Enamel vs Latex Paint: Which One is Right for Your Project?

As part of any painting project, there are many factors to keep in mind when planning and undertaking one – including how much paint to purchase, prepping your surface for painting, drying time and multiple coats, etc. But one key aspect that often goes overlooked when selecting enamel or latex paint may be choosing between enamel or latex; depending on what surface and other considerations come into play when making this choice; before making your final choice make an informed choice by researching both options based on their specific uses. With proper research and knowledge, your painting project can become a success by selecting the appropriate type of paint!

latex enamel paint, enamel paint vs latex

Main Difference of Enamel vs Latex Paint

The main difference between enamel paint and latex paint lies in their respective bases; enamel uses oil-based while latex uses water-based. Enamel (known as hard surface paints) dry slowly but produce hard finishes, while latex or water-based paints dry faster and are more flexible, making them suitable for surfaces which expand or require flexibility. Knowing chemical composition of each paint type is crucial when selecting the best product for any particular task; other considerations include:


Deciding on a paint finish helps when choosing paint for your project. Latex offers eggshell, matte, or flat finishes, durable for high-traffic areas such as kitchen cabinets or trim. Satin finishes are available in both latex and enamel paints. On the other hand, enamel dries quickly to a hard, glossy surface, less prone to staining, with satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss options, often providing smoother, long-lasting finishes compared to latex. Enamel produces hard, glossy surfaces that stain less and offer longer-lasting smooth finishes than rapidly drying latex.

Interior vs. Exterior Use

Latex paint, known for its modern, sleek flat or eggshell finish, has grown increasingly popular over time, especially for interior walls and ceilings in homes. Due to its flexibility, durability, water resistance, and easy cleanup capabilities, latex paint makes an excellent choice for many indoor projects. However, its slight flexibility, even when fully dried, can render it unsuitable for use outdoors in warmer climates.

Enamel paint features a hard and glossy surface that may seem outdated over large indoor areas but is ideal for outdoor use, withstanding the elements. Although oil-based or enamel paint may fade and yellow with time, using neutral or earth-tone colors such as beige, tan, or taupe may extend its lifespan and prevent discoloration over time. When selecting latex vs. enamel paints for any project’s intended use and location, latex and enamel products should always be preferred over each other.

Paint Fumes

Exposure to high levels of paint fumes can cause lightheadedness, headaches, eye irritation, and breathing difficulties, regardless of the type of paint used. Low-odor latex is usually best for larger projects like walls due to its mild scent, while oil-based enamel has a stronger scent and should only be used for smaller or outdoor jobs. In any event, proper ventilation must be maintained when painting to allow adequate airflow. Doors and windows must remain open during each painting session for this purpose.


Enhance your painted project’s final appearance by using paint additives, extenders, or conditioners. These additives can slightly thin down paint application, extend drying times, and provide a smooth surface finish. Penetrol is well-known for latex-based paints, while Floetrol is preferred for oil-based ones.

Drying Times

Acquiring a seamless, brush mark-free finish requires applying thick, even coats of paint in an even manner. Latex dries faster so should be applied quickly and levelled off after application; enamel paint takes longer but creates superior finishes by penetrating into surfaces being painted, allowing longer manipulation periods when applying an even thick coat of enamel paint.

Clean up

Latex paints can be easily cleaned up using only water and rag, while enamel ones need specific cleaner such as below to effectively clear away accidental splashes of color from surfaces or brushes.

enamel versus latex paint, enamel vs latex paint

Enamel Paints

What is Enamel Paints?

Applying enamel paint can be as easy as 1, 2 , 3. Enamel paints are oil-based paints that have been modified to have a glossy or semi-glossy finish. These paints are durable and provide excellent adhesion, making them suitable for use on metal, wood, and ceramics. Enamel paints also offer good resistance to wear, stains, and water, which makes them ideal for use in high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. 

Enamel paints are available in both oil-based and water-based formulations. Water-based enamel paints are less toxic and have less odor than oil-based enamel paints. However, they are less durable and have a shorter lifespan compared to oil-based enamel paints.

An example of an enamel paint, would be Benjamin Moore’s Advance.  Advance is a product we use on a daily basis as our standard paint for painting cabinets.  It has superior leveling and durability compared to the competition. 

Though Benjamin Moore has a wide range of selection of enamel paints, this paint is what we can recommend for best use. 

Benjamin Moore ADVANCE Enamel Paint

Additionally, A unique advantage of enamel paint/enamel coating is its ability to dry quickly when exposed to air. People who work with this type of paint don’t have to worry about it dripping and ruining the floor. The final results are a lot smoother and almost near perfect with little sheen, depending on the oil content. Although oil-based enamel paint takes a longer period to dry, it ends up with a harder finish.

difference between enamel and latex paint, difference between latex and enamel paint

Latex Paints

What is Latex Paints?

Latex paints, also known as water-based paints, are made by suspending pigment particles in a water-based emulsion. These paints are quick-drying and have a low odor, which makes them ideal for use in indoor areas. Latex paints are also easy to clean up with soap and water, making them less hazardous to the environment and human health.

Latex paints are suitable for painting surfaces such as drywall, wood, and masonry. They are available in a range of finishes, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Latex paints are less durable than alkyd or enamel paints and are not suitable for use in high-traffic areas.

An example of a latex paint would be Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select.  Regal has been a long standing product for Benjamin Moore and is considered one of their premium products with superior hide and durability.

Furthermore, the same can be said for latex paintsl; though offering a wide range to choose from, the Regal Select is what we can recommend for best case use. 

Benjamin Moore REGAL SELECT Latex Paint

Spray Paint vs Spray Enamel

Spray paint is a modern alternative to brush painting that is not only easy for anyone but also very effective. Whether you wish to transform an old piece of furniture or to protect surfaces from heat, moisture, or rust, having spray paint can make all the difference.

It is not uncommon to hear people comparing spray enamel vs. spray paint. There are many people that believe that both products are the same thing, and there are others who think otherwise. So, is spray enamel the same thing as spray paint?

Spray paint is a general term that refers to different types of spray paints while Spray Enamel is a specific name of a particular type of spray paint formulated with enamel. So, while all kinds of Spray Enamel are spray paints, not all Spray paints are enamel. Besides enamel, other types of spray paint include lacquer, acrylic, epoxy, frosted, and chalkboard.



Selecting between enamel or latex paint when embarking on any painting project is of vital importance. Enamel paint offers hard and glossy surfaces while latex is flexible enough for indoor spaces; which one you use depends upon factors such as type of surface being painted, intended purpose, desired outcome as well as finish considerations like interior vs exterior use, fumes/additives/dry times and cleanup considerations – as these all may play a part in finding the ideal product for any given task. By thoroughly researching both options available and with proper knowledge your painting project can become successful by choosing the appropriate type of paint!

Walls By Design

If you are searching for top-notch commercial or residential painting services in the Denver, Colorado area, look no further than Walls By Design. With over 23 years of experience and our commitment to exceptional service in every project we take on, our team has established itself as a go-to resource.

Our expertise extends across a range of painting services, such as interior painting and kitchen cabinet painting as well as light carpentry/trim installation. No matter the scope or scale of your project, our team has all of the skills and experience necessary to deliver outstanding results.

Make an appointment now to discuss your painting needs, and Walls By Design will provide a free estimate. Let us bring your visions into reality through our world-class painting services!

"Extremely impressed"
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I used Walls by Design recently, and was extremely impressed with every aspect of the company. From scheduling the initial consultation to doing the final walk-through, they were helpful, professional, and seemed genuinely passionate about their work. Even though our project was small, I felt as though our home painting was just as important as a much larger and more expensive project. They arrived on time and took great care of my home. I would definitely use Walls by Design again, and have already recommended them to my friends and family.
Erika Lampe
...was done ahead of schedule...
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Very pleased with the quality and attention to detail. The team, Brent, Matt and Chris, were very pleasant and treated my home and family with respect. The job, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, railing and mantle, was done ahead of schedule. They always left my home spotless. Can't wait to hire them again.
Kevin G.
...how super dope my newly painted black cabinets looked...
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Nick and his team at Walls by Design were great to work with and did a very professional job on the painting of my kitchen cabinets. I was so impressed by how organized the process was and how super dope my newly painted black cabinets looked. I would recommend WBD to anyone looking to get their painting project taken care of. Price was very fair for the quality of the work.
Denise Larsen
He was on time, meticulous and the results are amazing!
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Matt Steele painted my cabinets for me and did an awesome job. He was on time, meticulous and the results are amazing. The company was wonderful to work with. They had a wonderful color consultant Marnie who helped pick a great color for me which was included in the quote. The preparation was thorough and all appointments for prep and the work happened when they said it would. I am very pleased!
Courtney Gaudet
I cannot say enough about the superb experience
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I cannot say enough about the superb experience I just had with Walls by Design. The entire process was perfect! I love that they include a color consultant in the process, employ talented painters (rather, artists!) and are led by such thorough project managers. Our cabinets look fantastic -- can't wait to use Walls by Design for our bathroom remodel.
Colleen Campbell
...he was so wonderful ...
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We have had such a great experience with Walls By Design. The process of getting an estimate, booking them, and project planning was made easy by their efficiency. Garvin painted our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and Kylie painted our banister and wall trim. They were both efficient, friendly, and kept our space clean. Both did an amazing job! Garvin is coming back in January for a second project -we requested him since he was so wonderful the first time! Highly recommend.
Kara Taylor
Walls By Design is a buttoned up team...
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November 2022 Our latest project with Walls By Design was once again a fabulous experience and we couldn't be happier with the finished product! Justin was prompt, respectful and friendly. He's a hard working, fast and talented painter who did an amazing job throughout the house, ESPECIALLY with a challenging tri-color room! The entire process of working with Walls By Design is unrivaled by any painting company we've ever worked with. Thanks again to Justin and the entire Walls By Design team for the care and attention you give to your customers. We'll be back!!! Fall 2021/January 2022 We have had interior walls and our kitchen cabinets painted by Walls By Design. Kylie and her team did a great job on our walls, and Brian’s care and attention to detail on our kitchen cabinets was incredible!! These painters were friendly, considerate, prompt and never left a mess. We didn’t mind having them in the house at all! Walls By Design is a buttoned up team of organized, communicative and accessible professionals who are so easy to work with. We will definitely use Walls By Design again.
Mandy Mason
Could not have asked for a better experience
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Could not have asked for a better experience and outcome. From the first call until the end of the project, we were beyond happy. Very professional, very quality work, and good people. What more can you ask for? Our painter extraordinaire, Kate, was amazing. She was personable, tidy, and extremely knowledgeable. Our cabinets are stunning, AND she finished a day early! You rock, Kate. A heartfelt thank you to the entire WBD team!
Jakalyn Helling
We won't have anyone else!
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WBD is great to work with. Staff are all friendly and very professional. Justin did the painting of our downstairs. He is so personable, thorough, and so accurate. He's the best!!! This is the second time they have painted in our home. We won't have anyone else!
Mark Chankij
Setting up the project was a breeze
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We had Walls By Design help us with a few different projects. We asked them to paint our cabinets, repair our cooking island, retile our backsplash, and paint our railings/banisters. From the quoting process to the final walkthrough, they are professional and friendly throughout the projects. Matthew did all the cabinet and railing painting and everything is immaculate - it is true artistry. Tim handled transforming our kitchen island from a plain box to a high-end cooktop, and Mark tied it all together with his expert tile work. We couldn’t be happier. Setting up the project was a breeze after we got our quotes so quickly from Kristen. Heather called us to quarterback the whole process - arranging for our color consultation with Jaci and putting all the scheduling puzzle pieces together. We will definitely be using WBD for any future services we need.

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