What’s The Difference Between Latex And Enamel Paint?

Finding the correct paint for your home improvement project can be very challenging, especially if you have no background in the various paints and their colors.

The main difference between enamel and latex paint is that the former is oil-based, while the latter is water-based. The base of the latex paint determines various characteristics, such as how you use it and how it will look on the surface it’s painted on.

This post will teach you the difference between latex and enamel paints. If you intend to use either of these paints, read on to learn more.

What Is an Enamel Paint?

An oil-based paint known as enamel is popular for exterior painting jobs. Its unique attributes, such as its ability to harden quickly and easily and make it a gloss finish, set it apart from other types of paints. You can use various variants of enamel paint with resin.

What Is a Latex Paint?

Also known as acrylic paint, latex is a type of water-based paint. It exists because of the use of glycol ethers, which is a solvent. The term latex does not refer to a rubber component. In latex paint, the resin used to bind the pigment in latex paint is latex.

When used as a primer for various surfaces, such as stone walls, bricks, and drywall, you can use latex paints. You can also utilize it on previously painted surfaces.

Significant Differences Between Latex And Enamel Paint

The paint’s base is essential, but various factors can affect its longevity and appearance. Some of these include the type of paint, its finish, durability, and additives.


When choosing a paint finish for your project, you must consider the finish type you want. For instance, choose a flat or eggshell finish if you want a more modern look.

With latex paint, it’s easy to clean and can withstand high traffic areas in your home. Also, choose a satin finish if you want a more durable and long-lasting color.

An easy-to-clean and hard-to-stain type of paint, enamel dries quickly and easily. Its high durability is famous for various applications such as kitchen cabinets and trim. Semi-gloss, high-gloss, and satin versions are also widely used.

Interior vs. Exterior Use

The modern look of flat or eggshell paint is charming on home walls and ceilings. It’s flexible and water-resistant, making it an ideal choice for most interior projects.

However, while it’s durable and you can clean it quickly, it can still be hard to maintain due to its flexible nature.

While enamel paint can look dated and harsh on large areas, it’s also well-suited for outdoor use. Also, its stiff and glossy finish can look rough and dated over time. However, oil-based paints can still last long and are less prone to breaking down and fading.


Although both types of paint can be durable under certain conditions, the enamel is better for protecting your home from the elements.

Unlike latex paints, which can be flexible when dry, enamel can endure fluctuating temperatures and climates.


There are many kinds of brushes that you can use to apply paint to your surface. If you are using natural bristle brushes, they are the ideal choice when it comes to enamel paints.

However, these bristles can get wet from latex paints, and you can use synthetic brushes instead.


Excessive amounts of paint can cause headaches, lightheadedness, and even respiratory issues. One type of paint that has a milder odor than enamel is latex, which is a better choice for larger projects and walls.

However, if you’re planning on using oil-based enamel, it’s best to avoid it indoors. To minimize exposure, try to work in a well-ventilated area.


Besides adding a touch of color to your painted project’s final look, various paint additives can also help lengthen the drying time and improve the overall appearance of the paint.

One of the most common types of paint additives is floetrol, which is famous for latex paints. Penetrol, on the other hand, is the most popular type of oil-based paint additive.

Drying Times

When an even thick coat of paint is applied, it can create a smooth and even finish. However, latex paint tends to dry faster than other types, so it is essential to leave it to level before applying it.

On the other hand, enamel paint takes longer to dry, as it is oil-based, which absorbs the surface. You can manipulate the paint for a better even coat with a longer drying time.


Water and a rag are all needed to clean up latex paints, which are typically easy to clean. However, a thinner is required to remove the excess pigment for enamel paints.

What Is the Main Advantage of Enamel Paint?

Although oil-based enamel paint tends to have a longer drying time than other types of paint, it’s still better to work with it for a smooth and durable finish. The oil-based paint goes onto surfaces more smoothly and provides better coverage.

One of the advantages of enamel paint is its ease of cleaning. One of the most important factors to consider is the color of the paint, as it will be easier to clean if it has a shiny finish. Also, it’s ideal for outdoor use.

Which Is Better: Enamel Paint or Latex Paint?

It depends on what you’re going to paint it on. The main difference between water-based and oil-based enamel is how quickly it can dry.

While oil-based enamel takes longer to dry, it is still more durable and resilient to wear and tear. Its elasticity is not guaranteed, and it can potentially crack at some point.

Today, water-based enamel has the same drying rate as oil-based enamel. It ensures that it can endure the wear and tear that comes with regular use. It also becomes flexible enough to deal with different outdoor conditions. Unlike oil-based enamel, water-based enamel does not have an odor when dries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Paint Over Latex With Enamel?

Although it’s generally not recommended to apply oil-based enamel to latex paint, sometimes it’s possible to do so.

It can cause uneven or cracked paint texture and even blistered surfaces. However, it’s also possible to use this technique on certain types of latex.

How Can You Tell if a Paint Is Oil-Based?

You can identify oil-based paint by rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton balls or cotton swabs on a small piece of paint. If the paint remains intact, it’s oil-based. This method does not transfer the color to the cotton ball or the cotton swab.

Can You Paint Latex Over Water-Based Enamel?

Yes! Both are water-based, but it’s important to note some steps you need to take before you can start using them.

Doing so will prevent them from cracking and peeling in just a few months. To get the job done, you must clean and dry the latex, then apply the water-based enamel.

Does Latex Paint Peel?

Latex paint peel. When peeling latex paint, it’s usually a sign that the paint’s adhesion is failing due to the presence of water or moisture behind it. It can be because of the lack of primer in areas with high humidity.

If you have dirt or debris on your surface that’s been left behind before painting, it can cause a peel. To prevent this, it’s essential that you thoroughly clean the surface before painting.


What’s the distinction between latex and enamel paint? The base of latex paint is made from oil, while that of enamel is water-based. This type of paint has various characteristics, such as its appearance and how you will use it on a surface.

Having the necessary background knowledge can help you make an informed decision when choosing a kind of paint for your project. There are so many diverse options that it can be hard to choose just one that fits your needs.