble medium when mixing latex paint with acrylic paint to ensure proper adhesion.

Does latex paint need two coats?

The need for a second coat depends on the color when using latex paint. Lighter colors often require two coats. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label for optimal results.

Can latex paint be used on outdoor surfaces?

Yes, you can use latex paint for your home’s exterior. Acrylic paint, however, has higher adhesion and resistance to fading. Latex paint is more likely to chip and peel when exposed to high-temperature changes.

Consider scrubbing the surface and priming it before applying a coat of latex paint. Adding a coat of sealant improves the adhesion of latex paint.