Latex Vs Enamel Paint: What Are The Differences?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Which paint to choose for a project? Weighing up the differences between latex and enamel paints is key. Each type has its pros and cons. Latex dries faster than Enamel but needs more frequent reapplication. Enamel is tougher. However, it takes longer to dry. Read on to learn the details so you can make an informed choice.

Properties of Latex Paint

Latex Paint
Latex paint

Latex paint is a water-based one, not like Enamel which is oil-based. Latex paint is the most common type due to its affordability and many properties. It is also more eco-friendly because of its water-based ingredients.

Let’s examine some main properties of Latex paint:


Latex paint has improved coverage. It is water-soluble and fast-drying. And it is flexible enough for many surfaces.

Oil-based enamel paint is harder when dry. It offers better coverage than other finishes. It also protects against rust, chipping and fading. Plus, its glossy finish looks great inside or out.


Latex paints are renowned for their great durability. They handle moisture and heat better than Enamel. Latex also keeps its color longer than Enamel. So, latex is the best pick if you want a long-lasting paint finish. Plus, the right care and application will last even longer on surfaces such as cabinets and trim.


A latex-based paint has an advantage: it is water-soluble and flexible. This flexibility lets it move with the building material. It expands or contracts as the weather changes, preventing arching or buckling caused by humidity or temperature. Latex paints don’t blister or peel away like oil-based paints when subject to extreme temperature changes over short periods.

However, enamel-based paints have little flexibility and tend to crack in cold temperatures and shrink in hot temperatures. This can damage exterior surfaces.

VOC Content

Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are a class of chemicals. They evaporate at room temperature. They can be bad for health. The EPA regulates the type and amount of VOCs in paint. For example, latex paint has less than 50 grams/liter VOCs, while Enamel paint has 150-300 grams/liter VOCs.

Now, low-VOC and zero-VOC paints are available for inside and outside use.

Properties of Enamel Paint

Latex Paint-02
Latex paint-02

Enamel paint is a fav for home DIY-ers! It’s versatile and gives a glossy finish. Plus, it’s resistant to water and humidity. Wiping it off is easy too! It can be used on many surfaces and has lots of great qualities. Let’s check out some of its properties:

  • Resistant to water and humidity
  • It gives a glossy finish
  • Easy to wipe off
  • Versatile – can be used on many surfaces


Latex paints are thin, usually 0.2 to 0.5 mm. But enamel paints have better coverage! They can cover up to 400 sq ft per gallon, compared to 200-300 for latex. Enamel paints have better hiding power because of their ingredients. Pigments are more colorfast, and the resins create a layer that sticks better and provides great coverage.


Enamel paint is renowned for its resilience and outstanding quality. It’s far more durable than latex paint, making it ideal for areas subject to everyday wear and tear. Its thick consistency and top-grade resins create a strong bond with the surface, providing remarkable hardness and durability. This close connection improves resistance to UV rays, impacts, and scratches.

Enamel paint lasts longer than latex and can maintain its original shine with minimal retouches or upkeep.


Enamel paint dries to form a hard, tough surface. It’s much more durable than oil-based or latex paints. It’s highly water-resistant and can withstand washing and cleaning better. Plus, it’s flexible so that it won’t crack or flake.

Enamel paint is perfect for high-traffic surfaces. It’s great for railings, kitchen cabinets and other surfaces that may get scratched. It’s also ideal for ceilings over common corridors with much foot traffic.

VOC Content

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that vaporize or become gases easily. These VOCs can cause several issues, like making breathing difficult and damaging furniture and surfaces.

When using paints for home projects, knowing the differences in VOC content is important. To choose a paint that fits the project best.

Latex paints usually contain lower VOC content than enamel paints. They varied between 50 and 100 grams per liter. Enamel paints contain higher levels of VOCs due to their solvent-based components. These levels can be as high as 250 grams per liter! It is important to check labels when purchasing paint. Even with latex or water-based products, some VOC content is expected.

The VOC content in enamel paints can hurt the environment and indoor air quality as these chemicals emit into the atmosphere when used. Lowering the environmental impact of painting projects is an important goal for homeowners. This can be achieved through a careful selection of resources and products when choosing Enamel paint for home projects:

  • Check labels for VOC content.
  • Choose lower VOC content paints if possible.
  • Ensure proper ventilation during painting projects.
  • Consider using zero-VOC paints.

Comparison of Latex and Enamel Paint

Latex Paint-03
Latex paint-03

Choosing paint can be tricky! Latex and Enamel both have amazing qualities. Let’s look at the differences so that you can make an informed decision. We’ll contrast the two types and explain why one might be better for your project.


When selecting paint, coverage is key. Latex paint offers good coverage and is quicker and simpler to apply than Enamel. It also has less odor and is simpler to clean up. It has little or no sheen when dry, making it an ideal choice for interior walls. Also, latex paint is more flexible, making it easy to cover minor surface damage. However, porous surfaces like brick or concrete require multiple coats for adequate coverage.

Enamel paints provide superior resistance to abrasion and water damage. Due to its slow drying time and viscosity, it requires more skill and prep during application. Enamel paints come with a glossy finish, enhancing the look of any surface. Plus, it lasts longer due to its superior adhesion and hardness – making it one of the best outdoor coating solutions.


Durability is a must for paint projects. Your choice of latex or enamel paint depends on the project’s requirements. Generally, enamel paints are stronger than latex paints. Enamel paints have more solids and better stick to surfaces, protecting them from wear and weather. Plus, their glossy finish makes cleaning off dirt and dust easy.

Latex paints give a high-quality, durable finish, but not as much as Enamel. Temperature changes can damage the flexibility of latex paint which may require regular repainting.


Latex and enamel paints differ in flexibility. Latex is more flexible and can stretch when walls shift or weather changes. Plus, it requires fewer coats than Enamel. Enamel is known for being more durable and resistant to fading, chipping, etc. To get the same level of protection, you may need to use a primer before applying Enamel.

The choice between these two depends on your needs. The cost and time saved with latex or the protection provided by Enamel should be weighed when deciding.

Enamel Paint
Enamel paint

VOC Content

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases that come from certain solids and liquids. Some VOCs can be harmful to health, like formaldehyde and benzene. The lower the VOC content, the better for your health.

Latex paints have much lower VOC than enamel paints. The Environmental Protection Agency says most latex paints have between 50 and 100g/L of VOCs. Enamels are higher, often over 400g/L. However, some premium exterior enamels have low-VOC formulas with 50g/L or less. Check labels before you buy. For a healthier home, use low- or zero-VOC finishes.


Latex and enamel paint both have pros and cons. Applying latex is simpler; it’s flexible, cheaper and easy to clean. Enamel gives greater adhesion and durability in high-wear spots and better resistance. The paint you use depends on the surface and desired effect.

Think about both options for your next project or home improvement. That way, you’ll get great results and stay within budget!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of latex paint over Enamel paint?

Latex paint dries faster, has a lower odor, is easier to clean up with soap and water, and is more environmentally friendly than enamel paint.

What are the advantages of Enamel paint over latex paint?

Enamel paint is more durable, has a harder finish, is better at hiding surface imperfections, has a higher gloss level, and is more resistant to damage and staining than latex paint.

What types of surfaces are suitable for latex paint?

Latex paint suits porous surfaces like wood, drywall, and plaster. It is also effective for moist surfaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

What types of surfaces are suitable for Enamel paint?

Enamel paint suits non-porous surfaces like metal, glass, and ceramic. It is also an excellent choice for high-traffic areas that require a durable finish, such as doors and trim.

Can enamel and latex paints be used together?

It is not recommended to mix latex and enamel paints as the properties of each type of paint differ significantly.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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