Enamel vs Latex Paint

Picking between Enamel vs Latex Paint can be a little difficult if the user is not aware of the difference between the two types of paints and what they should be used for. Latex is a water-based paint that dries quickly compared to other paints while retaining its quality over time and produces less fumes than petroleum-based paints do which makes it ideal for households with pets or where children are present. Enamel, on the other hand, doesn’t have as many uses in home improvement projects as latex but can provide better coverage when it comes to exterior surfaces such as steel.

Paint is a liquid substance that decorates and protects the surfaces of any thing. The main difference between latex, enamel, and oil-based paints is that the most common paint, latex (or acrylic), is water-based while enamel paint is based on oil. While these types of paint are each used in different ways and usually applied to different surfaces, both latex and enamel paints fall into the general category of non-toxics as they don’t contain any toxic or harmful substances like lead which can affect our health adversely.

In this article, we’ll examine the features of both these paints and show you how they are different, as well as ways they may be similar.

Enamel paint

Enamel paint is typically a hard-surface paint. It’s used because it offers durability, lasting properties, and an easy to clean surface. You may refer to this type of paint as enamel no matter what the base formula is. If a person were to ask you what enamel is, you’d describe its characteristics and usage by saying it’s a strong but durable form of hard-surface wall coating that goes on thick, but dries slow for craftsmanship and longevity.

Enamel paints are baked onto ceramics, metal and glass using a high-temperature oven. After baking the paint will harden and form an opaque coating. Enamel paints were originally used more to coat things like tableware and pottery but were recently replaced with safer coatings like silicone. Pure enamels contain bound silica, and when this dried film is applied to steel or iron, it create a differential expansion that makes the enamel cracks in the heat of the kiln (or if it’s painted on at-home). Post World War II housewares manufacturers started selling enamels in bottles containing no lead or heavy metals so they became much safer for consumers to use than their original recipes made of powdered glass could have been.

Advantages of Enamel paint

  • The shiny and bright color of Enamel can help things last a long time. The coating that it creates prevents things like furniture, walls, and floors from breaking easily. These coatings have been used for decades on products designed to be in-home or out-doors which means they are not only gorgeous but sturdy.
  • Using oil-based and lacquer-based enamel paints, coating metal objects and metal appliances can provide protection from rusting or from water. The paint also serves as a protective barrier against the environment, making the object much more durable than before.
  • Paint is usually a no-no on grills and stovetops, but enamel paint is an exception. Unlike most paints, which burn off at high temperatures, enamel paint can withstand up to 600F degrees before burning off. This means one can safely use enamel paint on stoves and grills without worry of it burning away all while achieving a glossy sheen, too!
  • Being water-proof, the enamels used for making the appliances cannot be easily removed by getting them wet. This is beneficial because if you drop food, there’s nowhere for it to get stuck and the dirt can easily be cleaned off with a simple rinse of water and soap.


  • The mildew-like smell of oil-based paints, which come from the enamel can produce fumes that can irritate the respiratory system and possibly even lead to long-term health problems like asthma and cancer. Try to open up a window or two if you’re working in a closed room as you let your wet paint dry.
  • Another important thing to remember if you’ve opted for spray paint over regular enamel paint is that the ingredients which make it flammable are also what allow it to evaporate and dry quickly. So taking a step back, therefore, is advisable before carrying on with your project especially if the paint you’re using is sprayed can variety. The presence of fire or sparks should be avoided at all costs because it could potentially lead to an explosion, so take any precautionary measures (’til everything’s in place) as needed!
  • It feels like a really durable and scratch resistant shell, but still, it’s not quite as hard as other types of shells out there. It is prone to scratching if something sharp strikes it, which is why you need to make sure that sharp things are far away from your phone case at all times.

Latex Paint

Latex is a water-based paint. It dries fast like oil paint, but it’s much more malleable than lead-based options perfect for surfaces that need flexibility or locations with frequent movement. These are generally the most common paints used in modern interior decorating since they clean up very easily and don’t require as much preparation of the surface like lead-based paints do ( you can use them on wood floors, carpets, and walls without the need for primer). They’ve also become environmentally friendly products because they produce fewer odors and toxic fumes than oil paints used to in the past.

When using latex paint you might assume that it contains rubber, but this is not the case! Unlike acrylic paint which uses rubber in its formula, latex paint has no rubber or other form of natural rubber in its ingredients. Specifically, this term comes from the chemicals and ingredients used to create a certain type of paint where the word “latex” was first used as an acronym for “liquid against termite”. You’ll see this word on any interior or exterior paints that present a prefabricated solution – a fabric blended into the paint’s makeup so as to make it malleable and one that can be easily altered or changed.

Advantages of Latex paint

  • Latex, which is a natural substance and does not contain many harmful toxic chemicals like some other paint, it has a very light pleasant odor whereas other paints such as acrylic can emit harmful noxious fumes.
  • Latex paint is usually half the price of enamel because it’s a lot more common. Enamel paint is generally twice the price of latex paint, so getting more for your buck makes it a great long-term investment. For example: imagine painting your house if you had the choice between using latex or enamel. It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?
  • Another great benefit of latex is that it dries to the touch much quicker than enamel. Some latex paint can dry in an hour or less after painting, which is great on walls because it means you can do multiple coats sooner than later.
  • While enamel has a shell-like glossy appearance, latex can come in varying appearances depending on the surface you choose. matte, satin, and eggshell all have a glossy enamel appearance for example. What’s nice about latex is that it offers more flexibility than enamel does with other surface options and is more appropriate for projects that don’t need as much glossiness but still want to be able to color them.


  • It’s not waterproof and relatively, it’s easily vulnerable to changes in temperature. It can also be prone to chipping and cracking even after drying it. It generally isn’t suitable for hard applications and is less durable under certain circumstances such as sudden weather conditions.
  • Latex is not heat resistant. If a latex paint gets hot enough, it will eventually begin to peel at these high temperatures and start to bubble up. You wouldn’t want this sort of thing happening on your stove if you were planning on painting the bottom of the pan or even worse – the barbecue grill! If you wanted something that was more heat-resistant, then we recommend taking a look at different paints that are more durable such as those made with enamel.

Difference between Enamel vs Latex Paint

Let’s talk a bit about Enamel vs Latex Paint, and what their base material is made of. The most popular base material for paints comes in two forms: emulsions and solvents. Water-borne (latex) paint and solvent-borne enamel are considered the two main broad categories in the industry. Each type differs fundamentally from the other, however both have unique properties that make them suitable for application in specific settings or environments. Enamel is water-soluble with a glossy finish while latex paint dries to a shinier matte-style sheen. We will now look at each one individually for a better understanding.


Different surfaces require different types of paint in order to achieve a desired look. For example, glossy paints designed for hardwood floors work best on this type of surface. On the other hand, matte paints are ideal if you want to make an artistic statement with your paint job. In addition, flat paints can be used as a replacement for latex or vinyl flooring upgrades that often come with an eggshell finish. Of course, choosing the right finish isn’t easy and is usually done over time but it’s important do to so in order to keep things looking great throughout their life span!

Both paint types come with a satin finish option but that’s also where their similarities begin to diverge. Enamel paints, having been around for a lot longer than acrylics, are renowned for the durability that they possess thanks primarily to the high content of plastic resins used in their production. When it comes to finishes, enamels typically produce long-lasting and smooth results due to this build-up of resins. It is common practice however when painting large areas (like trim or cabinets), particularly those around windows or doors due to the amount of natural light that shines through them and affects their appearance, for people (and their pets!) to use acrylic paints as they tend not to yellow with age like enamels do.


The longevity of paint varies in different conditions. For example, latex paint is better suited to temperature changes and pressure since it’s not as thick. On the other hand, enamel paints are better at withstanding intense weather and exterior uses because they are generally thicker.

Drying time

Paint drying times are very important to getting your paint job done correctly, specifically in a timely manner. This means that it’s best to apply your paint job right away and as evenly as possible. Different types of paint require different drying times, which vary largely depending on the type of paint applied and environmental conditions:

Enamel and oil-based paints both have their merits. Enamel takes longer to dry, but it produces a super high-quality finish due to the energy it takes in digesting the paint’s oils. Because of this extended drying period, you can manipulate the paint for a longer duration of time, producing a thick and even coat that lasts because of its oil base.

When painting with enamel, you should let two hours to dry between coats. However for latex paints, you’ll be much more fortunate if you simply wait only a couple of hours between each one. As far as water based paints are concerned, waiting only a couple of hours before you apply another layer will disguise any brush streaks that may have ended up showing in the last coat. Make sure not to forget any steps and always cover your windows (and anywhere else paint could end up splatter) with plastic sheeting or something similar to avoid ruining the exterior of your house with unwanted stipples.

Cure time

Latex paint can usually be painted over after a few days but in order to ensure it has fully dried, you should wait around 14 days. The paint can be washed or otherwise chemically treated once fully cured though, so don’t worry too much about having to avoid cleaning the walls for a couple of weeks if you’re painting them with latex paint. You will want to make sure any enamel paints are completely dry within 8-24 hours of covering the walls, however: unlike latex paints, enamels aren’t very elastic and get damaged if left wet for long.


The paint fumes emitted by the two different materials are not just irritants, they’re also carcinogens. Ensure good ventilation while working with latex and/or enamel to avoid developing respiratory problems. Also, make sure you have an exhaust fan set to filter out any extra paint vapor in your workspace’s air before it eventually goes back into your living space.

However, enamel paints tend to smell worse than latex. Unlike latex paints which employ VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as well, these enamel paints use solvents that are even more pungent and could be hazardous if you are exposed to them in high concentrations. If a sufficient enough amount of these solvent-based substances are used then they could lead to a number of serious health-related issues over time – including damage to both the respiratory and neurological systems.

Depending on both the brand and the manufacturer, zero VOC paint can be purchased. Low VOC paint is also a possibility. Both of these types of products are less toxic to consumers who already have health issues such as allergies or respiratory complaints and they’re safer for children. But the positives don’t stop there! The majority of brands tell us that zero VOC paints save you money in the long run because they’re easier to clean up while they’ll make your home feel fresher and cleaner than ever before!


Most experts in the modeling and model business agree that using a latex paint for painting a model tends to be more affordable. You’re also more likely to find models painted using latex paints over enamels because it comes out of the tube as well as is applied to your model much more smoothly than its counterpart. If you decide latex painting is for you, make sure you have plenty of time for application especially if you’re new to the world of latex-painted models!

You can save money when choosing low VOC paints, which are more environmentally friendly than other types of paint. Since there’s no need to purchase thinners or solvents and you only need soap and water to clean up, the supplies are cheap as well as good for you.

What surface you can paint with enamel paint?

Enamel paint is a versatile substance suitable for all types of surfaces such as those exposed to temperature fluctuations and adverse weather conditions. Enamel paint, like other kinds of paints, can have varying uses including those for your bathroom, kitchen, trims, doors and windows. The reason why enamels are so popular in these areas is because they provide excellent protection against wear and tear over time and also provide a long-lasting coating.

Enamel paint is a popular choice among artisans as it helps to create a smooth finish while not leaving brush marks behind. This is because enamel can dry quickly, giving you the opportunity to finish your work faster than you normally would. When you turn your artwork and craftwork into a money-making fundraiser, more people will want to buy what you have on offer because of how effortlessly appealing and elegant they look.

What surface you can paint with latex paint?

Latex paint is indeed best used on concrete walls. It’s especially frustrating to think about the pitfalls of applying latex paint on metal surfaces. After all, water-based paint (latex) will only lead to rust on metal surfaces. Don’t let the negative side of latex paint discourage you from using this type of paint. If you’re going to be painting drywall, stucco and plaster – latex paint is really your best choice because it does at least adhere even with difficult surfaces.

Can you paint latex over enamel?

When painting over enamel, you can use either water-based paint or latex. However, you might want to take some time to prep the surface first. Enamel can be difficult to paint over if it hasn’t been properly sanded and prepped first. If you choose to use latex first on a surface that has enamel present, make sure it’s prepped as well otherwise it is likely that the paint won’t adhere as easily – peeling off or cracking in the end result. You should have an easier time by using water-based enamel since when it dries it won’t peel or flake as easily which will mean cutting down on having to go back and touch up spots that had chipped off due to improper preparation in the first place!

Conclusion: Enamel vs Latex Paint

Enamel vs Latex Paint are fairly similar in their chemical composition, but the main difference between them lies in the malleability of latex. This means that latex paint can be spread on surfaces more smoothly and effectively than ordinary enamel. Of course, you might wonder how it’s possible for the same ingredient to be malleable or durable at all. The answer is simple: we are actually referring to two different types of ingredients with different properties when we talk about “latex” versus “enamel” paint. When we use these names, we will also opt for either a latex or an enamel paint option respectively – depending on what additional characteristics we need out of our coating.

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