Water-based Paints - Advantages and Disadvantages


In a world that needs to reduce its environmental impact and adopt sustainable manufacturing practices, water-based paints are becoming the new standard. They're less hazardous than solvent-based coatings and offer several other benefits too.

Historically, solvent-based products have out-performed water-based, but technology has moved on, and there are plenty of high-performing alternatives on the market such at Sayerlack.

Why the move to water-based paints is so important?

In the last 20 years, government regulators have recognised the need to reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being emitted into the atmosphere. These substances, which are present in high levels in solvent-based coatings, are toxic to human health and the environment. Paint manufacturers are now regulated on the VOC contents of their products, and decorative and refinishing industries are regulated on the amount of VOCs that they consume and emit. Solvent-based paints can no longer be the bread and butter of the coatings industry.

What is Water-based Paint

A water-based coating uses water as the liquifying agent instead of chemical solvents, so it emits fewer VOCs.

Using water-based paints brings benefits that go beyond complying with regulations:

  • They're low odour, so they're safer and more comfortable to work with.
  • They're less flammable when working in confined spaces.
  • You're less likely to exceed VOC limits and receive hefty fines.
  • They're not a hazardous waste product, so you'll cut your disposal fees.

Need further information on water based paints? view our full video here:

What else is good about water-based paints?

  • Clean-up is quick, and you don't need to use solvents - just wash your tools and equipment with water.
  • You won't need to use additives, hardeners or thinners.
  • They have excellent adhesion.
  • They have better colour-retention than solvent-based paints.

Disadvantages of Water-based Paints

  • Solvent based paints are more tolerant of adverse weather conditions during the curing process. Water-based paints take longer to dry in high humidity and lower temperatures.
  • Solvent-based gloss finishes have a higher sheen, but water-based keeps its sheen better throughout its lifetime.
  • The finish is tougher and easier to clean but can become brittle with age.


Aquimax 1

water based paint vs solvent

Ultrimax Aquimax - Water Based Paint



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View Sayerlack Water Based Topcoat - AT99


Water Based Paints FAQ's

Are all water based paints low VOC?

Not all water-based paints are low in VOCs, but the VOC 'count' is as low as possible. Which means fewer irritants and fewer irritations for you. Making decorating less harmful for both you and the environment. Compared to solvent based paints the VOC reduction is considerable.


How Long are water based fumes harmful?

Water based paints have far fewer VOC's but they still have some. Therefore although far less than solvent paints water based paint fumes can be considered safe after 2-3 days maximum.


Is water based paint regulated?

No, water based is not graded as harmful or hazardous in the same way that solvent based paints are and is therefore not regulated in the same way.


What are the dis-advantages of water based paints?

Initially on launch water based took longer to dry than solvent based paints especially in high humidity and lower temperatures. As water based technology is increasing this drying gap has been reduced to virtually the same as solvents and water based paints do es have the advantage of retaining sheen throughout its lifetime.


Can you put a water based topcoat on top of an oil based primer?

No, Never, Absolutely not even once. The golden rule painters never break is that oil and water do not mix. Placing a water based topcoat on top of an oil based primer will result in peeling, and delaminating paint very quickly.



Need More Help Selecting Water Based & Solvent Based Paints?

If you can’t find a fix for the issue you’re experiencing or you need more advice, drop us a line and we’ll get your paint job on track.


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