Emulsion paint and latex paint: where is the difference?

The general term emulsion paints is particularly often used as a synonym for the typical wall paint from the hardware store, although other paints fall under this name. Latex paints are basically also emulsion paints with very special properties. Below we get to the bottom of the facts and details.

What are emulsion paints?

The word "dispersion" derives from Latin, while dispersio means "dispersion." Finely divided particles in a solvent are characteristic for this type of color, in that quite a lot of paints and wall coatings fall into this category.

In the narrower sense, we refer to the typical modern wall colors as emulsion paints, they have very special properties that are very useful for our purposes:

  • viscous consistency for easy handling
  • Solvent-free, since it is mixed with water
  • relatively odorless
  • dilutable
  • waterproof drying
  • with high-quality colors: high opacity
  • thick layer order
  • Tintable at will
  • long shelf life with proper storage

These emulsion paints contain plastic binders obtained from mineral oils, the normal wall paint being acrylic. Latex paints, however, are often treated with polyvinyl acetate.

What makes the latex paint different from the emulsion paint?

Latex paints today form a sub-category of emulsion paints, in former times they included natural rubber, today dispersed plastic. In the application, the special properties are striking:

It creates scrub-resistant, washable surfaces with a shiny character. Nevertheless, the walls remain breathable to a degree. When painting, you will notice that the latex paint has a more fluid consistency than the usual wall paint.

Latex paints are often used on heavily used surfaces; they have proven particularly effective on robust and easy-to-adhere glass fiber wallpapers. These areas benefit, for example, from the particular paint:

  • stairways
  • corridors
  • kitchens
  • public premises

Tips & Tricks

If you want to coat a latex paint with a normal emulsion paint, it is best to roughen the glossy surface first with sandpaper. On the other hand, there is no need for special preparation.

Video Board: Oil Paint vs. Latex Paint | House Painting