Terms of the Trade: Oil-Based Paint Vs. Latex-Based Paint

A can of white paint with a brush resting on top.

To begin, latex paint is also known as water-based paint. Oil-based paint is also known as…oil-based paint (are you more confused than when you started reading this?). Latex paint dries fast, is easy to clean and is better for the environment than oil-based—if you care about that sort of thing. Oil-based paint, which is made from both synthetic and natural oils, covers better, applies smoother and takes longer to dry than latex. It is also more difficult to clean and requires safe disposal at hazardous waste collectors. So, which can of paint should you pick up? That depends on your needs. Use oil-based paint for areas of the house that receive the most wear and tear, such as baseboards and doors. Latex paint can be used for walls, but may be best for a beginning painter regardless of the surface because of drying time and ease of cleanup.