Oil Based Paint

In January 2010 an  EEC directive ordered all paint manufacturers to lower the amount of VOC’s in there paints and products.

What are VOC’S

VOC  stands for Volatile Organic Compound. VOC’s are chemical elements that are contained in a variety of industrial products and by-products, such as exhaust-fumes, domestic cleaning agents, as well as paints. VOC’s readily evaporate into the atmosphere when VOC containing products are used. In paints, solvents like white spirit and ethanol are the main VOC carriers.

These changes in the formula of paint dramatically altered its characteristics. Extended drying times, was common with some glosses taking days to cure.

Perhaps the biggest problem was the “yellowing” of white oil based paint. Within weeks of application the brilliant white paints went yellow. The problem was even worse in areas where there was little natural light. This problem affected all the major paint companies.

Although in 2016 some of these issues have been improved. It is still a fact that white or brilliant white oil based paint, gloss, satinwood and eggshell will “yellow” in a relatively short space of time.

A Daily Mail article from 2012. A large paint manufacturer being taken to court.

water based paint
water based paint

Water Based Paint.

When I first started working as a painter and decorator, the only widely used water based  paint was acrylic primer/undercoat. Even this was frowned upon. It was considered a short cut and something a proper tradesman would not use.

Pre VOC 2010, I have often scoffed at water based paint, I used to think of it as a DIY product.

Post VOC 2010, a lot of money and effort has gone into research and development of water based paints.

All the major paint manufactures now have a range of water based paints

As well as the big boys there is an ever increasing number of new brands coming onto the market

Using water based paint is  totally different to traditional oil based paint. It requires your painter and and decorator to have the correct brushes, and the experience to get the perfect finish.

Once dried water based paint is as tough and hard wearing as any of it oil based counterparts.


I think for the average domestic interior decorating job, ask your decorator to use water based paint. The benefits are

  • Rapid drying times
  • Low odour
  • Stays white longer
  • Kinder to the environment
  • Quicker finish to the job

As for drawbacks using water based paint, there are few. It may add a slight cost to your job, but I think this a small price to pay for your wood work to stay white.