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There is no doubt that waterborne paints have improved greatly over the last few years, new environmental regulations have driven paint manufactures to produce waterborne products of a quality equal and arguably better than their tradition solvent based counterparts.

This post is my thoughts and reflections on advantages and disadvantages of both waterborne gloss and traditional oil and their associated undercoats.   

There are advantages and disadvantages with using either paint system, and it is only by understanding the benefits and limitations of each, that an informed decision on their use can be made.   The obvious difference between (waterborne) Quick Dry (Q/D) Gloss and (spirit based traditional) Oil Gloss is both practical and visually; in their differing drying times and the depth of shine in their respective dried finish, when I refer to ‘depth of shine’ I mean the glossiness or lustre and richness of the reflection which can be achieved within a paint film.   

Traditional Oil Gloss tends to have a much thicker (viscous) consistency than its Q/D equivalent which results in a deeper shine.    Q/D gloss does give a glossy appearance and in normal use the difference is so indistinguishable particularly with whites and light colours, however when applying darker colours the differences become more obvious.   There are some surfaces which benefit aesthetically form having a deeper fuller reflection, such as front doors and window sills and traditional oil gloss paint system will give you this look also there are other occasions when priorities other than the aesthetics may be more pressing, such as drying times and household security; do the windows and doors need to be shut and locked quickly, if so a Q/D waterborne paint system would be better.

Traditional gloss paints tend to yellow over time and I have yet to find one that does not.  Q/D waterborne gloss holds it whiteness for much longer, however it will discolour if impregnated by bleed through from preceding layers or substrate defects.

It is possible to mix the paint systems to accommodate particular circumstances, for instance surfaces can me primed and undercoated using quick dry waterborne products and then finished with a traditional oil gloss paint, although I would never recommend applying a Q/D gloss over traditional oil undercoat.   However I would always recommend following the manufactures instructions and using the correct products for your chosen paint systems.

Also it is important to realise a gloss finish is only as good as the effort you are willing to put into the surface preparation.   A glossy paint finish is always going highlight surface imperfections, so thorough preparation is essential, the use fine surfaces fillers and effective surface sanding it may be necessary to apply an extra layer of undercoat in some circumstances. Always inspect the surface to be glossed for a solid, uniformed appearance before you apply your final gloss coat and remember it is possible to apply a 2nd coat of gloss once the first layer has fully hardened to achieve a greater depth of shine.   

A waterborne gloss will be touch dry within 30 minutes where traditional solvent based glosses can take up to six hours depending on local conditions.