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What is My Favorite Water-Based Paint?

What is My Favorite Water-Based Paint?This week’s Ask the Craftsman Question is a follow up to last week’s regarding oil-based paint choices.

What is my favorite water-based paint?

There are so many different applications that I use water-based paints for, so picking an overall favorite is pretty much impossible. So, what I’ll do is give you a favorite in each different application.

That being said, there are a ton of excellent paints out there that I haven’t even tried, so this isn’t based off of comprehensive testing. I’ve experimented enough over the years and these have emerged as my favorites.


Walls & Ceilings (Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 Zero-VOC) This paint is one of the behind the counter unadvertised contractor grades that I love. It is zero-VOC, which means a good healthy environment during and after application. It is very affordable and has excellent hide and coverage.

Trim & Woodwork – (Sherwin Williams ProClassic Acrylic/Alkyd Enamel) This paint lays down almost as smooth and hard of a finish as a good oil-based enamel. The water-based cleanup is just the icing on the cake.


Siding – (Sherwin Williams Resilience) This exterior paint remains flexible and has excellent color retention which is really important with our harsh Florida sun. It can be a little tacky for the first couple weeks after application, but once it cures it works like a champ.

Porch Floors(Sherwin Williams Sher-Cryl Acrylic Coating) You won’t find this paint on display. It’s an industrial/marine coating that’s kept behind the counter. This paint holds up better to foot traffic than anything else I have tried. Its adhesion is top-notch and it still looks great after years of traffic.

I may sound like a big promoter for Sherwin Williams, but I don’t get anything from them for my recommendation. They make a great product in my opinion and I’m loyal to whoever can give me the best paint at the best price.

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

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20 thoughts on “What is My Favorite Water-Based Paint?

  1. Do you use a vapor mask when you use Sher Cryl? I bought some Sher Cryl and saw a warning on it not to breathe the vapor. Not sure if that just means don’t put your face in it and sniff or that I need to take extra precautions.

  2. Learn the differences in oil-based, water-based, and latex paints before starting a paint project.

  3. Scott, I love your blog. It was been immensely helpful in restoring our 1923 windows. I’m now at the painting phase. I looked for Sher-Cryl, but was told it’s not normally sold in California. The local Sherwin-Williams would have to special order it, and even then they would be unable to tint it. They recommended their Emerald Exterior instead. Do you have experience working with Emerald?

  4. I have a 110 year old bungalow in north florida originally painted with milk paint, inside and out. Having a very difficult time getting paint to stick to the milk paint. Any suggestion, I am desperate!

    1. Cathi, that’s a good question and one that I don’t have an answer on, but I’ll have to do a little research and see what I can learn. If you find a solution let me know!

  5. Scott, I have been a fan of BM Regal eggshell for years, adding Floetrol. Are you familiar with Regal? If so, how does ProMar stack up?

  6. I just found out about Rhino Shield today…does it really last for 25 years? I heard that it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

    One more question: would Rhino Shield work on a house whose exterior has lead paint?


    1. Don’t know if it would work over lead paint and I seriously doubt that the product will last 25 yrs. I don’t have any experience with it, but their claims seem ridiculous. Check out reviews online before you decide anything.

  7. I have a project that’s almost omelette and customer wants a clear poly on the exposed pine beams and there are eight pine post that are 8 feet in diameter and 15 feet tall this is an exterior pavilion. So what’s your recommendations on a Lear poly that looks great and will not crack & peel in 6 months. We are in Virginia near Washington DC

    1. Using poly on something totally exposed is never a great idea because it’s not a matter of if it will fail but when. The best would a Sikkens clear stain. If the client insists on poly try Helsman’s Spar Urethane or Man O War Marine Varnish.

      1. I imagine you’ve completed this project already, but for future reference, Epiphanes spar has held up well outdoors for me.

        Another option that I’ve had good luck with is Timber Pro UV from TimberPro coatings. It’s a waterborne oil penetrating stain and finish made initially for log homes. Provided you apply as directed (shady day sub 72F) it lasts for years. I use their deck and fence formulation on cedar fencing, and I’ve never found another deck finish that comes close in performance. The log and siding formula is the same thing but with more urethane or smaller molecule size or something.

  8. How does the SherCryl stack up to the Impervo oil?
    I’m guessing you are going to say that nothing beats Impervo, but if one wants to use latex then the Sher-Cryl is acceptable.
    My local SW tells me that they do indeed have it (or can quickly get it) if/when I want it.
    I may have asked this before, whatever you use on the window sashes themselves, if you are using the same color on the frames, are you happy with using a different paint with an appropriate gloss on the frame (eg, Sher-Cryl on the window sashes and Resilience/Duration/Emerald on the frames)?

  9. Ever use SW Duration or Emerald? I learned of Duration a number of years ago by a fellow in Minnesota who guarantees his jobs for 20 years, it’s all he will use. I’ve been using it, but learned to add some Floetrol to it otherwise I leave brush marks with my poor skills. Tried some Emerald inside in a kitchen and bath to try it. It flows much nicer than the Duration by itself.
    With my Victorian there are areas that are almost impossible to access which need scaffolding and planks from the scaffold to roof jacks, etc., so I’m willing to pay a high price for paint if it means I don’t have to do it again for a lonnng time.

  10. Got any recommendations for water-based paint for old wood windows–inside and outside? I live far up north so perhaps it is different up here.

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