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Everything You Need to Know About Alkyd Paint

Machine mixing yellow paint

The most basic kind of paint that you encounter is latex paint. Sometimes, you might encounter acrylic paint, especially if you’re looking at art supplies. They account for most home painting projects, interior or exterior. However, an older form of paint is alkyd paint. It’s commonly known as an oil-based paint, but it doesn’t actually contain oil.

How Paint is Constructed

Paint is typically made of three components: the thinner, the binder, and the pigment. In a latex house paint, the thinner is water, the binder is latex, and the pigment is acrylic. In an acrylic paint, the binder and thinner are chemicals. The reason alkyd paint is often called oil-based paint is because it also uses chemical binders and thinners. They’re different than acrylics though.

Alkyd paints typically have thinners made from either alcohol or mineral spirits. The thinner governs how much the paint flows and how quickly it dries. The binder helps the paint adhere to a surface. In an alkyd paint, the binder is typically a synthetic resin.

The Use of Alkyd Paint

Because the binder in an alkyd paint is a strong resin, it is very resistant to damage. Therefore, many people use them in high traffic areas of their homes such as hallways. The resin binder is also resistant to moisture; therefore, it is a good paint for use in the kitchen or bathroom. People with children often like alkyd paints in areas where the children will be playing. Latex paint isn’t quite as durable as many types of alkyd paint. Furthermore, alkyd paint retains its sheen for much longer than other types of paint.

Due to the strong adherence of the resin binder, you can actually apply alkyd paint over a latex paint. You can also apply it over unfinished wood. If you want to paint an area without as much preparation or without stripping the old paint, alkyd paint is your best option.


When considering alkyd paint, you should be aware of a few drawbacks. Namely, alkyd paint is more toxic for the environment than water-based paints. Also, alkyd paints are more likely to spatter than latex or true oil paints. Therefore, you need to be more careful when you are applying the paint. Also, make sure you tape or cover with drop cloths anything you don’t want to get painted.

Alkyd paint is not the best paint for every application, but when it’s appropriate, it’s one of the best options.

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