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Kelly-Moore Water-Oil Hybrid Paint

Professional painters are typically fans of oil-based enamel paints. There are two chief reasons that oil is favored by pros. First, oil yields very smooth results; brush strokes disappear as the paint flows and evens out. The second reason is the hard, shell-like finish oil develops once it dries. The hard shell both makes it durable and gives it a look that just can't be duplicated with latex paint.

Most homeowners and DIYers prefer to work with latex paint, primarily because of it's ease of use and the easy water clean-up. Also, oil paint has a strong odor that can last for days, while latex paint has much less odor and is gone in about a day.

Kelly Moore has introduced a new line of paint that offers the best features of both oil and latex. Their Water-Oil Hybrid dries with the hard shell finish of oil but washes up with water, like latex.

In our testing we found a lot to like about Kelly Moore's new hybrid. The hybrid brushes on much like latex but dries with the appearance of oil. It is easy to work with and is forgiving of mistakes in brushing technique.

Another advantage is the lower odor. Kelly Moore's product still has an oil like odor, but much milder. The odor also dissipates more quickly than traditional oil. In our tests, the smell of the hybrid had faded in about the same amount of time as latex paint. However, within a foot or two of a painted surface, the oil odor could still be detected for several days. This is a vast improvement over standard oil enamel paint.

As for brush strokes, we got satisfactory but not perfect results. Oil paint dries slowly and so has time to flow and even out; eliminating brush strokes. Latex paint dries more quickly and brush strokes are often evident. With the new hybrid paint, we achieved results somewhere between oil and latex. The paint seemed to dry quickly, like latex, but with much less pronounced brush strokes. We weren't able to achieve a glassy finish like that of oil, but the brush strokes were only subtly visible. Considering the benefits of the hybrid paint, it seems like a reasonable trade-off.

Personally, I always choose oil enamel for painting moulding and doors, because I like the look of oil. I've preferred oil for years, but I've always disliked the odor and the clean-up. Now that has changed. Kelly Moore's hybrid gives me the results I want, but without the drawbacks of oil. I'll be using hybrid water-oil paint from now on.

I'll post a follow-up in the future to report on the long term durability and weather resistance Kelly Moore's Water-Oil Hybrid paint.

[October 2010]

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