Enamel vs Latex Paint (Pros, Cons, Differences)

Embarking on any painting project may seem daunting if you have little or no understanding of the different types of paint and what conditions or surfaces they are perfectly suited for.

There are two primary paint types in the market today: latex and enamel paints.

Before you begin any work, you need to make an educated decision concerning the best paint type for your project.

For that reason, you must understand a few key distinctions between enamel and latex paints.

I have done extensive study on the subject to provide you with the key distinctions that make latex and enamel paint different.

Before we get to the differences between the two paint types, you need to understand what they are and the benefits of using either of them.

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Enamel vs. Latex Paints

Enamel Paints

The phrase ‘enamel paints’ is usually used to describe oil-based paints.

There is no enamel in the paint, but the term is used to explain the hard, glossy finish once the painting project is over.

These enamel paints are majorly used for outdoor paint jobs. Here are some key benefits of using enamel paints.

  • Easy application
  • Durability
  • A wide range of colours

Latex Paints

On the other hand, the phrase ‘latex paints,’ also known as acrylic paints, refers to water-based paints.

However, it is important to note that there is no actual ‘latex’ in the paint.

The word is used to describe the properties of the paint product: malleability and versatility.

These are some of the benefits of latex paints…

  • Non-flammable
  • Dries up faster
  • Cleans up with water
  • No cracking or peeling once the paint dries

The Primary Differences between Latex and Enamel Paints

These are the key distinctions between enamel and latex paints.

Paint Base

The paint base is the primary difference between latex and enamel paints.

As mentioned earlier, latex paint is water-based, while its enamel counterparts are oil-based.


Latex paints have a less pungent odour than their enamel counterparts.

As such, it is advisable to reserve enamel paints for smaller projects such as painting doors and windows.

On the other hand, latex paints are well suited for bigger projects such as painting your interior walls.


Another critical difference between latex and enamel paints is durability. Enamel paints are generally durable of the two options.

However, their latex counterparts can be pretty durable under appropriate conditions.

As they are designed to dry harder, these enamel paints are better suited for outdoor environments, where the conditions often fluctuate.

Drying Times

As they are oil-based, enamel paints have a longer drying time compared to their latex counterparts.

However, these enamel paints offer a smoother and long-lasting finish once it dries.

As latex paints take a shorter time to dry, you need to lay the paint quickly and leave it to level to get a smooth brush-free finish.

Before you start your painting project, you need to decide what paint type is well suited for the job.

Enamel paints are well suited for outdoor environments, while their latex counterparts go well with interiors, where there are no harsh conditions.

The primary differences between the two paint types are paint base, durability and odour.