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What’s the difference between oil-based and water-based paints?


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How much damage could a spouse do in one weekend painting an old rocking chair? My first thought is none. But after I spent a weekend hunting in the woods, I have a different opinion. As I was trying to pack for my weekend hunting trip, I was getting drilled about what she would need to do to refurbish this decrepit rocking chair she bought off Craigslist. I have to admit, I gave her a bit of the breeze because I could only focus on getting out in the woods. What damage could she really do? I quickly set out all the sandpaper, brushes, and paint she would need and jetted for my trip to renew my man card. I told her if she had any questions go to our local Quad Cities Menards and they would help. I have used this hardware store hundreds of times for home DIY projects, and they are very helpful.

Upon my return, just a day and a half later, I found there was white elf hand prints on our garage floor, the black kitchen sink had white rings, spots, faded wash, and our kitchen faucet was covered in what appeared to be crusty whiteout. No matter how hard I scrubbed the white would not go away. I asked my wife what type of primer she used, her classic response was, “what Menards told me to use.” Yes that was her response. After rephrasing the question she told me it was oil based primer. I messed my pants a little. This is why; unlike a water-based paint, commonly known as latex paint, oil based paints DO NOT clean up with soap and water. Oil based paints require paint thinner or mineral spirits to have any chance of cleaning up after a mess. The longer you let them dry, the harder it is to clean up, if they even clean up. I can see why the hardware store recommended an oil based primer. It does cover better, especially a glossy finish over a dark stain, which is what the rocking chair had. But the mess it leaves behind is not worth it. Latex based paints are easy to clean up, dry faster, and still look great if used properly. Reflecting back, I wish I would have spent 10 minutes helping my wife with her project. As it looks right now, her weekend project just earned me my own weekend home improvement project.

A small sample of white oil-based primer on a black sink and nickle brushed faucet.

.White primer on the faucet and black sink. This isn't coming up easily.

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