This frequently asked question is misleading and is indicative of the confusion that surrounds paint! Firstly, latex paint doesn’t contain any latex. Secondly, latex paint is an umbrella term for a group of  water based paints which includes acrylic, vinyl-acrylic and styrene-acrylic.The binders in latex paints are small plastic particles dispersed in water. As the paint dries the binders coalesce to form a continuous plastic film that binds the pigment and extender together and secures the paint to the surface being painted. The difference between acrylic, vinyl-acrylic and styrene-acrylic paint is the type and quality of binder used.


  • Acrylic Paint contains 100% acrylic binders and is considered the best quality latex paint. This paint is durable, retains its colour, offers excellent stability against UV radiation and doesn’t yellow or collect dirt. It’s the most expensive variety of latex paint.
  • Vinyl-acrylic Paint contains some acrylic binders and some vinyl binders. Vinyl binders are cheaper than acrylic and are used to lower the cost of the paint. However, the vinyl binders make the paint more porous and less durable.
  • Styrene-acrylic Paint is made from binders more susceptible to UV rays making it most appropriate for interior projects. It’s the least expensive latex paint.


The Advantages of Latex Paints


Though there are distinct differences between the types of latex paint, there are some general advantages to the latex category of paint products.

  • Comes in a variety of paint finishes (flat to high gloss)
  • Applies smoothly
  • Is non-flammable
  • Breathable; allows moisture to escape without causing blistering or loss of adhesion
  • Cleans up easily with soap and water
  • Little or no odour
  • Contains few VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Retains colour / fades less / doesn’t yellow
  • Resists mildew
  • Quick-drying time
  • Flexible; expands and contracts with temperature changes
  • Adheres extremely well to most surfaces
  • Durable; resistant to flaking, blistering and peeling
  • Excellent water resistance
  • Good opacity; the ability to cover one colour with another
  • Corrosion and alkali resistant

The Disadvantages of Latex Paint

As with all paint products, latex paint has some disadvantages/shortcomings.   

  • Does not adhere well to glossy surfaces
  • Needs to “cure” for 30 days before you can wash it
  • Requires above-freezing storage temperature
  • Shows brush strokes
  • Sometimes causes wood grains to swell, making sanding between coats necessary
  • Causes rust on unprimed steel

There are many paint choices; colours, qualities, styles, types, glosses, sheens. Choosing a paint can be bewildering. If you’re undertaking a paint job, do your research. Then consult a paint and design expert. They can help you find the paint that is right for your project.

Looking for advice on the best paint for your home improvement project? Call Calgary’s independent paint and blinds store West Hillhurst Paint + Design at (403) 270-9696 or email at kyle@westhillhurstpaint.com. Our knowledgeable professional design associates provide high quality paint, a wide selection of blinds, and advice for home projects. We offer excellent service and a variety of products to match any budget. Call for a consultation today!

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