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Made from a water-soluble base, latex paint combines the advantages of versatility and easy clean up. It applies smoothly and wears well in both interior and exterior use. It can be thinned with water, and equipment or spills can be cleaned up simply with soapy water.
Latex paint is non-toxic and has less of an odor than other paints, such as oil-based paint. When used indoors, fumes from oil-based paint may linger for several weeks. On the other hand, odors from latex-based paint dissipate quickly after the paint has dried. Of course, adequate ventilation is always necessary when painting indoors regardless of the type of paint used.
In addition to being non-toxic, latex paint is non-flammable. Oil-based paint and the solvents required for thinning and clean up are highly flammable. Those solvents, along with the oil-based paint itself, are considered toxic waste and must be disposed of according to local regulations.
This type of paint is much more environmentally friendly than other paint types. It is not considered hazardous and may be disposed of with regular waste. Liquid oil-based paint or solvents should never be disposed of in the regular trash or poured down a drain. However, both latex and oil paints may be acceptable for recycling if handled according to the requirements of the recycling center.
Latex paint is available in a variety of colors, grades, and finishes. Grade refers to the quality of the product and greatly influences cost. Finish refers to the amount of gloss or shine after the paint has dried.
In general, this paint tends to have better gloss and is easier to touch up than oil-based paints. However, the higher the gloss of the finish, the more imperfections will show. Also, higher gloss finishes tend to be more difficult to touch up than finishes with less shine whether or not latex paint is used.
Advances in latex-based paint have resulted in less fading on exteriors, no yellowing on interiors, and less likelihood of cracking or peeling. Another major advantage to this paint is its faster drying time. If a second coat of paint is required, there usually is no need to wait more than an hour after the first coat. Oil-based paint takes up to 24 hours to dry depending on factors such as weather conditions and air circulation.
Although latex paint is easy to clean up, it requires even less effort if completed promptly after a job is finished. The longer the paint has a chance to dry, the harder it will be to remove. It helps to scrape or squeeze as much paint as possible from equipment first, then equipment should be washed in warm soapy water, thoroughly rinsed, and dried before storing.