What Is Enamel Paint? The Strongest Paint On The Market

There are so many different types of paint that it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Enamel paint is one of the strongest and most sought-after types of paint, but not many people know why they want it.

What Is Enamel PaintView in gallery

This paint has been around for hundreds of years and there are still many mysteries it holds. After all, there isn’t a set ingredient used in this paint, at least not in the way the word is used in today’s world. 

What Is Enamel Paint?

Enamel paint is a glossy and thin paint with protective qualities. It creates a hard yet thin layer of paint and can be found in any color you can imagine. It is often used on metals that can be difficult to paint otherwise. 

Although enamel paint does have origins, today, it isn’t known by its ingredients but by the way that it works. It is generally received as an oil-based paint that dries to a hard, shiny shell that protects surfaces. 

The word enamel is actually used to describe a clear, or almost clear, glassy substance that is applied to hard surfaces for decoration and protection. This pretty much describes enamel paint to a T so the name is appropriate. 

Natural enamel can be found on teeth to protect them from the food that you eat. Protecting enamel is important both for your teeth and the substances you apply enamel paint to as they work very similarly. 

Enamel Spray PaintView in gallery

Enamel Spray Paint

Enamel spray paint works just as well as standard spray paint applied with a brush. Only with enamel spray paint, you won’t see brush marks. You only need to watch for bubbles as spray paint can leave bubbles. 

Where Did Enamel Paint Come From?

The term “enamel paint” wasn’t used much until the mid-1800s. It was first marketed to use on porcelain and ceramic. Though these were materials primarily made for the upper-class, the marketing did the trick.

Enamel was known to be high-end, easy to clean, shiny, and durable. The era explains why enamel appliances were often seen in Victorian kitchens and Victorian bathrooms for upper-class families. 

By 1900, the now-famed Sherwin-Williams was advertising enamel for use on almost any type of furniture. They claimed their paints would give the furniture a longer life with fewer scratches and stains.

Fast-forward half a century and powder-coated furniture and appliances were being released which all but replaced enamel paint. However, in modern-day times, both powder-coating and enamel paint reign. 

What Is Enamel Paint For?

What Is Enamel Paint ForView in gallery

Enamel paint has a lot of uses. Though it isn’t ideal for wood or drywall, it can be used on almost any other material from porcelain to metal to glass. Here are the most common uses for enamel paint at home.

Appliances

Appliances are one of the first things you probably think of when you think of enamel paint. This means washers and dryers, sinks and tubs, and fridges. Anything that can be painted with enamel paint will benefit from it.

Outdoor Grill

If your outdoor grill needs a little DIY then think about repainting it with enamel paint. You can get by with one coat to completely give your outdoor grill new life. Choose a new color or replicate the old one.

Painting Doors

This is primarily for strong exterior doors. You can paint an exterior door to strengthen it and make it vibrant again. Since it gets so much use and is often weathered, enamel paint is the perfect paint for it. 

Refinish Dishes 

If you have dishes that need to be brightened up again, enamel paint can do that. This works well for almost any type of dish because most dishes are made with glass, ceramic, or porcelain. Especially nicer dishes. 

Model Figures

If you are into model trains, planes, and cars, then you can create some gorgeous designs with enamel paint. They also work for tabletop game figures and just about any other small figurine you can buy. 

Pros And Cons Of Enamel Paint

Just like any other paint, enamel paint has a unique set of pros and cons. Here are the most talked-about pros and cons of enamel paint. Both from professionals and your everyday family doing DIY projects. 

Pros

  • Smooth finish – enamel paint has a smooth finish that rarely has any bumps or marks. It stays smooth and beautiful over its lifetime which can’t be said for many other paints. This is why it’s considered protective. 
  • Scratch-resistant – enamel paint is scratch-resistant. Though it is possible to scratch it, this is hard to do. That’s why enamel is often added to outdoor dishes that are used for camping because they are difficult to scratch. 
  • Permanent gloss – enamel paint leaves items with a glossy finish that doesn’t tend to fade. Although after decades of wear and tear it may not look the same as it did, it will be much shinier than most other paints.
  • Permanent vibrancy – along with the glossiness that just won’t fade, the colors in enamel paint tend to be permanent. They are vibrant forever even after being used and washed hundreds of times. 
  • Doesn’t yellow – yep, even if you use white enamel paint, enamel paint doesn’t usually yellow at all. It keeps color but it also keeps whiteness. This is rarely even affected by secondhand smoke in the house. 
  • Few brush marks – because the paint is thin and smooth, it doesn’t leave many brush marks. Other paints with different textures might but enamel paint does a pretty good job of staying even and smooth.
  • Works on most surfaces – you can paint almost any surface with enamel paint. Though wood and drywall aren’t ideal, you can still paint them. They just won’t accept it as well as harder surfaces like metal.
  • Heat-resistant – you can use enamel paint on items that will be put in fires, ovens, and hot water. The same goes for cold temperatures. In fact, enamel paint is often added to give items better temperature resistance. 

Cons

  • Hard to use – enamel paint can be a pain to use. Once it dries, it’s wonderful, but it smells, it runs, and it can be difficult to mix correctly. You will be fine if you wear a mask and get some experience. But until then, it’s not easy.
  • Expensive – enamel paint has its cons and the biggest of these is the price. It is more expensive than most paints which makes sense because it is so much more valuable and offers a lot more pros than most.
  • Drying method – most of the time, enamel paint needs to be baked on. So this means you can’t simply paint it on and leave it like other paints. You need special equipment which most people don’t have due to the high prices.

Similar Paints

There are only a few pints that hold a candle to enamel paint. Here are the three paints that you may be able to use instead of enamel paint. All three of these are easier to use than enamel paint and less expensive. 

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a very common type of paint that is similar to enamel paint. It’s generally cheaper but is often combined with enamel paint to get the best out of each of them. It dries quickly and is quite thick.

The reason they are thick is so that painters can add water to create the consistency they need. Though it doesn’t offer the protective qualities that enamel paint does, it is a solid choice and comes in vibrant colors. 

Polyurethane Paint

Polyurethane paints are used as finishing coats for cars, steel structures, pipelines, and more. It is used to protect the other paint and is more of a protective coating than a paint. Think of it as a clear coating.

Though it can be found in different colors, it is much more like a clear coat used on top of your fingernails after using fingernail polish. It protects the paint from scratching and the nails from damage. 

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint is another great choice that is as protective as enamel. It is used on floors or places that get a lot of traffic. It is most often used over concrete and is twice as strong as concrete, which is an amazing comparison.

Epoxy paint dries naturally so you don’t need t to bake it on. It can last centuries and is generally a good investment. It’s the number one choice for basements, garages, and patios that are made of concrete. 

Should I Use Enamel Paint?

If you can handle the process of applying the enamel paint and you can afford it, there’s likely no better paint for your project. It is durable and looks amazing. But it really isn’t easy to use, so a professional might be preferable.

But hiring a professional can up the cost substantially. Especially considering the tools that the professional needs to bring. In most cases, you will take your items, even if it’s a car, to a shop to have enamel paint applied.