The Difference Between Waterborne & Solvent-Based Car Paint - Eagle National Supply

Choosing the right car paint can be tricky, especially for people with little to no knowledge about it. Selecting the right paint for your car gives it a great finish with a long-lasting shine. 

Let's look at the difference between waterborne and solvent-based car paint to help you understand which is best for your car.


Waterborne car paints use water as the carrier, while solvent-based car paints use organic solvents, such as acetone or toluene. Waterborne paints have fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than solvent-based paints, making them more environmentally friendly and safer than solvent-based paints. Using VOCs in solvent-based paints gives a high-gloss finish, but it also makes them harmful to humans and the environment.

Drying Time

Waterborne paints dry much faster than solvent-based paints; the latter may require several days to dry completely. Waterborne paints can sometimes dry within an hour or two, making them ideal for projects in places with high humidity. Solvent-based paints, on the other hand, usually require adequate ventilation to speed up the drying process.


Waterborne paints are best for small, monochrome areas that require a smooth, glossy finish. They are easier to apply, require little to no mixing, and offer a more accurate color match than solvent-based paints. However, solvent-based paints offer more versatility for complicated color matching on large surfaces. They are easy to blend in order to create custom finishes for metallic or pearl paint jobs, offering a more creative approach to car painting.

Health and Safety

The VOCs in solvent-based paints can be harmful to the environment and your health. These fumes can cause respiratory problems and dizziness, making them unsuitable for use in enclosed spaces without ventilation. In contrast, waterborne paints have fewer VOCs, making them safer for paint jobs. They also have lower flammability, making them safer to store than solvent-based paints.


Solvent-based paints are known for their durability and long-lasting finish. They offer great resistance to weather, chemicals, and UV radiation. A solvent-based finish on a vehicle can last between 5–10 years before it fades. While waterborne paints have come a long way in terms of longevity, they don’t offer the same durability as solvent-based paints. They are more prone to fading and scratches, making them less ideal for harsh environments.

Choosing the right car paint depends on your needs and budget. While waterborne paints have fewer VOCs and are more environmentally friendly, they may not offer the versatility or durability of solvent-based paints. Your choice between waterborne and solvent-based paints also relies on the size of the area or vehicle you're painting, environmental conditions, and the type of finish you want. Consult a professional for advice on choosing the right car paint for your vehicle.

If you need automotive paints, Eagle National Supply has a wide selection of products for all your car painting needs. Remember to prioritize your safety and follow tried and true application techniques for the best results. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services!

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