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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. Jenny, these look great! I love the finish Rustoleum gives, but the pieces Ive painted have ended up a little tacky and poly seems to dull the finish. Did you use a finish protector on this piece?

  2. Love what you have done with that cute little table, oil based paint certainly works a treat. Big fan of your blog, always very inspirational – thank you Jenny.

  3. HD used to sell Rustoleum that was tintable, but was only sold by the gallon. And it had a limited color palette.

    But, check out Lowes. They have tintable oil-based paint sold by the quart & gallon. (Darn. I forget what the label says!) Anywho…it's priced comparable to Rustoleum.

    Valspar also makes a tintable oil-based product that's called "anti-rust" that works like Rustoleum in the metal department. That product, I believe, is no longer available at Lowe's, but the Valspar brand is available at various smaller hardware stores.

    Your neighborhood hardware store may carry other oil-based brands.

  4. I LOVE that little table! The paint looks amazing. I will be honest in saying that DIY was not really my thing in the past. But now, thanks to you and a few other blogs, I feel like I can do so many things on my own. I hope you are having a great holiday!

  5. Olympic paints has an oil based paint line called Fast hide. It's about $15 a quart but you can tint it and pick your finish.

  6. Down here in Brazil, oil based is more of the norm, which I was lucky enough to discover when I redid a small bureau in glossy turquoise for my daughter's room.
    Oil-based rocks!!

  7. You have the best tips. Thanks for sharing. I am in the process of paintng a similar table. I just spray primed it. I am deffo going out to get some oil based paint. Can you mix oil and latex paints? I was thinking of mixing in some of my Modern Masters metallic. I am also going to "dip: the legs of my table like your 8/31 post showed! <3 <3 <3

  8. I heart oil based paints too! It is the only paint I use on my furniture and trim in my house. Rustoleum is great for the basic colors, but I wish they'd offer some more funky tints too. It definitely has pros and cons but as far as I'm concerned the pros outweigh the cons!!

  9. Just wanted to suggest the Montana Gold spray paints. They have amazing colors. There might be a distributor near you. I live down the street from one so if you ever want some sent, let me know.

  10. I couldn't agree more about oil-based paint. But here in Canada they are phasing them out! Sniff…

    I do have a pint of oil-based chalkboard paint and I am going to paint a wall in the kitchen when the kids start school!

    Love your table. Your space is coming together beautifully :)

  11. Benjamin Moore makes an oil based paint that can be mixed to ANY of their colors. I remember it was a challenge to find BM in NYC, but there used to be a place on 4th ave and 18th street in Brooklyn, not sure if it's still there….The quarts are expensive, though.

  12. I only paint furniture with oil based. It looks so much better. I live in Boston and have no foible finding oil based. Just go to a paint store (not a big box store) that sells Benjamin Moore.

  13. I have always painted furniture in oil paint– I love the durable shiny finish and it also prevents stains from bleeding though paint finishes much better than latex products. But sadly- I can't purchase it in Canada any longer!!

  14. When my mother was younger, she used to paint old distroyed and not really top quality small furniture with oil based paints. Now we still use them in our rooms, but most of them need a good re-doing….
    Oh, well….SOMETIMEEEEE…. :)

  15. I use oil based paints when I paint old gesso frames… it sinks in and then forms it's own patina and crackle on the gesso…

    I too LOVE oil based paints!!!

  16. Can you tell us about the drying time on this piece? I own a business buying and reselling MCM furniture, and I do end up doing a fair bit of painting. I use an air compressor/spray gun, and the one time I used oil-based I swore never again because it took FOREVER to dry– like a week. How long did you wait before you put things on top of it?
    Thanks!
    Melissa

  17. Love, love the color. I painted our bedroom armoire in a color very similar (Ben Moore's Sparrow.) It turned out nice but nowhere as good as yours. I think I'll head the oil way next time. Thank you so much for the post!!

  18. just found navy enamel on homedepot.com, free shipping! i've been wanting to paint my dining chairs navy but didn't want to spray paint, and didn't want to deal with unsightly brush strokes from latex. this is the perfect solution! can't wait to get started.

  19. So glad to hear someone talk about oil-based paint. I have not used it because I didn't want to mess with clean-up. I usually use a paint sprayer, but maybe I'll try out oil with a brush on a smaller project soon. Thanks for the info! BTW, your table is lovely, and love that shine!

  20. Holy Dinah…I am so happy to read this and am totally going to buy up some of that enamel- I'm always trying to get a good glossy finish and your table looks amazing!!! Wow…and PS, the rest of your home is divine as well- so gorgeous!!!

  21. I recently used the exact same paint- same color and everything- to paint my kitchen table. I love the finish but I definitely should have used a top coat for a kitchen table. After a couple of months of using it for 3 meals a day it definitely has a few dings and scratches (on top only). I guess it will be easy enough to give it another coat of paint and a top coat! I think the paint would hold up just fine on an end table without a top coat.

    When I was shopping for paint at HD the guy in the paint section told me they can't sell oil based paint in the state of MD and told me to use latex (which I thought was a terrible idea for a kitchen table). Then I found the rustoleum on the shelf- it says "oil based" right on the can so I don't understand why it's legal to sell in MD? But I'm glad!

  22. This looks absolutely beautiful! I have been wanting to give a table of mine the same high-gloss lacquer finish and was thinking about using Minwax's Clear Gloss Spray Lacquer. Have you ever tried an aerosol lacquer spray?

    Thanks for posting! I know I can always find fresh, unique ideas on your blog (loved the dipped legs post!!)

  23. I have a table that is getting ready to meet it's first coat of oil paint. Thanks for the inspiration !

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