ThatPainter is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More
If you are in the process of redecorating your home, then chances are you have probably encountered some new and exciting products, whether that be varnish or lacquer thinner.
If this is the case, then you are probably wondering what these different products can do and how they can be used to transform the interior of your home. For example, if you are not familiar with enamel paint, then you may question its usefulness.
While the name tells us very little about the product, enamel paint is a durable substance that is known for its glossy finish, with the paint commonly being used on kitchen cabinets and doors.
Because of its lasting nature, enamel paint has become a popular choice among homeowners, as it can protect your decor from scratches. So if you want to know how you can use this paint to its full potential, then you have come to the right place.
In the following article, we have gathered some important information concerning this unique and enduring product, so that you may further understand its capabilities and limitations. We have also outlined how you can use enamel paint in your home and how it differs from hybrid enamels found on the market.
So if you are ready to learn more, just take a look at our helpful guide and you will find everything you need about alkyd enamel and its uses. Now let’s get started…
What Is Enamel Paint?
Enamel paint is a product commonly known for its durable and glossy finish, which is capable of coating any surface with a hard and scratch-resistant layer. Because of this, enamel paint is commonly used when treating trim, kitchen cabinets and doors. Although the substance can also be found in bathrooms, with the finished application being water-proof and hand washable.
These days, there are two varieties of enamel paint currently available: traditional alkyd enamels and hybrid enamels. While traditional alkyd enamels are oil-based and commonly distinguished by their smooth finish, hybrid enamels are produced using waterborne technology, which gives them their oil-based finish and easy application.
However, while either paint will work when it comes to redecorating your house, they both come with their pros and cons, which is why we have chosen to showcase the uses and limitations of each product.
What Is Traditional Alkyd Enamel?
Traditional alkyd enamels are commonly defined as oil-based products, with the paint being known for its glossy and self-evening finish. Because of this, traditional alkyd enamels are often described as having a mirror-like appearance, which makes them a popular choice when painting cabinets and doorways.
However, this does not mean that traditional alkyd enamels do not come with their negative setbacks, as the paint will contain chemical solvents that are known to produce high levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds) which can be toxic to humans and contribute to global warming. For this reason, traditional alkyd enamels are often considered a less popular product, especially when compared to safer water-based alternatives.
During production, traditional alkyd enamels are made from alkyd resins, which are formed when the solvent base evaporates during the application, resulting in the oxidation that gives the paint its signature gloss.
In most cases, traditional alkyd enamels can be used to paint any area that needs a durable and glossy coat, which can include anything from kitchen cabinets to interior fixtures. For the best results, we personally recommend Valspar oil-based door and trim paint, which still remains one of the best products on the market.
Advantages of Traditional Alkyd Enamels
Because traditional alkyd enamels can be used on any fixture to produce a glossy finish, this means that they are extremely versatile and come with a range of advantages that we have outlined in the following section:
- Durability: traditional alkyd enamels are incredibly durable, which makes them resistant to damage and wear.
- Glossy Finish: after traditional alkyd enamels have been applied, the paint will dry to form a glossy finish, which is mirror-like in appearance.
- Self Evening: beyond the paint’s attractive finish, traditional alkyd enamels are capable of self-evening, resulting in a smooth and level surface.
- Water Resistant: traditional alkyd enamels can also be used in the bathroom, as the paint is water-resistant and hand washable once cured.
Disadvantages of Traditional Alkyd Enamels
While traditional alkyd enamels are known for their versatile nature and multiple uses, this does not mean that the paint is free from criticism, as the product also comes with its own setbacks. So to help you further understand the disadvantages of using traditional alkyd enamels, we have outlined its limitations in the following list:
- Harmful Chemicals: unfortunately, traditional alkyd enamels contain high levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds) which can be toxic to humans and contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.
- Limited Lifespan: while traditional alkyd enamels can produce a glossy finish, the paint is known to turn yellow with age, as the oil-based product is sensitive to heat and light.
- Hard To Clean: after you have finished the application process, you will need to use paint thinner to clean up any unwanted mess or splashback.
What Is Hybrid Alkyd Enamel?
In comparison to traditional alkyd enamels, hybrid enamels are known to combine the best attributes of water-based paints with the glossy finish of oil-based products. Unlike traditional alkyd enamels, hybrid enamels are made using waterborne alkyd technology, which means the resins in the paint are suspended in water instead of a chemical base.
As a product, hybrid alkyd enamels are usually odorless and can be easily cleaned up using soap and warm water. However, the paint still retains the signature characteristics of a traditional alkyd enamel, as the formula is smooth, self-evening and capable of producing a durable and glossy finish. Beyond this, hybrid alkyd enamels are also known for their amazing adhesion and can be hand washed after curing.
While hybrid enamels come with all the benefits of a traditional alkyd enamel, such as their appearance and application, the paint remains a safer alternative to its conventional counterpart. Whereas traditional enamels contain high levels of VOC, hybrid alkyd enamels do not contain such dangerous chemicals, which makes them safer to use and environmentally friendly.
When it comes to purchasing a hybrid enamel, they will often feature a blend of alkyd and acrylic or urethane resins. Because of this, hybrid enamels will rarely turn yellow with age, with the added ingredients also having little effect on the paint and its application.
Like traditional alkyd enamels, hybrid products can be used to paint kitchen cabinets, doorways, and interior trim, although they can also be used in the bathroom or any room that needs a gloss. While there are hundreds of hybrid enamels currently available, we recommend purchasing Benjamin Moore Advance, as this is one of the best products for painting kitchen cabinets and wood.
Advantages of Hybrid Alkyd Enamels
While hybrid alkyd enamels share a lot of similarities with traditional enamels, there are some key differences that set the two products apart. So to showcase the advantages of utilizing hybrid enamels, we have compiled the following list:
- Resistance: hybrid enamels are extremely durable, which makes them resistant to wear and age.
- Hard Finish: when using hybrid alkyd enamels, the paint will dry to produce a hard and glossy finish, which can be used on cabinets and doorways.
- Smoothness: after you have finished applying hybrid alkyd enamels, the paint will self-even to produce a smooth and clean surface.
- Washable Paint: once the hybrid alkyd enamel has dried, the paint will become water-proof and hand washable.
- Eco-Friendly: compared to traditional alkyd enamels, hybrid enamels contain fewer chemicals and VOC, which makes them easier to use and safer for the environment.
- Easy To Clean: after you have finished using hybrid alkyd enamels, you can easily clean up any mess or stains by using soap and warm water.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Alkyd Enamel
Because hybrid enamels are considered to be more popular and environmentally friendly, they come with few disadvantages. However, this does not mean that they are free from criticism, as even hybrid products can come with their negative setbacks. So to help you understand the limitations of using this paint, we have collected some negative attributes in the following section:
- Weaker Finish: while hybrid enamels can be used to produce a similar glossy finish to oil-based products, the final application will be weaker in comparison, which means the finish will be more susceptible to damage.
- Less Glossy: even though hybrid enamels are known for their glossy finish, the final application can appear less glossy when compared to that of an oil-based product, which means the final appearance may not meet your expectations.
Where Can You Use Alkyd Enamel Paint?
Alkyd enamel paint is notorious in the world of redecoration due to its multiple properties, which means it can be used on any room or fixture that needs a gloss. So to help you understand the potential of this product, we have compiled a list of the best areas for using enamel paint:
- Kitchen and Bathroom: enamel paints are known for their glossy finish, which is both durable and water-resistant. Because of this, enamel paints are commonly used in heavy-use areas of the home, such as the bathroom and kitchen. Not only is the paint waterproof, but it is also washable and can be easily wiped down to avoid any mess.
- Cabinets: because enamel paints are known for their glossy finish, they will commonly be used to paint cabinets and other permanent surfaces, giving them an attractive and mirror-like appearance. However, this does not mean that the gloss only serves one purpose, as it also works to make your fixtures resistant to wear and tear.
- Baseboards: as we previously mentioned, enamel paints can be used to create a durable and attractive gloss, which can protect your decor from scratches and age. For this reason, enamel paints can often be found on trims or baseboards, where they help to protect the wood from damage.
- Windows and Doors: because windows and doors are often prone to damage due to wear and tear, many homeowners choose to use enamel paints to gloss the various fixtures in their home, which helps to protect the house from scratches and age.
- Metal Furniture: enamel paints are capable of producing a protective coating that is both durable and water-resistant, which makes them the perfect choice for treating metal furniture and appliances. Not only does the paint work to keep the metal safe from damage, but it also helps to prevent rust caused by moisture.
- Chairs and Dressers: due to its durable nature, enamel paint can also be used to treat heavy use furniture such as chairs and dressers, which helps to protect them from scratches and water.
How To Use Alkyd Enamel Paint
When compared to interior latex paints, enamel paints are notably more viscous in their consistency, which can make them difficult to use as a beginner.
For this reason, we have decided to teach you how you can use alkyd enamel paint without causing any lasting damage to the interior of your home. This approach can be used whether you are using traditional alkyd enamel or a hybrid formula, as both paints are very similar in appearance and application. However, hybrid alkyd enamels will often be easier to work with and will yield a faster clean up.
When it comes to using enamel paint, you will need to make sure that you are using the correct tools and materials for the job. So to aid you in the process, we have provided some helpful tips that will help you to find the best supplies:
- Although traditional enamels and hybrid enamels are very similar, the latter will contain less VOC, which means it will be safer to use and will have little effect on the environment.
- When using enamel paint, you will need to choose a stiff-bristle paint brush that can spread the paint in thick even layers.
- Before the application process, make sure that your chosen paint brush is clean and free from any debris.
- Choose the best primer from the type of enamel you are using, as oil-based primers are known to work better when partnered with enamel paint.
What You Will Need
Before we can teach you how to use alkyd enamel paint, you must first understand the tools and materials you will need to get the job done. So to help you, we have compiled a list of all the supplies you will need to get started:
- Old sheets
- Painter’s tape
- Enamel paint (traditional or hybrid)
- Painting respirator
- Paint thinner
- Cleaning materials (soap and water)
Regardless of whether you are using your enamel paint to gloss your cabinets, doorways or baseboards, you can use this method to complete any task:
- Determine how much enamel paint you will need and gather your supplies.
- If you are using traditional alkyd enamels, then you will need to find an open and well-ventilated space where you can work without inhaling any harmful chemicals or toxins. However, if you are using hybrid alkyd enamels, then this will not be necessary as they will contain fewer VOCs.
- Before applying your paint, prep the space by laying down old sheets to protect the floor and decor. For the best results, we also recommend using painter’s tape to cover your trim and baseboards.
- Prep the surface you want to paint by removing the previous coat with a paint stripper and then sanding down the area. Once you have done this, clean and prime the surface until it is ready.
- For the best results, you will need to apply two coats of enamel paint, which means you will need to apply one coat and then let it dry before applying the second. During this process, you should give each coat a maximum amount of 24 hours to completely dry.
- If you are painting cabinets or trim, then you can avoid brush marks by following the natural grain of the wood. It is also possible to add an additive to your paint to ensure a smoother finish.
- When you have finished, clean up any leftover mess while the paint is still wet and properly dispose of any leftover product.
When it comes to redecorating your home, you will find that enamel paints can be purchased in two different varieties, with each one sporting its own unique uses and capabilities.
While traditional enamels can be used to produce a glossy finish on your furniture, the paint itself is known to contain harmful chemicals that could endanger your health and the environment. Because of this, many homeowners prefer to use hybrid enamels, which combine the easy application of water-based paint with the glossy finish of oil-based products.
While it is up to you which enamel paint you use, we recommend following the instructions that we have listed above to ensure an easy application and smooth finish.