Waterborne Trim Paints: The Future is Certain

brushed!I’ve been asked by alot of builders, on my day job and through online communities, about the new waterborne trim paint technologies. There is a lingering misperception that oil is the only good trim paint. This was fed for many years, in fact up until about the past five years, by the reality that latex trim paints dried too fast, were rubbery, too flashy and shiny, could not be touched up and didnt spray well.

Those days are gone. In the past few years, most major manufacturers have been putting their R&D dollars into waterborne technologies and hybrids, which suspend an oil finish in a waterborne platform. If you haven’t been watching product changes in the past five years, there is much to catch up on.

We have done many waterborne trim and cabinetry packages in the past couple of years in custom homes, and our clients have been pretty blown away with how good they can be.

What’s your favorite?



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  1. Waterborne Trim Paints | Topcoat Review | December 23, 2011
  1. Alex says:

    Hi Scott,

    We’re getting ready to paint all the trim and doors in our house BM Chantilly Lace, which is a rather bright white. We were initially going to use Aura Semi-Gloss, but our painter recommended using Regal Select Semi-Gloss for the trim instead.

    Would Waterborne Satin Impervo be a better choice for the trim, or should we stick with Regal Select because it won’t yellow? Or should we use something else?


  2. Dena says:

    Bottom line, what is the best way to paint trim using Benjamin Moore that is not oil? Also, should I lacquer my cabinets in the built ins?

  3. Ryan says:

    Hi there I googled “spraying Aura” and I found this website but cannot locate any specifics about your experience with the product. I am planning to pump it through my airless which the tds says will work fine.
    I have brushed the product and am assuming that because of the short open time, the leveling may be weak. Do you suggest thinning and going down in tip size or leaving it as is and hanging fat coats to keep it wetter longer.
    Ryan From Canadia

  4. Dean Veltman says:

    Oil and lacquer for solid color coatings have fallen out of favor for a while around here. There is one product in particular that was in the forefront of the high quality waterborne enamels that lead the way for that in my opinion (Graham Ceramic Satin). Other manufacturers have caught up, but Graham was far ahead of others for a while.

    • Hey Dean, I saw your forum topic on this and just responded. Its a good topic. Btw, Graham must not have/had much presence on the east coast. Never saw it!

    • MAK says:


      We have switched overt using Graham’s waterborne clear love that product!

      As for WB trim we love BM Advance one of the best products put out on the market in a long time IMO

  5. Sam Sheppard says:

    The added advantage of waterborne paints is that they are far more likely to be low or even zero VOC (volatile organic compounds). How fantastic to be able to paint a nursery and be able to safely put your baby in there that night.
    Zero VOC paints give a Builder the added advantage of selling the benefits of thier environmental knowledge and accountability. Not nearly enough Builders and painting contractors are tapping into the rising consumer interest in utilising environmentally sensitive products. It is astounding how savvy and educated consumers are now.
    We held an environmental open house day in our display home and were staggered by the hundreds of people who turned up in one day armed with brochures, questions and information of their own to share. It was a huge eye opener, which makes me feel a whole lot better that I am on the right track as to what is important to consumers.
    At the end of the day, the product has to be quality and fit for use, which in the case of paint it has to be easy to apply and clean up afterwards. Otherwise it will not be embraced by industry and never be promoted by word of mouth.

    • Sam
      Paint manufacturers have done a great job of educating homeowners, moreso than they have educated paint contractors, about products. You are right on that they have to be easy to use and cleanup. There are some remarkable waterborne technologies out these days. On two of the projects in my slideshow above, the builders were shocked that it wasnt oil. One of them made the comment that he hadnt seen waterborne on trim since like ’82. And boy were they rough back then. Anyways, thanks for the comment, and stop by again!

  6. Jack Pauhl says:

    I agree. There are nice water-base paints available today which perform well in many categories, but it should not be ignored that “latex trim paints dried too fast, were rubbery, too flashy and shiny, could not be touched up and didnt spray well.”, still exist in some product choices today along with always tacky and poor adhesion. For example: Doors sticking to jambs, windows stuck closed, items on the closet shelf sticking to the paint.

    It’s important to research specific product to make certain it fits your application.

    Thanks Scott!

    • Absolutely, Jack. It seems that the manufacturers could do a little better on the consumer (including contractor) side of things. Have you done much with the oil modified wb’s from sw and bm yet?

  7. Chris Haught says:

    You are absolutely right Scott! We rarely use oils anymore and have found some great alternatives!

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