Identifying Water-Based and Oil-Based Paints

  1. 1. In an inconspicuous area, clean the paint surface with a general purpose cleaner. Let dry or wipe dry.
  2. 2. Next, rub the clean surface using a clean rag. Dampen with denatured alcohol. If you see paint residue on the rag, it is most likely water-based paint.
  3. 3. After rubbing the area with denatured alcohol, feel the surface. If smooth surface and no paint residue, the paint is oil-based. If it is slightly tacky and has paint residue, then the paint is water-based.

Latex paints are made from a water-soluble base. Enamel paints are made from an oil base. For exterior house paints, both enamel and latex paints are commonly used.

Members and Affiliates

Brick Industry Association     Mason Contractors Association of America     Member of the Mid-Atlantic Masonry Association (MAMA)