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 (See also: What Kind Of Paint Is Used In Hydro Dipping?).

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.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Testors 9146XT Promotional Enamel Paint Set( Packaging may vary)
  • Ideal for use on wood, plastic and paper
  • Enamel-based paints add vibrant color that is durable and long lasting
  • Comes with one bottle of paint thinner which can be added to enamels for use in airbrushing
  • Features a range of shades and finishes appropriate for wide range of projects
  • Set includes: eight 1/4 fl. oz. paint bottles (Gloss Yellow, Red, Dark Blue, Green, Black, White, Gold, Silver); one 1/4 fl. oz. paint thinner bottle; paint brush; tray
Bestseller No. 2
FolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft Set Designed for Beginners and Artists, Non-Toxic Formula Perfect for Glass and Ceramic Painting, , 32 Ounce, 16 Count (Pack of 1)
  • CONVENIENT SIZE - This enamel acrylic paint set includes 16 - 2 oz bottles of enamel craft paint. The colors in this paint set include: Wicker White, Yellow Light, Pure Orange, Parisian Pink, Lipstick Red, Perfect Purple, True Blue, Calypso Sky, Turquoise, Lime Green, Evergreen, Coffee Bean, Burnt Umber, Licorice, Silver Sterling, and Gold
  • BRILLIANT GLOSS FINISH - When dry, this enamel acrylic paint has a durable, scratch resistant, gloss finish. To cure, oven bake on the top-shelf. Once cured this formula is dishwasher safe
  • CREATE BEAUTIFUL GLASS PROJECTS - Use this unique enamel formula on all your glass and ceramic projects for a stunning handmade touch to your space
  • SIMPLE CLEAN UP - Clean up is easy! Simply clean up while wet with soap and water
  • AMERICAN MADE, TRUSTED BRAND - FolkArt is proudly made in the USA
SaleBestseller No. 3
Rust-Oleum 7786502 Protective Enamel Paint Stops Rust, 32-Ounce, Gloss Smoke Gray, 1 Quarts (Pack of 1)
  • Weather and corrosion resistant coating protects exterior/interior surfaces like wood, metal, concrete, masonry and more
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention
  • Dries to the touch in 2-4 hours and covers up to 90 sq. ft.
  • Excellent resistance to abrasion, fading and chipping
  • Glossy finish provides a fresh shine to surfaces
SaleBestseller No. 4
Testors Enamel Paint Set, 9115X, Gloss
  • Excellent for use on almost any surface imaginable: wood, leather, plastic, metal, ceramic, paper, canvas, corrugate, bisque and a whole lot more
  • Solvent-based paints are extremely durable for any indoor or outdoor project
  • Dries to the touch in 5 minutes; cures in 48 hours
  • Each bottle of enamel is 1/4 fluid ounces
  • 6 colors, 1 thinner, 1 paint brush and tray included for a great start to any project
Bestseller No. 5
Testors Acrylic Value Finishing Paint Set - 9196T,Multicolor
  • Ideal for use on wood plastic paper metal canvas plaster and more
  • Water-based paint is non-toxic fast drying and cleans up easily with soap and water
  • Can be both brushed and airbrushed onto surfaces
  • Age appropriate for younger crafters hobbyists and scouts
  • Set includes nine 1/4 fl oz paint bottles (Red Black Gold Silver Gloss Blue Gloss Orange Gloss Green Gloss White Gloss Yellow) paint brush

Latex vs Enamel Paint

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.

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API