Since 1st January 2010, oil based paints have had to be 'VOC2010 compliant'. Simply put, this means the manufacturers have been forced to cut the solvent content of their paints, in order to bring them into line with EU directives relative to atmospheric pollution. Namely turps and white spirit. One of the side effects of this solvent reduction, was white oil based paints such as gloss, satin and eggshell prematurely discoloured from their original white; sometimes in an extremely short space of time. This effect was accelerated by the absence or reduction of natural daylight, a common feature of certain rooms. There were also other side effect of VOC2010, particularly extended drying and re-coat times which could be up to 2 days in certain cases, and an increased sheen level of undercoat, satin and eggshell was observed by many.
What can you do?
Manufacturers have paid out large sums of compensation to many customers affected by this issue, but be assured that these manufacturers will not be paying any more, as their tins and websites now display disclaimers suggesting water-based alternatives 'where yellowing may occur'. So the answer to this problem is a water-based one. Many water-based alternatives have now been introduced alongside the older oil based paints, and do not suffer from the yellowing effects or protracted drying and re-coat times. So problem solved then you may think. Well yes and no ................ read on.
Water-based and waterborne paints are the solution to yellowing, but perhaps not the solution you may hope or expect them to be. For though they solve the yellowing issue very well, they bring a few issues and quirks of their own. They are not simply water-based versions of the paints we were all used to, as they feel and behave quite differently. There are a few do's and dont's with these paints that you need to be aware of, and the learning curve with them is a bit steeper than with oil. They do take a little getting used to, and so it's not just a case of buying a different tin of paint. This is after all, an issue the trade itself is still wrestling with, with a lot of professional decorators reluctant to make the switch to water-based paints.
There are certain important things to remember when using a water-based paint.
- Use a synthetic brush. Older bristle brushes are utterly useless with water-based paints. Invest in something decent; my choices would be Wooster Silvertip, Proform Contractor and Proform Picasso. The Purdy Monarch Elites are good all rounders, but will take acrylic trim paints in their stride.
- As they don't flow quite the same as oil-based paints, you need to get surfaces better prepared, clean and smooth.
- A bottle of methylated spirits to clean the surface prior to painting will promote adhesion, by getting rid of grease on doors etc.
- Bridging primers. Adhesion is extremely important over old oil paint when going over to water-based, so using a high grip primer as a base for the new water-based paint will pay dividends later on.
- Room temperature. Keep the heating off during application. As water-based paint sets quicker than oil, the lower temperature of the room keeps it workable for longer.
- Water-based paints requires an extra coat or two. It doesn't have the same body as oil, so don't even try as it's just the nature of this paint.
- Get a decent TRADE paint in the first instance. I won't labour this point with brands, as a search of the forum will return many relevant posts, but don't be tempted to go for cheap retail paint from B&Q/Homebase as it has shocking opacity and will require many, many to cover. Just trust me on this one.
These are from within the forum itself and should help clarify some of the above, within the context of other peoples situations. Check the dates of these threads, as some are from a while ago. Water-based technology moves quickly, and best to stay current and up to date. These are simply for reference.
There is a vast amount of information regarding the different types, brands, techniques and opinions of peoples experiences with water-based paints on this very forum, but remember one thing. Oil-based paints are having no R&D done, which would indicate that water-based paints will replace oil at some point, perhaps in the very near future, and with a new round of VOC regulations (VOC2015) imminent, water-based looks here to stay, but be assured that with every new generation of these paints, they will become more effective.
So understand and be aware that water-based paints are not a 'magic bullet' solution, as in common with oil-based paints, all have foibles, quirks and little wrinkles that need to be understood to get maximum results from them. However, neither are they a cop-out nor a compromise, as with a correct understanding of the application process and the paints themselves, very high quality results on a par with oil can be achieved. They are a genuine, and IMHO better alternative to the oil-based paints they will eventually replace, as they have none of the formers shortcomings, but have so many of their own benefits and advantages. Low odour, faster re-coating, rooms occupied the same day, harder wearing, less environmental impact..................and they don't yellow. Water-based, waterborne, acrylic - call it what you will, but these paints are the future.