I Heart Oil Based Paints

I found the sweetest little side table at the Chelsea flea a few weeks ago for about $20 or $25. (I bought the jade color lamp too)

The table was not in perfect condition, so I thought I would paint it.

Like my beloved Chelsea Editions pieces from the last post, I thought it might be kind of fun to do a high-gloss lacquered look. I normally use Rustoleum’s Enamel spray paint for that kind of project, but it was sort of a rainy day when I finally had a free minute to paint. So I searched through my paint library (or more like paint graveyard? There are about 50 half-full quarts in my pantry) and remembered that a while back I bought a can of Rustoleum’s Oil-based Enamel in this pretty Smoke Gray color.

I’ve used oil-base paint on furniture before, but I hated the clean up (you have to use paint thinner to clean your brush). But this time I had a good quality brush that was old, a bit gunky at the base and ready to be retired. I thought I would send the brush off with one last project and then toss it. (So no paint thinner used here)

The really cool thing about oil-based paint is that it goes on like nail polish enamel. It sort of spreads, which is ideal for brush application. Like below, it looks like I am going to have all sorts of brush stroke issues based on this photo, but the top is a smooth as glass now after the paint spread.

The rain was just starting to clear up when I was testing out the paint on the table top above. Oil-based paint is pretty stinky stuff though, so I took this party up to the roof.

The verdict? I LOVE it. I don’t know why I haven’t been using oil-based on everything. I slapped literally ONE coat of paint on this little table without sanding or priming before hand, let it dry/off-gas for about 12 hours outside and then brought it in. We’ve been using it for a week now and I am super impressed! I looks and feels like professionally finished furniture. Look at that smooth shine! You can see the reflection of my blue and white pot as clear as day.

I went back to Home Depot this weekend and picked up white, black and cobalt blue for some other furniture projects I have for clients. The quarts are only $9 each, which is about 75% the cost of other Home Depot or Lowes latex quarts and the finish is about a million times better than semi-gloss or high gloss latex.

My only complaint is that the Rustoleum enamel line can’t be tinted like latex. But you can mix the colors they have (green, blue, yellow, red, gray, brown, black, white). It would be easy to make any pastels like baby blue or pink, but would take some trial and error with colors like purple, orange or turquoise. I’m sure there are other lines of tintable oil-based paints, though I heard from the Home Depot guy that oil-based paints are a huge pain to find in NY and New England. I’ll have to do some digging here…

BTW I am the HUGEST fan of white foam mini-rollers for applying latex paint, but with oil paint, I recommend going with a high-quality brush all the way. Here’s a post I just put up this morning on my favorite paint brushes, how and when I use them. I’d love to hear what products you like to use too!

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61 thoughts on “I Heart Oil Based Paints

  1. Oil based paint FTW! I have had wonderful luck with one shot sign painters' paint (
    They have lots of colors and the finish is super durable. Like the name says, one coat does the trick.

  2. I love the look, but what about the maintenance? Do you need a protective coating? Does it chip easily? What about drinks, will a ring appear? It seems to be so glossy and smooth that it's almost prime+paint+sealer in one! I'm not familiar with this paint at all, so just checking on the pros/cons of it…

  3. Hi there! Quick question for you. The gray looks like it's leaning more to the gray-green end of the spectrum in your photos — is that how you'd describe it in person? Or is it more of a blue-gray? Or a true, straight-up gray?

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